advent 2009
Christmas at trinity Cathedral
  Christmas EvE • thursday, dECEmbEr 24
    5:00 pm Family Eucharist and pagEant

         ...
advent 2009
Meditations for the Season

 offered by the people of Trinity Cathedral
                          Editor: Adam...
Sunday, November 29
Jeremiah 33: 14-16
Psalm 25: 1-10
1 Thess. 3: 9-13
Luke 21: 25-36

What is this thing called Advent? T...
Monday, November 30
Isaiah 2: 1-5, Psalm 122, Matthew 8: 5-13

I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of...
Tuesday, December 1
Isaiah 11:1-10
Psalm 72:1-8
Luke 10:21-24

The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie do...
Wednesday, December 2
Isaiah 25:6-9
Psalm 23
Matthew 15:29-39

Advent is now here – the season of waiting, watching, arriv...
Thursday, December 3
Isaiah 26:1-6
Psalm 118:19-24
Matthew 7:21-27

“Not everyone who addresses me as, ‘Master, master,’ w...
Friday, December 4
Isaiah 29:17-24
Psalm 27: 1-6, 13-14
Matthew 9:27-31

Then he touched their eyes and said, “According t...
Saturday, December 5
Isaiah 30:19-21, 23-26
Psalm 147:1-12
Matthew 9:35-10:1, 5-8

Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving, sin...
Sunday, December 6
Malachi 3: 1-4
Luke 1: 68-79
Phillippians 1: 3-1
Luke 3: 1-6

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice...
Monday, December 7
Isaiah 35:1-10
Psalm 85:8-13
Luke 5:17-26

During Advent, we spend much of our time in intense anticipa...
Tuesday, December 8
Isaiah 40:1-11
Psalm 96
Matthew 18:12-14




Linda Zolten Wood
Wednesday, December 9
Isaiah 40:25-31
Psalm 103:1-10
Matthew 11:28-30

“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carryin...
Thursday, December 10                                                           Friday, December 11
Isaiah 41:13-20       ...
Saturday, December 12
Sirach 48:1-11
Psalm 80:1-3, 14-18
Matthew 17:9-13

Come, Thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy p...
Sunday, December 13
Zephaniah 3: 14-20
Isaiah 12:2-6
Philippians 4: 4-7
Luke 3: 7-18

The prophet Zephaniah wants Israel, ...
Monday, December 14
Psalm 25:3-8
Numbers 24:2-7, 15-17a
Matthew 21:23-27

Today is All Saints Day and I am writing a piece...
Tuesday, December 15
Zephaniah 3:1-2, 9-13
Psalm 34:1-8
Matthew 21:28-32

Zephaniah tells us our speech will be changed to...
Wednesday, December 16
Isaiah 45: 5-8, 18-25
Psalm 85: 8-13
Luke 7: 19-23

Today’s psalm tells us that righteousness is a ...
Thursday, December 17
Genesis 49: 2, 8-10
Psalm 72: 1-8
Matthew 1: 1-7, 17

“What did you go out into the desert to see?”
...
Friday, December 18
Jeremiah 23: 5-8
Psalm 72: 11-18
Matthew 1: 18-25

Isaiah is the prophet whose voice we hear during Ad...
Saturday, December 19
Judges 13: 2-7, 24-25
Psalm 71: 1-8
Luke 1: 5-25

Angels and virgins, barren women conceiving, muten...
Sunday, December 20
Micah 5: 2-5
Luke 1: 47-55
Hebrews 10: 5-10
Luke 1: 39-45

I find in these words a poetic repose…

Of ...
Monday, December 21
Song of Solomon 2: 8-14
Psalm 33: 1-5, 20-22
Luke 1: 39-45

Righteous and righteousness: these words m...
Tuesday, December 22
1 Samuel 1: 19-28
Psalm 113
Luke 1:46-56

“My soul extols the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my ...
Wednesday, December 23
Malachi 3: 1-5
Psalm 25: 1-14
Luke 1: 57-66

Today’s lesson from Luke begins with John’s birth. Rec...
Thursday, December 24
2 Samuel 7: 1-16
Psalm 89: 1-4, 19-29
Luke 1: 67-79

Today’s the day. Finish wrapping, start cooking...
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Trinity Cleveland Advent Meditations

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From Cleveland, Ohio, meditations for the season of Advent created by members of the Trinity Cathedral congregation.

