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

That Sweet Light

November 30, 2021
Feast of St. Andrew, Apostle

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with the Apostle Andrew – one who was called and gifted to bring the Good News – and with the Paul, and Isaiah ‘s beautiful song:

As Isaiah has written,
How beautiful are the feet of those who bring the good news!
But not everyone has heeded the good news;
for Isaiah says, Lord, who has believed what was heard from us?
Thus faith comes from what is heard,
and what is heard comes through the word of Christ.
But I ask, did they not hear?
Certainly they did; for

    Their voice has gone forth to all the earth,
        and their words to the ends of the world
.

Romans 10:16-18

 As we stand just past Advent’s front threshold, it is fitting to do so here beside Andrew, on his feast, remembering how one day Jesus invited him to launch out into a whole new world.

Today teases us with something we cannot yet imagine. Tomorrow, it will be December – the last month of 2021. And, as for the past two years, we still wait for the world to be delivered from pandemic. It is a waiting that takes great faith, courage, and perseverance – virtues, at times, difficult to summon.

Still as people of faith, we know that Advent is time to wait in silence for unfathomed miracles. Advent teases us with something we can not yet imagine.

What graces will these days hold for us as we prepare for Christmas?


Jesus teased Andrew and Peter too with the promise to be “fishers of men”. Wading knee-deep in the Galilean Sea, do you think they had any hint of what Jesus was talking about? I don’t. I think they simply caught the faith, hope and love in his eyes the way a match catches flame when it’s struck.

Let’s stand with Andrew today in these beginning hours of Advent, on the edge of the long nights or days of December (depending on our hemisphere)

Let’s trust the fire we find in Christ’s eyes as we pray through this Holy Season. Let’s be very intentional not to miss the point of these sacred days by losing them to the fears or frenzies that may threaten us.


An old devotion that I still love is the St. Andrew Novena. The prayer, prayed from November 30 until December 24th, is meant to remind us of the true meaning of these days leading to Christmas. Because my mother said it with me when I was a little girl, it carries both spiritual and emotional riches for me.

It is traditionally suggested that we say it fifteen times a day. I will confess that I say it only once a day, but I do that slowly, focusing on the sacred mystery held within the words.


Poetry – Prayer

I also have created my personal version without specific petitions. I think God knows what we need and provides for us. God’s Lavish Mercy is enough and everything.


My St. Andrew’s Prayer:

Hail, and blessed be the hour and moment
at which the Son of God was born
of our dear Mother Mary
in a stable
at midnight
in Bethlehem
in the piercing cold.
At that hour, I ask you dear God,
to hear my prayer and grant my hope
that you fill our world again
with your Loving Presence.
Through Jesus Christ and His most Blessed Mother.
Amen
.


Music: We Shall Behold Him – Ron Kenoly (Lyrics below)

I love this hymn, especially the line “the sweet light in his eyes shall enhance those awaiting”. Maybe that’s the light Andrew saw. May we see it too!

Come Forth!

Fifth Sunday of Lent

March 29, 2020

Click here for readings

Today, in Mercy, our first reading from the Ezekiel seems so pertinent to our times:

Thus says the Lord GOD:
O my people, I will open your graves
and have you rise from them,
and bring you back to the land you love…

Indeed, our times do carry a funereal feeing —  a sense of loss, confinement, and death.  The way one does with sudden death, we ask ourselves what happened! We long to see the light of God’s promise breaking over the stormy horizon.

sunrise
photo by Yousef Espanioly

Our readings this Fifth Sunday of Lent are about just such transformation.  They are about passing through the valley of bereavement to new life.

In this unprecedented time, each one of us and all of us are being called forth from old graves to a new understanding of life… called from a universal blindness to a new light. Our Gospel story of the raising of Lazarus invites us to think about our own tombs, our own darknesses from which the Lord summons us to “Come forth!”

Lazarus

Our rising is not easy, because this deadly blindness is deceptive. It is like someone walking through the Louvre, staring into a mirror. It is the blindness of self-absorption despite a surrounding sea of miracles.

mirror

When we exist within such blindness, we are as good as dead. We are Lazarus lost in a tomb. We become buried in all the manifestations of such egotism: greed, denial worry, obsession, anxiety, self-righteousness, regret and their myriad companions.

These are illusions we nurture that the world exists only as we choose to see it; that we are the universal center; that all depends on our preferences; that should we fail, the world ends.

When we operate under these illusions, all life’s energy turns inward where it fizzles in a cyclonic vacuum. The world of “me” is a tomb sealed off from the world of “us”. Ultimately, it is we who bind ourselves in its sepulchral wrappings.

But Jesus calls, “Come out!” He tells us to leave the mirror in the tomb as we walk into the true light. We are called to new life together in Him. We are released now to see the world through God’s eyes.

Having known a deadly darkness, how precious the light of new life was to Lazarus! How profound his appreciation, given a renewed vision!

What would it be like for us to live our lives with this second sight? How might we love people differently, as Lazarus must have newly treasured his sisters? How might the fabricated walls between us disappear within the grace of a second understanding? How might we see creation anew, apprehend time in eternal dimensions, embrace ourselves and others as Divine children?

Caught in our mirrors, we disregard the sacred dust around us, failing to recognize it as the stuff of stars. May we turn toward the brilliant call of Jesus. “Look”, he says. “Look at what I have given you!” May we seek the Lazarus moment in every experience – even the stunning shock of pandemic.  May the grace of Jesus’s summons unbind us with resurrected joy!

Music:  Lazarus, Come Forth – The Bishops (Lyrics below)

Please see second post today for a poem I like about this story.

Heartbroken, tears falling
Martha found Jesus
She questioned why Lazarus had died.
When she had thus spoken, her doubts were then silenced.
He walked toward the body and cried.

Lazarus, come forth.
Awake like the morning.
Arise with new hope, a new life is born.
Lazarus, come forth.
From death now awaken.
For Jesus has spoken.
Death’s chains have been broken.
Lazarus, come forth.

The tomb now was empty.
Martha stopped crying.
Her brother now stood by her side.
The Pharisee’s wondered about what had happened.
How could one now live who had died?

The reason this story gives hope to so many
Is although we know we must die.
Our bodies won’t stay there
In cold and dark silence.
We’ll hear Jesus cry from on high.

Children come forth
Awake like the morning.
Arise with new hope, a new life is born.
Children come forth.
From death now awaken.
For Jesus has spoken.
Death’s chains have been broken.
Children come forth.

For Jesus has spoken.
Death’s chains have been broken.
My Children come forth.
Children come forth.
Children, come forth.