The Season of Lent 2018

This is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the 40 days Lent season of 2018 in Western Christianity, which will end on April 1, the Easter Sunday.

May you have an enlightening time of reflection, askesis, repentance and reorientation.

(Source, HERE.)

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Epiphany 2018

The Feast of Epiphany marks two different events in the life of Christ: in the West, the Adoration of the Magi, while in the East, the Baptism of Jesus.

However, whatever meaning is attributed to it, it marks, in the liturgical calendar, The end of Christmas season, and the beginning of progressive preparation for the other Christian feast, Easter.

Christmas 2017

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May you all have a blessed Christmas!

Fourth Sunday of Advent 2017 – Light the Candle of Love

AdventWreath

Today we relight the first three candles of the Advent Wreath — the candles of HOPE, PEACE and JOY.

Now we light the fourth candle of Advent. This is the candle of LOVE.

Jesus demonstrated self-giving love in his ministry as the Good Shepherd. Advent is a time for kindness, thinking of others, and sharing with others. It is a time to love as God loved us by giving us his most precious gift. As God is love, let us be love also.

In the Book of Deuteronomy we find these words:

“For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who is not partial and takes no bribe, who executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and who loves the strangers, providing them food and clothing. You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.
— Deuteronomy 10:17-19a
From the Gospel of John we hear:
“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
— John 13:34-35
Let us pray:
Teach us to love, O Lord. May we always remember to put you first as we follow Christ’s footsteps, that we may know your love and show it in our lives. As we prepare for our celebration of Jesus’ birth, also fill our hearts with love for the world, that all may know your love and the one whom you have sent, your son, our Savior. Amen.

(Source, HERE)

Third Sunday of Advent 2017 – Light the Candle of Joy

Third Advent Candle

Today we relight the first two candles of the Advent wreath. The candle of HOPE and the candle of PEACE.

Now we light the third candle of Advent.

This is the candle of JOY. As the coming of Jesus, our Savior, draws nearer, our joy builds with our anticipation of his birth.

From the Book of Isaiah we read the words of our Lord:

“But be glad and rejoice forever in what I am creating; for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy, and its people as a delight.”
— Isaiah 65:18

From the New Testament, the words of Paul to the people of the church at Galatia:

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.”
— Galatians 5:22-25

Let us pray:
We joyfully praise you, O Lord, for the fulfillment of your promise of a Savior and what that means in our lives. Thank you for the gift of salvation through the birth of your son, Jesus. Create us anew as we wait, and help us to see your glory as you fill our lives with your living Spirit. Amen.

(Source, HERE).

Second Sunday of Advent 2017 – Light of the Wold

second Advent candle

Today we relight the candle of HOPE.
Now we light the candle for the second Sunday in Advent. This is the candle of PEACE.

As we prepare for the coming of Jesus, we remember that Jesus is our hope and our peace.

* * *

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

The Christmas season is full of light – sparkling lights on the Christmas tree; houses in the neighborhood decorated with lights for the coming holiday; candles flickering on the mantle; a fire in the fireplace representing warmth, comfort, and hope. These are the images of light we will hold onto this Advent season.

And we hold these images as hope not only for our own lives; but for the lives of those suffering in Palestine, Israel, the Middle East, and around the world. We remember in our prayers this week:

  • The men, women, and children who are living in Gaza; often with only a few hours of electricity per day.
  • The 60,000 internally displaced persons in Gaza still waiting for a durable housing solution since the destruction of their homes during the 2014 Gaza War.
  • The families affected by the 155 demolitions or confiscations of Palestinian owned structures in East Jerusalem and the West Bank during September and October 2016.
  • Those affected by the terrible fires throughout Israel and the West Bank that destroyed hundreds of homes, displacing tens of thousands.

We close with a prayer from The Reverend Said Ailabouni, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Chicago, Illinois:

God of mercy and compassion,
of grace and reconciliation,
pour your power upon all your children in the Middle East:
Jews, Muslims and Christians,
Palestinians and Israelis.
Let hatred be turned into love, fear to trust, despair to hope,
oppression to freedom, occupation to liberation,
that violent encounters may be replaced by loving embraces,
and peace and justice could be experienced by all.

(Source, Churches for Middle East Peace.)

 

 

 

 

First Sunday of Advent 2017 – Light Shines in Darkness

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In him was life,
and that life was the light of the people.
The light shines in darkness,
and the darkness has not overcome it.
(John 1:4-5)

Advent is a season of waiting. The anticipation of things to come. The desperate hope that the darkness of the world is not the end of the story; but one day light will prevail.

For those invested and paying attention to the political realities of the Middle East, often darkness seems to rule the day. There is much darkness to lament.

The darkness of the Syrian conflict that has raged for more than half a decade and has

resulted in the displacement and death of millions… Continue reading “First Sunday of Advent 2017 – Light Shines in Darkness”