The Fourth Sunday of Advent ~ Mary’s yes to God

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Fourth Sunday of Advent ~ December 20, 2020

Few things have ever been written in the history of the world that can approach the lyric beauty of the Gospel of Luke today. No matter how many times we read it, we are immersed in its majestic simplicity.

This moment in history had been foretold since the days of creation, when it was promised that a woman would give birth to the One who would vanquish the power of Satan. If the moment had been orchestrated by Madison Avenue, it would’ve been surrounded by pomp and circumstance, proclaimed far and wide. As usual, though, God’s ways are not our ways.

The word that had been awaited for centuries came silently as the sunrise, to a young girl in an obscure village, a young one who, until that moment,  had but one significant event to anticipate: She was to wed the local carpenter.

Now, with a few soft-spoken words from an angel,  and her “Fiat!, her resounding Yes, / her “let it be done according to thy word,”   she became the central figure in the plan of Redemption, without whom / God’s plan would not be fulfilled.

(God needed Mary’s YES!)

This was not the first time God had sent a messenger  to announce the birth of a child in extraordinary circumstances. Remember Sarah and her husband, Abraham?   They had exhausted every hope of having a child of their own, for they were far beyond the age of childbearing. But since nothing is impossible with God, Sarah conceived and bore a son whom they named Isaac, as God had directed.

Centuries later,  the scene is repeated: Zechariah and Elizabeth had despaired of having a child, for both were advanced in age. But Elizabeth conceived and bore a child, John the Baptist,whose entire life would be dedicated to one purpose ~ to prepare the way of the Lord. 

Now the centuries of prophecy are about to be fulfilled. Again, there is an unlikely conception, for Mary was yet a virgin. Again that this most unlikely of all births might become a reality, God’s intervention was needed. Gabriel, messenger of the Most High, assures her . . .

“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the most high will overshadow you. Therefore, the child to be born from of your womb will be called holy,  the Son of God.”

All that had transpired in salvation history up to this moment hung in the balance  waiting for this girl’s response:  She took her time. She questioned the angel. and then she finally said, Yes.  “Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord; be it done unto me according to your word.”

And then the angel left her, leaving for her and Joseph to work out the details, some of which were going to be quite problematic.

We’ll hear the Nativity story in four days. Today, I invite you to think about the whole story,  as though you were thinking about it for the first time. Consider what a wild, crazy, loving thing God did!   God created us, when he didn’t have to, simply because he wanted to share his love and his joy. We sinned, rejected God,  decided to go our own way, and created a huge distance between God and us. You would think that God would say, “OK, have it your own way, then, but be prepared for the consequences.” But he didn’t. Instead, God decided to bridge that distance  and repair the damage that we did.

How? First of all, by becoming one of us. A real, living, breathing, in-the-flesh human being who was also God. And not by coming down in overpowering glory and majesty. No,  by being conceived in the womb of a young woman, a teenager, actually. And then by being born not in a palace but in a stable, a shelter for animals,  on the outskirts of a small town, in a country that was not one of the big players  in the power and politics of the time.

Does this make sense? Is this a normal way of behaving – considering that the person doing it is almighty God,  creator and Lord of the universe? No. this doesn’t make a shred of common sense. This is the action of someone absolutely consumed by infinite love for people  who were not acting lovably. We get so used to hearing this story that we say, “Well, sure, of course!” when it ought to take our breath away.

Today, as preparation for the great Christmas feast that’s coming in four days, let’s try to appreciate in anew the stunning immensity of God’s love for us ~ God’s desire to get us back when we were gone astray as the Christmas carol says.

Let us say Yes to God as Mary did.

A Yes that opens us up to his great love.

A Yes that shares his love with our family,

with our neighborhood,

with our work place,

with our country,

with all the world.

