Advent – Week 1

Romans 5:5 – Hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the holy Spirit that has been given to us.

 

O Emmanuel,
King and Lawgiver
Desire of the nations,
Savior of all people,
Come and set us free, Lord, our God.

Isaiah 11:1-10

But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse,
    and from his roots a bud shall blossom.
 The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him:
    a spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
A spirit of counsel and of strength,
    a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the Lord,
 and his delight shall be the fear of the Lord.
Not by appearance shall he judge,
    nor by hearsay shall he decide,
 But he shall judge the poor with justice,
    and decide fairly for the land’s afflicted.
He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth,
    and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked.
 Justice shall be the band around his waist,
    and faithfulness a belt upon his hips.
Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb,
    and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat;
The calf and the young lion shall browse together,
    with a little child to guide them.
The cow and the bear shall graze,
    together their young shall lie down;
    the lion shall eat hay like the ox.
The baby shall play by the viper’s den,
    and the child lay his hand on the adder’s lair.
 They shall not harm or destroy on all my holy mountain;
    for the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the Lord,
    as water covers the sea.
On that day, The root of Jesse, set up as a signal for the peoples—
Him the nations will seek out; his dwelling shall be glorious.

Luke 1:26-38

 In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth,
 to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary.
 And coming to her, he said, “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.”
 But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
 Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus.
 He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High,and the L ord God will give him the throne of David his father,
and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
 But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?”
 And the angel said to her in reply, “The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.
 And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren;
 for nothing will be impossible for God.”
 Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

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The Altar

The Kitchen has been called the heart of the home.  Family life is nurtured in the kitchen; conversations, tears and laughter coexist and comingle; food is prepared and consumed.  Generally, because of use and abuse, the kitchen is the messiest room in the house. If the kitchen represents the heart, the sink would be its altar.

The sink is where used vessels are gathered, scraped, washed clean, sorted and prepared for future use.  You can’t serve up a fresh hot meal on dirty dishes, now, can you?

In the same way, to be used effectively by God, we need to be cleansed regularly. Everyday use leaves the remains of what we had to offer on the surface of our heart.  Regret and unforgiveness will harden into bitterness if we are not careful to remove it promptly.   In the quiet of your kitchen, bring the dirty dishes of your life to the altar.  While you are scraping and scrubbing the congealed mess from the dishes, rinsing them clean, and putting things straight in your little kitchen, Let the Lord do the same thing on the altar of your heart.  With contrition, make a plan to right the wrongs that you have committed, and ask the Lord for the strength and resolve to follow through.  As you are putting away the clean dishes, and wiping up your workspace, thank the Lord for His goodness to you.  Ask Him to prepare you and enable you for the work that He has for you.

Regret, Guilt, and Shame are the ugly stepsisters of Contrition, the daughter of Truth and Pardon.  These stepsisters are hateful, ruthless, unforgiving, and usually gross exaggerators.  Don’t let them “help” in your kitchen.

Remembering to Pray

I’ve been gone for six months from here.  Life just got so busy, and full, and complicated, and this was one of the easy things to lay down for a bit.  I’ve been thinking about jumping back in, I desperately want to do Advent activities here on New Things…no promises, but it is a strong desire.  For now, though, I’ll just share what I am currently learning about prayer.  Not anything deeply profound, but just a little something that keeps happening, and I am using it as a reminder to pray.

When I go to Mass, I am often easily distracted and have a hard time focusing on what is going on there.  Babies crying, papers shuffling, someone coughing or sneezing…all of these things interrupt my thought process, and distract me from the Mass.  I have started looking at these as opportunities to pray.  I thank God for the Mommas and Daddies who are bringing their babies to Jesus every week, and pray a special blessing over them, that the Lord would guide those parents as they train their little ones up in His ways.  I pray a blessing of health over the chronic cougher, it’s cold and flu season, and Mass is important enough to them to attend, even if they aren’t feeling 100%.  I pray for those around them, that they would be protected from the germs, and I pray for the one coughing to feel better soon.  These are distractions, but not nearly as distracting to me as seeing someone that reminds me of someone.  My mind will wander, thinking about the person they remind me of, wondering where they are, how they are, remembering fun or difficult times with them.  I don’t know how much time I’ve wasted with a wandering mind…the devil knows just where to attack, doesn’t he?  Well, I think I’ve finally happened upon a successful counter-attack.  I pray for the both of them.  The person who reminds me of someone, and the person that I am reminded of.  At least if I am going to be distracted from the Mass, I can redeem the distraction with a prayer of blessing, protection, forgiveness, or whatever is on my heart.  You know what I’m finding?  I’m not as often distracted this way.  And if I am distracted, it’s not for long, I take that thought captive, say a prayer, and leave it with Jesus.

This reminds me of a lesson I learned and shared here, To Remember Is To Pray.

I think I’m going to start keeping track and passing on notes to far-away friends that show up at Mass when I’ve said a little prayer for them.