December 27, 2015

First Sunday of Christmas

Almighty God, you have poured upon us the new light of your incarnate Word: Grant that this light, enkindled in our hearts, may shine forth in our lives; through Jesus  Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

This collect reminds us that the Incarnate Word lives in us and shines through us. The Charles Wesley hymn Love Divine is a prayer that invites that Love to ‘fix in us Thy humble dwelling…[and] enter every trembling heart’. For me that is the Christmas message made real in each of our lives. With the Light of God inside, we can glow with love for all and work to bring peace to the hurt of the world. You can listen to this hymn on YouTube

Starting on January 3 and until Easter I invite you to a time of exploring A-Z Bible words through Spiritual Scrapbooking. This will give you the chance to explore what some ordinary words mean to you when looked at in the light of scripture, prayer, and your own life and theology.

Each week I’ll present a couple of words in my Sunday post. I’ll give you the definition. Sometimes I’ll include the etymology (history) of the word because it can make you look at a common word in a whole new way when you understand the root of it. I’ll include one or 2 Bible verses that use each word, and a prayer for both words. You are invited to take the words, Bible citations, and prayers and consider what they mean to you.
You can make this as simple or as fancy as you want. Next week I’ll have the first couple words and full directions for a successful time of Spiritual Scrapbooking.

December 26, 2015

Day after Christmas


Almighty God, you have given your only-begotten Son to take our nature upon him, and to be born of a pure virgin: Grant that we, who have been born again and made your children by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by your Holy Spirit; through our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom with you and the same Spirit be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

December 25, 2015

Christmas Day 2015






O God, you make us glad by the yearly festival of the birth of your only Son Jesus Christ: Grant that we, who joyfully receive him as our Redeemer, may with sure confidence behold him when he comes to be our Judge; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

December 24, 2015

Christmas Eve 2015

O God, you have caused this holy night to shine with the brightness of the true Light: Grant that we, who have known the mystery of that Light on earth, may also enjoy him perfectly in heaven; where with you and the Holy Spirit he lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlastingAmen.

Today is Christmas Eve and we rejoice in the light of all the candles on the Advent wreath, plus additional ones like the white one in the center. The collect from the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer calls us to welcome the True Light.

May we each be blessed as we welcome the Christ Child into heart and home this day and each day to come.


You will find other Christmas collects on the next couple days, when you have time to pause and pray, and welcome the Light. 

December 23, 2015

Advent 4-Wednesday-Mary

Purify our conscience, Almighty God, by your daily visitation, that your Son Jesus Christ, at his coming, may find in us a mansion prepared for himself; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen

We are almost to Christmas when Jesus comes. Christmas is the annual reminder that Jesus came, and comes, and is coming. God’s love is so encompassing that God desired to be with us and came in human form! The idea is amazing, almost unbelievable, and must cause us great joy.
In the creed each week, we state that ‘we believe’ that Jesus was ‘born of the virgin Mary’. Luke tells us how that happened, “In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, ‘Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.’ But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.’ Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I am a virgin?’ The angel said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.’ Then Mary said, ‘Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.’ Then the angel departed from her.” (Luke 1:26-38)

Jesus entered Mary’s womb so long ago by the action of the Holy Spirit. That same Spirit is Jesus living within us now, and forever.

Can you join Mary in saying, ‘here I am’? 

December 22, 2015

Advent 4-Tuesday-Mansions

Purify our conscience, Almighty God, by your daily visitation, that your Son Jesus Christ, at his coming, may find in us a mansion prepared for himself; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen

Yesterday we considered what happens when Jesus comes to visit on a daily basis. The collect suggests that we are the mansion prepared by God for Jesus. For me the word ‘mansion’ conjures up a huge home with dozens of rooms and staircases and fabulous furnishings. I’m not so sure that I think of myself as being a wonderfully beautiful home for God…
In the Gospel of John, Jesus says, ‘In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you.” (John 14:2, KJV) The walls of my mansion may need paint, and the doors might be scuffed, and the windows dirty, but God sees the beauty that God created! Our ‘mansions’ are not all the same, but we are all beloved by God.


