24Dec
ADVENT'S GOOD NEWS
A tiny slip of paper wakes me from sound sleep: my list. Raspberry layer cake, appple pie, cinnamon rolls, cookies yet to be rolled out, a few presents that still need sorting and wrapping. This is nothing new- there really is nothing new under the sun, or under today's cheerless gray sky, but how to handle the stress and seemingly endless errands and preparations for the holidays? I can make my heart ready for this day, for this task, for these duties, for family and friends and the guests God brings. I know you would say I can shorten my list, but that would grieve my heart, for it is my passion, but I can sit in God's presence and strengthen my heart to bear the gifts of giving without the weight of worry and resentment. How? "My heart is ready, O God; I will sing, sing your praise. Awake my soul... I will thank you, Lord, among the peoples. among the nations I will praise you, for your love reaches to the heavens and your truth to the skies." Psalm 108 Faintly, in the reflection through our sun room windows, our Christmas lights appear outside on this dreary day. So too, in my life, Christ's light shines from within me to dimly display the glory of His love to a needy world. My choice is to see the day, with all its chaos and caroling as His, and know the truth that reaches these foggy New England skies: His love reaches to the heavens and has come down from the heavens to touch us and heal us, bringing hope and joy and peace. He brings me His love and lifts my weary head. "He is my glory and the lifter of my head." Psalm 3:3 My heart is ready. Is yours? "Come thou long-expected Jesus, Born to set thy people free From our fears and sins release us, Let us find our rest in thee. Israel's strength and consolation, Hope of all the earth thou art; Dear desire of every nation, Joy of every longing heart. Born thy people to deliver, Born a child and yet a King. Born to reign in us forever, Now thy gracious kingdom bring By thine own eternal Spirit Rule in all our hearts alone; By thine all-sufficient merit Raise us to thy glorious throne. Medicine from Sacred Writing: "For what greater grace could God have made to dawn on us than to make His only Son become a son of man, so that a son of man might in turn become the son of God. Ask if this were merited; for its reason, for its justification, and see whether you will find any other answer but sheer grace...Let us then rejoice in this grace." Saint Augustine Sermon 185
 
16Dec
ADVENT'S UPSET

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I have this illusion that Christmas is about a list, and gifts and presents and parties and family gathering, and it is, but there is a deeper meaning that fuels the outer purposes. God comes to me in the incarnation so that I might come to Him. I can rest my weary soul, and obey the tender call of the Savior: "Come to Me all you who are weary, and I will give you rest,  Matthew 11:28 

 

I can only give what I have received. If I have Christ's Presence within me, "Immanuel, God with us," Matthew 1:7 this peaceful Presence is mine to share. However, what I mostly have is the remnants of a lingering cold, the tiredness that comes with recovering, and the overwhelming sense that I am missing it~ missing the boat, missing the call to love and give and share. 

 

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God's list looks nothing like mine. He interrupts my Advent with a simple question: "Are you being My light to a dark and lonely world?" That's all. Reign it in and ask Him to rain down from heaven His joy and Presence. The Gospel rings true as Jesus reminds me quietly, "Apart from Me you can do nothing." John 15:5 

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But I am not thinking of vines and branches, I'm thing of holly and mistletoe and how disappointing circumstances can be~ words not written, hearts not understood, gatherings not taking place. In this He speaks so softly, "I am with you. I will never leave you or forsake you. Forsake your dreams and your ideals and be My love and light to those I bring. They may not be the ones you are looking and longing for, but they are Mine and I would have you love in My Name."

 

Who do you need to love today?

 
 

Medicine from Sacred Writings:

 

"Christ being Lord and King, and the King's Son, brought to us things far greater, being ever with the Father, and beholding Him continually." 