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Trinity Cleveland Advent Meditations

  1. 1. advent 2009
  2. 2. Christmas at trinity Cathedral Christmas EvE • thursday, dECEmbEr 24 5:00 pm Family Eucharist and pagEant 10:30 pm prEludE Magnificat, Antonio Vivaldi Trinity Cathedral Choir; Trinity Chamber Players 11:00 pm choral Eucharist The Rt. Rev. Mark Hollingsworth, Jr., preaching The Very Rev. Tracey Lind, presiding “Verbum caro factum est,” Hans Leo Hassler Christmas day • Friday, dECEmbEr 25 10:00 am Eucharist with carols The Rev. Will Mebane, preaching saturday, dECEmbEr 26 3:00 pm and 5:00 pm thE Boar’s hEad and yulE log FEstival
  3. 3. advent 2009 Meditations for the Season offered by the people of Trinity Cathedral Editor: Adam Spencer Cover Photo: Dean Tracey Lind Trinity Cathedral 2230 Euclid Avenue Cleveland OH 44115 216-771-3630 www.trinitycleveland.org
  4. 4. Sunday, November 29 Jeremiah 33: 14-16 Psalm 25: 1-10 1 Thess. 3: 9-13 Luke 21: 25-36 What is this thing called Advent? The word ‘advent’ comes from the Latin word ‘adventus’ meaning ‘arrival.’ The idea behind it is that God came to earthly life and lived among us. That’s really great news if you take a few minutes to think on it, but for most people, Advent has become a time of rushing to get ready for whatever you’re doing with family and friends on Christmas. Starting with the day after Thanksgiving (though catalog firms and re- tailers try to move it up to the start of November for profit’s sake) we are flooded with Christmas. Our radios play non-stop Christmas music, our city streets and stores are decorated for the Holiday Season, and we are bombarded with advertisements. Most people spend all four weeks of Advent (and then some!) buying or making gifts to give out for Christ- mas, scheduling Christmas travel, and setting up the bounties of the big Christmas meal. By the time it’s over, most of us need a vacation from the holiday! Where in all of this is there any focus on Christ? Truly it has become a tiring rush, not a loving celebration; about money or image and, maybe, about family and friends. Truly, Advent has fallen on hard times, with little time or thought for the coming of Emmanuel. And if we don’t look to Jesus every day we are likely to end up losing Advent, Christmas, Lent, and even Easter. Ed Metz
  5. 5. Monday, November 30 Isaiah 2: 1-5, Psalm 122, Matthew 8: 5-13 I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of God.” Psalm 122:1 I believe that the house of God is anywhere that we allow ourselves to be open to God’s presence. Still, some places seem to be especially “thin”, allowing us to more easily be open. Not too long ago, the steps outside the Columbarium right here at Trinity became a “thin space” for me. The Columbarium door is locked, but I sit on the steps outside it, wishing its occupants well on this day before All Saints Sunday. Tomorrow the organ will boom out, and choir and congregation will sing, “For all the saints, who from their labors rest…” Today, I just sit in quiet communion with bishops, captains of industry, and faithful members of this congregation, who once lived in the earthly shells that lie beyond that door. I thank them for their gifts of love and work and earthly treasure that built this sacred space that we enjoy today. I thank them for their laughter, their tears, their hopes, their dreams, their words of wisdom, and their prayers. They have left us a rich inheritance. Charlotte Nichols
  6. 6. Tuesday, December 1 Isaiah 11:1-10 Psalm 72:1-8 Luke 10:21-24 The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them… Growing up, my brother and I loved to play army games. Using sticks as fake rifles we’d wage war all over the house and yard. Grandma used to shake her head and tell us not to do that around her. I never really under- stood why. On the weekends that we stayed with my grandparents, we would take drives in the country down near their house. And when I was little, the Wal-mart and the big strip mall hadn’t been built yet. It was all fields and pasture land. I remember the landmarks: the cattle, the Christmas tree farms, and a house that had a little statue of a lion and a lamb together beneath a big oak tree. Grandma loved that statue. These days she has a magnet on her fridge of the lion and the lamb lying down together. My grandpa served in World War II. He was in the infantry as the Allies pushed into Germany at the end of the war. I’ve since read that that means he saw some of the bloodiest and most bitter combat of the entire war. I remember being horrified as an older kid when mom told me that Grandpa watched a friend die after being hit by artillery. My grandfather’s generation saw war engulf the world. And women like my grandma watched men come back from it. Grandma always loved the lion and the lamb and she didn’t want her grandsons playing with guns. I think I finally understand why. They will not hurt or destroy on my holy mountain; for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. -Isaiah Adam Spencer