In a few days we will celebrate the birth of Mary’s child, a birth as striking in its simplicity as was the announcement by Gabriel.   Perhaps, during these few days,  we would do well to ask Mary to help us prepare our hearts for his coming, as she did. Better than anyone else, she knows how to do that.

And now, before you go, here’s the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra with a glorious rendition of Handel’s “And the Glory of the Lord. Click here. Be sure to turn up your speakers and enter full screen.

With love,

Bob Traupman

Contemplative Writer

Advent Day 16 ~ In the Midst of the Mist of our Lives (and Hanukkah day 6)

photo (c) bob traupman 2007. all rights reseved

Wednesday of the Third Week of Advent

Misty mornings can be cool, Lord.

They can teach us about You, about us.

There’s lots of misty-ness in our lives, Lord.

We often don’t see anything very clearly.

But You are still there, our sun, the Son,
somehow, some way, penetrating  the fog, the mist.

Help us realize that mist is OK, Lord.
Misty-ness has its own beauty.

Thank You, Lord, for what it teaches us about You, about us.

Teach us to be patient, Lord, to wait.
To wait for the light, our light, Your light.
Come Lord, Jesus this Christmas
in our lives and in our world.

Your light will come, Jerusalem;
Your light will come, dear people of God;
the Lord will dawn on you in radiant beauty.
You will see his glory within you.
       – the Advent liturgy.

And now before you go, here is more from Handel’s Messiah. Click on this link >>> Rejoice Greatly O Daughter Zion!  ‘Tis Awesome! Be sure to enter full screen. 

And here are today’s Mass readings, if you’d like to reflect on them. Click here.

photo bob traupman 2007. You may have noticed this like a follow-up on the theme and image  in yesterday’s blog:”Shadows.’ I began taking images on my Canon Powershot when i was living on St. Augustine Beach and you’ll see a few more of them in the next few days. I hope you enjoy them.

With love,

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer

 

Advent Day 3 – The wolf and the lamb – the owl and the lion

Tuesday of the First Week of Advent

Dear Friends,

Isaiah dreams of a bright future for us. He shows us a wonderful vision: the animals lead the way to peace  . . .

Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb . . . .

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 an ox

The baby shall play in the cobra’s den – Isaiah 11:5-10.

Let’s muse about the animal’s leading the way to peace, especially during this anxious time as we await the inauguration of the new president and the changes that will bring about, celebrating the holidays during the pandemic, and awaiting the vaccine for Covid and how that will affect us as even more people come down with the virus and die from it. Yes, today’s first reading from Isaiah is  Good News for us today!

(I have a Christmas short story about an owl from the banks of the Shenandoah River and a young lion from the Serengeti in Africa leading the way to peace.

It’s a fun story.  Why not download it and save it for close to Christmas? (Be sure to use the < back arrow at the top left-hand corner of your browser so that you can come back to this page.)

My puppy Shivvy (of happy memory) demonstrated his curiosity about his fellow creatures of all sorts.

I have stories of him with turtles and little doves with broken wings and bunny rabbits and ducklings on our walks around our condo.

Think about this . . .

What can I do today to bring more harmony into the habitat in which I live – at home, at work, at church, in my neighborhood, in our world?

Behold a broken world, we pray,

Where want and war increase,

And grant us, Lord, in this our day,

The ancient dream of peace.

Bring, Lord, your better world to birth, 

Your kingdom, love’s domain,

Where peace with God and peace on earth,

And peace eternal reign. 

         ~ Timothy Dudley Smith / 1985

If you’re new to this Advent blog,  I recommend reading my Understanding the Seven Advent Themes to get a sense of why we want to spend four weeks preparing for our Christmas celebration and how it can help you deepen your spirituality whether you are a Catholic or even a Christian. Click here

I will be posting each day of Advent, (God willin’ n’ the creek don’t rise.

You can make yourself  mini-retreat for five minutes a day and have the best and most meaningful Christmas ever!
It’ll relieve your stress.  Calm your nerves.  Put a bounce in your step and a smile on your face.  And it’s free! 
So, what are you waiting for?  

