God is always with us, we are not alone. You have maybe felt alone but you are not alone. You are with God. Jesus died for you. He is with us too. Love and by Autumn
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From Seminary of the Southwest - Advent Meditations "And Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart." -Luke 2:19 As Advent comes to a close with the birth of Jesus, I think about the event when Word becomes flesh through the eyes of the mother who bears the child. Luke uses the verb "ponder" to describe Mary's response to "all these things." If waiting and anticipating, hoping and fearing are the postures of Advent, perhaps "pondering" might be the invitation of Christmas Day. As Jesus' mother does, ponder the simple miracle of human birth. Ponder the census, the manger, the angels and shepherds, all these extraordinary signs. Ponder the mystery of God's incarnation, coming into flesh and the divine spirit su using and irradiating all of the material world. The Greek, sumballo, "throw together" might be the english version of "turn over and over" in your mind. Surely we are drawn like Mary to look upon the holy child from every angle again and again on the night of his birth. The origin of the english word "ponder" has to do with weight, and the birth we contemplate is "important," "deep," and "heavy," To ponder is to look on the present and to turn toward the future. Today we wonder at the fragility of this child. We ponder the gift and the risk of human life and we give thanks. Holy and Loving God, thank you for the birth of this holy child, for the faith of his parents and for the love of God. Amen. The Very Rev. Cynthia Briggs Kittredge, ThD Dean & President and Professor of New Testament SEMINARY OF THE SOUTHWEST
* The 10am Christmas Day service scheduled for this morning has been CANCELLED due to the winter storm. From Holy Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints That Jesus was born is a fact both of history and revelation. The precise date of his birth, however, is not recorded in the Gospels, which are, after all, not biographies, and show little concern for those biographical details in which more modern Christians are interested. Such interest began to become prominent in the fourth century, together with the development of liturgical observances of the events of biblical history. It was in Rome, in 336, that the date, December 25, was settled upon for the celebration of the Nativity. The day, coming as it does at the winter solstice, was already a sacred one, as the festival of the birth of the Unconquerable Sun (dies natalis Solis Invicti); but its correspondence with the historical date of Jesus' birth was stoutly maintained by learned, if ingenious, writers. The observance spread rapidly throughout the West; and it is accepted also by most of the Eastern Churches, in which, however, it does not have the prominence it has in the West. The full title of the feast dates from the 1662 edition of the Book of Common Prayer. Prior to that revision, the day was known only as "Christmas Day." The word "Christmas," which can be traced to the twelfth century, is a contraction of "Christ's Mass." 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.
Merry Christmas, my brothers and sisters in Christ! And, also-"Season's Greetings!" I know, that form of "politically-correct" greeting offends many Christians who assume that, because we are the majority in our culture, the Christmas message is the only one shoppers need to hear, regardless of their own faith tradition. Regardless of whether it's actually Christmas yet, but that's another story..... But I'm sending you both greetings this week because due to our secular calendar, today Sunday, December 24 we're celebrating two seasons of the church calendar: Advent in the morning (9am), and Christmas in the evening (services at 4pm, 7pm and 10:30pm). After the morning Gospel account of the Annunciation to the Virgin Mary that she will bear a son who will save the world, the altar guild will be at work adorning our worship space in the Christmas tapestry. Two seasons in one day! Expectation and Joy. Nine months of pregnancy compressed into a mere nine hours. In our busy world where time flies faster and faster, please take time to notice the change of seasons. "See you in church," Celeste+
From Seminary of the Southwest - Advent Meditations The season of Advent has been a time of reflection in preparation for the arrival of the Christ child. As we prepare for this birth day of the holy One, we are invited to ponder what his appearance will mean for us at his second advent. In the parable of the judgement of the nations the triumphant Christ of Glory rewards the righteous and punishes those who failed to minister to the hungry, thirsty, sick, naked and imprisoned. For in serving them, we serve the Lord. This is the call of every disciple. Martin Luther quipped that "the gospel is meant to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable." The parable invites us to reflect seriously on our call to minister to the needs of the powerless. Those who minister to the "little ones" will inherit eternal life. This is a comforting promise. But the inverse is also true. Those who fail to care for them will reap the consequences of their disregard. As disciples we are a mixed bag, a mixture of faithfulness and faithlessness. There is a bit of saint and sinner in all of us. The parable serves as a mirror that invites us to examine our priorities in light of the values of the reign of God. In serving the least we sow the seeds of righteous living. Prepare us, O God, to meet you in the hungry, thirsty, sick, naked and imprisoned who are the beloved of your kin-dom. Amen. Rev. Javier (Jay) Alanis, PhD, JD Executive Director/Associate Professor of Theology, LSPS Adjunct Faculty-Senior Instructor SEMINARY OF THE SOUTHWEST