 

John Chrysostom Fourth Century

 
10Dec
ADVENT'S HELP
Rain pours ceaselessly from the sky, as if heaven were weeping for us all. The weariness of the days and the demands of the season empty us even as we long to be filled. Surely we have need of One who can help, One who can save. The prophet Isaiah gets front and center stage during Advent for all the promises God makes through him of the coming Messiah: "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10 Struggling with loving and helping, I went to church discouraged and feeling ill-equipped for the day. We began by reciting a familiar prayer and the words struck me full-force: "Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy Name. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven..." As I lifted my hands to pray, it was as if God reached down and said, "You are My child and I want you to take My hand and let me help you. And now, reach for your loved one's hand, they need your help, not your anxiety, they need your calming presence." And when I got to the words, "Thy Kingdom come," God whispered, "My kingdom is within you, since I have come as Emmanuel. Whereever you are I desire to be with you. Look for Me, listen for Me and bring Me with you to every situation you find yourself in." Emmanuel comes to us, personally and intimately, and because we have seen Him we both worship and adore; our souls finding their footing in Him and our feet running to shout the Good News. We say, "God be with you," or, "God help you," in times of crisis, how much more so at Advent when the Son comes down to bring God in the flesh, a tiny Babe, that we might have His Presence with us. Indeed, God is with us. Is there a place in your life you need God with you? Ask Him to reveal Himself. Medicine from Sacred Writing: "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us," the Master took on Him the form of a servant. For He became the Son of man, who was God's own Son in order that He might make the sons of men to be children of God." John Chrysostom Fourth Century
 
10Dec
ADVENT'S HELP
Rain pours ceaselessly from the sky, as if heaven were weeping for us all. The weariness of the days and the demands of the season empty us even as we long to be filled. Surely we have need of One who can help, One who can save. The prophet Isaiah gets front and center stage during Advent for all the promises God makes through him of the coming Messiah: "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10 Struggling with loving and helping, I went to church discouraged and feeling ill-equipped for the day. We began by reciting a familiar prayer and the words struck me full-force: "Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy Name. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven..." As I lifted my hands to pray, it was as if God reached down and said, "You are My child and I want you to take My hand and let me help you. And now, reach for your loved one's hand, they need your help, not your anxiety, they need your calming presence." And when I got to the words, "Thy Kingdom come," God whispered, "My kingdom is within you, since I have come as Emmanuel. Whereever you are I desire to be with you. Look for Me, listen for Me and bring Me with you to every situation you find yourself in." Emmanuel comes to us, personally and intimately, and because we have seen Him we both worship and adore; our souls finding their footing in Him and our feet running to shout the Good News. We say, "God be with you," or, "God help you," in times of crisis, how much more so at Advent when the Son comes down to bring God in the flesh, a tiny Babe, that we might have His Presence with us. Indeed, God is with us. Is there a place in your life you need God with you? Ask Him to reveal Himself. Medicine from Sacred Writing: "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us," the Master took on Him the form of a servant. For He became the Son of man, who was God's own Son in order that He might make the sons of men to be children of God." John Chrysostom Fourth Century
 
09Dec
ADVENT'S PRESSURE

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The pressure is exhausting. How many decorations adorn your home, how many cookies baked and eaten, how many parties invited to, responded to and attended? I feel like a Nutcracker set up to keep watch over the Christmas cheer! Today I rested my weary soul for a few moments at a friend's home: no rush, no hurry, no need to pick up, clean up, be "up." We sort of sat there being together. It was so refreshing, the being.

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All the doing confuses me, I thought Christmas was about love and joy and, "peace on earth, good will towards men." How did we ever get so wrapped up in the trappings and the tree? Nothing inherently wrong with those, but they somehow steal joy instead of giving it and the insanity of the long "to-do list" leaves little left in us for loving.

When I am worn with trying to grasp the meaning amidst the madness I let Christmas music make my soul obey. It's as if I drag parts of me around saying, "enjoy this, you know you should enjoy these friends, this party, this breakfast, this tea," when what I'm really looking for is nothing this world has to offer. I am leaning hard against heaven hoping for a sign that I am not alone and help is on the way.

