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The Lamp-post It returns, the general topic forum, combining the general discussion threads from Tumnus, International and Wood between the worlds.

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Old 12-01-2012, 12:06 PM
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Default Advent & Christmas

The weeks leading up to Christmas are known to the Christian calendar as Advent. For many years now, we've had a thread in which people could post meditations on the seasons of Advent and Christmas, so I'm continuing the tradition.

Interestingly, the First Sunday of Advent is the first day of the Liturgical Year. So, if you want a Christian "New Year's Eve", it's today, December 1st, 2012. In keeping with Jewish and early Christian tradition, the Liturgical day begins at sunset (which is why some churches have Vigil services in the evening that count for the Sunday obligation), so dinnertime tonight marks the start of the Liturgical New Year.

Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus!
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Old 12-02-2012, 11:17 PM
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Okay, I'll go first

This Friday, I hosted my usual weekly Bible Study, and I chose to focus on the parable of the sower, using the text in Matthew, since Matthew is my favorite Gospel. I related the seeds to the good news of Christ and connected that to the giving of a great gift, since it was near Advent, and I wanted to focus people on being grateful even after Thanksgiving.

The sower I obviously connected to Jesus, as the giver of the gift, and the seeds that fell on the hard ground were people who refused to accept the gift of salvation offered by Christ, and were then eaten up by the birds representing Satan and his minions. The seeds that fell on shallow ground were those who received the gift enthusiastically, but then left the gift get destroyed because they lacked a strong faith foundation. The seeds that were swallowed by the thorns were to me the people who received the gift but then forgot it, and forgot to be happy and grateful about it, because they were so caught up with everything in their lives that made them miserable. The seeds that fell on the good ground and flourished, however, represented those who received the gift, felt real gratitude, and were inspired to give many gifts of their own. I felt like it was a sort of fun holiday way of interpreting Scripture consistent with the explanation that Jesus gives His apostles.

On another note, some friends and I went caroling this evening, as we do every year in early December. At first, we were a little disappointed, because there were less people home than normal, so we didn't get to sing to as many people as normal, but then, God entered our lives in a special way.

A lady came out on her porch before we could even ring her bell, and she asked if we were out singing carols. When we said that we were, she asked if we would sing her "Silent Night" because it is her favorite Christmas song, and she had just gone through a rough divorce, and she needed something to make her happy. We sang her "Silent Night" and "Hark the Herald Angels Sing." She was crying tears of joy by the end, and she was so thankful. I knew then that God really was using us to spread His joy and love, and I didn't feel so disappointed by the lack of people answering doors. I knew that He was making sure we reached the people we needed to reach. I knew that was Him, the extraordinary, entering into our ordinary lives to make them extraordinary
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Old 12-03-2012, 09:16 AM
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Here's a point that always thrills me: when Jesus is speaking to His disciples, and seems to almost burst out with
Quote:
Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.
(Luke 10:23-24, parallel Matthew 13:16)
That makes me think about how blessed we are to live on this side of the Incarnation. Advent recalls the decades and centuries and millenia of waiting that men did for the revealing of the Messiah. Our parish Bible study is currently going through Isaiah, which contains so many foretellings of His coming (the Immanuel prophecies, the shoot of Jesse, the Suffering Servant, and so forth.) Yet those prophecies were made six hundred years before Christ's coming. Many generations still had to pass before the fulfillment of those prophecies, generations when men pondered and prayed and hoped and waited.

Yet we have the unspeakable privilege of living after the fulfillment of the Promise. We have the words of God directly from His mouth, and the sacramental presence of Jesus with us constantly. As Michael Card puts it so well:
For a thousand years the dreamers dreamt, and hoped to see His love
But The Promise showed their wildest dreams had simply not been wild enough.
Perhaps that's why commemorating Advent is such a prudent thing to do. Let's imagine ourselves back in those days, before Bethlehem, before the Word became Flesh and pitched His tent in our midst (the most literal interpretation of John 1:14). Let's immerse ourselves in the Old Testament prophecies and promises, and try to recapture the anticipation and hope. Let's not rush to Bethlehem just yet, for if we linger in the twilight, we can better appreciate that indeed, blest are our eyes and ears to see and hear what we do.
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Old 12-03-2012, 02:46 PM
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During Advent we are waiting for God, awaiting Christ's arrival ...

