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Posts tagged ‘Advent’

Pursued by the Word

Advent wreath

Blessed Lord, who has caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning; Grant that we may in such wise hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that by patience and comfort of thy holy Word, we may embrace, and ever hold fast, the blessed hope of everlasting life, which thou hast given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ.

Amen.

Book of Common Prayer, 1928.

 

BCP

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As a child, books were my safe place. My place to hope, to dream. My window seat into other worlds. My unscrambling place. My place to imagine life in fresh ways. My place to confront the impossible and see the possible. My place of pursuing life.

1 Books

Books are still that for me…a place of invitation: get unstuck, untangle what’s tangled. See afresh. Laugh. Weep. Travel forth. These characters look oh-so-similar to me.

 

A good book (fiction, nonfiction, poetry, prose) is a mirror. Shows me what I didn’t even know was there. A good book disrupts my comfort zone, even while it’s a safe haven. A good book dismantles barricades. Barriers that distant me from desire, from hope, from dreams. A good book grabs me. Hugs me so tight that tears cascade, stinging down my sobbing face. Hugs me so profoundly that I laugh way down deep.

2 Books

A good book invites me to be more fully alive.

 

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 Snow hydrangeas

Enough sorrows to sink me

Enough joys to keep me buoyant

And the God-of-Angel-Armies ever at my side.

 

That’s the epitaph of this year for me.

 

Enough tears to hollow caverns of sorrow in me. Enough joys to lift me from those carved canyons of sorrow. Always, always, in it all, the God who is Present, Father, Son, Spirit, ever by my side.

 

I’ve run to books often in this up-and down-year. I’ve poured over prose. I’ve played alongside poetry. I’ve reread books from my childhood. I’ve discovered children’s literature I’d missed along the way. I’ve returned to familiar authors. I’ve read books as new as the dew. I’ve read books enjoyed over generations.

 

Story mesmerized and healed me.

3 Books

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So here in Advent’s waiting, as a new year begins, as I wait and wait for that celebration, for that Baby to be born again in my heart, I read still. I read the familiar yet ever new Collect for the Second Sunday in Advent  from the 1928 Book of Common Prayer. It’s fresh and old. A prayer that savors the holy Word.

 

Holy Scriptures.

Written for our learning.

Hear them.

Read them.

Mark them.

Learn them.

Inwardly digest them.

Contents of Bible

Thy Holy Word.

Woven with

Scents

of

Patience

Comfort

 

Holy Word

Inwardly digested

Nourishment of

Ever-hold-fast

Hope.

 

Holy Word.

Number One

Book of the Year

For

My heart.

 

Here in Your Word,

We’ve talked.

I’ve listened.

I’ve watched.

I’ve learned.

 

Here with You,

Father

Son

Spirit

 

I’ve entered in

Story:

 

Adam naming

Eve companioning

Those two straying

You still pursuing

 

Patriarchs

David

Job

Isaiah

Habbakuk

Believing and doubting

Wrestling and aching

Keeping heart open

Even in

Face of

Loss.

You still pursuing

Psalms

Psalms

Veins of emotions

Pulsing

Of

Ache

Of

Hope.

Pulsing

Of

Worship

Of

Worry

You still pursuing

 

Gabriel announcing

While holding his breath for

The young girl’s answer.

Mary and her Yes

Even when it all

Looks mighty impossible

You still pursuing

 

Enemy tactics

Steal

Kill

Destroy

 

Put on the armor

You still pursuing.

 

Jesus

Life full

Full life

 

Younger son

Elder son

Prodigals alike

In ways

Only

Father sees.

 

Second touch

Healing’s not instant

Just ask the blind man

Or Lazarus.

 

Holy Spirit

Acts

On fire

You still pursuing

Genesis

I read it forward.

Genesis to Revelation.

I read it backward.

Revelation to Genesis.

Either route,

Your Story

Eternity-wide,

Everlastingly long.

And always,

It ends,

At a Wedding Feast.

You still pursuing.

Revelation

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Enough sorrows to sink me

Enough joys to keep me buoyant

And the God-of-Angel-Armies ever at my side.

Lights out of focus

Father, Son, Spirit, thank You for the Word written, for the Word Incarnate, the Word alive in this Story that is ever true and ever full of Your heart for me.

 

You still pursuing.

 

A never-ending Love Story.