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I crave peace and joy and long for holiness and contentment within. It isn't that I demand everything be wrapped up in a bow, but I have to have a holier calling on my frazzled pace. I need a song in my soul to carry me through the demands of the Advent days. Surely it shouldn't be this way, but somehow the world has crowded the manger out and we are required to pay some kind of fee for the season- be it in cookies or cakes, packages or parties.

Do you need to quiet your soul? Listen carefully, heaven and nature are singing.

Medicine from Sacred Writings:The pressure is exhausting. 


"Glory to God in the Highest, and on earth peace, good will towards men. " Luke 2:14 If you desire to learn something from Cherubim and Seraphim, you shall hear the mystic song of His Holiness, and that, "heaven and earth are full of His glory." Isiah 6:3 If you enquire of the higher powers, you shall find that their one work is the praise of God."

 

John Chrysostom Fourth Century

 
 
05Dec
ADVENT'S GIFT

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Sometimes Advent doesn't look like what you think it will, take today for example, this day it looks like banana muffins. A friend's husband is deployed, four kids, three still at home, she hit her head and has a concussion, I have Christmas "things" to do and today it is to deliver muffins and a meal. My preparations for Christ's coming must include others, bringing them love and joy and strength through encouragement, There is no other way for the light of God to be shed abroad in the world unless I pick up my small candle and bring hope where I go.

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The baked zitti will feed more than one hunger; we are hardly ever looking for just food when we gather as families, we are longing for love and appreciation and to know we are cared for. When I can freely give this, the light of Christ has dispelled some of my darkness. "Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and His glory appears over you." Isaiah 61:1, 2

I am not boasting that I have made a meal and lifted a burden from a friend, I share this because it was a choice to lay down my, "to do list" and listen to the still small voice of God:

 "You know you have chicken and zitti and cookies and muffins," 

"Yes, Lord, but I am so busy."

 "What you do for the least of these you do for Me." 

"But when Lord, I do not see you here as I struggle through the weight of my own agenda."

"You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart. If you love me you will keep My commands."

"But I am overwhelmed."

"Feed My sheep."

"yes, Father." 

So Advent comes crashing through my list, my longings, my desires and I make myself available to Him to bring a gift to another.

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Where do you feel parched and weak? In need of a Savior?

Medicine from Sacred Scriptures:

 

"The wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy. .. they will see the glory of the Lord, the splendor of our God. Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts:

"Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, He will come with vengeance; with divine retribution He will come to save." Isaiah 35:1-4

 
04Dec
ADVENT'S PROMISE

Handmade stockings hang around a simple mantle, no fancy decorations or silver, just a few tall nutcrackers the boys remind me fall on a regular basis. I feel a little sad somehow walking by those tall carvings, as if they, too, stand watch waiting for men to return. Christmas seems to be anticipating the arrival.

One flies home mid-December, another's last final is the 17th, in time for the Hobbit's premier showing, the other travels across country close to Christmas. They all gather soon, so why the nostalgia? It is the memories of children grown, of those already gone, and those who will gather in places I can't be. A niece's invitation pulls at heart -strings, the next generation's little ones gathered for donuts and laughter is the happiness holidays hold.

The tree, the lights, the gifts, purchased and made, all hold the magic of the waiting. I long for the presence of those held in my heart. So it is with the King of Kings. I know He dwells within, speaking, guiding, ever-with me, and yet I long for His coming, breaking into the world with joy and hope. How I need hope, to be reminded I am not alone, to feel the weight lifted from tired shoulders and His care and kindness showered on my fragile soul. Voices gathered at the dinner table speak the Promise: "The Virgin shall be with child and will give birth to a Son and they will call him "Immanuel"- which means, "God with us." Matthew 1:23 Angelic annunciations are always surprising.Holding these words as an anchor for my soul, I embrace the God who comes to me in the manger and makes a way for me to know His love. What is it you are waiting for this Advent season?

