Holy Week: Wednesday – Darker and Deeper

April 13, 2022
Wednesday of Holy Week

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, the betrayal of Jesus continues, as does his mounting courage to endure its consequences.

In our first reading, the experience of the prophet Isaiah foreshadows that of Jesus. We can hear Jesus praying in Isaiah’s words:

The Lord GOD is my help,
            therefore I am not disgraced;
I have set my face like flint,
            knowing that I shall not be put to shame.
He is near who upholds my right;
            if anyone wishes to oppose me,
            let us appear together.
Who disputes my right?
            Let him confront me.
See, the Lord GOD is my help;
            who will prove me wrong?

Isaiah 50:7-8

We hear Christ’s transcendent openness to the Father’s accompaniment:

Morning after morning
God opens my ear that I may hear;
And I have not rebelled,
have not turned back.


We hear Christ’s courage to face what life unfolds before him:

I gave my back to those who beat me,
my cheeks to those who plucked my beard;
My face I did not shield
from buffets and spitting.


We hear Christ’s utter commitment, despite suffering, to the Father’s Presence:

The Lord GOD is my help,
therefore I am not disgraced;
I have set my face like flint,
knowing that I shall not be put to shame.


As we pray with Jesus today, may we:

  • hear God’s purpose in our lives.
  • see grace unfold in all our circumstances
  • set our hearts, like flint, upon faith and trust in God

passover

As our Jewish sisters and brothers will begin the Passover celebration this Friday, their rich faith heritage inspires us always to find God in the journey, no matter where it leads us.

In the Gospel’s Passover moment, Jesus walks toward the painful experience of Gethsemane. He invites us to come and receive the reassuring blessing of his Father even as the night shadows fall.


Poetry: The Garden of Gethsemane – by Boris Pasternak who won the Nobel Prize for Literature after writing Dr. Zhivago

Indifferently, the glimmer of stars
Lit up the turning in the road.
The road went round the Mount of Olives,
Below it the Kedron flowed.

The meadow suddenly stopped half-way.
The Milky Way went on from there.
The grey and silver olive trees
Were trying to march into thin air.

There was a garden at the meadow’s end.
And leaving the disciples by the wall,
He said: ‘My soul is sorrowful unto death,
Tarry ye here, and watch with Me awhile.’

Without a struggle He renounced
Omnipotence and miracles
As if they had been borrowed things,
And now He was a mortal among mortals.

The night’s far reaches seemed a region
Of nothing and annihilation. All
The universe was uninhabited.
There was no life outside the garden wall.

And looking at those dark abysses,
Empty and endless, bottomless deeps,
He prayed the Father, in a bloody sweat,
To let this cup pass from His lips.

Assuaging mortal agony with prayer,
He left the garden. By the road he found
Disciples, overcome by drowsiness,
Asleep spreadeagled on the ground.

He wakened them: ‘The Lord has deemed you worthy
To live in My time. Is it worthiness
To sleep in the hour when the Son of Man
Must give Himself into the hands of sinners?’

And hardly had He spoken, when a mob
Of slaves, a ragged multitude, appeared
With torches, sowards, and Judas at their head
Shaping a traitor’s kiss behind his beard.

Peter with his sword resisted them
And severed one man’s ear. But then he heard
These words: ‘The sword is no solution.
Put up your blade, man, in its scabbard.

Could not My Father instantly send down
Legions of angels in one thunderous gust?
Before a hair of my head was touched,
My enemies would scatter like the dust.

But now the book of life has reached a page
Most precious and most holy. What the pen
Foretold in Scripture here must be fulfilled.
Let prophecy come to pass. Amen.

The course of centuries is like a parable
And, passing, can catch fire. Now, in the name
Of its dread majesty, I am content
To suffer and descend into the tomb.

I shall descend and on the third day rise,
And as the river rafts float into sight,
Towards My Judgement like a string of barges
The centuries will float out of the night.’


Music: I Come to the Garden Alone – Sean Clive 

I come to the garden alone
while the dew is still on the roses,
And the voice I hear falling on my ear,
The Son of God discloses

And He walks with me and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am his own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known

He speaks, and the sound of his voice is so sweet
The birds hush their singing,
And the melody that He give to me
Within my heart is to ringing.

