A prayer for understanding from Evelyn Underhill:
O Lord Christ who, in this difficult world, was tempted in all things, as I am, yet fell into no sin, look pitifully, I pray you, upon me. Guide me with your adorable wisdom. Teach me in everything and in every hour what I ought to do. You alone know, both that I suffer, and what I need. To you that perfect path that I should walk is known. Show it to me and teach me how to walk it. Keep me, O Saviour, in body, mind and spirit, for into your strong and gentle hands I commit myself. Give me, O Lord, I beseech you, courage to pray for light and to endure the light here, where I am on this world of yours, which should reflect your beauty but which we have spoiled and exploited. Cast your radiance on the dark places; those crimes and stupidities I like to ignore and gloss over. Show up my pretensions, my poor little claims and achievements, my childish assumptions of importance, my mock heroism.
Take me out of the confused half-light in which I live. Enter and irradiate every situation and every relationship. Show me my opportunities; the raw material of love, of sacrifice, of holiness lying at my feet disguised under homely appearance; and only seen as it truly is…in your light.
A prayer from The Venerable Bede (ca. 672 – 735):
I beseech thee, good Jesus, that as thou hast graciously granted to me here sweetly to partake of the words of thy wisdom and knowledge, so thou wilt vouchsafe that I may some time come to thee, the fountain of all wisdom, and always appear before thy face, who livest and reignest, world without end.
A prayer from Origen (184-253):
Let us pray that Jesus may reign over us and that our land may be at peace — i.e., that our bodies may be free from the assaults of fleshly desires. When these have ceased, we shall be able to rest, beneath our vines, our fig-trees and our olives.
Father, Son and Holy Spirit will shelter us as we rest, our peace of mind and body once recovered.
Glory to God the eternal, age after age.
A prayer from St. Richard of Chichester (1197-1253):
Thanks be to you, Lord Jesus Christ, for all the benefits which you have given us; and for all the pains and insults which you have borne for us.
O most merciful redeemer, friend and brother, may we know you more clearly, love you more dearly, and follow you more nearly, day by day. Amen.
Welcome to Friday Favorites! I hope you enjoy this week’s round-up of Advent posts and resources. This will be our last post of the holiday season. After today, we’ll be taking a short break and will see you again in a few weeks.
May you have a blessed Advent weekend and a joyful Christmastide!
Holiday Prayer Guide 2017 via The Ezer Group (a beautiful prayer resource to center your soul, including a painting for visual meditation and a prayer from Catherine of Siena; you can hear me reading the prayer in this resource)
The Both-And of Our Faith via Mary van Balen (God is already here . . . and God is coming soon)
Into Safe Hands: A Meditation On Dying for Advent and Christmas via Ronald Rolheiser (a hopeful reflection if you or someone you know is experiencing grief and loss this season)
Who Would Have Thought the King of Heaven Would Be So Earthy?|Alexander’s Story via Tanya Marlow (a delightful historical fiction account of the kings’ search for the Christ child)
A Medium Aevum Advent via Lisa Deam (a link to my recent post — a personal reflection on the four advents of Christ as taught by medieval theologians)
All About Elizabeth (Luke 1) via Marg Mowczko (exploring Elizabeth’s advent story)
Our Favorite Christmas Books! via The Englewood Review of Books (check out this great holiday reading guide)
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Madeleine L’Engle (1918-2007) was a beloved American writer. If you’re like me, her novel A Wrinkle in Time was formative for your young adult years. L’Engle also wrote poetry; today, I invite you to reflect on her beautiful poem about silence, brokenness, and the coming of Jesus.
Ready for Silence
Then hear now the silence
He comes in the silence
in silence he enters
the womb of the bearer
in silence he goes to
the realm of the shadows
redeeming and shriving
in silence he moves from
the grave clothes, the dark tomb
in silence he rises
ascends to the glory
leaving his promise
leaving his comfort
leaving his silence
So come now Lord Jesus
Come in your silence
breaking our noising
laughter of panic
breaking this earth’s time
breaking us breaking us
quickly Lord Jesus
make no long tarrying
When will you come
and how will you come
and will we be ready
Week 2: Let it be a “Yes!”
