Prayers, Uncategorized

Advent III : “A warm blanket, cup of cocoa and a kiss from God”

I am looking forward to this evening where I will lend my voice in celebration and prayerful reflection of Father Andy Kruger transitioning from Priest in Charge to Rector of Trinity Episcopal Church, Cranford. Gathered together we will chant Taize. It brings gladness to my heart. I am looking forward to tomorrow, where I will humbly present Tammy Young for ordination to the Priesthood at St. Mark’s in Basking Ridge. We’ve journeyed long together and I am overwhelmed by how far we have come. I am looking forward to Sunday, where I will celebrate the Eucharist and witness the hope, love and joy of Christ’s peaceble Kingdom at St. Barnabas in Monmouth Junction. These are some of the candles burning brightly in the midst of the Dark winter days of December. It brings a welcome break to the constant news cycle and the chaos of the week which brought gunfire and hate to my friends and loved ones at home in Jersey City, New Jersey.

This week’s reading from Isaiah 35:1-10 wraps me like a needed warm blanket on a cold day, given a cup of cocoa and kissed on the forehead by God, “It’s going to be ok my child.”

The Return of the Redeemed to Zion

35 The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad,
    the desert shall rejoice and blossom;
like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly,
    and rejoice with joy and singing.
The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it,
    the majesty of Carmel and Sharon.
They shall see the glory of the Lord,
    the majesty of our God.

Strengthen the weak hands,
    and make firm the feeble knees.
Say to those who are of a fearful heart,
    “Be strong, do not fear!
Here is your God.
    He will come with vengeance,
with terrible recompense.
    He will come and save you.”

Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
    and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
then the lame shall leap like a deer,
    and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy.
For waters shall break forth in the wilderness,
    and streams in the desert;
the burning sand shall become a pool,
    and the thirsty ground springs of water;
the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp,[a]
    the grass shall become reeds and rushes.

A highway shall be there,
    and it shall be called the Holy Way;
the unclean shall not travel on it,[b]
    but it shall be for God’s people;[c]
    no traveler, not even fools, shall go astray.
No lion shall be there,
    nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it;
they shall not be found there,
    but the redeemed shall walk there.
10 And the ransomed of the Lord shall return,
    and come to Zion with singing;
everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;
    they shall obtain joy and gladness,
    and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

“The desert shall rejoice and blossom”

I’ve never been a good Gradner. I’ve attempted some potted herbs from time to time only to have weeping basil on my kitchen sil. I am in awe of those who can grow things. Take a little seedling, plant it in soil, nurture it with water and love and allow God’s magic to take place in the time in between, lifting and sprouting that seedling into a flourishing blossom. The congregation at St. Peter’s in Spotswood, New Jersey does an amazing job of cultivating food from the earth and spreading God’s abundance in community. I watched and learned over the growing season as they prepped the beds, planted, and tended to its growth with love, hardwork and prayer. I’ve learned alot about actively being patient, and I’ve learned just as they have tended to the seeds, so have they tended to me with patience and love.

There are often no words for those who grieve that ease the pain of loss especially this time of year when all the world seems aglow with holiday preparation. There are no words for a community terrorized by hatred and violence that ease the pain of being victimized and targeted. There are no words for a mother who loses a child or a child who loses a parent. No heady, rational verbal expression can explain away the depth of sorrow or create a sympathetic understanding, but it does not mean that we sit in the stillness of dark days without action, void of love’s expression. No, we have a duty to God and to one another to stand up and tend to each other with love, patiently awaiting the coming of Christ who loves us.

“Strengthen the weak hands and make firm the feeble knees.”

Tending to a garden is not comfortable work, especially as we get older. I find my joints are stiffer, the arthritis is creeping further and the knees aren’t as reliable as they once were. I don’t kneel in worship at times where I once did, instead I gently bow giving rest to my aching knees. The brokeness of the world is as taxing on the body as it is our spirit. Loving earnestly with an open heart as we battle the evil among us is often not easy. It can be rather uncomfortable. After the Tree of Life shooting that took the lives of eleven of God’s faithful people, an older woman approached me at the end of service and asked, ” How am I supposed to love a person who has done such harm?” My heart melted as I listened and understood deeply her anguish.

Pray for strong hands and firm knees as we battle the acts of evil in our earthly world. God’s is with us, Emmanuel even as we await the birth of our incarnate Christ.

Many of my friends and colleagues are exhausted by the the Trauma and relentless attacks on our communities, on communities of color, on our religious communities especially our Jewish and Muslim brothers and sisters, on communities of refugees, on our border communities, on our poor communities and communities who are food insecure, on our LGBTQI communities and on our hispanic communities. We, as many of you, are exhausted and sometimes overwhelmed by the evil acts often committed under the cover of Jesus’s name. It’s tiring, often down right infuriating. We ask for God’s strength and light in the darkness and look to the one that is to come.

I can imagine that as John wrote from prison (Matt. 11:2-11), he may have been tired too, “Are you the one that is to come?” I can also imagine that like the Isaiah passage above is to me, the apostles’ words and witness was to John, a warm blanket, some cocoa and a kiss on the forehead. ” You my child, will be ok.”