And He walks with me and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am his own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known

I stay in the garden with Him,
Though the night around me is falling.
But He bids me go; through the voice of woe
His voice to me is calling.

And He walk with me and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.

Lent: God Remembers

March 30, 2022
Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Lent

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our readings offer us the deeply comforting image of God as a mother, vigilant and caring for us even in our unawareness.

In our reading from Isaiah, the Israelites recently have been freed from their long sojourn in Babylon and have returned to Jerusalem. It is a time of great joy, but also of reorientation and reflection. God, Who may have seemed to abandon them to captivity, is assuring them that is not so:

Thus says the LORD:
In a time of favor I answer you,
on the day of salvation I help you;
and I have kept you and given you as a covenant to the people,
To restore the land
and allot the desolate heritages,
Saying to the prisoners: Come out!

Isaiah 49: 8-9

We too may have times when we think God isn’t paying attention to us, or to the world that seems to be falling apart around us. We may be tempted to think that Divine attention is turned to us only when we demand it by intense prayer of supplication.

In Isaiah 49, God – through a outlay of abundant promises, – tells us otherwise:

But Zion said, “The LORD has forsaken me;
my Lord has forgotten me.”
Can a mother forget her infant,
be without tenderness for the child of her womb?
Even should she forget,
I will never forget you.

Isaiah 49:14-15

In our Gospel, Jesus tells us the same things in a little bit of a different way.

My Father is at work until now, so I am at work.

John 5: 17

When he says this, Jesus is in the midst of the recalcitrant, vengeful Pharisees who have placed their faith only in their own arrogance – who have come to depend only on their own wealth and power rather than on the mercy and love of God.

Jesus offers his own outlay of Divine promises, showing how he and God the Creator are One in their constant desire for each of us to share fully in the Divine Life, even to the point of taking flesh to redeem us:

For just as the Father has life in himself,
so also he gave to the Son the possession of life in himself.
And he gave him power to exercise judgment,
because he is the Son of Man.
Do not be amazed at this,
because the hour is coming in which all who are in the tombs
will hear his voice and will come out,
those who have done good deeds
to the resurrection of life …

John 5: 26-29

We might ask in our prayer today to be deepened in our awareness of God’s constant, loving Presence in our lives. There is no moment or circumstance that doesn’t offer us an invitation to greater grace and holiness. But, unlike the Pharisees, we must open our hearts to trust God’s Presence in all things and to find that path to God’s heart.


In these final weeks of Lent, and in this particular passage from John, we see Jesus doing exactly what we must do. As Calvary began to loom unrelentingly on the horizon, Jesus could not have found it easy to accept the path unfolding before him. But he trusted. He knew the Father was with him. He believed that he walked toward Resurrection even though all he could see was a dark lonely hill.

May our Lenten prayer let us learn from Jesus.


Poetry: Forgetting by Joy Ladin

Zion says, “The LORD has forsaken me, my Lord has forgotten me.” Can a woman forget her baby, or disown the child of her womb? Though she might forget, I never could forget you.
—Isaiah 49:14–15

You never remember anything, do you?
How I formed you in your mother’s womb;
nursed you; bathed you; taught you to talk;

led you to springs of water?
I sang your name before you were born.
I’m singing your name now.

You’re clueless as an infant.
When I tell you to shout for joy,
you hear a bicycle, or a cat.

Sometimes, memories of me come back
like children you forgot you had:
a garden; a bride; an image of  your mother,

your best friend, your brother, or a cop, or snow, or afternoon.
The heavens shout; mountain becomes road;
gardenias burst into song.

Whose are these? you wonder.
Then you forget, and feel forgotten,
like an infant who falls asleep

at a mother’s breast
and wakes up hungry again.
Your mother might forget you, child,

but I never forget.
I’ve engraved your name
on the palms of my hands.

I show you trees, I lay you down in the grass,
I shower you with examples of my love—
sex and birds, librarians and life skills, emotions, sunlight, compassion.