Does it make you feel joyful to think that you are a mansion for God?

December 21, 2015

Advent 4-Monday-Daily Visit

Purify our conscience, Almighty God, by your daily visitation, that your Son Jesus Christ, at his coming, may find in us a mansion prepared for himself; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen

The term ‘daily visitation’ makes me pause, and if I’m honest, it makes me a little uncomfortable. What if Jesus and God stopped by today. Would I be ready for that visit? When we expect company, what’s the first thing we do—clean up so that no one will see our daily mess, right? But Jesus is a daily visitor, so maybe the mess we are is really OK with God…?
St. Paul tells the Thessalonians how to always be ready for our Lord, Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil. Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass. (I Thessalonians 5:16-24)

All we need to have ready to welcome Jesus today is a joyful heart. Then we are made holy (sanctified) by God! What good news. It’s OK to not be perfect!

Are you ready for Jesus to stop by your house and heart today?

December 20, 2015

Fourth Sunday of Advent

Purify our conscience, Almighty God, by your daily visitation, that your Son Jesus Christ, at his coming, may find in us a mansion prepared for himself; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Today we enter the final few days before Christmas. In the secular world this is a hectic time of last minute gifts, parties, baking, and other preparations. In the world of church workers, the same is often true. There are the last minute rehearsals for pageants, anthems, and final touches to put on the Christmas decorations for the altar.
The collect calls us to something much different. We are reminded that Jesus is present and that we are ‘mansions’ that we make ready for God. That is hard to do when you are busy, busy with details and worried that things might not be just right.

Martha, sister of Lazarus and Mary, faced that same issue while fixing a meal for Jesus and his disciples when they visited. Jesus reminds her that there is another way, and that simple can sometimes be better. 
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” 
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”(Luke 10:28-42)
Martha was fretting about having just the perfect feast and forgetting that true hospitality involves spending time with the guests. Jesus wants to be our guest this Advent and Christmas, and every day. This week's chain is here.
Do we take time to welcome Him into our homes, our mansions? 

December 19, 2015

Advent 3-Saturday-Plans

Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen

As we come to the end of the third week of Advent, we are reminded that all we think or do or say is part of the plan God has for us. We might stray away from time to time, but God’s forgiveness draws us back. God’s plan for you and me may not be what we anticipated when we laid out our life as a child, but be assured God says, “I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.” (Jeremiah 29:11, MSG)

It can be difficult sometimes to release what we thought were our hearts’ desires. Amazingly, when we do allow God to take over and say, I can only do anything ‘through Jesus Christ’, we find new vistas and things we never expected.


Can you let go of the plans you have for yourself and let God be in control? 

December 18, 2015

Advent 3-Friday-Grace and Mercy

Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen

All week we have been looking at the Collect (prayer) for the Third Sunday of Advent. We have been thinking about how the great might and power of God very often change the direction of our lives. This can be in big ways, or in small.

Paul was another person in the Bible whose life was radically changed when he encountered the grace and mercy of God. In the First Letter to Timothy he recounts, “even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus. It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.” (1 Timothy 1:13-15)

Our past doesn’t matter to God. It is our present actions that God can work in and through. As the picture today reminds us, “your sins are forgiven”. Every moment of every day we are forgiven for those things ‘done and left undone’ (as another prayer says). Because of that we can move forward in joy to greet the coming Lord of All.


Do you remember that you are forgiven, or do you think there are some things that God just cannot forgive? Remember-God forgives EVERY thing when we repent.

