Tuesday, December 27, 2011

When the song of the angels is stilled...

When the song of the angels is stilled,
when the star in the sky is gone,
when the kings and princes are home,
when the shepherds are back with the flocks,
then the work of Christmas begins:
to find the lost,
to heal those broken in spirit,
to feed the hungry,
to release the oppressed,
to rebuild the nations,
to bring peace among all peoples,
to make a little music with the heart…
And to radiate the Light of Christ,
every day, in every way,
in all that we do and in all that we say.
Then the work of Christmas begins.
...Howard Thurman image by Greg Knapp

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Welcome! All wonders in one sight!

Welcome! All wonders in one sight!
Eternity shut in a span!
Summer in winter, day in night!
Heaven in earth, and God in man!
Great little One, whose all-embracing birth
Lifts earth to heaven, stoops Heaven to earth!
...Richard Crashaw image

Friday, December 23, 2011

Eastern Orthodox Christmas Story

Christ is come to be thy Light...

Christ is come to be thy Light,
Shining through the darkest night;
He will make thy pilgrim way
Shine unto the perfect day.
Take the message! let it be
Full of Christmas joy to thee!
...Frances Ridley Havergal image

God descends to re-ascend...

God descends to re-ascend. He comes down; down from the heights of absolute being into time and space, down into humanity ... down to the very roots and sea-bed of the Nature He has created. But He goes down to come up again and bring the ruined world up with Him. One has the picture of a strong man stooping lower and lower to get himself underneath some great complicated burden. He must stoop in order to lift, he must almost disappear under the load before he incredibly straightens his back and marches off with the whole mass swaying on his shoulders. ...C.S. Lewis
image by James Bradley

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Given, not lent...

Given, not lent,
And not withdrawn—once sent,
This Infant of mankind, this One,
Is still the little welcome Son.

New every year,
New born and newly dear,
He comes with tidings and a song,
The ages long, the ages long.

Even as the cold
Keen winter grows not old,
As childhood is so fresh, foreseen,
And spring in the familiar green.

Sudden as sweet
Come the expected feet.
All joy is young, and new all art,
And He, too, Whom we have by heart.
...Alice Meynell image

Veni Veni Emmanuel

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Whatever else be lost among the years...

Whatever else be lost among the years,
Let us keep Christmas still a shining thing:
Whatever doubts assail us, or what fears,
Let us hold close one day, remembering
Its poignant meaning for the hearts of men.
Let us get back our childlike faith again.
...Grace Noll Crowell image

By His first coming...

By his first coming our Lord raised us up only in soul; by his second coming he will raise us up in body, too. As we now serve God with both-the body and the soul-so then in both shall we enjoy perfect happiness with God. At his first coming he gave us the faith that enables us to believe in him. At his second coming he will endow us with the capacity to see him, not as the wicked will see him on the day of judgment-for on that day of judgment the good and the bad alike will all see him in the likeness in which he bore his sufferings for us and in which he rose and ascended into heaven-but we shall see him as those who are pure of heart will be able to see him. For the Lord says: Blessed are the pure of heart for they shall see God. That is to say, we shall see his godhead too, that excellence and that beauty which now the angels see. For we shall be like the angels of God in heaven. Yet if we love him now and long for him and scorn all worldly pleasures and honors, then surely we shall see him confidently in the likeness in which he will judge the living and the dead. And we shall have the happiness of seeing him in that likeness in which he will show himself only to the good whom he will take with himself from judgment into the kingdom. ...Aelred of Rievaulx

What a day...

What a day for this poor old sin-ruined, storm-torn, heart- broken, groping-in-the-dark blind world, when He shall take His rightful throne and reign in all hearts and over all lives for ever and ever! ...Elmer Ellsworth Helmes image

Our hope and expectation, O Jesus, now appear!

Our hope and expectation, O Jesus, now appear!
Arise, Thou Sun so longed for, over this benighted sphere!
With hearts and hands uplifted, we plead, O Lord, to see
The day of earth’s redemption that brings us unto Thee.

Ye saints, who here in patience your cross and sufferings bore,
Shall live and reign forever, when sorrow is no more.
Around the throne of glory the Lamb ye shall behold;
In triumph cast before Him your diadems of gold!
...Lau­ren­ti­us Lau­ren­ti

God, who had fashioned time and space...

