Advent, Thoughts on Peace

My friend, Rusty, has written an Advent essay,Third Sunday of Advent, 2011 – Peace.

“Imagine all the world, living in peace.”

“I have a dream!”

Noble sentiments, yet the authors of those statements died unexpected, violent deaths.

So true, and so sad.
Thoughts on true peace for this season.

Advent Thoughts 2009

first candle

first candle,
originally uploaded by mekkes2082.

New Covenant, Rusty Lopez, posts on “hope”. Poem, thoughts, and photo not to be missed.

I have started my own Advent week’s set of devotions.

How To Put Christ Back Into Christmas?

How, like a salmon swimming upstream, does a Christian move against the almost overwhelming flow of our materialistic culture as it indulges in one of the most consumer-oriented, commercially immersed holidays of the year?

We’ve been through the catchy phrase phase of “Jesus is the Reason for the Season”, but that didn’t help very much. We have steeled ourselves with good intentions, and organized lists. “This year” we will not get caught up in mad, irritable crowds of shoppers. Only to be faced with ungrateful store policies that outlaw the mention of “Merry Christmas”… because, well, you know… it might offend customers. Is the answer in putting a creche back in the capitol buildings? Singing the carols in the secular school plays? Wearing the red and the green? Will these things put Christ back into Christmas for us? What will?

I think I found the answer. And it is in the most obvious place: Advent.

Today was the first Sunday of Advent, and our family gathered around our own seasonal tradition of the Advent log. Ours is a little different than some in the details of how we celebrate Advent, but the fact that we do connects us with many likeminded Christians around the world.

Like no other time of year, as a family we make an effort to devote some minutes each day leading up to Christmas for a time of worship: saying a prayer, reading a scripture, sharing some religious songs- mostly Christmas carols, lighting candles. That is our core set of activities, with additions changing as our family matured, sometimes hit and miss with the competition of other Christmas hustle and bustle. It is an effort to settle in for the quietness and presence of such an act: sitting down together, centering thoughts on God and His wonderful gift. It is a well chosen effort and time given, that I can tell you. The story of our first Advent log.

The effect of it is to make a place for Christ, and find how perfect a fit He is for the center of Christmas celebration.

However, there was more for me to discover in Advent this year. In preparing devotional posts for the endeavor I started some years ago, of making a blog that functions like an Advent calender, I found myself renewing my acquaintance with the Savior in a deeper way. This year in contemplating God’s promises (the theme chosen for 2009), I was surprised how revived my soul felt after searching through the scriptures. How much it has impacted my focus during the season already!

Enter into the ancient Church tradition of observing Advent, whether with a Jesse tree, or an Advent wreath, or simply with daily devotional time centered on the holiness of the season. Let it be “set apart”, which is the meaning of “holy” for your consideration of the meaning of this beginning of the gospel story.

If you do not have your own Advent tradition I invite you to share mine. Advent Blog 2009
Continue reading How To Put Christ Back Into Christmas?

Yom Kippur Reminder

Reflect, Repent, Renew

This is a good time for all of that. Start this Sunday, even if you aren’t Jewish.

clipped from www.holidays.net
Yom Kippur begins at sundown September 27 (Sunday)

Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is the most solemn day of the Jewish year and is observed on the tenth day of Tishri. It is a day of fasting, reflection and prayers.

  blog it

I haven’t forgotten the theology and spiritual questions… just been a short hiatus for work and family stuff.

Rosh HaShanah and the Shofar

Guess what? In a couple days it is the Jewish New Year. And there are lots of things to learn to enrich our understanding of the Bible. Plus, be happy for our Jewish friends and neighbors. I saw lots of honey cakes and things in Whole Foods Market yesterday-yum! “On Rosh Hashanah we eat apples and honey for a sweet new year” –Aron Moss

The night of September 18 is the New Year’s Eve, “the Jewish calendar counts different from the Gregorian calendar: we’re already headed for the year 5770 (or ??”? in Hebrew letters, as each letter of the Hebrew alphabet hast a numeric value as well)!” –handmade 2.0 whose blog had some cute little etsy things in honor of Rosh Hashana.

Jews are to sound a Shofar on Rosh Hashanah, “(Bamidbar 29:1) states: And in the seventh month, on the first of the month, it shall be declared a holiday for you, a day of sounding a teruah for you.” –cahbad.org

A shofar is a trumpet made of a ram’s horn. It has a soul-stirring sound.
One Scholar puts its message this way:

Sleepers, arise from your slumber, and those who are dozing, awake from your lethargy. Review your actions, repent your sins, and remember your Creator! Those who forget the truth with the passing of time and who waste their years pursuing vanity and folly that is purposeless and cannot save you – look into your souls and improve your ways and your deeds. Let all abandon the ways of evil and thoughts that offer no benefit.

Rosh Hashanah marks the first day of the Ten Days of Repentance, and another reminder of the resurrection of the dead (notes from the chabad.org site). Or as we Christians put it, ” And the trump shall sound” that trumpet is the Shofar.

The sound of the Shofar is to proclaim God’s sovereignty and stir up His mercy for all those under judgment. I love that thought!

This is the sound of the shofar: The very core of our souls crying, “Father! Father!”
Tzvi Freeman