December 17, 2015

Advent 3-Thursday-Acceptance

Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen

Today we continue to think about Joseph. Yesterday we saw that his first reaction was to quietly divorce Mary. God had different plans. “But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’…When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife” (Matthew 1:20-24)

In this painting by Domingo Martinez, we see the exhausted Joseph and the angel. Sometimes God’s plan for our lives is very different than what we expected. All this week we’ve seen various ways that has played out for Israel, and for Joseph-and for us. For Joseph, this meant a complete change of attitude and the willingness to accept Mary and her ‘shame’, including all the gossip.

When has God’s plan surprised you with a new direction?  

December 16, 2015

Advent 3-Wednesday-Joseph

Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen

This week of rejoicing in the power of God is a good time to look at the man who played an important part in the coming of Jesus. Joseph of Nazareth is often overlooked because his is a supporting role. He is not one of the stars of the show. However, Joseph had a difficult decision when faced with Mary’s announcement of her pregnancy. (My novel, Mary, My Love, explores the whole Nativity story from Joseph's viewpoint.)

Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly.  (Matthew 1:18-25)

In Joseph’s time, a betrothal was just as binding as the actual marriage and infidelity was punishable by stoning, if the man demanded it. The other options were to marry the woman (and admit that you had slept together before the marriage), or to quietly divorce her. This was what Joseph decided to do.

Was there a time when you were torn between what you thought you should do and what society was urging you to do?
Tomorrow we'll see how God changed Joseph's mind.

December 15, 2015

Advent 3-Tuesday-Great might

Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen

Paul in his letter to the Ephesians, offers a prayer. He asks that the power of God’s spirit may result in knowing God’s love and in results beyond what we might expect. “I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, for ever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:16-21)

Paul reminds the church at Ephesus that it is God working IN us that accomplishes anything.

How often do you try to do something FOR God, rather than letting God work IN and THROUGH you? 

December 14, 2015

Advent 3-Monday-Stir Up

Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen

The first phrase of this collect/prayer is found in Psalm 80. “Oh, give ear, Shepherd of Israel, You who lead Joseph like a flock; You who are enthroned above the cherubim, shine forth! Before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh, stir up Your power And come to save us! O God, restore us And cause Your face to shine upon us, and we will be saved.” (Psalm 80:1-3)
The people of Israel prayed this regularly, but they were not prepared for the answer to their pleas. God responded in a most unexpected way—with a baby, born in a stable, to a carpenter. God responded with an itinerant rabbi who welcomed the outsiders and turned the world upside down.
When world and personal problems surface, we pray for God’s intervention, too. However, we might be surprised by the answer.
Matthew West's Christian song Do Something is one answer we can get when we complain to God. 'I made you' says God [to respond to the needs of the world]. 


Have you ever prayed for God’s power to help you? Were you surprised by the answer? 

December 13, 2015

Advent III-Power

Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.
Welcome to the Third week of Advent. We’ve been looking at the Collects (prayers) for each Sunday from the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer. 
This week, we consider the power of God and what that means for us, and for Joseph of Nazareth. The power of God changed his life in dramatic ways.
This Sunday is also "Rose Sunday", more properly called Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete is the Latin for 'Rejoice' and the readings today call us to Rejoice in the Lord (Philippinas 4:4-6). When there is seemingly much darkness in the world, we are called to rejoice and remember the 'great power' of our God! As a visible symbol of this, we light the one rose colored candle on our Advent wreaths, and many churches include pink roses in the altar flowers. Some priests wear rose colored vestments, too, instead of the normal Advent purple. 

Download this week’s Advent chain

The chain for the first week and second week can also be downloaded. 

December 12, 2015

Advent 2-Saturday-Joy

Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen
In Revelation we hear that we are “a kingdom, priests to His God and Father-- to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen. Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen. "I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty." (Rev. 1:6-8) 
When we repent as urged by John and other prophets, we are able to ‘greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ’. We are as I Peter states, “living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ." (1 Pet. 2:5).
Because we are already members of this kingdom and of this priesthood, we truly can be joyful in the coming of Jesus, both at Christmas and at the end of time.