  7. 7. Wednesday, December 2 Isaiah 25:6-9 Psalm 23 Matthew 15:29-39 Advent is now here – the season of waiting, watching, arriving, renewal, and new beginnings again. The days are getting shorter and are getting darker earlier. Something is about to happen. I am supposed to “stay alert” and at the same time my mind is racing with too many things to do in such a short amount of time. Then I see the headline “Whose Birthday Is It Anyway?!” and it stops me in my tracks. Back to reality I come and pause, to “wait, watch, and stay alert” for the birth of the Jesus. The Lord is my Pacesetter, I shall not rush; The Lord makes me stop and rest for quiet intervals. The Lords provides me with images of stillness, which restore my serenity; The Lord leads me in the ways of efficiency through calmness of mind, And the Lord’s guidance is peace. Even though I have a great many things to accomplish each day, I will not fret, for the Lord’s presence is here. The Lords’ timelessness, all importance, will keep me in balance. The Lord prepares refreshment and renewal in the midst of my activity, By anointing my mind with oils of tranquility. My cup of joyous energy overflows. Surely harmony and effectiveness shall be the fruits of my hours, For I shall walk in the pace of my Lord, and dwell in the Lord’s house forever. (1997 - by Toki Miyashima – updated) Alleluia and Amen!! Debbie Hunter
  8. 8. Thursday, December 3 Isaiah 26:1-6 Psalm 118:19-24 Matthew 7:21-27 “Not everyone who addresses me as, ‘Master, master,’ will get into Heav- en’s domain – only those who carry out the will of my Father in heaven.” The lesson is clear. I must act upon what I have learned. When I recog- nize the correct way, I must move on it. Religious posturing and theolog- ical babble are not moving the kingdom of God forward. In this Gospel passage, Jesus emerges as a true teacher with a desire for me, his student, to put into practice what he has been revealing with his words. Jesus has set up the model. Now it is my turn. He asks that I become a co-creator with him in this new kingdom of love, peace and justice. As Bishop Robinson has recently stated,”Jesus does not need anymore admirers; Jesus needs more followers.” As I read the news of the day and sift through the vast amount of infor- mation, I realize that much time, energy and treasure are spent on empty words and political maneuvering – “Let’s talk; you do this for me and I’ll support you in that. We’re all ‘gentlemen’ here; we can work out a deal.” Seldom is anything of significance accomplished. The Egerton Gospel, a 2nd Century papyrus fragment, offers another look at these same thoughts of Jesus. A contemporary translation brings the message home: “Why do you pay lip service to me your teacher, but do not do what I say.” Words are important - but only to the extent that they encourage action. If there is no action, then the words are meaning- less indeed. Advent provides me with the opportunity to look closely at Jesus’ words and see how I am carrying them out. Jesus challenges me to participate, not only in this time of expectation, but throughout the new year as well. Wayne Bifano
  9. 9. Friday, December 4 Isaiah 29:17-24 Psalm 27: 1-6, 13-14 Matthew 9:27-31 Then he touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith let it be done to you.” Matthew 9:29 Last Saturday, as I unloaded my car by the laundromat with baskets and baskets of clothes to be washed, a scruffy man in tattered jeans saun- tered by. He carried a small cloth sack over his shoulder, perhaps hold- ing his only belongings. He turned his face to me and then to the heavy load packed high in my car. He paused. He smiled a knowing smile and winked. Then with the small sack slung over his shoulder, he went on his way. At that moment, my mind’s eye saw a poor and homeless man in need. In my heart, I felt the sting leading to repentance. I heard the call to justice in the assumption that God’s realm is not yet here and is still to come. Yet, that man’s smile told me he believed his burden was lighter than my own, literally and figuratively. In his wink, he embraced a new reality, already present and breaking into our disparate circum- stances. It is a paradox that we work for justice as if ushering in God’s realm, yet in moments of grace, we see everywhere the kingdom already here. The cusp of these two is the stuff of faith, and we walk in it all the time. We call it “eternal life.” Sharon L. Schwenk
  10. 10. Saturday, December 5 Isaiah 30:19-21, 23-26 Psalm 147:1-12 Matthew 9:35-10:1, 5-8 Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving, sing praises on the harp to our God. Psalm 147 This Advent season, I want to reflect on blessings. In a year when so many paradigms have been shifted, so many beliefs dispelled, and when the gifts of the season seem sure to be less than in any year in recent memory, I want to focus on the ultimate gift this sacred season promises. When so many of us have lost jobs, income, and retirement nest eggs, it’s difficult. Those of us that have been spared the most difficult hardships are slashing our personal and business budgets, preparing for more gloom and volatility ahead. What better time to retrench and focus on the gift Advent brings us: an op- portunity for ultimate salvation through Christ’s sacrifice on Earth? How can I be more deserving of this gift? Am I doing everything God has asked of me in return? All of us have the ability to do more of what God asks of us. But it takes focus, commitment, and prayer. This season, even more than others, help me focus on what I’ve been given. God’s gift is beyond any other, and in the giving, there is great responsibility bestowed on me. Scott Blanchard