Nothing connects.
Every dawn, every generation,
I have to teach you again:

this is water; this is darkness;
this is a body
fitting your description;

that’s a crush;
these are bodily functions;
this is an allergic reaction.

This is your anger.
This is mine.
This is me

reminding you to eat.
Turn off the stove.
Take your medication.

This is the realization
that I am yours and you are mine. This is you
forgetting.

Music: Will Never Forget You – Carey Landry

Lent: Reaching for Peace

March 28, 2022
Monday of the Fourth week of Lent

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we receive a perfect encouragement from Isaiah:

Is65_new heavens

Walter Brueggemann calls Isaiah 65 “a glorious artistic achievement”. Indeed, these images confirm his statement:

  • a new heavens and a new earth;
  • constant rejoicing and happiness
  • people will be a delight
  • no weeping or crying;
  • long life for all
  • everyone with a home
  • enough for all to eat

As we pray with this passage today, we may experience a longing for a return to our beautiful, safe world – a world before pandemic, a world before the specter of WW III. In today’s violent and besieged environment, we all pray from a place of anxiety, loss, constraint, or some degree of suffering. 

Isaiah’s community prayed from the same place. All the beautiful images were a promise not yet realized. The prophetic poetry of Isaiah is a call to courageous hope, not a description of current circumstances.

upside

Faith invites us, even as we experience a bittersweet longing, to trust that God is with us, teaching us and leading us deeper into the Divine Understanding. Even as circumstances turn our world upside down, God will guide the falling pieces to a blessed place if we commit to find God in the tumbling.

I don’t think many of us would deny that the world has needed fixing for a long, long time. The systems we have built leave many in deficit throughout the world, and we have failed to address the wound.

War, pandemic, forced migration of the poor, climate catastrophe all have laid that failure bare.

As we pray for resolutions to these sufferings, may we be opened to an irrevocable awareness of our common humanity and responsibility for one another.

Only by such an outcome will we move closer to Isaiah’s peaceful Kingdom. Only by our courage to embrace it, can God fulfill the Promise in us.


Poetry: by Emily Dickinson

I many times thought Peace had come
When Peace was far away —
As Wrecked Men — deem they sight the Land —
At Centre of the Sea —

And struggle slacker — but to prove
As hopelessly as I —
How many the fictitious Shores —
Before the Harbor lie —


Music: O Day of Peace – Carl P. Daw

Lent: Untie the Knots

March 15, 2022
Tuesday of the Second week of Lent

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, in Isaiah’s prophecy, God addresses some of the most famous sinners in the Bible — the residents of Sodom and Gomorrah. And the Divine manner of that address is both gentle and direct…

Come now … let us set things right!

Come now, let us set things right,
says the LORD:
Though your sins be like scarlet,
they may become white as snow;
Though they be crimson red,
they may become white as wool.
If you are willing, and obey,
you shall eat the good things of the land;
But if you refuse and resist,
the sword shall consume you:
for the mouth of the LORD has spoken!

Isaiah 1:18-20

Setting things right! Aren’t there times in our lives when we long for that? Not in the sense of vengeance or some vigilante justice, but rather in the sense of balance, equity, peace, and understanding in our lives.


Some things go wrong in our lives – that’s just the way it is. And sometimes we struggle endlessly and futilely to realign them.

Even in the most tranquil and “together” lives, there are places of irresolution – little knots in our life story of “why” and “why not”; of “if” and “if only”.

These may be places where we can’t really “forget” and so have not really forgiven. They may be nagging questions left unanswered because we hadn’t the courage to ask. They may be reasons we wanted to explain but no one wanted to listen. They may be excuses or pretenses we have made for so long that we have begun to believe them ourselves.

In almost all such instances, a scarlet concupiscence is at the root of our suffering or pain – sin, not only in the other, but in ourselves that longs to be made white as snow.


In many such cases, the time passes when we might reach out to the other for mutual healing. Death, distance, stubborn resistance and other walls may block us from worldly reconciliation.

But in God’s realm, healing is still possible, as is the power of our desire for the other to be healed with us.

in Isaiah’s beautiful passage, God invites us to full and eternal wholeness. That wholeness is achieved through our willingness to be open before God and to practice obedient listening in our prayer.

