Micah 5: 2-5a “…and he shall be the one of peace.”
The year 2016 has been one of turmoil with the feeling of peace elusive to many around the world. These words from Micah remind us that with all the uncertainty in the world we are secure in the arms of God and the one sent to us in peace so many years ago. St. Francis prayed “Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace…” That peace is available to us by taking time away from the busyness of preparation to open ourselves to quiet moments, stopping to breathe in peace and then breathe out love, hope and joy to those we meet each day. It can be that simple and it can be contagious. May peace fill your days this season and evermore. Amen.
Our readings for Advent include images of being swept away or left standing in a field (Mathew 24:37-44). During this first week of Advent, in which we are called to hope, fear might be our first reaction! We are taught that perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18), but we may doubt our capacity for perfect love. That’s where the hope comes in.
How can we hope to love the way God loves? If we approach Advent as a time of preparation of our hearts (not just our houses), how can we open ourselves to God’s grace? During this hectic time, nothing seems harder to come by than stillness. Yet, if we don’t intentionally seek quiet moments, how can we ever hear the still, small voice? That voice might remind us that God came to earth to put perfect love within reach. Even for us. Now that’s something worth hoping for.
Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; The calf and the young lion shall browse together, with a little child to guide them. The cow and the bear shall be neighbors, together their young shall rest; the lion shall eat hay like the ox. The baby shall play by the cobra’s den, and the child lay his hand on the adder’s lair. There shall be no harm or ruin on all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the LORD, as water covers the sea.
Sadly, these verses do not reflect the world in which we live. In this season of hope, let us pray for an end to violence, hatred, greed, and poverty, and for a stronger outpouring of love, kindness, gentleness, and peace. May Christ be our light!
SMI Board of Directors
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A few evenings ago my small part of North Texas was blessed with an almost unheard of late June rain storm. As the rain fell, I went out to sit in our covered patio to enjoy the air cooled by the rain and experience the night sky lit up by cloud to cloud lightning.
The thunder rolled almost continually and made me think that was what the author of Rip Van Winkle was describing as playing ‘nine pin’. Was God enjoying the game of lawn bowling and sharing it with North Texas? My preference was to think ‘yes’ and reveal in the thought.
As I sat enjoying this gift, I was reminded of Paul’s message to the Philippians, “Rejoice in theLord always. I shall say it again, rejoice!” And I did just that, I rejoiced in the fire flies that flitted nearby, in the peepers serenading the damp night and thought of the other creatures living in my back yard, taking shelter from the rain. I was left with an attitude of gratitude for God’s generosity in his creation.
Paul continues to say…”whatever is lovely, whatever isgracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Once we have learned this lesson of positive thinking and practice it with diligence, God’s peace will be ours. Rejoice!
4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.5 Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. 6 Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:4-6
Ahhhh. The beauty of Lectio Divina. When I first saw this photo I was turned off. I’m not a fan of rodents, even “cute” little ones like this chipmunk. But as I sat with it, I began to notice and think about other things. Like the leafless twig-like structures permeating the landscape. And the seeming impossibility of one of them being able to hold the weight of the chipmunk on its tip. And the lone wildflower blossom decorating the scene. I thought about the weight of my own burdens and how sometimes I think they’re impossible to carry. And then I remember I don’t have to. I remember the quiet strength of the indwelling spirit and how it is always there to shore me up, no matter how fragile I feel. I think of the “blossoms” along my path, whether they’re dear friends there to brighten my day, a healthy body still able to do anything I ask it to do, or the joy of impending grandmotherhood. And I think of how much I and that little chipmunk share in the grand scheme of things, of how we and all of creation are connected at the most basic level. And for today, that’s enough.
4 Rejoicein the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.5 Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. 6 Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:4-6
The image of this chipmunk spoke to me loudly about my current living situation—hanging on and carrying on. My daughter and her family have been living with us for five months. Things are tense, and there is no end in sight. The chipmunk’s situation is precarious, but he trusts in the sturdy branch on which he stands, calmly chewing away on the piece in his paws. I, too, stand on a Sturdy Branch, One that will hold me up in the midst of the chaos of my life. The chipmunk reminds me to “be anxious for nothing “ (Phil. 4:6) and to “rejoice in the Lord.” He knows what all of this is about, even if I don’t. That knowledge builds my trust and lightens my load. My thanks to the chipmunk for the needed reminder.
28 One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, “Which commandment is the first of all?”29 Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; 30 you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” – Mark 12:28-31
Love first. Because I was first loved.
Love God. Because God first loved me.
Love with my heart. Because my heart is God.
Love with my soul. Because my soul is Spirit.
Love with my mind. Because I choose the mind of Christ.
Love my neighbor. Because I am one with my neighbor.