“When the Light Shines”

In reading former Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams a certain narrative illustration stayed with me. He writes of how at the end of World War II, a sailor in the Royal Navy was about to be discharged. He decided to enjoy an evening out while in London. He selected a production in London’s West End. It was the opening night of a new show, a musical of some sort.

He didn’t care what he was going to see. All he wanted was to celebrate the fact that he had lived through the war and would be going home very soon.

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Kind of interesting to note the beginning of the Christian Year. While the civic calendar begins on January 1st each year, the Christian Year begins on the first Sunday of Advent.

This is usually the last Sunday of November or the first Sunday in December. Christian Year begins in darkness leading into greater darkness. From midsummer the days get shorter until darkness becomes more pronounced. Sunset occurred at 6:59 p.m. on October 1st and every day the darkness comes sooner. On the first day of the new Christian Year, November 27, sunset took place at 4:56 p.m.

One thing Advent teaches is that people of faith know it will get darker before it gets light. We light new candles in the Advent Wreath, but even as we add their light the darkness increases.
We fully realize the days will get longer, something our ancestors feared would not happen 1700 years ago. We know the days will lengthen just as we know God born in a stable in Bethlehem

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Expectations of the Various Arrivals of Christ

The Advent Season summons us to live in expectation of the various “arrivals” of Christ: his future arrival at the consummation of the all (Matt. 24:37-44), his coming as human like us (Christmas), and his continual breaking into our own personal life and history (Greek Bishop Nikolaos/Nicholas of Myra...modern day Demre, Turkey).

God tends to enter a person’s life in particular, personal, unique ways. But the underlyingfactor in all of the comings of Christ - end time, incarnation, now - is surprise. When thinking about it, God often seems to approach people when they’re not prepared. They are not   looking for God, nor are they expecting God, and maybe they do not even feel as though they have any need for God. Yet, nevertheless, God comes to them.

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Who doesn't like a party

Matthew 22:1-14 begins with a party.

That sounds great. Who doesn’t like a party? Especially a wedding party - there is going to be cake. Cake makes everything better! When the invitations are sent, those on the guest list begin to make light of the gracious invitation and offer excuses and then abusing and killing those issuing the invitations.

Jesus’ audience may/may not have known his veiled reference to the people who rejected him, but the benefit of hindsight allows us to know who they are. They are the ordinary people of faith of the time, people like you and me.

Unfortunately, throughout history there have always been those who make light of God’s opportunities. During this election week the way our national government, for example, makes light of the gospel when it uses Christian rhetoric but actually denies the gospel message by pandering to those able to donate large sums of money to election campaigns while overlooking the lifelong homemaker who is not even subsisting on the reduced Social Security survivor’s benefit.

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Sticks and Stones

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

How erroneous! Broken bones mend-sometimes stronger than before the break, but we don’t always recover from cruel or uncaring words. Words can be obstacles from realizing our true worth or becoming the best we might be. Too often words are weaponized and used against another.

No one overcame more physical adversity to become a starting pitcher in Major League Baseball than Jim Abbott. Born with but one hand, as a boy, he would throw a rubber ball against a wall, slip his throwing hand into his glove—which rested on the stump which ends his right hand—and then fielded the ball using his now-gloved left hand.

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