If you are willing, and obey,
you shall eat the good things of the land.

Isaiah 1:19

Let’s listen to and trust the awesome invitation in Isaiah:
“Come now, let us set things right”
… come to Me where I will allow you to forgive yourself as I forgive you.
Let us begin to untie any grace-resistant knot in your heart.
Untied, it also frees the other to seek their own healing.


Poetry: Forgiveness – George MacDonald

God gives his child upon his slate a sum –
To find eternity in hours and years;
With both sides covered, back the child doth come,
His dim eyes swollen with shed and unshed tears;
God smiles, wipes clean the upper side and nether,
And says, ‘Now, dear, we’ll do the sum together!’

Music: White As Snow – Maranatha Singers

Lent: Stretching toward God

March 5, 2022
Saturday after Ash Wednesday

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, Isaiah continues his advice begun in yesterday’s reading. When he finishes the list of things we should and should not do, Isaiah tells us how God will respond:

Then light shall rise for you in the darkness,
and the gloom shall become for you like midday;
Then the LORD will guide you always
and give you plenty even on the parched land.
God will renew your strength,
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring whose water never fails.
The ancient ruins shall be rebuilt for your sake,
and the foundations from ages past you shall raise up ~

Isaiah 58: 8-12

Oh, who can resist these glorious Isaiahan lines. It’s a beautiful picture, isn’t it? To imagine it offers us great encouragement as we limp out of winter toward a spring horizon.


Each of our readings today carries a sense of shaking off old and lifeless ways to stretch toward a new promise.

The psalmist asks for God’s help in that stretching.

Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth.

Psalm 86:11

As I thought about “stretching” in prayer this morning, an image came to me of an experience some of you might share. After my knee replacement, I had to learn to streeeeetch my old ligaments around the new implant. It wasn’t exactly “hell” to do so, but it was at least the edge of purgatory! My perseverance paid off though when I began to walk freely and painlessly.



Stretching into the depths of God also takes a full measure of willpower and HOPE. We can hear these pleas in the rest of Psalm 86:

Incline your ear, O LORD; answer me,
for I am afflicted and poor.
Keep my life, for I am devoted to you;
save your servant who trusts in you.
You are my God.

Have mercy on me, O Lord,
for to you I call all the day.
Gladden the soul of your servant,
for to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.



They say that rehabbing from knee replacement surgery is a lot easier if you have exercised and kept in fair shape beforehand. In our Gospel, dear Matthew does a total , full-hearted stretch — one that he must have been preparing for all his life. Otherwise, how could he have been so immediately responsive to Christ’s unexpected invitation?

Jesus saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at the customs post.
He said to him, “Follow me.”
And leaving everything behind, he got up and followed him.

Luke 5:27

Visualizing this scene, we can almost see Matthew not only get up — but his spirit actually jump up at the amazing invitation of God!


Lent is a time for us to do some jumping into grace — so many invitations come to us in this season’s beautiful scriptures and rituals. So many inspirations to grow come to us in our changing seasons! Let’s not be so distracted by our daily un-importances that we miss the call to streeeetch!


Poetry: St. Matthew by John Keble – this is a section of the poem which reflects on today’s Gospel passage.Matthew is the “meek publican” of the second stanza below. Amid all the clamor of the world around him, Keble’s Matthew has a clear eye and heart for Christ.
John Keble, (1792 – 1866) was an English churchman and poet, one of the leaders of the Oxford Movement. Keble College, Oxford, was named after him.