And now, for your listening pleasure here’s an excerpt from the great sixties movie musical “Godspell to get you in an Advent mood. Click here. Be sure to enter full screen and turn up your speakers.

And here are today’s Mass readings: Click here.

With love,

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer

 

 

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Advent Day 3 – The wolf and the lamb – the owl and the lion

Tuesday of the First Week of Advent

Dear Friends,

Isaiah dreams of a bright future for us. He shows us a wonderful vision: the animals lead the way to peace!

Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb . .

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 an ox

The baby shall play in the cobra’s den – Isiah 11:5-10.

Let’s muse about peace and harmony today as we did yesterday.

Let’s muse about the animal’s leading the way to peace.

(I have a Christmas short story about an owl from the banks of the Shenandoah

and a young lion from the Serengeti in Africa leading the way to peace.

It’s a fun story.  Why not download it and save it for close to Christmas?

My puppy Shivvy (of happy memory) was curious about his fellow creatures of all sorts.

I have stories of him with turtles and little doves with broken wings and bunny rabbits and ducklings on our walks around our condo.

Think about this . . .

What can I do today to bring more harmony into the habitat in which I live

– at home, at work, at church, in my neighborhood, in our world?

Behold a broken world, we pray,

Where want and war increase,

And grant us, Lord, in this our day,

The ancient dream of peace.

Bring, Lord, your better world to birth, 

Your kingdom, love’s domain,

Where peace with God and peace on earth,

And peace eternal reign. 

         ~ Timothy Dudley Smith / 1985

If you’re new to this Advent blog,  I recommend reading my Understanding the Seven Advent Themes to get a sense of why we want to spend four weeks preparing for our Christmas celebration and how it can help you deepen your spirituality whether you are a Catholic or even a Christian. Click here

I will be posting each day of Advent, (God willin’ n’ the creek don’t rise.

You can make yourself  mini-retreat for five minutes a day and have the best and most meaningful Christmas ever!
It’ll relieve your stress.  Calm your nerves.  Put a bounce in your step and a smile on your face.  And it’s free! 
So, what are you waiting for?  

And now, for your listening pleasure from Handel’s Messiah here’s “And thou that tellest.” Click here. Be sure to enter full screen and turn up your speakers.

And here are today’s Mass readings: Click here.

With love,

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer

 

 

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The Fourth Sunday of Advent ~ Mary’s Dilemma

The Fourth Sunday of Advent~ December 24, 2017

Well, in Luke’s Annunciation story, the angel Gabriel tells Mary that she will conceive a child who will be the Son of God. She questions the angel, he reassures her and then she goes off to visit her cousin Elizabeth who’s with child in her old age whom the same angel had appeared to her husband Zack (for short).  Now Zack was struck dumb (couldn’t speak) till the baby was born because he, unlike Mary, did not believe.

Sounds like a soap opera, eh?

Well,  there’s more.  The angel left Mary and Joseph with quite a dilemma. you see.  She lived in a small village  (Nazareth) and her belly was growing and a small scandal was growing even bigger!

Now Joseph her husband, according to the Gospel of Matthew (1:18-24) was greatly troubled. And “since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly.”

But voila! . . . enter an angel who appears to Joseph one night in a dream and tells Joseph not to be afraid to take Mary his wife into his home.

And as we know the angel, (probably ol’ Gabe again) said his piece and off he went and didn’t help with the dilemmas and hardships for this couple.  ( Some good he was, eh?)

+ They had to travel to Bethlehem while Mary was pregnant, apparently on a donkey ~ not exactly in comfort on rough Palestinian roads.

+  And when they got there, as you remember, there was no room for them in the inn and so we have the Christmas story that children have re-enacted year-after-year ever since.

+  And according to Matthew, they had to flee for their lives into exile into Egypt to escape the violent designs of Herod.

