Category Archives: Advent 2012

Christmas Eve Reflection 2012

Typically these posts are done ahead of time and I have them on a scheduler that uses a timer. But today I woke up really early, after going to bed pretty early, and while I was praying I read something that got me thinking. Now I can’t shake the thought – how often have I communicated that there is “no room at the inn?”

You may know that I work at the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Glenville. As you can imagine, things have been busy in the parish office. Regrettably, sometimes I let it get the better of me. Someone called on Friday afternoon when I was trying to finish up and get home. Add to that, three phones were ringing at once, and I let them get the better of me too. The third call was from a familiar parishioner; I was harried and probably very rude to her.

Today I am reminded, as we all are, that all guests should be welcomed as Christ. (See Chapter 35 in the Rule of St. Benedict for a direct quotation.) I take that pretty seriously in the parish office – and in life, I hope. Sometimes I fall short and Friday was one of those days.

2000 years ago, give or take, an innkeeper, very harried on a busy and overcrowded night, told some prospective guests that there was no room for them at his inn. We see how that worked out! Now his busy brush-off may not have been intentional. And goodness knows when things are full, they are full…. right?

All of this is a reminder that we must stop, look, and listen. (The link takes you to a beautiful post by my friend Michelle Francl-Donnay, on paying attention to radiant dawn and other things.) We must be attentive and we must be responsive in the context of our attentiveness. For me, that might mean letting one phone ring and go to voicemail, knowing that God is taking of everything, and pay attention to the person I am speaking with. For me, that is very hard to do – and in my good intention of trying to take care of everyone at once, I take care of no one.

So what can we do to welcome the Child who is about to be born? The Child who is born in us, over and over again? Perhaps those three things that Michelle reminded me of in her post, those words from my childhood, to “stop, look and listen.

If I stop, I might be more centered and more attentive, more aware, and more welcoming. If I look, I may see who is before me at all times, no matter how I feel – and then be more welcoming. And if I listen, I will hear the call, the call that should bring me to attention and not to frustration – and then be more welcoming.

Perhaps today we are all the innkeeper, in our various ways. What innkeeper will we be – the welcoming one or the the one who shuts the door?



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Advent Reflections – Friday, December 21, 2013 by Jeanne Speanburg

My-Dove-for-Web-950x746Song of Songs 2:10-13

My lover speaks; he says to me,
“Arise, my beloved, my dove, my beautiful one,
and come!
“For see, the winter is past,
the rains are over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth,
the time of pruning the vines has come,
and the song of the dove is heard in our land.
The fig tree puts forth its figs,
and the vines, in bloom, give forth fragrance.
Arise, my beloved, my beautiful one,
and come!

These words are beautiful to read, but difficult for me to imagine God saying to me.  They are so personal, so intimate, and yet I know they are words that God speaks to each one of us.  Words we long to hear; words we need to hear even if they may embarrass us with their intimacy.

Our community and our nation have recently experienced the deaths of so many innocent, young victims and we are grieving.  Grief can be all consuming and it is hard to see an end to the pain.  This scripture offers us hope that the winter of our grief will pass and we will heal so we can go on with life.  It gives us a picture that life will someday be beautiful again.  In the midst of our grief, the hope of God can be our lifeline during the difficult days ahead.   Hope will sustain us during the slow, painful process of healing and someday we will again see beauty in our world.


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Advent Reflection – December 20, 2012 – Madeline Longacker

An Advent Reflection for December 20 by Madeline Longacker

694319477_85d52fe88a“Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel. “ Is 7:14

Immanuel – God is With Us

Jesus’ title Immanuel means God with us. God was with Mary in a special way. In spite of uncertainty in this change in her life she said yes. In her visit with Elizabeth, Mary rejoices in Jesus’ presence in her and in God’s plan unfolding in her. As a result, she became an instrument of fulfilling God’s promise to men and women to be with them as savior and deliverer. Jesus lived out this title of Immanuel –God was with him. He did not stay in the synagogue, but he searched out those who were pushed out to the edges of society. He revealed God’s love, help, and presence to them. Jesus embraced the joys and sorrows of His own life holding onto to the knowledge that God was with Him and He was with God. Jesus promised that God would be in His disciples today and that we would be in God by the power of the Holy Spirit.