There are in this loud stunning tide
Of human care and crime,
With whom the melodies abide
Of th' everlasting chime;
Who carry music in their heart
Through dusky lane and wrangling mart,
Plying their daily task with busier feet,
Because their secret souls a holy strain repeat.
How sweet to them, in such brief rest
As thronging cares afford,
In thought to wander, fancy-blest,
To where their gracious Lord,
In vain, to win proud Pharisees,
Spake, and was heard by fell disease-
But not in vain, beside yon breezy lake,
Bade the meek Publican his gainful seat forsake:
At once he rose, and left his gold;
His treasure and his heart
Transferred, where he shall safe behold
Earth and her idols part;
While he beside his endless store
Shall sit, and floods unceasing pour
Of Christ's true riches o'er all time and space,
First angel of His Church, first steward of His Grace.
Nor can ye not delight to think
Where He vouchsafed to eat,
How the Most Holy did not shrink
From touch of sinner's meat;
What worldly hearts and hearts impure
Went with Him through the rich man's door,
That we might learn of Him lost souls to love,
And view His least and worst with hope to meet above.
These gracious lines shed Gospel light
On Mammon's gloomiest cells,
As on some city's cheerless night
The tide of sunrise swells,
Till tower, and dome, and bridge-way proud
Are mantled with a golden cloud,
And to wise hearts this certain hope us given;
“No mist that man may raise, shall hide the eye of Heaven.”
And oh! if e'en on Babel shine
Such gleams of Paradise,
Should not their peace be peace divine,
Who day by day arise
To look on clearer heavens, and scan
The work of God untouch'd by man?
Shame on us, who about us Babel bear,
And live in Paradise, as if God was not there!

Music: Stretch Out – Gospel/Soul song by the Institutional Radio Choir

The Institutional Radio Choir was a gospel choir that recorded between 1962-2003. The choir began in 1954 at the Institutional COGIC in Brooklyn, NY, under Bishop Carl E Williams Sr. After recording an album entitled: “Well Done,” the choir backed up Shirley Caesar on her two albums, I’ll Go and My Testimony. Caesar allotted the choir’s director two songs on the album, one of which was entitled (When Trouble Comes) Stretch Out. The song went on to become a gospel standard, especially in Pentecostal circles. The choir went on to record over 20 albums, most of which charted in the Top 10 on the Gospel Billboard charts.

When troubles come and storms begin to rise
Hold on and learn to stretch out
Oh keep on fasting, keep on praying
Hold on and learn to stretch out

When Satan get on your track
And tries to turn me back
I won’t worry, i won’t fret. i just stretch out
Stretch out, oh stretch out

When days are dark and cloudy are my skies
I hold on and learn to stretch out
Oh keep on fasting, keep on believing
Hold on and learn to stretch out

Cause the race isn’t given to the swift
Neither is it given to the strong
But to him that endureth to the end
Stretch out, oh stretch out

When troubles come and storms begin to rise
Hold on and learn to stretch out
Oh keep on fasting keep on believing
Hold on and learn to stretch out

Cause the race isn’t given to the swift
Neither is it given to the strong
But to him that endureth to the end
Stretch out, oh stretch out

When i am lost, when i am sad
Jesus is there, he’ll make me glad
The Lord won’t deceive you
The Lord he won’t leave you

Stretch out

Stretch out
Stretch out
Stretch out on his word

Stretch out
Stretch out
Stretch out
Oh, stretch out

Stretch out!

Witness for ?

February 6, 2022
Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

I bet I know the first word that popped into your mind when you read today’s headline: PROSECUTION!

But today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our readings invite us to consider WITNESS — not for the prosecution, but for the RESURRECTION!

In our first reading, we see Isaiah dramatically commissioned to WITNESS to the vision of faith in his heart. He responds wholeheartedly:

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying,
“Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?”
“Here I am,” I said; “send me!”

Isaiah 6:8

Our second reading, Paul describes how Christ appeared to him and commissioned him, “the least of the Apostles” to be his WITNESS. Paul, too, responds wholeheartedly:

He appeared to me.
Therefore, … so we preach and so you believed.

1 Corinthians 15:11

In our Gospel, Simon Peter, James and John are awed by the miraculous power of Jesus as their nets pull hundreds of fish from the otherwise unproductive sea. Jesus tells them that, by their WITNESS, they will attract hundreds of souls to his message. They also respond wholeheartedly:

When they brought their boats to the shore,
they left everything and followed him.

Luke 5:11

Macrina Wiederkehr, OSB, in her beautiful book, “Seven Sacred Pauses”, describes the level of WITNESS in the first disciples:

They were impelled to continue proclaiming the Gospel in the face of opposition. 
They were zealous in preaching because they felt passionate 
about being entrusted with the sacred message.