Do you ever feel incapable of being a member of the kingdom or being a priest of that kingdom?

December 11, 2015

Advent 2-Friday-Make Straight

Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen
Not everyone believed John the Baptist. In fact, the authorities were quite antagonistic. A group came to challenge him. “They said to him, ‘Who are you, so that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?’ He said, ‘I am a voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘make straight the way of the Lord,' as Isaiah the prophet said.’ Now they had been sent from the Pharisees.” (John 1:22-24)
Being a prophet is not an easy calling. It takes grace and courage to speak what you think God wants said, especially if it goes contrary to authority or conventional wisdom. Traditional icons of John the Baptist show him holding his head-a reminder of the cost of standing up against authority. By following God, John was forced to forgo fame and fortune and indeed his life.

Do you have a message to proclaim that might be contrary to authority?

December 10, 2015

Advent 2-Thursday-Wilderness

Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Prophets call us to change direction-the definition of ‘repentance’. John called for the people to confess their sins and make themselves ‘ready’ for the coming Messiah. He was “The voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘make ready the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.’ John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And all the country of Judea was going out to him, and all the people of Jerusalem; and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins.” (Mark 1:3-5)
The people of first Century Judea heard John and responded. They changed their actions and listened to his warning. The prayer suggests we are wise to do the same. Perhaps we are also called to speak up to someone who needs to hear that repentance is good news.

Are you a voice to those who are lost in the wilderness?

December 9, 2015

Advent 2-Wednesday-Prophetic voice

Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
The prayer for the Second Sunday of Advent asks us to heed the prophets who are working to ‘prepare the way for our salvation’. Isaiah promises that redemption will come to Israel. “Speak kindly to Jerusalem; And call out to her, that her warfare has ended, That her iniquity has been removed, That she has received of the LORD'S hand double for all her sins. A voice is calling, "Clear the way for the LORD in the wilderness; Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God. Let every valley be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; And let the rough ground become a plain, And the rugged terrain a broad valley.” (Isaiah 40:2-4)
This is a reference to the idea that prior to the visit of a king, servants would go ahead to smooth out the roadway so that the king could travel smoothly. The valleys were filled and hills leveled if possible. As a child I read a series of books about the “Little Colonel”, Lloyd Sherman. A story told by her mother is about the Road of the Loving Heart. The actions we do in our lives either make the road smooth, or leave stones for others to trip over.

What do you need to remove in your life's roadway to make the way more smooth for the King of Kings?

December 8, 2015

Advent 2-Tuesday-Repentance

Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
John the Baptist did not announce a watered-down God. His message was bold and he claimed, “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” (Matt 3:11) He announced that the coming Messiah would not be a tame representative of God. 
John knew that his own message was powerful, but that Messiah would bring an even more dramatic change to the world.
Baptism seems like a simple and innocent enough sacrament of the church when we see a baby brought into the household of faith. John however, promises and warns, that God’s Holy Spirit will come as part of that baptism.

Have you ever felt baptized by Fire as promised by John?

December 7, 2015

Advent 2-Monday-John the Baptist

Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
John the Baptist was big news in Israel. People flocked to hear him proclaim that Messiah was coming. After Jesus was baptized, John begins to wonder if he really is the Promised One. He sends some of his followers to ask Jesus about it. “When the messengers of John had left, [Jesus] began to speak to the crowds about John, ‘What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? But what did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Those who are splendidly clothed and live in luxury are found in royal palaces!’” (Luke 7:24-25)
Jesus acknowledged that John was a non-conformist, as are most prophets. We might even think of John the Baptist as a crazy person, willing to live in the desert and eat 'locusts and wild honey'. 
In Godspell, the 1970's musical, John is portrayed as a minstrel who calls an assortment of normal people out of their routine-dancing, working, etc. by his shofar and song. Their joy is contagious as they join him to ‘prepare the way’.  Sometimes we need a nonconformist to remind us that our God is living and transformative, not staid and boring.
 