Medicine from Sacred Writing:

"For when human nature was fleeing from Him, and fleeing far away (for we "were far off"- Ephesians 2:13), He pursued after and overtook us. He showed that He has done this only out of kindness, and love, and tender care."

                                                                                                                John Chrysostom Fourth Century

 
02Dec
ADVENT'S COMFORT

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How do you comfort others? How do you comfort yourself? I am an innate, natural nurturer and fill up lonely, empty spaces inside of others with food. I'm sorry, maybe that isn't wise or good or in any way helpful, but when you have been feeding little people for two decades it is hard to lose the habit. I sent one of the men-boys home with a bag of happiness. He grabbed a few sandwiches for his trip and then I packed a bag of baked goods: cookies and blueberry scones and giant snicker doodles. It's what I do.

Comforting myself, not so much. I don't turn to food or shopping or even face book to be nurtured, I usually turn inward and find either, "the light's on and Someone is home," or they are not. If I am living from self and sin it seems very dark within, but when I am living from love and light I can sense God's presence within me. Let me explain:


"If anyone loves Me, he will obey My teaching. My Father will love him and we will come to Him and make our home in him." John 14:23 I can welcome my Father in heaven with my obeidience and my love. I can choose to, "love others as God has loved me." John 13:34 So simple. As I love and welcome others my obedience makes God welcome in me. I wonder why God wishes to come and make His home in us? Because He loves us! "How great the love the Father has lavished on us that we should be called the children of God! And that is what we are! 1 John 3:1 Just as I wish for my children to come home, stay a while, share meals and enjoy each other's company, so, too, my Heavenly Father longs for me.

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When I live from this love, the love of the Father delighting and dwelling in me, comfort and security wash over me like a waterfall. The morning prayers are so interesting today: "In our pain and anxiety, give us comfort and security." We are not told our pain or anxiety will be taken away, but that in them we can have the comfort and security of God's love and care.

The Promise is given: "For unto us a child is born, a Son is given, and the government will be upon His shoulders. And His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:2

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What are you in need of this day? A Counselor? A Father? Peace? Light within? Comfort? Security? Find in Him and in His coming all you are longing for.

 

Medicine from Sacred Scriptures:


"'Comfort, comfort, My people,' says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the Lord's hand double for all her sins." Isaiah 40:1-2

 

 
02Dec
ADVENT'S ILLUMINING

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Guests have come and gone as the bustling, generator-powered Thanksgiving has come to a close. I readied the house for men who previously inhabited little boy bodies to come and make their home with us for a few short days. Together we laughed and shared, cooked and cleaned and made the house a welcome for others. Napkins were folded into beautiful patterns and china and crystal adorned the table. All for guests, all for us to enjoy.

How is it then, that when the King is coming to dwell among us I struggle to make ready a place for Him? I have lists on lists already of all that is to be done before the men-boys arrive again for Christmas. If I can go to such great efforts to prepare for their homecoming, is it possible that I can make my heart a little more ready for the Holy One, the Most High.

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Take Mary's, "yes" at  the annunciation. As He condescends to me will I make myself meek and lowly for Him? Will I live and love as He bids me to in the midst of a world weighed down with worry and cares too heavy and burdens too great for my small heart? "Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time. Cast all your cares on Him because He cares for you." 1 Peter 5:6-7  

I have been pondering for weeks this mystery of Him, the Son of God, come down from heaven for us, for me; that He would dwell in me is the proof of the power of God to redeem and save, ransom and heal. Anyone at anytime from anything. This Advent join me as day after day we make ourselves ready for the King of Kings to draw near. "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you." James 4:8


During Advent we, "clean house" giving God a holy place to dwell. Join me as we shine the light within.

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Medicine from Sacred Writings :


"He tabernacles among us, that we might be able with much fearlessness to approach Him, speak to Him and converse with Him."