Think of this often-heard philosophical conundrum:

Photo by Vasilis Karkalas on Pexels.com

If a tree falls in the forest,
and no one is there to hear it,
does it make a sound?

Logic tells us that it does. But what does it matter if no one hears it?


If the Resurrection happened, and no one bears witness to it, what does it matter? That is the importance of our call to WITNESS – just like Isaiah, Paul, Peter, James, John, and two millennia of believers who carry on the sound of that tomb bursting open to eternal life.

How will we witness to our faith today –
not by preachy words or empty opinions,
but by our active passion for justice and mercy
in the world, and in our own everyday choices?


Poetry: In Whom We Live and Move and Have Our Being – Denise Levertov

Birds afloat in air's current,
sacred breath? No, not breath of God,
it seems, but God
the air enveloping the whole
globe of being.
It's we who breathe, in, out, in, in the sacred,
leaves astir, our wings
rising, ruffled -- but only the saints
take flight. We cower
in cliff-crevice or edge out gingerly
on branches close to the nest. The wind
marks the passage of holy ones riding
that ocean of air. Slowly their wake
reaches us, rocks us.
But storms or still,
numb or poised in attention,
we inhale, exhale, inhale,
encompassed, encompassed.

Music: I Will Stand as a Witness

Unfold the Word

January 23, 2022
Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our readings focus on Sacred Scripture as the revealed Word of God.

Ezra, from our first passage, lived almost 500 years before Christ during the Babylonian captivity, a time when much of the population of Judea was deported to what is modern day Iraq. When the Persian King Cyrus the Great conquered Babylon, the Jews were permitted to return to Judea.

Ezra Reads the Law to the People – Gustave Dore

During the sixty-year enslavement, many Jews lost touch with their culture, language and religion. Our reading describes Ezra’s efforts to restore the Jewish character of the community by reintroducing them to the Torah. He has to read to them, translating the Hebrew for those who no longer speak the language.

In a gesture foretelling the liberating ministry of Jesus, Ezra unrolls the scroll – symbolic of bringing to light that which has been hidden or buried.

Jesus in the Synagogue at Nazareth – Anonymous

In our Gospel, Jesus too unrolls the scroll. In doing so, Jesus reveals the heart of faith which had been buried within the Law. Jesus preaches in a new “language” – the language of God’s all-inclusive mercy, forgiveness, and love.


For us who believe, the holy scriptures are a Living Word which, through thoughtful prayer, will continually reveal God’s heart to us. It is worth our time and attention to become friends with these sacred messages.

Many of you, dear readers, will be familiar with the ancient prayer practice of “lectio divina”. In her book “Too Deep for Words”, Sister Thelma Hall describes the practice:

… a wholistic way of prayer which disposes, opens, and “in-forms” us for the gift of contemplation God waits to give, by leading us to a place with him at our deepest center … It begins this movement by introducing us to the power of the Word of God in scripture to speak to the most intimate depths of our hearts …

Sister Thelma Hall’s book, a classic, is available on Amazon for those who might enjoy exploring Lectio Divina. I highly recommend it. My copy, nearly 30 years old, is beginning to show its age, but then again, so am I!

Poetry: The Word Of God – George MacDonald

Where the bud has never blown
Who for scent is debtor?
Where the spirit rests unknown
Fatal is the letter.
In thee, Jesus, Godhead-stored,
All things we inherit,
For thou art the very Word
And the very Spirit!

Music: Word of God Speak ~ Mercy Me

Rain Down, Lord!

December 15, 2021
Wednesday of the Third Week in Advent

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Isaiah and Luke who both offer us passages in which God self-describes in displays of omnipotence and tenderness.

In Isaiah, we meet the powerful Creator Who dispenses both justice and mercy.

In Luke, we meet the merciful Savior Who tenderly uses that power to heal.

With our psalm response from Isaiah, we voice our longing to be healed by God’s infinite power – a power which finds the world’s brokenness, seeps into it like rain, transforms it with love.


Poetry: I Rain by Hafiz

The poem came to mind when I prayed the verse:
Let the clouds rain down the Just One, and the earth bring forth a Savior.