God, who had fashioned time and space in a clockwork of billions of suns and stars and moons, in the form of his beloved Son became a human being like ourselves. On the microscopic midge of planet he remained for thirty-three years. He became a real man, and the only perfect one. While continuing to be the true God, he was born in a stable and lived as a working man and died on a cross. He came to show us how to live, not for a few years but eternally. ...Fulton Oursler image

Monday, December 19, 2011

The King shall come when morning dawns...

The King shall come when morning dawns,
And light triumphant breaks;
When beauty gilds the eastern hills,
And life to joy awakes.

Not as of old a little child
To bear, and fight, and die,
But crowned with glory like the sun
That lights the morning sky.

O brighter than that glorious morn
Shall this fair morning be,
When Christ, our King, in beauty comes,
And we His face shall see.

The King shall come when morning dawns,
And earth’s dark night is past;
O haste the rising of that morn,
The day that aye shall last.

And let the endless bliss begin,
By weary saints foretold,
When right shall triumph over wrong,
And truth shall be extolled.

The King shall come when morning dawns,
And light and beauty brings:
Hail, Christ the Lord! Thy people pray,
Come quickly, King of kings.
Unknown au­thor photo

The battle is lost or won in the secret places...

  The battle is lost or won in the secret places of the will before God, never first in the external world. The Spirit of God apprehends me and I am obliged to get alone with God and fight the battle out before Him. Until this is done, I lose every time. The battle may take one minute or a year, that will depend on me, not on God; but it must be wrestled out alone before God, and I must resolutely go through the hell of a renunciation before God. Nothing has any power over the man who has fought out the battle before God and won there.

If I say, "I will wait till I get into the circumstances and then put God to the test," I shall find I cannot. I must get the thing settled between my self and God in the secret places of my soul where no stranger intermeddles, and then I can go forth with the certainty that the battle is won. Lose it there, and calamity and disaster and upset are as sure as God's decree. The reason the battle is not won is because I try to win it in the external world first. Get alone with God, fight it out before Him, settle the matter there once and for all.
...Oswald Chambers

He wants to talk to me of His own secrets...

He wants to talk to me of His own secrets, of the meaning of my life, and the way He would have me go; and I believe, brethren, one of the greatest lacks in the present day is that we do not take time to listen. "Oh," you say, "God does not speak to men now as He spoke to Abraham." I do not believe it. I think the true thing to say is that men do not listen as Abraham listened. We do not give God the chance to speak. The practice of fellowship. ...G. Campbell Morgan image

Friday, December 16, 2011

You keep us waiting...

You keep us waiting.
You, the God of all time,
Want us to wait
For the right time
in which to discover
Who we are, where we are to go,
Who will be with us,

 and what we must do.
So thank you … for the waiting time.
...John Bell

Now peacemaking is a divine work...

Now peacemaking is a divine work. For peace means reconciliation, and God is the author of peace and of reconciliation. … It is hardly surprising, therefore, that the particular blessing which attaches to peacemakers is that "they shall be called sons of God." For they are seeking to do what their Father has done, loving people with his love. ...John Stott image by Keoni Cabral

Watchman, tell us of the night...

Watchman, tell us of the night,
What its signs of promise are.
Traveler, o’er yon mountain’s height,
See that glory beaming star.
Watchman, does its beauteous ray
Aught of joy or hope foretell?
Traveler, yes—it brings the day,
Promised day of Israel.

Watchman, tell us of the night;
Higher yet that star ascends.
Traveler, blessedness and light,
Peace and truth its course portends.
Watchman, will its beams alone
Gild the spot that gave them birth?
Traveler, ages are its own;
See, it bursts o’er all the earth.

Watchman, tell us of the night,
For the morning seems to dawn.
Traveler, darkness takes its flight,
Doubt and terror are withdrawn.
Watchman, let thy wanderings cease;
Hie thee to thy quiet home.
Traveler, lo! the Prince of Peace,
Lo! the Son of God is come!
...John Bowring

God became man...

God became man, took upon him a birth from the fallen nature. But why was this done? Or wherein lies the adorable depth of this mystery? How does all this manifest the infinity of the divine love towards man? It is because nothing less than this mysterious Incarnation (which astonishes angels) could open a way, or begin a possibility, for fallen man to be born again from above, and made again a partaker of the divine nature. ...William Law art

What gives peace to the conscience...

painting of Jesus healing a leper
What gives peace to the conscience is, that by faith our sins are no more ours but Christ’s, on whom God hath laid them all; and that, on the other hand, all Christ’s righteousness is ours, to whom God hath given it. Christ lays his hand upon us, and we are healed; he casts his mantle on us, and we are clothed; he is the glorious Saviour, blessed for ever. ...Martin Luther image

Friday, December 9, 2011

The whole stream and drift of the Old Testament...