  11. 11. Sunday, December 6 Malachi 3: 1-4 Luke 1: 68-79 Phillippians 1: 3-1 Luke 3: 1-6 Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. - Martin Luther King jr. Thus the prophet speaks liberation and hope to those who hunger for justice. “By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” With sighs too deep for words the people of God speak a prayer into the darkness of war, poverty, bigotry, and religious apathy: God of light come and liberate us from the oppression of nuclear pursuits and political ignorance. War and rumors of war produce the collateral damage in the poor. Poverty rises at the expense of war, dear God, and the cry of the hungry are legion in a world of denial. War makes pau- pers of us all and fear rises and paranoia leads to fear of the other and darkness grows. Violence overwhelms the soul and we lose heart and the church is distracted by many things as it gags on gnats and swallows camels. O Come, O Come, Emmanuel and ransom your captive church. Open our ears to hear the cry of the poor. Open our eyes to see the sin of war. Open our hearts to the oppressed. Open our theologies to faith active in love. Come, Emmanuel, Come. Our Advent dawns a light of your Christ to save us from ourselves. Amen. Amen. Apathy is the greatest sin among the people of God as we grow impa- tient during these days of Advent. Wake up! Let the church rise and be the answer to the prayers of the poor in the name of the One who brings peace, hope, love, and call to proclaim. We are woven into the garment of justice. We are part of the network of peace. Rev. Dr. Joseph G. Kovitch, Campus Pastor
  12. 12. Monday, December 7 Isaiah 35:1-10 Psalm 85:8-13 Luke 5:17-26 During Advent, we spend much of our time in intense anticipation; antici- pation of a great event that is about to effect the history of the world, as well as our own individual lives. The Psalm and the reading from Isaiah remind us of the anticipation our forefathers felt. Knowing that God would manifest Himself on this earth kept their faith fresh. They wondered, wait- ed with great expectancy, and rejoiced at God’s promise. But much of those passages talk about salvation being available only to those who fear, and the unclean and wicked fools who cannot know God’s way. During Advent and at other times during the year when the Scriptures take this tone, I prefer the understanding that I’ve gained as a Christian who has lived his life long after the birth of Christ. I know the outcome, I know the story, and I prefer to enter the season with that healthy anticipa- tion of something wonderful and amazing that is about to happen for us all. Not only is Jesus coming to save the faithful; he is coming to give us all a chance. His forgiveness, his teachings about His Father, the amazing miracles he is about to perform. These are about to be bestowed on all us, we sinners in God’s eternal creation. It is through our everyday actions as Christians that much of our faith is perceived by nonbelievers. Promising gloom and doom will probably not help them to be as knowingly anxious as I feel about Advent. To me, Ad- vent represents the single greatest opportunity for salvation in the history of the world. I prefer to try to radiate the love, spirit, and inner peace that Jesus’ life reminds us of. During this Advent season, I’m going to try to focus on those feelings and help spread the word of God by my earnest anticipation of the events that are about to unfold. Scott Blanchard
  13. 13. Tuesday, December 8 Isaiah 40:1-11 Psalm 96 Matthew 18:12-14 Linda Zolten Wood
  14. 14. Wednesday, December 9 Isaiah 40:25-31 Psalm 103:1-10 Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” - Matthew 11:28-30 During the holiday season, most of us could use a lighter burden and a little rest. We often try to do too much - find the perfect gift, cook the finest feast, decorate better than ever. In Advent 2009, many individuals and families have greater burdens - lost jobs, diminished savings, homes foreclosed. We could use an easier yoke and a double-helping of hope. We find hope in the form of a tiny baby born to two bone-tired parents. A gentle child who was promised to be the Savior of the world. The world was weary when Jesus was born - it is weary now - we still need a Savior. Fortunately, one is on the way. Spread the word - the world could use some Good News. Ginger Bitikofer
  15. 15. Thursday, December 10 Friday, December 11 Isaiah 41:13-20 Isaiah 48:17-19, Psalm 1, Matthew 11:16-19 Psalm 145:1-4, 8-13 Matthew 11:7-15 Blessed are those who walk hand in hand with goodness, who stand beside virtue, who sit in the seat of truth; In the late 1960s a TV show, “To Tell The Truth,” asked a panel to identify For their delight is in the Spirit of Love, the one of three guests who was telling the truth about her occupation. The and in Love’s heart they dwell day and night. panel used questions, and made their choices based on the answers given They are like trees planted by streams of water, by the guests. Then Bill Cullen, the host, requested, “Will the real Victoria that yield fruit in due season, and their leaves flourish; Gook please stand up?” And in all that they do, they give life. The unloving are not so; The 11th chapter of Matthew records two similar attempts to identify the they are like dandelions which the wind blows away. “real” person in question. John the Baptist, imprisoned for speaking truth Turning from the Heart of Love, they will know suffering and pain. to power needs to know if Jesus is the real Messiah he’s been telling people They will be isolated from wisdom; about. So he sends two of his disciples to put the question to Jesus: “Are for Love knows the way of truth, you the one who is to come (the Messiah) or