I started thinking about how I had experienced God with me in my life. I remember being in a small church up north and feeling a deep peace and a feeling that many people had come here over generations to bring their lives to God and God was with them. I felt that God was with me in that moment of peace. Even longer before that, I remember rocking my two month old baby at two in the morning. She was hurting with an earache and I was feeling very tired and worried. Then the thought went through my mind that she wouldn’t be this small for long and I just needed to hold her. That thought helped me to be at peace and she quieted and fell asleep. I bet God was with us that evening

These last four years I’ve been dealing with the death of my mother and brother. For a while I got stuck in the ‘Why?’ and the” Where are you God?” I have found in looking back that I now can see the presence of God in my family and friends who gave love, compassion and companionship as I moved through that time. God was with me through them. Recently I was sitting at a prayer meeting and the thought came to me that we should give Jesus all the hurts and broken pieces of our lives and those around us. Jesus, Immanuel, would bring healing and wholeness. He can fix lives in ways that we cannot. When we seek God each day and ask Him to show us who we can reach out to, we become a part of God’s plan to love the world into wholeness. The prayers, the giving, the visits, the encouragement will change the face of the earth. It is in those acts of kindness that we see the face of God who is always us with us. When we say yes to God’s presence in us, our lives can be filled with joy and thanksgiving the way Mary’s life was.
=Madeline Longacker


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O Antiphons – O Radix Jesse

l_antiphons3O Radix Jesse
O Root of Jesse, standing as a sign among the peoples;
before you kings will shut their mouths,
to you the nations will make their prayer:
Come and deliver us, and delay no longer.

About four years ago I read a book about liturgy and worship, I believe that it was by Nathan Mitchell. I can’t find the book right now, so that’s as accurate as I can get at the moment.

Mitchell was talking about the communal nature of liturgy and of how networks arise. Trust me – it made sense in the book, which I hope to get my hands on and quote more directly. He wrote about the roots of rhizomes, which unlike tree roots, that go deep, reach out to connect to one another. While I have thought of this many times over the years, I never thought of it in relationship to this O Antiphon until today. Continue reading

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Unwilling Willingness – An Advent Reflection

church_bazaar_christmas_fair_or_christian_event_flyer-p244107641514716651b73co_400God is with us.

God is with us.

God is with us.

It doesn’t always feel like God-is-with-us, does it? Especially now. Typically we might find ourselves on December 18th, pretty deeply into the “are-we-there-yet?” stage. You know, that feeling where we find our “it’s-almost-Christmas” glee crisscrossing with high anxiety over all the things yet unaccomplished as we race towards December 25.

Anxiety or glee – neither one is especially rooted in our Advent journey of holy waiting, but both are very common things to feel. I don’t know about you, but I am in a state of mind and heart that says, “can-we-leave-now?” rather than “are-we-there-yet?” And the “God-is-with-us” matter might be harder than usual to grasp. This makes me wonder if perhaps “are-we-there-yet?” and “can-we-leave-now?” are the wrong questions to ask.

We might find ourselves wanting to ask Continue reading


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The O Antiphons – O Sapientia

December 17th marks the beginning of the O Antiphons.

From the linked article:

The “O Antiphons” refer to the seven antiphons that are recited (or chanted) preceding the Magnificat during Vespers of the Liturgy of the Hours. They cover the special period of Advent preparation known as the Octave before Christmas, Dec. 17-23, with Dec. 24 being Christmas Eve and Vespers for that evening being for the Christmas Vigil.

The Liturgy of the Hours is the prayer of of the church as we literally “pray through the day.” Many of us in the secular life use an abbreviated form of this prayer, but in monasteries, convents and all sorts of places, this is prayed daily.

Vespers is the Continue reading

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Third Sunday of Advent Reflection – Deep Sorrow and Sharp Joy

050811-066.Today’s readings can be accessed here. I was all set to post the homiletic reflection that was published in the book, Hungry and You Fed Me: Homilies and Reflections for Cycle C.  Today is Gaudete Sunday, a day of joy, rejoicing and the homily that is in the book reflects that. If you want to read it, you can see it here, on the diocesan Amazing God webpage.

What do we think of today? Father Pat Butler, our pastor, spoke to us about the importance of silence in his homily for this weekend. I also went to mass at Immaculate Conception in Glenville, where I work, and Father Jerry Gingras reminded us of how easy it is to conflate joy and happiness, rejoicing and celebration. This reminds me that joy something that we possess in Christ, and happiness is but a fleeting feeling.

The image above was taken in a forest. I was struck by what the fire had wrought – a field of rose colored flowers. The photo shows a forest that was burned to nothing, to black scorched earth. The fire killed everything in sight, or so it seemed. Our Gospel today has John the Baptist telling us this:

His winnowing fan is in his hand to clear his threshing floor
and to gather the wheat into his barn,
but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.

The unquenchable fire burns, but look at what grows in the aftermath! This mystery is unknowable, we encounter such rich gifts in life, and we encounter such unfathomable sorrow. There is no answer, and I am reminded of the gifts of silence that Father Pat Butler spoke of. This image and these few (probably too many) words – that is all.

May God gather the children and the adults of Sandy Hook into God’s loving embrace. May God’s mercy enshroud the grieving families and friends of those who have died so tragically, so brutally. And we continue to offer our prayers for the families of Deanna Rivers and Chris Stewart.

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