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Posts tagged ‘Jesus’

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

Saints Among Us

cross in brick at christ church

 

“I sing a song of the saints of God, patient and brave and true,

who toiled and fought and lived and died for the Lord they loved and knew…”

 

When you hear the word “saint,” what comes to mind? For me, quite often the concept of a saint is that of someone so high, holy and revered, someone so perfect that they seem somehow above the rest of us, someone, in other words, quite unlike me.

USAFA chapel

However, when Lesbia Lesley Scott wrote I Sing a Song of the Saints of God, her intention was simple: to ensure that her children knew that saints live here and now among us, not just then and there in some distant lofty past. Her lyrics speak of folks from all walks of life:  a doctor, a queen, a shepherdess, a priest, a martyr, herself; found in the common places we might each inhabit: schools, streets, seasides; doing ordinary things in ordinary places such as in shops or at tea. They are saints, not because they are so perfect but because they have responded in love to the Lover of their souls.

 city scape

The Old and New Testaments mention saints at least sixty-nine times.  In the Old Testament, saints were ordinary folks who belonged to our extraordinary God, His covenant people. In the New Testament, the word saint refers to those who are set apart as Christ’s own forever by the presence of the Spirit within them.

 

In case that feels a little too high and mighty, Frederick Buechner reminds us that “the feet of the saints are as much of clay as everybody else’s,” which we surely see when we read the antics of these rabble-rousers, or if we just look in the mirror. He does, however go on to distinguish these saints in one more way: “…saints are essentially life-givers. To be with them is to become more alive.”

Stream 2

On this All Saints Day, I am again reminded how I am such a blessed woman, for I live among saints who invite me to life.

count your blessings

I live among folks who dive heart-deep into Jesus, leaping up into healing and freedom as crisp and wild and brave as Isaiah 61 shouts. I pray among splendorous intercessors who dance and bow with their eyes full of glory, bringing heaven to earth in their heartful declarations.

 

I write among playful women whose words offer the raw and the radiant.  I create among winsome poets and artists who glow and ache then offer those moments forth to be pondered.

 water lily reflection

I minister among canyon-carved spiritual directors, ones stilled and quieted enough to watch for the second sight Jesus touches to blinded eyes. I watch and wait among those engraved by waiting’s long shadows.

 Slow

I laugh and cry and dream and hope and pray, pray, pray among beloved children grown and delightful grandchildren growing, with a husband as rambunctious as any rugby player and as big-hearted as the horizon is vast.

 frog on bicycle

I become more alive because of those who invite me into their stretching, suffering, sanctifying places where they walk in tears and laughter with the One who is our heart’s desire. I stay more alive because of those who walk with me in the shadows and the sunshine of my heart’s landscape, reminding me that my holy passion of intimacy with Jesus is the One Thing that really matters.

 rainbow

“In his holy flirtation with the world, God occasionally drops a pocket handkerchief. These handkerchiefs are called saints,” Buechner states.

purple and white flower

My pockets are full of handkerchiefs He’s dropped along my life this All Saints Day.

 

How about yours?

 

 

Resources:

Another post I wrote about saints:  http://lanearnold.co/saints-abound

 

http://www.amazon.com/I-Sing-Song-Saints-God/dp/0819215619

http://www.hymnary.org/media/fetch/139944 : I Sing a Song of the Saints of God

Buechner, Frederick. Wishful Thinking: A Seeker’s ABC. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1993. Page 102

http://www.amazon.com/Wishful-Thinking-A-Seekers-ABC/dp/0060611391/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1383313990&sr=8-1&keywords=wishful+thinking

 

© Lane M. Arnold, 2013

 

 

Truth Lent

 

Lent:

Ash Wednesday: humbling reminder of who I am in relation to the great I AM.

Noticing what is lent to me by the One who made me.

Giving up what is too important to me to let in what is most important for me.

Embracing a new practice to erase an old rut.

Uncluttering my heart to discover more of God’s heart.

Saying no to this is saying yes to that.

Simplifying to deepen.

Lessening to become more.

 

Oh, Jesus, let me simply be with You.

 

© Lane M. Arnold 2013.

All rights reserved

 

 

Celebration as a Spiritual Discipline

Albert Einstein said, “You can live as if nothing is a miracle or you can live as if everything is a miracle.” Isn’t that the essence of celebration?

 

If we are attentive, in upbeat places of the heart, we can see the miracle of what God is up to in the moment at hand. We can see the miracle in the mundane, in the messiness, there in the mix of the ups and downs that each day brings. Yet, isn’t it true that when we think of miracles, we expect an accompaniment of fireworks and trumpets?

 

The reality is there are a thousand simple, quiet miracles each day, which we easily miss if we aren’t watching for them: small noticing of big miracles, big noticings of small miracles.  The way my body moves. Dew on the grass. The hilarious, encouraging phone call. The jaunty serenade of laughter. Magenta sunsets.

 

Celebration is a way of enjoying the everyday miracles alongside the over-the-top ones. It’s another way of thinking about the status of the proverbial glass: Is it half full or half empty? If that glass is half full, then that’s cause for celebration. Conversely, we often think that if it’s half empty, that’s legitimate cause to be rather Eeyore-ish.

 

However, in living among the spiritual disciplines, we learn a spiritual discipline requires, hmm, discipline. In his classic book Celebration of Discipline, Richard Foster states that the disciplines of the spiritual life invite us to move from the surface of life to its interior depths. Movement involves change, doesn’t it?

 

In one sense, celebration doesn’t seem like it really needs to be a discipline. Celebration appears as if it would always be easy, that is, until it’s not.

 

On difficult days it’s hard to find anything that seems celebration-worthy. A disaster occurs. Sometimes these things are huge like getting fired or the terminally bad news the doctor declares. It’s the investment that goes belly up and the relationship that falls flat on its face.

 

 

At other times, the hardness isn’t one giant avalanche. It’s a continually smattering of snowballs hard as ice that pelt time after time all through the day ‘til you’re battered and bruised. It’s the car battery going dead then the water heater flooding the basement then pounding your thumb instead of the nail. It’s the check that doesn’t come. The neighbor who knocks over our trashcan and leaves the scene of the mess. It’s the daily waiting for what should have been that still isn’t quite yet.

 

It’s on days when hardness seeks to harden our hearts that entering into celebration as a spiritual discipline can form us into fluid and flexible and festive people. With the spade of spiritual disciplines, we dig diligently and determinedly deep, to practice what we don’t feel like practicing. We savor the mystery and wonder of God even among the misfortunes that pummel our days.

 

Celebration happens in two ways. The easy way as we rejoice and delight because of what’s happening: a raise, a sunrise, a flower still blooming after the first snow. The disciplined way of celebration occurs as we rejoice and delight in spite of what’s happening. It’s finding the sparkle in the darkness: a simple pleasure among a plethora of pains.

 

Whichever way we come at it, celebration moves our hearts from the things on the surface to the deeper heart of Jesus.

 

How’s your celebration quota? What miracle, small or large, will you celebrate today?

 

 

Lane M. Arnold

© 2013. 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.