Do you follow a joyful minstrel to a life-changing God or do you have a boring God? 

Get this week's images for your Advent chain or collage. 

December 6, 2015

Advent 2-Sunday

Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
The Second Sunday of Advent is also the Feast of Nicholas this year. This Bishop of the early church is the origin of our Santa Claus, of course. Nicholas was, in his way, a prophet (as well as saint) of the church. Nicholas in his actions of compassion to the poor showed the way of God's love and justice in a world that looked the other way. 
The collect/prayer for the 2nd Sunday calls us to listen to the prophets among us. Prophets are not necessarily men or women who foretell the future. Instead they point the way to God and justice and peace. As the prayer says they ‘preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation.’ 
 This week we’ll look at John the Baptist and how his words and actions prepared the people of Israel for Jesus. 

Download this week’s images to continue your Advent collage or chain.  
Catch up with the meditations by downloading last week's page, and check out previous posts for the accompanying meditations. 

December 5, 2015

Advent 1-Saturday-Trinity

Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your 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 living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen

The invocation of the Trinity ends nearly every collect in the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer. It is a reminder that God, though One, is also Father, Son, and Spirit. During the Last Supper, Jesus prays for his disciples and “for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one.” (John 17:20-22)
God who is in Jesus, is also in you and me. The Prayer of St. Patrick asks that Christ be in me, above me, below me, behind and before me. In the same way God and the Holy Spirit are equally present to surround and guide us.


Would your daily life be different if you remembered that the Trinity is present within and around you?

December 4, 2015

Advent 1-Friday-Life Immortal

Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your 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 living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen

The collect this week concludes by saying that we will ‘rise to the life immortal’. Paul builds on this idea by telling the Corinthians “Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality.” (I Cor. 15:51-53)

For me, and for many others, this verse is immortalized by Handel in his Messiah. See and hear that song here 


What are your thoughts about the final ‘trumpet’ and immortality?

December 3, 2015

Advent 1-Thursday-Judgment

Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your 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 living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen

Today we consider judgment. The collect says that Jesus will come in ‘his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead.” In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus tells his disciples, “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.”(Matt. 7:1-2) This warning is stern if we take it literally, isn’t it? “By your standard of measure, it will be measured to you!”

We are reminded by the Oscar Wilde quote in the image that none of us is perfect. In the movie Mary Poppins, Mary has a tape measure that tells her about the children and when she measures herself, she reads ‘practically perfect in every way’.


What is the tape measure of perfection that you judge others (and even yourself) with? 

December 2, 2015

Advent 1-Wednesday-Great Humility

Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your 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 living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen

As we consider the prayer for the First Sunday of Advent, we are reminded that Jesus, the Light of the Word, came in ‘great humility.’ St. Paul reminds the Philippians that they should “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” (Philippians 2:3-4)

Jesus was fully God, yet he became fully human in order to bring humanity back to relationship with God. Paul points out just a little later in Philippians that “[Jesus], being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage.” (Philippians 2:6)

The image of a small ant, and D.L. Moody’s comment that ‘we may easily be too big for God to use, but never too small’ is another definition of humility.

What is your definition of humility?

December 1, 2015

Advent 1-Tuesday-Light in Darkness

Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your 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 living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen
As we consider the coming Light of the World, the prayer for Advent I tells us we should ‘cast away the works of darkness’. The Gospel of John tells us, “In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” (John 1:4-5) Darkness is the absence of light. If we are working to be Children of the Light, we need to be open to the Light in our lives.

There are many kinds of lights. A small candle like in today’s image is comforting. A fire in a fireplace gives warmth. The light from a lighthouse offers guidance to travel safely. A searchlight can be an aid in finding something that is lost. 


What kind of light in darkness are you? A candle or a searchlight or a warming fire or a lighthouse?