St. Malo Cathedral

St Malo

In a sacred place
sun shines through windows of stained glass
reflection causes inspiration

This church built centuries ago
bombs of war
rebuilt, standing solid now
pews where others lifted prayers
to Our Heavenly Father
heads bowed with hope

Moments of reflection
rekindle fires
in our being

Lent can do this
if we pause,
be still… pray.

Shared by Lynn Doll

Hope on the Coldest of Days…

Chicago Hotel

It was a bitterly cold winter night when I finished work.  As I cleared my desk, my phone pinged and I cringed.  This new app kept me apprised of all news events – which were never good – and I had no idea how to stifle it.  But this time was different.  The story of a miracle waited for me, “On one of the coldest days in Chicago history, someone put 70 homeless people up in a hotel.”

Finding this hard to believe, I researched the story on my computer.  To my utter amazement, the facts checked out!  I found myself taking a photo of the headline and texting it to 20 of my nearest-and-dearest, all of whom excitedly responded.

This is hope.  At first we’re afraid to believe, but then our hearts open and we are called to share the good news.  May we all find hope on this path to Easter.

Shared by Jessica Scovel

God’s wonderful love being narrated through songs by his children…

Christmas

Understandably, we are in Lent season. However, if there was no birth of our Christ, there would have been no Lent to celebrate. Therefore, I thought this photograph puts us in the right frame of mind of the joy experienced at our Lord’s birth.

This is a family of three children that I encountered playing the steel band as I walked on the along the 14th Street station on a cold day two days before Christmas to catch the L train.  I witnessed the joy and what these children were trying to offer to their spectators. They were playing favorite and popular Christmas carols bringing the message of Christmas. The rhythm, the songs and how they connected to each other drew a large crowd. I could see the joy in the faces of those watching and attempting to sing along. I was slow to move on but I had to in order to catch my train to get home from a long day outdoors.

I say to all: Joy for Christmas, Welcome Lent! Another opportunity to step back from our everyday work and chores to take a healthy look at ourselves and embrace God’s true love and grace!

Shared by Agatha Pratt

A Visit to Barcelona with Family

SandyDiaz1

In the spring of 2016, I visited Barcelona, Spain with members of my family. We stayed at a B&B near La Sagrada Family,* and daily walked by it until it the day of our planned tour. When we finally entered it, we were in awe and with so many others, we reverently took in the magnificence of it. Before stepping out, we came across this art on the floor which depicts the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem, the beginning of his journey to the cross.

“And as he rode along, they spread their garments on the road.  As he was now drawing near, at the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
– Luke 19:36-38

May we like the “whole multitude of disciples” enter into our lent journey with praise and gratitude for all He has done for us.

Blessings,

Sandy Diaz

*La Sagrada Familia is a large unfinished Roman Catholic church in Barcelona, designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí (1852–1926). In 1882, construction of Sagrada Família started under architect Francisco de Paula del Villar. In 1883, when Villar resigned, Gaudí took over as chief architect. Gaudí devoted the remainder of his life to the project, and he is buried in the crypt. It is anticipated that the building can be completed by 2026—the centenary of Gaudí’s death.

Oh to live gently in the world, to be content and at peace

Cardinal

Hope is like the cardinal in the bramble…..you have to be seeking it, truly looking for it to see it. It is hiding in plain sight. It is small, it is vivid, it is breath-taking. It is mercurial….there for a moment and then it flies away.

Hope is an illumination from the Spirit that we are to take courage and trust that God is with us in the thicket of life, in the human tangle and confusion of our world. Hope and trust in God gives us a place to stand…without it we are lost and stumbling in the dark.Take heart! God is with us and provides the surprising presence of hope to encourage and sustain us.

Keep looking……This morning I rejoiced to see a pair of cardinals foraging for food on the ground under the feeder which the bluejays were zealously guarding. The cardinals accepted the seeds that were dropping from the feeder. They found a way to be fed without fighting and confrontation. Another lesson from the cardinals: They find a way to live  gently and thrive within their world.

Oh to live gently in the world, to be content and at peace.

A REFLECTION FROM HENRI J.M.NOUWEN

The marvelous vision of the peaceable Kingdom, in which all violence has been overcome and all men, women, and children live in loving unity with nature, call for its realization in our day-to-day lives.Instead of being an escapist dream, it challenges us to anticipate what it promises. Every time we forgive our neighbor, every time we make a child smile, every time we show compassion to a suffering person, every time we arrange a bouquet of flowers, offer care to tame or wild animals, prevent pollution, create beauty in our homes and gardens, and work for peace and justice among peoples and nations we are making the vision come true.

