The Second Week of Advent, we focus on peace: Peace can be a source
of hope, and hope, a source of peace.
Try to find some moments this week to be at peace in God’s embrace.
Sunday, December 10:
“I will hear what God proclaims, for he proclaims peace to his
people. Near indeed is his salvation to those who fear him…Kindness
and truth shall meet; justice and peace shall kiss. (Ps 85)
We hear a lot about
truth, or the lack thereof, these days, especially in the US.
Alternative facts, fake news, half-truths, blatant lies being
presented as truth…the list goes on and on. And from what I see in
the media, truth is being challenged across the globe. It seems the
more we get away from the real truth God proclaims, the less peace
we have, the less we trust each other and even ourselves. And yet
“truth” is complicated. There are those destroying whole countries
and millions of lives in the name of God; those whose narrow view of
God excludes anything outside that view; those who condone
despicable behavior for the sake of political expediency. Peace is
harder and harder to find.
Kind. Foster Peace:
“The truth hurts,” we
hear said. But does it have to hurt? Can we be kind and by our
kindness, share the truth that is Christ’s message of compassion?
Fighting for justice does not mean violence. Peaceful protest is how
Jesus lived. Can we allow for peaceful dialogue and respect of
others to help bring about justice? God’s truth does not hurt. It
may be difficult to live, but it is never hurtful. Be kind today,
particularly to someone whose ideas and opinions differ from yours.
Foster justice through peace in Christ’s name.
Monday, December 11:
will be there (in the desert), called the holy way…It is for those
with a journey to make.”
And that journey is
called “Life.” By virtue of our birth, we are all called to this
journey, no matter how short or long it may be. Sometimes our way
through the desert is peaceful and calm; other times, it is fraught
with fear and loneliness. But Isaiah says it is called “the holy
way”--not just parts of the highway--the whole thing. How’s
your life going these days upon the holy way?
The word “holy” weaves its way back to the German, with a stop in
Old English from the word hālig, meaning wholeness. Holiness
is not about following rules or being perfect or pious. It is about
being whole. “Holiness is loving unity with God. It’s an
ever-expanding openness to the divine Center…In holiness, we become
the persons we were created to be.” (Richard Foster) Stop today
and look around inside your soul to see where you are on this holy
way called your life. Are you aware of and open to God, our divine
Center? Does the way you treat others on this highway speak of the
person God created you to be?
Tuesday, December 12:
are you, daughter, by the Most High God... Your deed of hope will
never be forgotten by those who tell of the might of God.”
It’s interesting to
read through Scripture during Advent to compare and contrast the
images of God’s power in the Old and New Testaments. This passage
from Judith about her “deed of hope” refers to how she uses her
beauty to seduce Holofernes, the enemy general, get him drunk, and
cut off his head! It’s quite a riveting story, not unlike some
dramas we see on TV. Now truly, it took great courage for Judith to
risk her life for her fellow Jews, but as is so often the case, the
Old Testament portrays God’s might through destruction and violence.
Regardless of whether it is the Jews themselves or their enemies
that are getting blasted, God’s displeasure or protection is seen in
quaking mountains, furious floods, parted seas, seraph serpents,
beheaded generals, and the like.
In the gospel, we hear
of the quiet simplicity of Mary and the great courage it took for
her, not to end a life to help save Israel, but to risk and give her
body to bring forth new life, new life that will be the Savior for
the whole world!
Think about your plans
for the day ahead. Are there situations or events on the calendar
that might challenge you to remain hopeful? Christmas shopping,
Are there people you know who could use some hope for the future?
This season of hope and good cheer can be very grim for those who
are suffering. What deed might you do in a quiet, simple way to
bring life to someone lacking in hope?
Wednesday, December 13:
to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me…you will find rest for
ago, in a fit of temporary insanity, I found myself at a mall right
before Christmas. As I turned a corner, I came upon a long line of
kids waiting to see Santa. Many of their parents were balancing
packages, strollers, and crying babies. The noise was deafening.