I rain
Because your meadows call
For God.

I weave light into words so that
When your mind holds them

Your eyes will relinquish their sadness,
Turn bright, a little brighter, giving to us
The way a candle does
To the dark.

I have wrapped my laughter like a gift
And left it beside your bed.

I have planted my heart’s wisdom
Next to every signpost in the sky.

A wealthy one, seeing all this,
May become eccentric,

A divinely wild soul
transformed to infinite generosity

Tying gold sacks of gratuity
To the dangling feet of moons, planets, ecstatic
Midair dances, and singing birds.

I speak
Because every cell in your body
Is thirsty
For God.

Music: Waiting for the Rain – Kathryn Kaye

Images of Joy

December 10, 2021
Friday of the Second Week of Advent

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, Isaiah paints a poetic picture of the soul fully taught by God. He describes that sacred obedience, or heart’s listening to God, which leads to fullness of joy, peace and eternal life.

I, the LORD, your God,
    teach you what is for your good,
    and lead you on the way you should go.
If you would hearken to my commandments,
    your prosperity would be like a river,
    and your vindication like the waves of the sea;
Your descendants would be like the sand,
    and those born of your stock like its grains,
Their name never cut off
    or blotted out from my presence.

Isaiah 48:17-19

When looking for music to complement Isaiah’s passage, I found a hymn written in 1876 by Frances R. Havergal, an English Anglican poet and hymn writer.

Her hymn Like a River Glorious, although written in older style language, contains several beautiful metaphors, many reflective of today’s passage from Isaiah.

You might want to pray with one or two of these images today:

river
A river of grace – perfect, yet deepening
stand_anchor
Our hearts “stayed” upon God, anchored in faith
chick
Being hidden in the hollow of God’s hand
wind
“no blast of hurry” to disturb our peace (so appropriate to this busy season)
sundial
Our joys and sorrows falling like shadows across the sundial of our lives

I hope you enjoy praying with this hymn, and the accompanying pictures, as much as I did. Be peaceful with them, and let the one meant for you find you


Music: Like a River Glorious – Frances R. Havergal – 1876; performed here by the Parkview Mennonite Church. Follow the images and verses below.

Like a river glorious is God’s perfect peace,
Over all victorious, in its bright increase;
Perfect, yet it floweth fuller every day,
Perfect, yet it groweth deeper all the way.

Refrain:
Stayed upon Jehovah, hearts are fully blest
Finding, as He promised, perfect peace and rest.

Hidden in the hollow of His blessed hand,
Never foe can follow, never traitor stand;

Not a surge of worry, not a shade of care,
Not a blast of hurry touch the spirit there.

(Refrain then …)

Every joy or trial falleth from above,
Traced upon our dial by the Sun of Love;
We may trust Him fully, all for us to do;
They who trust Him wholly find Him wholly true.

Freshness and Light

December 9, 2021
Thursday of the Second Week in Advent

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with inspired Isaiah who must have had such a beautiful mind – a mind to imagine God making a tired world new!

In our first reading, Isaiah shows us what our radiant and nourishing God can do for those who live in darkness, destitution and fear. (Once we get past the unfortunate metaphor of being called a worm!)

I will open up rivers on the bare heights,
    and fountains in the broad valleys;
I will turn the desert into a marshland,
    and the dry ground into springs of water.
I will plant in the desert the cedar,
    acacia, myrtle, and olive;
I will set in the wasteland the cypress,
    together with the plane tree and the pine,
That all may see and know,
    observe and understand,
That the hand of the LORD has done this,
    the Holy One of Israel has created it.

Isaiah 41:18-20

Psalm 145 reminds that God is with us – on our side – in both Advent and our Life Journey.


As the year moves closer to its time of deepest darkness, may we know God’s bright Presence in our hearts. May we sense God lighting, once again, the dark places in our lives and in our world.

We all have parched and painful situations, unanswered hopes, lingering fears.  Let us bring them out of the shadows today and open them to the refreshing grace of God who made the stars to give us hope.

Jupiter Over the Motherhouse

Poetry:

Music: Fiona Joy Hawkins – Blue Dream