The whole stream and drift of the Old Testament moves straight to the cross of Christ. The whole New Testament is nothing but the portrait of Christ. Let a man seek the true course of his own life in the Word, and inevitably it will land him at the cross, to seek mercy as a perishing sinner in the Saviour's wounds; and let him, starting afresh from this point of departure, seek his true course still farther, and inevitably what he will see will be, rising upon him in the distance, astonishing and enchaining him, but drawing him ever on, the image of perfection in the man Christ Jesus. ...James Stalker
 image by Dave Ceasar Dela Cruz

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Advent Spirituality

In Advent spirituality we are also called on to meditate on the birthing of Christ in our hearts. In this matter we are dealing with the conversion of life, the movement away from the old life lived under the power of evil to the new life lived in the power of the Holy Spirit. True conversion is a turning from one way of life to another. Christ calls us to be converted to him, to make him the pattern of our lives, to make our living and dying a living and dying in him. This can only be accomplished as we completely submit to him and live our lives in respect to his paschal mystery and by the example he left for us to follow..Robert Webber image

If we with earnest effort could succeed...

If we with earnest effort could succeed
To make our life one long, connected prayer,
As lives of some, perhaps, have been and are;
If, never leaving Thee, we have no need
Our wandering spirits back again to lead
Into Thy presence, but continued there
Like angels standing on the highest stair
Of the Sapphire Throne: this were to pray indeed!
Richard C. Trench image by Justin D. Miller

“When the Son of Man cometh..."

“When the Son of Man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?” If He should now come, would He find it in us? What fruits of faith have we to show? Do we look upon this life only as a short passage to a better? Do we believe that we must suffer with Jesus Christ before we can reign with Him? Do we consider this world as a deceitful appearance, and death as the entrance to true happiness? Do we live by faith? Does it animate us? Do we relish the eternal truths it presents us with? Are we as careful to nourish our souls with those truths as to maintain our bodies with proper diet? Do we accustom ourselves to see all things in the light of faith? Do we correct all our judgments by it? Alas! The greater part of Christians think and act like mere heathens; if we judge (as we justly may) of their faith by their practice, we must conclude they have no faith at all. ...François Fénelon image

Joy, not grit, is the hallmark of holy obedience...

Joy, not grit, is the hallmark of holy obedience. We need to be light-hearted in what we do to avoid taking ourselves too seriously. It is a cheerful revolt against self and pride. Our work is jubilant, carefree, merry. Utter abandonment to God is done freely and with celebration. And so I urge you to enjoy this ministry of self-surrender. Don't push too hard. Hold this work lightly, joyfully. The saints throughout the ages have witnessed to this reality.... You know, of course, that they are not speaking of a silly, superficial, bubbly kind of joy like that flaunted in modern society. No, this is a deep, resonant joy that has been shaped and tempered by the fires of suffering and sorrow; joy through the cross, joy because of the cross. ...Richard J. Foster image

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The voice is John, the word is Christ

The voice of one crying in the wilderness is the voice of one breaking the silence. Prepare the way for the Lord, he says, as though he were saying: “I speak out in order to lead him into your hearts, but he does not choose to come where I lead him unless you prepare the way for him”.

To prepare the way means to pray well; it means thinking humbly of oneself. We should take our lesson from John the Baptist. He is thought to be the Christ; he declares he is not what they think. He does not take advantage of their mistake to further his own glory.

If he had said, “I am the Christ”, you can imagine how readily he would have been believed, since they believed he was the Christ even before he spoke. But he did not say it; he acknowledged what he was. He pointed out clearly who he was; he humbled himself. He saw where his salvation lay. He understood that he was a lamp, and his fear was that it might be blown out by the wind of pride. ...from a sermon by Augustine, bishop, 4th century

Wherever souls are being tried and ripened...

In what strange quarries and stoneyards the stones for the celestial wall are being hewn! Out of the hillsides of humiliated pride; deep in the darkness of crushed despair; in the fretting and dusty atmoshpere of little cares; in the hard cruel contacts that man has with man; wherever souls are being tried and ripened, in whatever commonplace and homely way, there God is hewing out the pillars for His temple. ...Phillips Brooks photo

Watchman, tell us of the night...

Watchman, tell us of the night,
For the morning seems to dawn,
Traveler, darkness takes its flight,
Doubt and terror are withdrawn.
Watchman, let thy wanderings cease;
Hie thee to thy quiet home.
Traveler, lo! the Prince of Peace,
Lo! the Son of God is come!
...John Bow­ring

Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion...

Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion,
for behold, I come and I will dwell in your midst,
declares the LORD.
 And many nations shall join themselves to the LORD
in that day, and shall be my people.
And I will dwell in your midst,
 and you shall know that the LORD of hosts
 has sent me to you.
 And the LORD will inherit Judah
 as his portion in the holy land,
and will again choose Jerusalem."
Be silent, all flesh, before the LORD,
 for he has roused himself from his holy dwelling.
 ...Zechariah 2:10-13 photo

What we need very badly these days...

What we need very badly these days is a company of Christians who are prepared to trust God as completely now as they know they must do at the last day. For each of us the time is coming when we shall have nothing but God. Health and wealth and friends and hiding places will be swept away, and we shall have only God. To the man of pseudo faith that is terrifying, but to real faith it is one of the most comforting thoughts the heart can entertain. ...AW Tozer photo

The Christian life is not just our own private affair...

The Christian life is not just our own private affair. If we have been born again into God's family, not only has he become our Father but every other Christian believer in the world, whatever his nation or denomination, has become our brother or sister in Christ. But it is no good supposing that membership of the universal Church of Christ is enough; we must belong to some local branch of it. Every Christian's place is in a local church, sharing in its worship, its fellowship, and its witness. ...John R.W. Stott  image by Smythe Richbourg

Friday, December 2, 2011

Light of those whose dreary dwelling...

Light of those whose dreary dwelling
Borders on the shades of death,
Come, and by Thy love’s revealing
Dissipate the clouds beneath.

The new heaven and earth’s Creator,
In our deepest darkness rise,
Scattering all the night of nature,
Pouring eyesight on our eyes.

Still we wait for Thine appearing;
Life and joy Thy beams impart,
Chasing all our fears, and cheering
Every poor benighted heart.
Charles Wes­ley image

He comes to us...

He comes to us
in the brokenness of our health,
in the shipwreck of our family lives,
in the loss of all possible peace of mind,
even in the very thick of our sins.
He saves us in our disasters, not from them.
He emphatically does not promise to meet
only the odd winner of the self-improvement lottery:
He meets us all in our endless and inescapable losing.
Robert Farrar Capon

The Advent Journey

 It is natural for travelers to hasten toward their native land, and natural too that they should have trouble on the way and safety at home. So let us who are on the way to it hasten toward our native land; for our whole life is like a single day's journey.

And therefore let us devote ourselves to divine rather than human affairs, and like exiles be always sighing for our native land and longing for it. For the journey's end must always be wished and longed for by travelers, and so because we ourselves are travelers and exiles in the world we should always be thinking of the journey's end, that is, the end of our life, for our journey brings us to our native land. But, there, all who have been traveling the world get different lots according to their merits. The good travelers come home because they love the journey. Let us not love the journey to our native land, so that we do not lose our eternal home for that is the kind of home we have, and which we must love. Let this, then, be our constant aim: to live our way like travelers, exiles, visitors to the world, without clinging to any worldly ambitions or longing to fulfill any worldly desires, but to fill our minds entirely with heavenly and spiritual images, singing in thought and deed: When shall I come and appear before the face of my God? For my soul thirsts for the strong and living God. And saying with Paul: I long to die and be with Christ.

Let us realize that although We are exiles from the Lord as long as we are in the body, we are present in the sight of God. Therefore spurning all laziness, putting away all lukewarmness, let us do our best to please him who is present everywhere. Then, with a good conscience, we may pass happily from our journey in this world to the holy and eternal home of our eternal Father, from the present to the absent, from sorrow to joy, from transitory to eternal, from earth to heaven, from the region of the dead to that of the living. And then we shall see, face to face, the world of heaven and the king of kings, our Lord Jesus Christ, ruling his kingdom with right government, to whom be glory for ever. ...St. Columban

Behold! I have engraved you on the palms of My hands!"

Behold! I have engraved you on the palms of My hands!"
Isaiah 49:16

"Behold," says Immutable One, "I have engraved you on the palms of My hands." Not on the mountains, colossal as they are, for they shall depart; on no page of nature's vast volume, for the last fires shall scorch them; not on blazing sun, for he shall grow dim with age; not on glorious heavens, for they shall be folded together as a scroll. But on... the hand which made the worlds, the hand which was transfixed on Calvary, the hand of might and love; I have engraved you there! No corroding power can efface the writing, or obliterate your name! ...John MacDuff image

In The Bleak Midwinter