 

Chrysostom Fourth Century Homilies on St. John

 
23Oct
THE GLORY OF THE TREES
 

 

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Even in the dark the trees obey the call to show forth their colors: they will be glorious, whether the world watches or not, whether the sun shines on their splendor or the rains rip their very essence from them. I like the fall foliage on a bright day, today's weather fills me with inexplicable sadness: it seems too much, to burn with fire only to have the heavens rain down on the parade and leave less. Less brilliance, less beauty, less hue, as color is lost in a world of gray. So it is with our souls.

 

We prefer the splendid, the exciting, the thrilling, the glory of it all, but this will not sustain. Dark days will come. We must learn to rest like the trees: they gather all summer working their magic of making sugars and our air to breathe, and then, as light fades they stand aloof from the world's harshness and wait. For us, all our blessing is stored in our soul like some scientific equation:

 

Blessing + life = joy. Stored joy + hardship = perseverance. The sap, running hard after a cold winter, producing the sweetest of syrups, is merely the trees' stored nutrients. Gathering sunshine from the previous summer, allowing leaves to swirl mid-air, releasing the hope of life-sustaining processes, the tree welcomes winter and emptiness so that fullness and blessing will come again. Through it all there is glory: glory to gather light and glory to store it deeply within.

 

 

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We miss those we love, we are torn from relationships we once held dear, children grow, friends move on, life changes, we are stripped like some oak in the woods, and yet, the oak stands strong, "like a tree planted by streams of water." Psalm 1:3 We are transformed as the colors of our life fade and our true glory is revealed. God's love and blessing is stored carefully in our being, and we wait  for the, "season of singing." Song of Songs 2:11  I am deeply affected by the evil in the world, not necessarily afraid, but troubled, that beauty and life and goodness are slipping from humanity, cutting off the source of living water. Jeremiah 2:13; John 4:14

One tree, though, braced for winter, will give off life giving oxygen when summer comes again. Will we breathe life and light into the world around, though all seems gray and lonely?

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Medicine from Sacred Writings:

 

“Let us henceforth stand aloof from the things of this life, that we may find grace and mercy in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

John Chrysostom Fourth Century

 
26Jul
NATALIE'S GARDEN

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"Do you hear the bicycle's bell? It's Natalie, she will ride through the park and come to the garden." All week I prayed Natalie would appear, as if a single face would help me make sense of the poverty and need found in the brokenness of the world. Years ago I had come to this community with the youth of our church but I could not process the overwhelming stories, the raw pain and sadness I encountered, so I worked in the community garden. I weeded as if pulling crab grass could change lives; it felt hopeless and useless, but we created space for beauty to take root.

 

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As I stepped into the community park this year I was surprised to find the Seeds of Strength Neighborhood Garden well cared for and growing, yet there were still a few empty planting boxes. We worked on the big picture, installing a gutter for the rain barrel and creating a  compost bin, but I waited for the small miracle, the face of a little child. She arrived on Thursday afternoon, ringing her bike bell, as if to let the world know she was on her way. She broke open the hearts of the girls on my garden team and she solidified the purpose in my heart, to sow love, to work at bringing beauty, to never give up hope.

 

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A girl's dream, a garden of her own, replete with the touches that childhood brings: painted rocks and blooming flowers, restored my dream as well. Pouring love and energy into the world around us creates beauty and joy. I am merely a  shadow in the picture of Natalie's garden and life, but we have touched her with our love and she has changed us. We hope, we work, we pray, we love, all in the Name of the One who brings joy and transformation to a hurting world, to a single life.

 

Who and how are you loving today?

Medicine from Sacred Scripture:

 

"Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will reap generously... you will be made rich in every way so that on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God."

2 Corinthians 9:6,11

 
27Jun
HOME

 

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Come home to 

Me, child,

welcome Me in.

Open the door 

of your heart.

Allow Me entrance there.

I come full of grace and truth;

to bring the fire of My love,

to light the depths of your soul.