As we await for the birth of our incarnate Lord may we live like the apostles, bringing good news and witness to those who sit in the darkness of injustice, pain or grief. May we cultivate the seed of hope, love and joyful expectation to the one that is to come. “The blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them.”

May we be living witnesses, loving radically, abundantly, becoming the warm blanket, cup of cocoa and kiss from God for all. O’ come, O’ come Emmanuel!

Peace,

Mo. Allison+

Archive, Prayers, Thoughts, Uncategorized

Preparing the Way : Advent II Peace

Over the Thanksgiving holiday I had the benefit of taking a break from my usual writing and studies. I took the time to spend with family and friends, and tend to tasks around the home giving gratitude for the blessings in my life; reflecting upon the discovery of my sisters, new friends and precious time with my wife and sons.

Since graduating from seminary I have found myself engaging in “busy” projects, catching up from my three years mostly away from home. I’ve tackled closets, rooms, cluttered spaces and a dark and dingy basement. I’ve loaded garbage bag after garbage bag empting all that I could. Slowly our house has become, home again. Fresh paint, a new dining room, updated floors, created a whole new space in the basement for study, prayer and gathering. I hung pictures of the boys back up on the walls which were once removed for updating. It’s warm, it’s peaceful, it’s home again! All this in preparation for what is to come. Whatever is to come. Wherever the spirit leads. It reminds me of the time before Connor (my oldest son) was born. As a young wife in a new home I nested. I cleaned every corner, folded and stacked baby items, painted, and organized everything I could all with the anticipation of my little one’s arrival.

Now Advent is here and with that same anticipation, we are busy preparing for Christmas day. Making room for the tree, hanging stockings and lights, playing carols and shopping. I remember as a child, gleefully circling items in the big Sears Christmas catalog. I couldn’t wait for Christmas morning, literally. There came an age, a right of passage, where my brother and I would hunt for hidden Christmas presents. Waiting is hard, even with hope and great anticipation, but the season of Advent is more than waiting, it ‘s a time of preparation and transformation.

Our Gospel this Sunday (Matthew 3:1-12) addresses how we are to prepare for the coming of our Lord. “Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven has come near.” Preparing our homes with festive lights and decorations is fun, but it is merely an external symbol of what John is asking us to do. John is telling us that we in preparation for Christ must clean our internal homes, our heart, mind and soul. “Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven has come near.”

The thought of confession or the Rite of confession in the Episcopal Church is frightening to some. Generally speaking, traumatized former Roman Catholics have voiced to me the depth of their uncomfortableness. It is with deep humility that I recognize and honor their fears. The gifts of the Rite of Reconciliation however is far too great to ignore or to set aside. When we open ourselves to reconciliation we begin to truly transform, emptying ourselves of preconceived predjudice and ideas, allows us the space to receive the gifts of God’s mercy, grace and peace.

I heard a story once told about a zen teacher who receives a university professor. They sit for tea and the teacher begins to pour the tea into the cup. He pours continuously allowing the tea to flow over the top. The professor urges him to stop as there is no more room and then the teacher says, “You see, you are like this cup, full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty the cup.”

In a world full of unrest and a longing for deep peace, reconciliation provides us a vehicle to emptying our cup, our heart, mind and soul, opening ourselves to God and to the Holy Spirit leading to our transformation. Through this opening of selves and transforming spirit may we be ready to receive Christ, the King of Peace.

“Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.”

Blessings,

Mo. Allison+

Prayers, Thoughts

More than Pastries, Let’s talk Joseph!

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Joseph was called, under challenging circumstances, to fill the role of Jesus’ father on earth. Described in Matthew’s Gospel as a righteous man, he was planning to dismiss Mary, who was with child before they lived together, but instead obeyed the message given to him by an angel of the Lord to take Mary as his wife. Joseph is honored in Christian tradition for the love he showed to the boy Jesus, who lived under his roof for at least twelve years. His tender affection and care for Mary has, likewise, been long celebrated in the church.

Joseph was a devout Jew, descended from the line of David. A carpenter by trade, he was a man of very modest means, with no education outside the synagogue. It is generally believed that he died quietly and naturally, prior to our Lord’s active ministry. The gospel writers tell us that Jesus was widely known as the “son of Joseph the carpenter,” and Joseph’s influence on him was, of course, inestimable. Though Joseph might not have grasped the importance of his humble life, it stands as a grace-filled model of serving God through simple everyday activities, as a devoted husband and father.

Collect of the day:

O God, who from the family of your servant David raised up Joseph to be the guardian of your incarnate Son and the spouse of his virgin mother: Give us grace to imitate his uprightness of life and his obedience to your commands; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Archive, Poetry, Prayers, Psalm, Video

Video by Word Live: Psalm 42 and 43

After a very long and frustrating week, especially this day, I find great comfort in this production by Word Live (Psalm 42 and 43) I hope it brings you comfort as well.

 

 

Blessings,

Allison