Category Archives: Advent 2011

Advent Reflection December 11, 2012 – Lost Sheep

This is a modified version of a reflection that I offered at Advent Evening Prayer at St. Edward the Confessor, in Clifton Park, NY.

Today’s Gospel:

Jesus said to his disciples:
“What is your opinion?
If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray,
will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills
and go in search of the stray?
And if he finds it, amen, I say to you, he rejoices more over it
than over the ninety-nine that did not stray.
In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father
that one of these little ones be lost.”
-Matthew 18:12-14

Contemporary Catholic artist, Brother Mickey McGrath, has been posting daily “Advent calendar” updates on his Facebook page. His message for each day has to do with the daily reading. Today’s message was, “Give comfort to God’s people.” The image that he created was a joyful Jesus and a joyful sheep sheep – the image made me think that they were jumping for joy.

Between seeing this, and then considering something else that I read earlier this morning, I got to thinking… how many of us would just cut our losses and forget that one lost sheep? How often do we “write off” others with relative ease? The visual reminder of Jesus and that sheep reminded me that everyone counts, every person matters.

This past weekend I spent time with some friends who believe that they have been marginalized by the organized church. Frankly, I am not always sure that the church is purposely trying to marginalize my friends – but like so many family conflicts – and let’s face it, this is a family conflict, things happen and suddenly the sheep are not so much lost, as they are rejected. Or at least feeling that way. In this case, it is more than just feeling that way, if you ask me. Unyielding rigid ideology, often served up with the best of intentions, but without love, and things go poorly. Very. Poorly. That one sheep feels cut off and is lost.

Would you go look for the lost sheep? Or invite it in from the margins? Or do you recall what it feels like to be cut off, left out and rejected? It feels like you are… lost.

black_sheep_of_the_family1bAlthough we are about to celebrate the most unlikely of all things come December 25, a time when we remember that God came to take human form, a most remarkable thing! We are called to remember that Jesus, while fully human is also fully divine. And as such he goes far beyond what mere mortals we can do. While we might say things like, “that sheep left of its own accord,” or “the sheep did not follow the rules, we had to walk away,” or “seriously – what’s one little sheep?” Time to cut our losses and move on, right? Or, maybe God is not content with that. No – every sheep and every life matters.

When I think of all the people that I know who feel rejected or marginalized by the Church, I think of this Gospel. When I think of all the people who feel rejected by family, friends or others – I think of this Gospel. When I think of times that I myself have felt abandoned – or worse yet, the times when I have done the abandoning, I think of this Gospel.

Jesus does what God means for us to do. Find that lost sheep! And if we are the lost sheep, we must be found by one who seeks us with determination and love – not just a dry book of rules about why we made ourselves lost. If God became one of us, if God pursues us so ardently, how can that same God be willing to push us aside with a seemingly cruel and cavalier hand? How can that be the same God who leaves the 99 sheep, to go find the one sheep that is lost?

This God makes a demand upon us to be sure – to press past our differences, and live in communion in Christ, through reconciliation, filled with forgiveness and hope – and justice. Without justice, the whole thing falls apart. And justice is at the heart of God’s invitation is about. Like a shepherd chasing, and ultimately finding that one pesky little sheep, we must lean hard into the wind of our discontent. When we are the lost ones, we must push back into knowing that we will be found, loved, embraced and restored completely in justice and wholeness, by our God-with-us, our Emmanuel.

God does not cut God’s losses and move on, and neither should we. May this day remind us, as Brother Mickey’s art informs us, to “give comfort to God’s people.” Translation: don’t chase them out of the sheepfold. And as today’s Gospel clearly states in the words of Jesus, “it is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little ones be lost.” If that is God’s will, then what else can we do but follow?

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Advent Reflection – Saturday, December 24, 2011 by Fran Rossi Szpylczyn

Into this world, this demented inn, in which there is absolutely no room for him at all, Christ has come uninvited. But because he cannot be at home in it, because he is out of place in it, and yet he must be in it, his place is with those others for whom there is no room. His place is with those who do not belong, who are rejected by power because they are regarded as weak, those who are discredited, who are denied the status of persons, tortured, exterminated. With those for whom there is no room, Christ is present in this world.- Thomas Merton

Christ comes for all. It makes no sense, does it? Into this demented inn, as Merton says. Let us all welcome the stranger at the door, so often the one knocking from the inside of our own heart.