 

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I am nourished by grace and mercy in ways my mind cannot grasp, but my soul cannot live without. God invites me home, He longs to give me rest: "Come to Me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest." Matthew 6:11 When the older boys, men actually, come home I let them sleep until they are rested. It is pure gift; I long for their bodies and souls to catch up with the journey each has been on. 

 

Our recent guests enjoyed pancakes, fresh picked strawberries and baked doughnuts. I find great joy in feeding others, in creating spaces where they feel refreshed and their bodies restored. And conversation. I pray continually that all we say and do in our home brings hope and healing, that we are grounded in truth and connect by God's grace. 

 

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Is this then God's heart? To bring us His love, giving us rest and joy in His presence and strength for our way if it is weary.

 

Medicine from Sacred Writings:

 

"For He was not, we know, a healer to bodies only, but a curer also of the soul." 

John Chrysostom Fourth Century

 

 

 

 
 
21Apr
EASTER MONDAY

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So many flowers, so many friends, such laughter and food and joy. Easter is longing fulfilled. We look on in the garden at His agony, lulled to sleep by our own weakness; we watch in the courtyard of our lives where we betray Jesus with our words; we stand at His trial shouting, "crucify Him," with our choices; we weep at the cross as He lays down His life for us.


 "I have come that you may have life and have it to the full. I am the good Shepherd. The good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep." John 10:10, 11

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What He lays down we are asked to pick up: His life. "I have been crucified with Christ, therefore I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." Galatians 2:20  As we live these days of Easter may our lives be defined by Him: His love, His power, and His mercy. His very life is being lived in us as we place our faith in His saving power allowing His goodness and abundant mercy to inform our choices, our thoughts, our loving and living. We no longer live for ourselves, but for Him.

May we live Easter fully alive, awakened by His Divine love.

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Medicine from Sacred Writings:

 

"Let us remain pasturing beneath this Shepherd...For we have a Shepherd who so loves us that He gave even His life for us. When therefore He is both powerful and loves us, what is there to hinder us from being saved?" 

 

John Chrysostom Fourth Century

 
18Apr
THE BLOOD OF CHRIST SHED FOR YOU

"It is Finished"   Jesus in John 19:30

 

"I am the Lord. The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are; and when I see the blood I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt."  

The Lord to the Israelites Exodus 12:13

 

"The law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness." 

Hebrews 9:22

 

"Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing."

Jesus to His Father Luke 23:34

 

 

"Let His blood be upon us and on our children."  

The crowd answering Pilate  Matthew 27:25

 

"How much more then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences... He has died as a ransom to set us free from sins ."

Hebrews 9:14-15

 

Medicine from Sacred Scriptures

 
15Apr
SONG OF LENT
 

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Waking in the stillness of the still dark day I hear a chorus of morning birds and feel the wild wind whpping across the pond. I am drawn by all the activity; the ice has melted and spring has come. As the days have melted into weeks and Lent has gone by us we stand in the middle of the drama of Holy Week.


alt Mercy calls to us, "Come, taste and see that the Lord is good. Come, listen for my love as I walk into Jerusalem knowing I will die for you. Allow every step I take in love and obedience to inform your days." Could it be we are so caught up in the daily demands rather than in the One who created the day. Yet, underneath it all a song is being sung to our souls if we would stop and listen. It is the song of God's love for us.

I miss the meaning if I merely go through the motions; if I let the wind touch my face I am reminded there is One who made the wind, if I step into the story of Christ's Passion and find a love so this consuming it would take sin and destroy death, I am changed. 

 

Allow God to touch you as you walk these holy days

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Medicine from Sacred Writing:

 

"If one says, "I have fasted the whole of Lent ," do you say, "I had an enemy but I was reconciled; I had a customof evil-speaking, but I put a stop to it; I had a custom of swearing, but I have broken through this evil practice. It is of no advantage  to merchants, to have gone over a great extent of ocean, but to have sailed with a freight and much merchandise. The fast will profit us nothing if we pass through it as a mere matter of course without any benefit." 

 

John Chrysostom   Fourth Century

 
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