Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas in Bethlehem 2012

The Christmas story is a universal call to peace and justice making. This is story is told best by the people and images of Bethlehem. Watch, share and spread the message of peace.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Advent 2012 Week One

Advent is now out there on a shelf near you. Advent Calendars are up there with other themed goodies in supermarkets, up market stores, street markets and online. The rush of end of year parties, break-ups, annual general meetings and the hot sticky climate of December in Australia all tend to be exhausting. Yet the liturgical season is one of pensive waiting, reflective awareness and active living in the climate of grace.Al these movements challenge the dominant commercial glitz that can overwhelm us in these wonderful four weeks.

I have decided to practice some of the waiting of the season by doing a gradual decoration of my home for Christmas. I live on an estate of 53 townhouses with a very cosmopolitan community. On Halloween I had a group of mostly Islamic kids knocking on my door to  thrive on the excitement of being cheeky and engaging with their neighbours in a spirit of fun and frivolity. Many of the residents here are from  the Middle East and some from recent refugee experiences.

My Christmas decor is a bit of an attraction for the kids and their parents. As the tree is decorated and the nativity expands they  share with me that sense of anticipation that something wonderful is happening in our lives.

I have gathered some reflections that  will be using each week of the season. I hope you too find them nurturing at this time.  You will find more resources on the Sojourners page here

If Jesus is the archetype of what the gift is and how a gift is given, Mary is the archetype of how a gift is received.

The amazing thing is that the Scripture says nothing especially positive about Mary. No credit rating is stated; it doesn’t say she prayed a lot or regularly went to the temple. No heroic anything. Mary seems to know she is nothing according to her own Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55). She clearly knows and fully accepts she stands under the total mercy of God. Mary knows she did not earn this. It was all mercy, mercy, mercy. Divine choice says something about the chooser much more than the one who is chosen. In the spiritual world, all worthiness is given. Our only job is to fully and freely receive. Mary was a supreme receiver station.

From an unpublished talk given in Tucson, Arizona Richard Rohr

Teach me to be receptive

I have come to enjoy Advent more than Christmas. Our seasonal rhythm is to slow down as a family over this time, do less and not more. Each person learns a special prayer to pray at breakfast, we sing carols before I go to work, we tell a special story every night before we put a homemade Advent ornament on our tree, and we end every night with the lights out singing O Come O Come Emmanuel. 

Once the kids are bed Sarah & I spend our nights making gifts for the kids. This year she is knitting them stuffed animals while I write each animal a short adventure story explaining how they came to our house. 

Welcome back to my life Advent, welcome!

Jared Byas