are we to wait for another?” the way of ignorance will perish. “Will the real Messiah please stand up?” Jesus replies, “Go tell John what you hear and see: the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are clean, the I like this translation of Psalm 1 by Nan Merrill. She compares dwelling deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have good news brought to them.” in God’s heart to being like trees planted by streams of water who yield And John knows Jesus is the Messiah. much fruit. This serves as a reminder to stay close to the source of that which is life-giving and to beware of the danger of turning from this love Then Jesus questions the crowd about the “real” John. Is John a man who and becoming isolated from wisdom. sees which way the wind is blowing before he speaks the message of the coming of the Messiah? Is John speaking a message influenced by those The psalms are hymns and prayers of pilgrims on the journey and are an who live in palaces and other seats of worldly power? Or is he a prophet? invitation to pray everything we know, feel and experience. In monastic “Will the real John the Baptist please stand up?” The prophet whose un- communities they are sung or chanted daily as a practice of transforma- compromising bold words and actions will cost him his life stands up. tion. So I invite you to take a moment to give voice to Psalm 1. You may simply read it aloud or find a single tone on which to chant it. If you are How do I answer the question, “Are you a follower of Jesus, or should we experienced with chanting, you may want to include more tones. There is look for another?” “Will the real Christian please stand up?” Who am something about giving voice to the psalm that brings it to life. I: a man who goes along to get along? A man who prefers the material comforts of a “palace”to the wilderness of standing and delivering for the As you read Isaiah and Matthew, I invite you into the practice of Lectio kingdom of God? “Will the real Bailey Herrington please stand up?” Divina or sacred reading. Begin by reading the text silently or aloud. Sit with it for a few minutes and in your reflection, notice any images, feel- Bailey Herrington ings or memories that are stirred in you. Then listen for how you might be invited to respond in the circumstances of your life. Then spend a few minutes resting in silence. You may want to offer a prayer of gratitude for whatever you have received. Mary Anne Woodward
  16. 16. Saturday, December 12 Sirach 48:1-11 Psalm 80:1-3, 14-18 Matthew 17:9-13 Come, Thou long expected Jesus Born to set Thy people free, From our fear and sins release us, Let us find our rest in Thee. Like children watching their superheroes in TV cartoons, we long for our superhero, the one who will come and make everything right. But there’s a paradox; we are waiting for what we’ve already got and don’t even know it. In today’s lesson from the gospel of Matthew Jesus tells his disciples that Elijah, the superhero they’ve been waiting for, has already come. They didn’t recognize him because he came as John the Baptist. We are like the disciples; we don’t get it – the simple lesson that the kingdom of God is with us now. It’s the world we live in. Even while we await his coming, Jesus is with us. Jim Bolce
  17. 17. Sunday, December 13 Zephaniah 3: 14-20 Isaiah 12:2-6 Philippians 4: 4-7 Luke 3: 7-18 The prophet Zephaniah wants Israel, the daughter Zion, to sing and shout with joy, for the Lord, the king of Israel, is in their midst. What does that mean for us? Is Christ in our midst? During the Advent season we are waiting for Christmas, but is that just about a bunch of fuzzy old carols, cozy decorations, holiday parties, and expensive gifts on Christmas Eve? All of that is really present among us, from shopping malls to radio programs, and this year it felt even more awkward to see stores decorated early for the holidays, while the weather was still mild and balmy. God’s presence became manifest in the birth of Christ, whom we call “God incarnate”, God made flesh. As Christians we see this as God’s great gift to humanity. But is Christ present in our lives today? Can we live our lives with Christ as our focal point? After all, we call ourselves Christians. Do we see Christ not just in cute nativity scenes or in carols like “Silent Night”? Where is Christ for you? Christ is among us, in the sacraments of Baptism and Eucharist, in scripture, and in prayer. But the love of Christ cannot be limited to religious practice in closed rooms. Do we reach out to our brothers and sisters and all of God’s creation, like Christ did? Do we subscribe to the unconditional love of Christ for everyone, even they are “different” from us? Can we love the person who opposes or disagrees with us? If we fully embrace the love of Christ and each other, then Christ is truly among us and will remain in our midst. And together with Zephaniah we can shout with joy, rejoicing in our Lord, Jesus Christ, who came down from heaven for all of us and is our light and hope now, and for the days to come. Horst Buchholz