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Advent Reflections – The O Antiphons, O Emmanuel

This is the last O Antiphon before Christmas, O Emmanuel, no translation here… simply, O Emmanuel, which we know means, “God with us.”

O Emmanuel, Rex et legifer noster,
expectratio gentium, et Salvator earum:
veni ad salvandum nos,
Domines, Deus noster.

O Emmanuel, king and lawgiver,
desire of the nations, Savior of all people:
Come and set us free, Lord our God.

Yes, our Savior comes – He comes to set us free! Have a blessed and beautiful Christmas, one and all!

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Advent Reflections – O Antiphons, O Rex Gentium

Today our O Antiphon is O Rex Gentium, or O, King of All The Nations! Jesus the Christ leads us all, he is our Lord and King!

Dec. 22:
O Rex Gentium
, et desideratus earum,
lapisque angularis, qui facis utraque unum:
veni, et salva hominem,
quem de limo formasti.

O King of all the nations, the only joy of every human heart;
O Keystone of the mighty arch of man:

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Advent Reflections – Thursday, December 22, 2011 by Madeline Longacker

“My soul doth magnify the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my savior because He who is mighty hath done great things and holy is His name…”

When I read the words of Mary, I can sense the intense joy that she is experiencing as she shares with Elizabeth what God has done. I remember the joy it was when I was expecting and how joy filled I was to share that news with family and friends. I think how much more intense her joy was. For generations the Jewish people waited for God to send the promised messiah, and God’s promise was to come about in Mary’s time and within her very self. She must have been so open to the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit and filled with faith and confidence in God that the Word He spoke became flesh. Jesus came to her in a special way.

I can imagine her visiting Elizabeth to help and share her news. How happy she must have been to hear of Elizabeth’s pregnancy! She must have been overjoyed that the sorrow that had burdened Elizabeth was lifted. What a wonderful meeting this must have been! How grateful and filled with praise they were! Just reading these words in scripture make me want to join in praise of God for all the mighty things He has done.

I think my prayer this Advent is to ask Mary to visit our families, friends, and parish community with the good news of Jesus ‘birth. I ask her to bring Jesus into our hearts so we may be delivered from our failings and sorrows and filled with His love. I ask her to remind us that the Holy Spirit has already overshadowed each of us bringing Jesus to dwell within us. Jesus is already saving us, healing us, loving us and sharing His peace with us.I ask Mary to pray for us that we may praise and thank God for the gift of Jesus. I pray that we may share in Mary and Jesus’ great joy in the Father’s plan.

Madeline Longacker is a parishioner at St. Edward’s and is a member of the Hosanna Prayer Group. Hosanna meets weekly, on Thursdays at 7pm, in the Faith Formation wing. All are welcome.

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Advent Reflections – Evening Prayer Reflection by Fran Rossi Szpylczyn

Here at St. Edward the Confessor we have a beautiful practice during Advent and Lent – Evening Prayer on Tuesday evenings at 7 PM. While we have thought about doing this outside of the liturgical seasons mentioned, we have not done so. And there is something special about bracketing these times when we are called to a particular kind of attention.

Last night I was privileged to once again offer the reflection and I am reprinting the text of my reflection here. Please note, if you were present, I do read from the script, but I do deviate from it as well. Thus – this may be slightly different than what you heard!

Thank you to everyone who has attended evening prayer so faithfully! Thank you to everyone who has come just once! Thank you everyone – presider, helpers, music ministers and other reflectors, for another beautiful season of prayer.

Are You Ready? A Reflection on the Gospel According to Luke, 1:26-38.

The question is everywhere… I am asked it and although I say that I am not going to ask it, I do… You know, you have said it yourself – I’m pretty sure you have either asked or been asked this at least once this week…

 

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Advent Reflections and Poetry Wednesdsay – Wednesday December 21, 2011 by Donald G. Harmande

STAR

OF

BETHLEHEM

A star shone bright

reflecting light

all could see that night.

A Babe in Bethlehem was born

to redeem us not to be forlorn.

Hearts renewed, joy is spread

lending peace to mankind

instead

DGH

2011

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