Prayer of an Anonymous Abbess

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There are prayers that, when you hear them, lift the corners of your eyes and the corners of your mouth into a knowing smile. The following is one such prayer. It seems to let a little of your inside voice out, if you know what I mean. May you be freed from prayers that are too sanitized.

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“Prayer of an Anonymous Abbess:

Lord, thou knowest better than myself that I am growing older and will soon be old. Keep me from becoming too talkative, and especially from the unfortunate habit of thinking that I must say something on every subject and at every opportunity.

Release me from the idea that I must straighten out other peoples’ affairs. With my immense treasure of experience and wisdom, it seems a pity not to let everybody partake of it. But thou knowest, Lord, that in the end I will need a few friends.

Keep me from the recital of endless details; give me wings to get to the point.

Grant me the patience to listen to the complaints of others; help me to endure them with charity. But seal my lips on my own aches and pains — they increase with the increasing years and my inclination to recount them is also increasing.

I will not ask thee for improved memory, only for a little more humility and less self-assurance when my own memory doesn’t agree with that of others. Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally I may be wrong.

Keep me reasonably gentle. I do not have the ambition to become a saint — it is so hard to live with some of them — but a harsh old person is one of the devil’s masterpieces.

Make me sympathetic without being sentimental, helpful but not bossy. Let me discover merits where I had not expected them, and talents in people whom I had not thought to possess any. And, Lord, give me the grace to tell them so.

Amen”

~Margot Benary-Isbert

Experiencing Advent

I have always loved the season of Advent. Advent is a time of preparation, anticipation and reflection in the weeks leading up to the celebration of Jesus’ incarnation which we celebrate as Christmas.

Prophecies spoken and uniquely fulfilled in Jesus…

Light in the darkest days of the year…

Hope that night will end and something new will begin.

Advent not only looks backwards to the coming of the Messiah, Jesus…it also looks forward to His promised return.

Hope that love will end all war, division and hatred.

Belief that poverty, injustice and evil will be eliminated.

Courage to continue to do the next right thing until he comes, and the understanding that how I live today matters and makes a difference in how I will experience life when God re-invades earth to put all things right, and the universe experiences healing.

The season of Advent calls us to reflect, repent and realign our lives with the rhythm of God, and that is a good thing.

Here is an incredible day by dave journey through Advent created by Biola University…check it out and go back each day, it is well done and will be a great aid in your realigning this season,

Grace and peace
Monty

http://ccca.biola.edu/advent/#

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Advent Longing…

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The Advent season is always pregnant with possibilities.

A subconscious knowing resides deep within gnawing, in an awakening way, opening eyes and heart to a truer reality available only to those who seek it.

There is so much more to life…there is a deeper peace… a greater capacity to love…an irremovable anchor of hope.

Imagine feeling an inescapable smile, an unexplained joy resonating deep within, and a sliver of grace that pierces your soul for no apparent reason.

These are around and available all the time, yet we rush around with Black Friday hearts and choose to settle for far less than God graced our planet with and offers through  benefits of the Incarnation.

I like what Thomas Kelly, a 20th century Quaker wrote:

“Over the margins of life comes a whisper, a faint call, a premonition of richer living which we know we are passing by. We have hints that there is a way of life vastly richer and deeper than all this hurried existence, a life of unhurried serenity and peace and power. If only we could slip over into that Center! If only we could find the Silence which is the source of sound!”  ~Thomas Kelly

The following line of Kelly’s causes me to pause, “We have hints that there is a way of life vastly richer and deeper than all this hurried existence, a life of unhurried serenity and peace and power.” Ah…he is onto something here.

This is not a pipe-dream for God lovers and seekers, rather it is available, right now right where you are. No matter what stress, struggle, hurt or habit has you submerged, Advent shouts  God came to earth…God came and infused His divinity with humanity…Jesus, then is the definition of who God is…Jesus came to rescue, not condemn, and He offers everyone a better hope of drawing near to God.

Advent also reminds us of longing…the longing for Messiah to come…

The longing for God to show up…

The longing for help beyond our capabilities…

The longing to know that we all matter, and that God cares and is involved…

The longing for the better hope of God’s presence,

May you slip over today into that center and find the silence which is the source of the sounds of life.

Monty

Incongruence

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Incongruence, Isaiah 11:6-11

 

"Life wasn't meant to be like this." I don't know how many times those words have been birthed in pain as they left my mouth. Conversations where that phrase is necessary generally have a dialog attached concerning why God allows such painful realties into our lives.

Sometimes, even though we have done all the right "Christian" things, the bottom of life still falls out, leaving us bewildered, angry and confused.

"Did I do something wrong?" "Is there some sin in my life?" The questions bounce through our minds like a pachinko ball. The reason that we are so desperate for the answer may not be because we want finality, but because we have been divinely wired by God to know that this is wrong and that we were meant to experience something different, something beautiful, something holy.

Isaiah received a glimpse of what was supposed to be, as well as what will be. Through the Messiah, the cosmos would take on a whole different orientation. Instead of a world that is me-centric, and living on the brink of destruction, the plan is for a world immersed in beauty, love and trust of a kind that seems unorthodox to our current reality, but perfectly plausible in God's economy.

In and through the Messiah, natural-born enemies become friends and fellow travelers. Those most innocent and naïve will not have to worry about deceptiveness, as deception has vanished. Here, even a child can lead in safety and trust.

Danger and evil are birthed from sin. Sin obscured the beauty that God intended. It builds walls between people. It produces labels that further separate us from each other, but life wasn't meant to be like this. Deep down we know this, so we long for God's design; yet in Christ, we have already received it.

The Incarnation unmasks the incongruence of life on earth. God shouts through the angelic host and illuminates through the One in Mary's arms that He has not forgotten us. He works among us; His kingdom is working through the cosmos, healing the distortion that sin has caused.

God's kingdom of shalom (peace) is not something we create or manage. The kingdom of shalom that Jesus invites us into exists now and will be fulfilled when He returns. It is infused within the life of Christ-followers, finding its way out to others. We become portals of God's grace by loving people when they least expect it, and least deserve it.

At the end of all conversations then, the hope that is welling up inside of us finds its fulfillment in one Word: Jesus. In Christ alone all the paradoxes of life are held together. In Him the common language of grace reminds us to be incarnational people, as Jesus continues to make his appeal through us.

Gracious God, when our world fails to make sense, we thank you for Your Son, Jesus-who is restoring and redeeming all the broken pieces of life. We come to you in his name. Amen.

Dei Gratia,

MC