  18. 18. Monday, December 14 Psalm 25:3-8 Numbers 24:2-7, 15-17a Matthew 21:23-27 Today is All Saints Day and I am writing a piece for Advent. In the af- ternoon sky, I see a chalk-like trace of the moon against a deep blue sky. In the back yard, eight piles of leaves look like mounds of giant cookie dough, waiting to make their migration to the curb. Tonight it will be dark at 5:00 PM instead of 6. A fragment of Tracey’s sermon dances around me “This is a day about connections.”. Yes, it is – about connections past and present and future. The phone rings and on the other end my Mother tells me of a passing of a dear music teacher I had back in college, Paul Manz. After waves of tears, I go to my room and put on one of his glorious CD’s, the variations on the hymn tune, St. Anne (O God Our Help in Ages Past). It doesn’t take me too long to find a box with pictures, recital programs and letters and at once I am transported back to that time. In my mourning, I am connected, not only to the past, but my perspective of it from the present and a small glimpse of eternity. My tears have changed their chemistry from sadness to joy. I consider the complexity of connections and how the Holy Spirit always has a way of helping us find out what we need to know. In your Advent meditation today, my prayer is that you think about the richness of your connections. May you access the light of this holy season and walk closer with our Lord. Karla Rivers
  19. 19. Tuesday, December 15 Zephaniah 3:1-2, 9-13 Psalm 34:1-8 Matthew 21:28-32 Zephaniah tells us our speech will be changed to a pure speech and we will no longer lie or engage in deceit. We are so accustomed to “spin”, half-truths and outright lies that this sounds like a pipedream. It seems like we as a society are determined to either tell people what they want to know (play nice) or what we want them to know (sell a viewpoint). Telling people what they want to hear is perhaps great for minimizing hurt feelings and conflict but stifles our ability to fully express ourselves or create the trust that allows us to connect at deeper levels. It is easy to imagine the man in Matthew being somewhat exasperated with his sons, both of whom said one thing and then did the opposite. Telling people what we want them to know is equally challenging when we resort to spin, lies and half-truths. These deceptions have a way of being found out. This too erodes trust. It also creates hard feelings, unhealthy conflict and dividing walls. We need look no further than our political discourse to see this. It is too easy to let our egos, fears and pains distort our words. Thank heavens God doesn’t do that! God is very good at being honest. I think this comes from the fact God loves us so much - we trust and believe God because of this love. What would happen if we approached everyone from a place of uncondi- tional love? Would we then feel able to be honest? Isn’t that what God asks of us? Sherry Watts
  20. 20. Wednesday, December 16 Isaiah 45: 5-8, 18-25 Psalm 85: 8-13 Luke 7: 19-23 Today’s psalm tells us that righteousness is a product of peace, love and faithfulness. Yet in Isaiah, we are told that righteousness is a tool to be taken up against those who worship wooden idols, that it goes hand in hand with strength. The trick here, I believe, is to not get caught up in the martial aspects of the second definition. According to Foy Valentine in an article in The Journal of Christian Eth- ics: “Righteousness is defined in The Oxford English Dictionary as ‘justice, uprightness, rectitude, conformity of life to the requirements of the divine or moral law; virtue, integrity.’ Its original spelling was ‘rightwiseness’; and, as we sometimes still say a thing is sidewise, meaning sideways, so this original spelling, right-wise-ness, signified right-way-ness. That is what righteousness is, right-way-ness.” There are those who would subjugate us with their own restrictive defini- tion of what Valentine’s “rightwayness” actually is. And they’re willing to do it by force, if necessary. Those who are righteous for righteousness sake usually find themselves judging others. . Proclaiming that you are righteous doesn’t get you a seat on the train to heaven. Christ shows us in our third reading that it is actions that define a person. Rather than simply agreeing that he was the chosen one, Christ took John the Baptist’s followers and showed them what he was. He used love, and was righteous before those who watched him, without having to boast of his purity. Isaac Asimov wrote that “Violence is the last resort of the incompe- tent.” Often, those who fall into the trap of violence do so based on a false sense of righteousness. It is much harder to overcome violence and hate without fighting. Learning to overwhelm your opponent with love, compassion and dignity requires true strength. When one learns to be righteous while wielding love, then the strength becomes clear to the beholder. Tim Smith
  21. 21. Thursday, December 17 Genesis 49: 2, 8-10 Psalm 72: 1-8 Matthew 1: 1-7, 17 “What did you go out into the desert to see?” You see the sun shining fiercely in the white sky. It’s a beautiful winter day. Breathe in, marvel that you can draw breath. Let your breath take some of that stress away. The light is so bright you feel the illumination from within. You feel it written on your heart. Sing to the LORD, you saints of his; praise his holy name. Keep lengthening your cords and strengthen your stakes For all our sakes. Even in your emptiness, you have a home. And in the sheer sound of silence, When you feel most alone and most afraid, Sing your praise. Sing your heart to God and do not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever. Dani Smith