Then, out of nowhere this scripture passage popped into my head. I
imagined Jesus setting up a booth for people to come and sit on his
lap! While this may sound a bit irreverent, I felt a wonderful sense
of peace imaging that scene. So, each year when things start to get
hectic—like around now—I think about being close to Jesus and
talking to him about my list of hopes, fears, wishes, and regrets.
And I find rest for myself. How about you? Where do you find your
Provision—Rest with Jesus:
This is exactly what Jesus is inviting us to do: to come to him amid
the clamor and the noise and lay down our burdens. Take some time
today to do just that. If the image above works for you, adopt as
your own. Or find another image that brings you rest and peace. Go
back to your image every day. Rest.
““I am… your God, who grasps your right
hand; ‘Fear not, I will help you.’”
Anyone who has cared
for young children has likely experienced grasping the hand of a
toddler before crossing a street, only to have the child try to
wrench it away. At a young age, kids seem to have no fear and crave
independence. This drive for independence is important in human
development and shouldn’t be stifled unless safety is at risk. But
even more important to that development is the assurance that there
is someone we can trust, someone who is always there for us. This
basic knowledge sets the tone for how we approach the world and our
God does not stifle our
independence or free will, nor does God think we are incapable. Note
the passage doesn’t say, “Fear not, I will do it for you!” No, God
tells us, “I will help you.” I will be by your side when you need
willing to ask for and accept help requires humility, a virtue not
valued today. Is there an area in your life where you could use some
help? Pray for the strength to be humble. Ask for help. Allow God to
grasp your hand through the outstretched hand of another.
Friday, December 15:
shall I compare this generation? It is like children who…call to one
another, "We played the flute for you, but you did not dance, we
sang a dirge but you did not mourn."
in a turbulent world. There is great unrest over Roman taxation.
Radical Jewish groups are engaging in acts of terrorism. Most of the
Jewish leaders, while also unhappy under Roman rule, try to maintain
the status quo. Their lives are comfortable and they have much to
lose from outright rebellion. The messages of Jesus and John the
Baptist require too much change. John preaches dramatic repentance
of sin, Jesus preaches the saving mercy of God. Instead, the elders
just want silence. And so that’s exactly what happens to John and
Jesus. They are silenced.
I realize I am, at times, right where the elders are. Let’s just
keep things the way they are. The status quo doesn’t require much of
me, and my life is pretty comfortable as it is. But apathy and
indifference always support the powers that be, and for me right
now, that is cause for great concern and self-examination. Take some
time today to reflect on your status quo. Step outside yourself. Are
there things you accept as “givens” you would change you thought you
could or had the energy? When Jesus looks at your life, what does he
see? Are there things for which you need to repent? Joy and
gratitude for God’s mercy which you need to express?
Saturday, December 16:
are destined…to turn back the hearts of parents toward their
Native American philosophy called the seventh generation principle.
When one is making decisions that affect the community, he or she
must take into account the impact seven generations hence. According
to the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s website, “Seventh
(planning) requires each generation to be fair and humble. Fairness
means not imposing risks on future generations that we ourselves
would not accept. Humility means that we would consider the quality
of life of future generations as important as our quality of life.”
The words we hear
today— “you are destined to turn back the hearts of parents toward
their children”— are words for the future and of hope. Seventh
generation planning is a philosophy of hope. But it can seem like
our immediate gratification culture belies our vision of hope based
in Christ. We are so focused on the short-term, we fail to consider
our own futures much less those of the generations to come.
Your Heart towards the Future:
Now, more than ever, we need to focus on the future, to look beyond
our own self-serving interests to see how our living impacts our
children’s children and our planet. It is a constant, conscious
balance: living in the sacrament of the present moment and taking
the long view through lenses of hope. Pray today for a clearer
vision of how you can make tomorrow better for everyone.