I can't put myself back as far as you suggest, PoTW, but I will go back as far as the shepherds and wise men ... They were on their way to Christ, and He was already there, He was waiting for them.

So it is with us! We are commemorating the wait, but in truth, Jesus is waiting for us, already He has arrived, and is waiting for us to notice, to come and adore Him. We're on the way ... we're trudging those long miles with the wise men, or walking those dusty hills with the shepherds ...

What about it? Are you waiting for God, or is He waiting for you?
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Old 12-03-2012, 05:49 PM
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POTW, it's neat that you should mention the prophecies about the Messiah in Isaiah, because I am signed up to receive a daily Bible verse to my email, and today's Bible verse was Isaiah 9:6, "For onto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace."

Inkspot, thanks for mentioning the shepherds and wise men. It's amazing that two such different groups of people could be brought before Jesus' manger by two wonderful miracles. I think that really shows how God is always ready to reach all kinds of people in a special way.
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Old 12-03-2012, 07:32 PM
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At my church, there is a bulliten board located just right next to the gym that says "Santa's Stockings of Kindness." There are paper stockings. Depending on who you are (you know, an adult, grandparent, child etc.) you pick one that says who you are. Then, it says something that you could do, both church-wide and family-wide. For example, you could make cookies for the people at a local shelter or something like that. Everyone got into it, even toddlers!

Sadly, I had to leave because my family and I had to do some errands, but it made me smile.

All of the kids in my neighborhood, who never get along with each other, too, are singing Christmas carols.

This season make me think about the meanings of Christmas, the miracles and acts of kindness, because the season is a time of joy. Miracles happen during this season, especially the Birth of Christ!
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Old 12-03-2012, 07:38 PM
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We had a Sunday school session discussing the "peace" aspect of Advent themes. I made sure to assert that God's idea of "peace" DOES NOT mean letting every evildoer have everything his own way all the time in defiance of God and at the expense of the rest of us.
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Old 12-03-2012, 11:00 PM
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That's right, CF. We were just reading in Isaiah 30 today, and toward the end of the chapter are those reassuring verses about the voice behind you to guide you, telling you when to turn right and when to turn left. But the full context is a strong encouragement for Israel to stop being so willful and stubborn, choosing their own way over obedience to God's laws. The end of the chapter is a fierce invective against those who rebel against God and endanger His people, along with a vivid description of what awaits them.

The Lord is always beside us, quick to save and ready to help, but woe to us if we presume on that mercy and grace! Our attitude needs to be deep humility, thankfulness, and awe. We by no means deserve the blessings He offers - what we deserve is destruction. Only His mercy saves us, and that calls for a response of humble obedience!
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Old 12-07-2012, 11:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Copperfox View Post
We had a Sunday school session discussing the "peace" aspect of Advent themes. I made sure to assert that God's idea of "peace" DOES NOT mean letting every evildoer have everything his own way all the time in defiance of God and at the expense of the rest of us.
I read something of Buechner's, I think, that God's "peace isn't the absence of conflict, but the presence of love." That, I think, is a quite profound thought, and sort of an embodiment of the arrival of the Prince of Peace, isn't it? He was born into a land under domination, and then he sparked a conflict by his very birth that caused such violence ... but he himself was (and is) love. Not the absence of conflict, but the presence of love.

Here is a drawing of last year's Advent -- I like to draw scenes from my life and add some little verse that illuminates them. That's me with the shepherds ... and my calligraphy ... I am a poor artist and not that great a calligrapher! But I like it.
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File Type: jpg nativity drawing.jpg (61.2 KB, 58 views)
File Type: jpg calligraphy.jpg (28.3 KB, 59 views)
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Old 12-07-2012, 06:02 PM
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Lovely artwork, Inkspot. Thank you for sharing it with us

Also, insightful thought about Jesus not being the absence of conflict but the full presence of love. I agree with you.
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