  22. 22. Friday, December 18 Jeremiah 23: 5-8 Psalm 72: 11-18 Matthew 1: 18-25 Isaiah is the prophet whose voice we hear during Advent. He foretold Jesus’ coming. In the 56th chapter he also cast a vision of what God’s people would look like. God told his people that a foreigner who has joined God’s people would not be turned away. A man who has been castrated — and therefore was incapable of siring children — should not think that he could not be one of God’s people. God only expects a person to honor the covenant between God and his people and to be faithful to God in worship and practice. God has not only brought the children of Israel home, but “has promised that he will bring still other people to join them.” This passage resonates Trinity Cathedral’s covenant of inclusiveness. None are excluded. Honoring God’s covenant with his children is the sum of what is needed. Advent looks forward to the coming of Jesus Christ. Trinity daily lives out the vision Isaiah foretold. It is such a hopeful image. Karen Dumont
  23. 23. Saturday, December 19 Judges 13: 2-7, 24-25 Psalm 71: 1-8 Luke 1: 5-25 Angels and virgins, barren women conceiving, muteness and shepherds, wandering stars and magi… Fingers pointing at the moon. There’s a pretty famous Buddhist story about a Zen master and his stu- dent. And, depending on how you hear it and who you hear it from, the master tells his student that all instruction/tradition/the Buddha is as a finger pointing at the moon. Look at the moon, not the finger, is the point of the tale. Luke tells of two miraculous and seemingly impossible births: John’s and Jesus’s. One to a woman unable to conceive, one to a virgin. Both an- nounced by heavenly beings, by angels. The stories of miraculous births are fairly common in ancient sources. Everyone from Alexander the Great to Augustus Caesar to Pythagoras had one. And the Hebrew Bible is full of barren women giving birth. (Sarah, Hannah, Samson’s mom.) A miraculous birth, in the ancient worldview, was a signifier of the great- ness of the one who was born. And the Hebrew Bible uses the pregnancy of a barren woman over and over again to point to God’s miraculous power at work. Making a way where there was no way. Changing the rules of the game to make way for hope. Miraculous birth narratives, including Luke’s, are a special literary device of the ancient world; draw- ing attention to and making meaning about who John and Jesus were and how special their lives were. But the factuality or artifice of these stories isn’t the point. All of the miraculous doings, from the virgin birth to the barren mother to the choirs of angels to the star in the east, are but the finger. Look at the moon. Adam Spencer
  24. 24. Sunday, December 20 Micah 5: 2-5 Luke 1: 47-55 Hebrews 10: 5-10 Luke 1: 39-45 I find in these words a poetic repose… Of peasant wombs and borrowed tombs Of backwater towns and prophetic crowns Of shepherd kin and Godly skin Of sheep’s cry and an infant’s sigh …Comes the Advent of our God. Yet, still we sing the psalmist song, “Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved.” …Comes the Advent of our God. Yet still I remember as a child praying, “Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee…Blessed are thou among women and the fruit of thy womb Jesus,…”…Comes the Advent of our God. And my mind wanders still to song lyrics, “When I find myself in times of trouble, mother Mary comes to me, speaking words of wisdom, let it be. And in my hour of darkness, she is standing right in front of me, speaking words of wisdom, let it be. And when the broken hearted people living in the world agree, there will be an answer, let it be. For though they may be parted, there is still a chance that they will see, there will be an answer. let it be.” …Comes the Advent of our God. In the Advent-waiting comes the joy of prenatal leaping and the fulfillment of the Lord speaking, and we shall live secure! We who live by faith in the already and not yet, between the womb and the tomb, find ourselves as Lamaze coaches for the world . “Focus…breathe in justice and breathe out hate…Focus…breathe in love and breathe out exclu- sion.” We name the labor pains Hope, we breathe and focus as God pulls us through, and we find the womb-waiting was the time of our gestating for the Advent of our God. The Rev. Dr. Joe Kovitch
  25. 25. Monday, December 21 Song of Solomon 2: 8-14 Psalm 33: 1-5, 20-22 Luke 1: 39-45 Righteous and righteousness: these words must appear in the Bible hun- dreds of times and each time I wonder what they mean. Psalm 33 begins wonderfully with the images of instruments and singing as a whole meta- phorical symphony. The righteous people sing praises and the sounds of harp, lyre, and trumpet create a new song. But suddenly righteousness is linked to justice, and the images become severe and uncompromising. A dictionary for the Bible gives a full page of choices for this popular Bibli- cal word. The first definition links righteousness to the law and is about doing what is right or accomplishing what ought to be done for a given situation. In early times the judges and kings usually determined what behaviors were righteous. This may be worrisome because it assumes the judge or king was competent, honest, and fair. The second option for righteousness comes from the ancient Hebrew and corresponds to the Divine Will. To be righteous is to keep God’s laws and to focus on obedience to His will. Knowing the will of God is often dif- ficult to discern. It can be equally difficult to understand how to achieve that Divine Will. Righteousness in the ancient Hebrew seems to refer almost exclusively to male oriented experiences and judgments. The New Testament selection of Luke narrates Mary’s visitation to Eliza- beth, where we read of her belief in the fulfillment of the Divine Will. Her new song of the Magnificat signifies her acceptance, obedience and joy in the promise that she will fulfill. Despite the fearfulness inherent in her situation, Mary rejoices in her role that will reveal God’s mercy toward the hungry and God’s strength over the powerful. I like the image of Mary as a righteous woman in God’s sight, one who accepts God’s will and can sing a song to respond to God’s will with righteousness in her heart. Rosalie Tyner