This month we’re reading Preparing for Jesus by Walter Wangerin, Jr., a wonderful Advent devotional that will help you get ready for the coming of Christ.
In his reflection for December 11, Wangerin leads us to meditate on Mary, mother of Jesus. Mary joins four women named by Matthew as ancestors of Christ. Mary enters a sisterhood that we are called to enter, too.
In the passage below, Wangerin asks us to emulate Mary’s “Yes!” to the angel that announced Christ’s coming:
Mary, mother of our Lord, I wish I could be as pure a disciple as you were even from the beginning!
For you were invited to join a sisterhood–with Tamar and Bath-sheba–of sorrow and human suffering, since the child of your womb would draw the hatreds and the outrages of a scoundrel world.
And you said, “Yes.”
For you were asked to serve faithfully on behalf of others, like Rahab to protect a few for the sake of the many, like Ruth to turn disappointment into joy.
And you said, “Yes.”
. . .
For heaven itself was swelling within you, and you were the door. Not in terrible glory would he come, this Son of the Most High God. Not in the primal blinding light, not as the shout by which God uttered the universe, nor yet with the trumpet that shall conclude it, but through your human womb, as an infant bawling and hungry. By your labor, Mary, by the fierce contractions of your uterus, eternity would enter time. The angel said, Will you be the door of the Lord into this place?
And you said, “Yes.”
. . .
You, the first of all the disciples of Jesus, said, “Yes.”
What would you say?
Read more here.
Week One: What would you say?
One of my favorite Advent devotionals is Preparing for Jesus: Meditations on the Coming of Christ, Advent, Christmas, and the Kingdom by Walter Wangerin, Jr. I thought I’d share it with you this year. In this book, Wangerin offers thirty-seven reflections for the Advent and Christmas seasons.
In his meditation for December 5, Wangerin leads us to reflect on how Zecharaiah, the father of John the Baptist, reacted when God announced that Zechariah’s wife would soon bear a son. He reacted in disbelief. He did not trust God.
In Zechariah’s doubt is a question for us. For we are expecting a son, too. The Son of Man is coming to us, not just at Christmas, but at the end of time. How do we react to the Lord’s promise that he is coming soon? Wangerin writes:
Friend, unto you the Lord says, “Surely I am coming soon” (Rev. 22:20).
And what do you say to that promise? Do you by your unconscious behavior utter doubt? Does an earthbound vision deny the possibility? Are you scared to consider an end to the world?
Sadly, the sign of our mistrust shall be the doubt itself, together with all the anxieties and suspicions and loneliness which doubt engenders. And these will last until we come to trust, or else until his coming comes to pass.
Jesus says, “I am coming soon!”
And how do you respond? Oh, let it be as a bride responds to the promise of the bridegroom, adorning yourself for his return, joyfully shouting with the Spirit, “Come!” (Rev. 21:2, 9; 22:17). Then your joy, your present beauty, your complete sense of assurance and belonging–these shall be signs of the Lord’s trustworthiness and of our trust, signs of his love until he comes in glory.
“Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!”
Read Preparing for Jesus here.
A prayer from St. Elizabeth of the Trinity (1880-1906):
O Jesus, even though I fall at every moment, in trustful faith I shall pray to You to raise me up, and I know that You will forgive me, and will blot out everything with care. More than that: You will deliver me from my miseries, from everything that is an obstacle to Your divine action;and will draw all my powers to Yourself, and make them Your captive…Then I shall have passed completely into You and shall be able to say: It is no longer I that live; my Master lives in me.
St. Elizabeth’s feast day is this Wednesday, November 8.
A prayer from the Sarum Breviary:
Thou, who art the eternal protection and salvation of our souls, arm us, we entreat Thee, with the helmet of hope, and the shield of Thy invincible defence; that so, helped by Thee in the straits of our necessities, we may be filled with joy and gladness with those who love Thee, through Jesus Christ our Lord.