We must remind one another constantly of the vision. Whenever it comes alive in us we will find energy to live it out, right where we are. Instead of making us escape real life, this beautiful vision comes true.

Shared by Reverend Joy Kulvicki

It is Good to Rest

 

Mary

 

I pass this sculpture every time I head down to the Labyrinth Room to teach my class. It’s the Flight into Egypt, of course: the Holy Family taking a rest during their escape from a tyrant’s deadly paranoia. Not a pleasure trip.

But look at Mary’s face. Everyone in the family is asleep, heads tucked down — even the donkey! Mary is exhausted, too, but her face is uplifted: serene and even happy, despite the danger she has just escaped and the grueling journey ahead.

They are refugees, Mary and Joseph and their baby. It is so hard to be a refugee.  You are so tired.  It is so good to rest.

Shared by Reverend Barbara Crafton

 

The Dance

Isn’t it all poetry?
What we see
What we sense
What sounds reach
What penetrates our depths

What can poetry convey?
What roads traversed
What hills climbed
What tears shed
What stories told

With acceptance and understanding
of each other’s journey:
Hands may entwine
Differences can vanish
Hearts might link
Friendships can begin
The dance of life
Will flourish

By Lynn Doll

©Copyright 2018

Merry Christmas!

And the Word became flesh and lived among us, full of grace and truth.  John 1:14

 
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among people, and God will dwell with them. They will be God’s people, and God will be with them and be their God.”  Revelation 21:3

 
New Testament scholar, Barbara Rossing, considers the two texts cited here as exemplifying what the “rapture” of God is truly about.  These texts stand in sharp contrast to end-times predictors who portray the rapture as God abiding “somewhere up there” and taking the faithful from earth up into heaven.  These texts portray God’s rapture not as God removing the divine self from the earth, from humanity, or giving human beings the goal of aspiring to be “raptured up to heaven” at the end of life.

Rather, these verses depict the rapture as God choosing to be incarnate on this earth, to live among ordinary people like you and me.  The incarnation of God in Jesus is that choosing…that desire for God to come close to us, be right next to us, living, moving and breathing “among us.”

The incarnation of God in Jesus in the form of an infant born among stable animals shows the radical, countercultural way God acts in the world, not apart from but among people.

If you are a person who has generally thought of God as being “up there” or “out there,” how about reflecting deeply this Christmas Day on these texts from John and Revelation?  What difference would it make in your life, and your sense of the presence of God in your life, if you thought of God as being right next to you, as near as your own breath, taking up residence in your home and heart?

God has chosen to be raptured down to earth, to take up residence in your life.  On this Christmas Day, will you let him in?  And if you are not sure of the answer to that question, consider that God comes anyway, whether we are ready or not, whether we accept him or not, whether we fully believe in all of this, or not.

That is the Good News of the Gospel.  A blessed Christmastide to you all!

Reverend Dr. Elise Brown, Executive Minister, Marble Collegiate Church

Waiting and Working

This past June, I retired from a position I had held for 35 years; I was over 70 and the time seemed right. In the lead up to this transition moment, multiple people asked “What are you going to do?” “Are you going to travel?” Are you going to write a book?” “You should write a book!” etc., etc., and so forth.

I found myself responding with a lot of “Maybe’s” and “Not sure yet’s.” I didn’t seem to have the big answer or big idea that everyone seemed to be expecting. It’s almost as though people expect you to replace that one major structure/focus that had dominated your life for so many years called work, with another similar one called retirement.

My experience over these past months has been to take small steps and to watch for the signs of where God might be leading me. It feels advent-like. I need to be preparing, which means taking small steps in the directions that seem promising. I do what I have to do right now and the next step will be presented.

Mary might have been terrified after the Angel’s visit, but she knew the right thing was to go to her cousin Elizabeth. She had no way to know that this visit would strengthen her and would transform her understanding of her new situation.

I am learning to take steps that seem to be right and to open myself to the graces that are waiting on the other side.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge God, and God will direct your path.” (Proverbs 3 5-6).

Wishing a fruitful, fulfilling and fun advent journey to all.

Shared by Karen Gourgey