  26. 26. Tuesday, December 22 1 Samuel 1: 19-28 Psalm 113 Luke 1:46-56 “My soul extols the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior…From now on every generation will congratulate me.” Two pregnant Jewish women meet on a dusty road in Ancient Palestine. One, an old woman long past her child-bearing days, married to a can- tankerous, disbelieving priest. The other, an unmarried teenage peasant carrying a child of questionable origin. They see each other from a dis- tance, and there is great jubilation. Shouts of joy and welcome! Embraces and kisses! But why? I would think in this strange scenario the emo- tions would be sadness, shame and despair. But instead, the old woman proclaims that the child within her is jumping with joy. The maiden is ecstatic with the gift she is carrying. No doubt each woman has experi- enced fear in the past, but a more powerful emotion has emerged… hope. The hope that each child has the potential to bring change. The hope that each child will fulfill a promise. The hope that each child will point out a new way of living. The Magnificat in Matthew is beautiful. I am not certain that a young peasant could come up with such lovely and powerful words, but I have no doubt that a hopeful and trusting girl could experience the feelings within these words. Advent holds many promises: hope in the future, answers to our prayers, and a new way of living. The proverbial “light at the end of the tunnel” is about to appear. Indeed, there is good reason for great jubilation! Wayne Bifano
  27. 27. Wednesday, December 23 Malachi 3: 1-5 Psalm 25: 1-14 Luke 1: 57-66 Today’s lesson from Luke begins with John’s birth. Recall that John’s mother Elizabeth is way past child-bearing age, and yet she miraculously conceives a son. The Lord shows his great mercy to Elizabeth at the time John is born. And, although Luke doesn’t tell us what the infant John is going to become, he seems destined for some kind of greatness. After all, the hand of the Lord is with John himself! Echoing the words of the Hebrew prophet Malachi from today’s read- ings, the adult John is a messenger who prepares the way by preaching repentance and purification. And yet, if we were to read ahead into chap- ter 3 of Luke, we’d find out that John’s adult life is far from comfortable. He hangs out in the desert, likely haranguing everyone within earshot about the judgment of the Lord. In chapter 3, Luke also casts John as playing “second fiddle” to Jesus, his cousin. John prepares the way for Jesus, yet is unworthy to even untie his sandals! His message becomes very unpopular with the ruling authori- ties, particularly Herod, who sends John to prison. John eventually loses his head. Not a happy ending for someone who had the hand of the Lord upon him from birth. So, what can we, in the 21st century, learn from John the Baptist, a com- plex first century prophet whose life began with such promise and ended so ignominiously? Perhaps an insightful answer raises more questions: To whom or what are we called to give witness in our day and time? And, are we tough enough to stand by our convictions in the face of adversity? Debbie Likins-Fowler
  28. 28. Thursday, December 24 2 Samuel 7: 1-16 Psalm 89: 1-4, 19-29 Luke 1: 67-79 Today’s the day. Finish wrapping, start cooking, search in vain for those little replacement tree bulbs. In between, ponder the absurd proposition that a little child shall lead us. It doesn’t seem likely, especially in a world where one out of every four young children can’t even get enough to eat. It’s reasonable to argue, like Zechariah did with the angel Gabriel: “How shall I know this?” Unlike us, however, Zechariah was mercifully free from the ritual obliga- tions of Christmas. He got some time to think: nine months, without talking, to reconsider his argument. So when his son with the spirit of Elijah was born, he knew what he wanted to say: “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people.” Zechariah’s song is nothing more than an article of his faith. He was an old man—too old to find out how the story was going to end. He wouldn’t live long enough to see his own child, or the child of his wife’s cousin Mary, grow up. All Zechariah had to support his vision was a baby son, born in an occupied country where people were often hungry and afraid. That, and some angelically delivered prophecies that sounded a lot like the as-yet-unfulfilled promises delivered centuries earlier to his ancestor King David. On the strength of that flimsy stuff, Zechariah proclaimed God’s victory. His answer to “How shall I know this?” turned out to be “Because God said so.” Or, as Bishop Gene Robinson said when he visited Trinity in October, “We know how the story ends. God wins.” Blessed be God, for he has visited and redeemed his people. And tonight’s the night. Rebecca Wilson

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