Advent: Reach for the Stars

First Sunday of Advent

December 1, 2019

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Advent 1st Sun

Today, in Mercy, dear Friends, let’s begin Advent well! Let’s dedicate that bit of time we choose to spend with the promises of God for our lives. Let’s await Jesus Christ with profound hope and love!

Each Sunday in Advent, I will begin with a meditation I wrote for the Catholic Health Association.  These reflections set the context of each week for us as we immerse ourselves in the amazing revelation of God among us.


On that day, the Lord will bind up
the wounds of His People.
Isaiah 30:26

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Christine is a beautiful woman, inside and out.  She is as vital as fresh air or summer sun.  She is successful, strong, sincere and faith-filled.  But her heart is a fragile hidden glass, ready to break at any moment, because her beloved son is a heroine addict.  Johnny lives in a tidal darkness beyond the shore of her sustaining light.  Like spilled ink, that darkness regularly invades her joy and conspires to steal her hope.

Spiritual darkness holds a profound contradiction. It is the place where we may be deeply lost but even more deeply found.  It is an interior tunnel through which every person walks at least once in her life, the deep chasm from which Isaiah pointed to the distant mountaintop.

During the thrilling season of Advent, we step out into the land of promises and prophets.  The language of hope unfurls in a galaxy across the heavens, calling us out of darkness toward an Infinite and Incarnate Light.  In this first week’s glorious readings, the prophet Isaiah points to our salvation, star by prophetic star:

  • There is a Day coming, he tells us, and on the Day, the Lord will bind up the wounds of his people.
  • In a very little while, he tells us, Lebanon will be changed.  A shoot shall sprout from the tree we had thought to be withered.
  • On this very mountain, he tells us, we will behold our God.

For all of us who, like Christine, carry human sorrow in the shadowed valleys of our spirits, there is healing on the near horizon.  The Daystar of Jesus Christ is about to dawn through the darkness.  God is about to put on the very humanness that is our burden and transform it into glory.  Let us begin, with an eager faith, to enter the divine mystery being sung among the stars.

Music: Creator of the Stars of Night – High Street Hymns

 

The Stars Will Teach Us

Wednesday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time

June 26, 2019

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Today, in Mercy, our reading from Genesis invites us further into the gift of our faith.

We see God break into Abram’s life through a vision.

“Fear not!”, God says.
I am your shield;
I will make your reward very great.”

So Abram must have been a little frightened when God decided to visit him here. But why?

What Abram was nervous about was this: despite God’s earlier promise to him, Abram and Sarai were still childless – barren. In fact, he was so concerned that God would not prove true to the promise, that he was making plans about his own future without God’s help.

… if I keep on being childless
(I will) have as my heir
the steward of my house, Eliezer…

Abram was a very practical guy. His newly-sprouted faith expected practical, even instant results. It would take some time for Abraham to grow into a faith rooted in relationship rather than signs; to realize that faithful relationship is for the long run, not the immediate answer.

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God helps Abram to understand this long, deep view.

God took him outside and said:
“Look up at the sky and count the stars, if you can.
Just so,” he added, “shall your descendants be.”

Abram looked at these stars, made and sustained by God’s hand. He saw that this God Who was inviting him to relationship was beyond time, beyond numbering, beyond human definitions – boundless in life, mercy and love. And so, letting go of his need for concreteness and Immediacy,

Abram put his faith in the LORD,
who credited it to him
as an act of righteousness.

Today’s scripture may lead us consider our own relationship with God, God’s promise in our life, how we are being drawn beyond our limited expectations. Is there a place of barrenness, an unmet need, a broken expectation shaking our heart or spirit? Let’s ask to abandon all these things to God’s love.

We might even want “to go outside” ourselves, literally or figuratively, asking God to teach us how God’s Presence in our life is infinite, even beyond the stars – if we have a faithful heart to see.

Music: Beyond the Moon and Stars – Dan Schutte