From Seminary of the Southwest - Advent Meditations "Old men and old women shall again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each with staff in hand because of their great age. And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in its streets." How's that for a Christmas vision calling out to us over the millennia from Zechariah's words? Maybe in your house, you're preparing to bring this vision to life in miniature as you welcome back the old men and women with the wisdom of your tribe as well as the playing boys and girls who represent its continuing past your own time. Even if your home won't be the scene, I am sure your parish is prepping for this kind of multi-generational celebration. Advent and Christmas remind us that God came to a real family in a real time and place, because God loves us enough to leave no family outside his grace. God's desire is to draw the whole human family back into harmony and peace, to have young and old celebrating together his marvelous deeds. We won't see this vision fully until the end of the age, but we see glimpses of it this time of year. We practice it when we come together in homes and church year after year. It is indeed a holy thing to have both wisdom and future in our homes and pews, and I pray it brings you grace. Lord, you came as a baby and showed us the wisdom of the ages. Help us to honor both young and old in Jesus' name, we pray. The Rev. Hope T. Benko Director of Enrollment Management and Admissions SEMINARY OF THE SOUTHWEST
From Seminary of the Southwest - Advent Meditations Recently my wife, toddling daughter, and I traveled to Big Bend national Park. The boundless landscape filled with towering mountains have a way of making you feel small. A humbling smallness that reminds, "You are a part of something much bigger." As we entered the park, I was armed with a meticulously packed schedule in order to see as many of the sights as possible; no room for deviation or delay. On the first trail, our daughter decided she would NOT be carried, demanding to hold my hand and hike the trail herself. Our movement was slow, with many pauses to gaze in wonderment at dandelions, touch the soil, and feel the texture of rocks. If it weren't for these pauses forcing me to slow down and soak in the oil of the present, I doubt I would have had enough to enter into the banquet of the magnificent view at the end of the trail. I had certainly not brought enough for the journey. In this holy season of anticipation, remembering the Messiah's first coming, we often find ourselves hurriedly speeding to the next task in preparation. May we also try and embrace this holy season of waiting, slowing down to fill our flasks with the oil of the present moment, preparing ourselves for the banquet to come. God of all creation, of Word made flesh, help us to slow amidst our anticipation and prepare to greet you in due time. Thomas Forbes Sirmon Jr. M.Div, Class of 2018 SEMINARY OF THE SOUTHWEST Diocese of Central Gulf Coast
This meditation from Forward Day by Day really struck me. How often to we forget to rejoice and give thanks? Why is it so hard for us to do? Sarah Ambrogi 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. I like to think of the Thessalonians opening this letter from Paul and passing it around the room, laughing and mocking, "Is he serious? Really? When are we supposed to work and sleep and eat?" When I am caught in a traffic jam and running late to pick up my daughter, I'm unlikely to thank God for the precious people in my way. When I say something hurtful to people I love (or they are angry with me), my reaction is not joyful. Maybe what Paul is trying to say to us is, "Do better. You wake up in a home with heat? Rejoice! You have a car to get stuck in that traffic jam? Give thanks! You have people in your life who love you and who you love? Rejoice! Give thanks!" I might not be able to follow Paul's instructions without ceasing (Sorry, Paul...), but I know I could pray and rejoice more often than I do now.
In her essay, White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack, Peggy McIntosh writes, "I was taught to see racism only in individual acts of meanness, not in invisible systems conferring dominance on my group." In occasional meditations this season, I'm sharing some of her observations. Here are a few more of the daily effects of white privilege that Ms. McIntosh has discovered in her own life: * I can think over many options, social, political, imaginative or professional, without asking whether a person of my race would be accepted or allowed to do what I want to do. * I can be late to a meeting without having the lateness reflect on my race. * I can choose public accommodation without fearing that people of my race cannot get in or will be mistreated in the places I have chosen. * I can be sure that if I need legal or medical help, my race will not work against me. * I can arrange my activities so that I will never have to experience feelings of rejection owing to my race. Think about it. Do you have these advantages? What would your life be like if you didn't? Do you know of other people who don't have these advantages? Celeste Hemingson+
Give it Away What is your treasure? What is it you value most and feel you have to have to live? Maybe it is money, maybe it is time, maybe it is knowledge, maybe it is love that needs to be squandered on those who have none, who lack hope and need help. Are you being challenged at this time to give all that you have? - Eldridge Pendleton, SSJE 1940-2015 Society of Saint John the Evangelist