 

 

 

You Still Pursuing

 

 

 

 

© Lane M. Arnold, 2013

 

 

Advent: Watching for the Incognito

 

Red and white nature

 

“We may ignore, but we can nowhere evade, the presence of God. The world is crowded with Him. He walks everywhere incognito. And the incognito is not always hard to penetrate. The real labour is to remember, to attend. In fact, to come awake. Still more to remain awake.”

            (C. S. Lewis, Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer, Harcourt, Inc., 1964, p. 75)

 

 

During Advent, we wait and watch.

Watching requires being alert.

Being alert means I notice.

I notice what is happening around me and within me.

I pay attention to the Presence of God in the ordinary moments of this day.

God, this Advent, may I notice Your heart. May I notice my heart.

Keep me alert.

Keep me awake.

Keep me aware of Your incognito Presence.

© Lane M. Arnold, 2013

Advent’s First Sunday

The First Sunday in Advent

 

The Collect. 1928 The Book of Common Prayer

Almighty God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life, in which thy Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the quick and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal, through him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, now and ever. Amen.

This Collect is to be repeated every day, after the other Collects in Advent, until Christmas Day.

 

 

Grace to be aware of Grace.

 Grace to banish the works of darkness.

 Light to be aware of Light.

 Light to armor against the darkness.

Grace and Light now

since

Jesus

visited

then.

Grace and Light

now

since

Jesus

shall come

visiting

again.

Cast

Your

Armor of

Grace and Light

‘Round my

waiting,

watching,

whirling,

wondering,

wishing

heart.

Lane M. Arnold

The Shape of New Beginnings

 

I’ve been asking God how He wants to shape me for this new year. Not a resolution. Not a goal. But a clarifying of who I am to be, how I am to become. I’ve been listening for His response, waiting to hear.

As Advent turned to Christmas, as December moved towards January, I’ve journaled, imagined, even read some of those end-of-the-year evaluative thought-provoking questions. I’d imagined it would be a hint of what’s in store for the year ahead, my part in His story. I really wanted to know before the year changed from old to new.

Did it have to do with this good and glorious calling as a wife? A mother? A grandmother? A friend? Did it have to do with expanding my role as an author? Speaker? A Spiritual Director?  Is there something new I’m being called towards?

Seeking His shaping for me, the silence continued. Even on the last day of the year, the silence was unbroken.

Finally, on the last day before one year became the next, His shape for me became quite clear.

Emerging from the library, a lanky father held open the door for his gangly daughter. She glanced up at him. I was too far away to hear their words.

He grinned. She leaned in. He tousled her hair. She hugged him tightly as she smiled. They clearly exchanged tender, humorous words.

Again he spoke, an invitation, so it seemed, for she nodded. They took off running across the sidewalk.

Their gallop of joy, him setting the pace, her keeping up at times, then lagging behind, or playfully darting ahead, had all the antics of two schoolchildren delighting in a frivolous moment together.

Continually, the father’s eyes are upon the daughter. The majority of the time her eyes track his, boldly confident in this love relationship. They race onward, his overcoat flapping, her scarf like a kite trailing up into the sky, their cheeks rosy in the brisk mountain air.

His strides, long and sure, could easily outpace her younger, shorter ones. He sprints, challenging her to stretch forward. She rises to the challenge. The, she lags behind, distracted, discouraged, a bit undisciplined and lazy.

It doesn’t stop him. He’s still running forward full force, yet always cheering her on as he looks back over his shoulder, waving her towards him. She surges towards him. He ambles alongside her.  She drops to a walk. He stops and waits, jogging in place. She laughs then springs forward in quick pursuit, hugging him when she’s near.

A good father offers invitations. A good daughter trustingly accepts, most of the time.

So clearly, this father loved his daughter. So clearly, this daughter loved her father.

Adored. Beloved. Cherished. Delighted over. Encouraged. He gives. She receives. She gives. He receives.

There it was: the shape of what my good heavenly Father, my Abba, wants for me in the year ahead. No resolution. No goal. No new calling. No expansion of present callings.

 

Just a clarifying:

He wants me to enjoy being His daughter. He wants me to enjoy Him being my Father.

 

He wants me to be shaped by this knowing beyond knowing that I am tenderly and tenacious:

Adored. Beloved. Cherished. Delighted over. Encouraged.

 

He invites me onward. I lean into Him.

He gazes lovingly, challenging me to go and be likewise.

 

Adored, I adore.

Beloved, I love.

Cherished, I cherish.

Delighted over, I delight.

Encouraged, I encourage.

 

So that’s the shape God wants for me:  a daughter who is ever leaning in, feeling my Father’s tender adoration, following Him into the gallop of joy, into the challenge of a little more than I think I can handle. He’s not going anywhere without me. Why would I go anywhere without Him?

I’m accepting His invitation to be shaped by this wildly vast love. He’s quite something marvelous, this Tender and Tenacious heavenly Father of mine.

 

How about you? How does God want to shape you as this year unfolds?

 

Lane Arnold

All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Keeping Your O

I’m one who savors the season of Advent and Christmas. I love the quiet holiness that can accompany this season. I delight in the many hymns of Christmas. This morning, when I rolled out of bed, I was humming the tune to

O Come, O Come Emmanuel.

 

“O Come, Thou Wisdom, from on high,

And order all things far and nigh;

To us the path of knowledge show,

And teach us in her ways to go.

 

Rejoice! Rejoice!

Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.”

 

How odd to have that hymn as the first thing on my heart as I arose. Then I remembered why. Last night I’d been reading about the O Antiphon days. This morning is their beginning.

The O Antiphons are used in liturgical worship through prayer and song from December 17 through December 23. As I understand it, the O Antiphons were the basis for the wonderful hymn I’d been humming. Each of the seven O Antiphons is a title for Jesus that leads us to focus afresh on Him. It’s an Advent tradition I’ve adopted: to ponder Jesus in light of these seven titles. Apparently, it was a tradition in times past as well, even centuries ago.  “Keep your O” became a short catch phrase to remind folks to ponder these various titles, leaning into those characteristics of Christ, as Christmas approached.

In Latin, the seven titles create an acrostic. When each beginning letter is joined from last to first, it reads “Ero Cras,” which translates  “Tomorrow I come.” This reminds us of what Advent is leading up to: The Coming of Christ.

For those among us who, like me, are not versed in Latin, the English translations are:

O Sapientia =       O Wisdom

O Adonai =            O Lord of Israel

O Radix Jesse =    O Root of Jesse

O Clavis David =  O Key of David

O Oriens =             O Dayspring

O Rex Gentium =  O King of the Gentiles

O Emmanuel =     O God with us

So I woke up this morning with O Wisdom on my mind. Lately I’ve been reading through Proverbs, noticing what wisdom is and what wisdom is not. Thinking of the O Wisdom antiphon, I turned to Isaiah 11:2-3 and Isaiah 28:29. The Spirit of Wisdom rests on Jesus; He is magnificent in wisdom. That’s a magnificent thought that leads me to worship Jesus afresh. How appealing. How settling. There are so many questions, so many confusing things, so many ups and downs in any given day. How reassuring to know that there is true wisdom which resides, originates, and comes forth from Jesus. Anything I need to know for living wisely is ever-present in the One who came, and comes, and will come again.

Wouldn’t it be grand to be one who is infused with such wisdom? I’d love for the scent of wisdom to be wafting appealingly through me. What might that look like? How might that come to be?

Wisdom is something we gather as we walk with Jesus, the Wisdom from on high. However it’s not like we gather baskets of wisdom then sit them on the shelf of our intellect and say, “There, I’ve gotten some wisdom.”

Wisdom is rather something we gather from being continually in the Presence of the Holy One, then apply it to our moments as we journey through life. It’s an integrated way of being in relationship with Christ, listening well to Him: my head and my heart woven into a wholesomeness that leans towards holiness. I watch Jesus, listen to Him, and go forth, doing and being likewise. In His Presence, I inhale wisdom.

There’s an orderliness, too, about wisdom coupled with discernment as we choose how to step into more of God. There’s a constancy about wisdom as well. It’s not something I can gain in one moment. It’s about staying close to the Wisdom from on high Himself that garners wisdom’s growth within me. Small constant steps with Christ bring me towards wisdom.

So on this first day of the O Antiphons, I’m thinking about how I’m “keeping my O”…by watching Jesus who is the O Wisdom.

 

On this first day of the O Antiphons, join me in pondering:

How are you doing on “Keeping your O?”

Where are you leaning well into Wisdom?

Where do you resist?

How might the Wisdom from on High infuse us this day?

 

 

 

Lane M. Arnold

All rights reserved.