O Joseph, gentle, silent Joseph,

what was it like in your home at Nazareth?

We know you taught Jesus your trade as a carpenter.

Was he a good one?  Where you proud of his work?

Were you able to put good food on the table?

Have a nice party with friends and family once in a while?

Were you and Mary very affectionate?

Was Jesus at all mischievous?

Did you live long enough to see Jesus go out into his ministry?

We honor you, dear Joseph, as our Protector and friend!

Pray for us!

And now, before you go, here’s the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra with a glorious rendition of Handel’s “And the Glory of the Lord. Click here. Be sure to turn up your speakers and enter full screen.

And here are the readings for today’s Mass. Click here.

Advent Day 11 ~ Our God becomes flesh (and Hanukkah Day 2)

Wednesday of the Second week of Advent

Our God Becomes Flesh (and Hanukkah Day 2)

Dear Friends,

Today, let’s reflect on the mystery of the Incarnation — the Christmas portion of our faith.  (If you do not accept this as an article of faith, then just consider it as a beautiful story; it still has power; it still can have real meaning for you.)

St. John says “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). Jesus saves us as manIncarnation: Carnal: meat, flesh.  Our God became flesh. “He emptied himself of his equality with God and became as humans are” (Philippians 2). The Father sent his Son into our world to identify with us. To become one of us and with us.  God likes the human race!  In Jesus, a marriage is made between God and the human race.

But this article of our Christian faith often doesn’t dawn on folks.  Many think he was just play-acting – pretending to be human.

I offer this passage  (excerpted) from St. Gregory Nazianzen, bishop and doctor of the church in the fourth century from the Advent Office of Readings:

“He [Jesus] takes to himself all that is human, except sin (unfaithfulness) .

He comes forth as God, in the human nature he has taken, one being, made of two contrary elements, flesh and spirit.

Spirit gave divinity, flesh receives it.

He who makes rich is made poor;

he takes on the poverty of my flesh, that I may gain the riches of divinity.

He who was full is made empty;

he is emptied for a brief space of glory, that I may share in his fullness.

We need God to become one of us and with us.

To help us like and love ourselves.

To realize that Love and Beauty and all good things are our destiny.

We need God to invite us to our future instead of destroying ourselves.

If only we believed.

If only we believed.

Take time today to allow this story of God’s love affair with the human race to touch you,

embrace you, and heal your heart, and transform your life as it has mine.

And continues to do so, day after day after day

because I, for one, really, really, really like being caught up in Love!

And for your listening pleasure here’s a selection from Handel’s Messiah: “Rejoice, Greatly, O Daughter Zion!” Click here.  Be sure to turn up your speakers and enter full screen.

And here are today’s Mass readings for the Feast of St. Lucy. Click here.

With love,

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer

Advent Day 3 – The wolf and the lamb – the owl and the lion

Tuesday of the First Week of Advent

Dear Friends,

Isaiah dreams of a bright future for us; he also chastises us for our idolatry and unfaithfulness to God and encourages us to be our best selves.

But today he shows us a wonderful vision: the animals lead the way to peace!

Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb . .

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 an ox

The baby shall play in the cobra’s den (Isaiah 11:5-10.)

Let’s muse about peace and harmony today.

About the animal’s leading the way to peace.

(I have a Christmas short story about an owl from the banks of the Shenandoah

and a young lion from the Serengeti  Plain in Africa leading the way to peace.

It’s a delightful story.  Why not download it and save it for close to Christmas?

My puppy Shivvy (of happy memory) demonstrated a love for fellow creatures of all sorts.

I have stories of him with turtles and little doves with broken wings and bunny rabbits and ducklings on our walks around our condo. 

What is so new about the promised “mountain of the Lord” is not that the wolf and the lamb are there, but that the wolf remains a wolf and the lamb remains a lamb and yet they dwell together without hurt in God’s kingdom. Under God’s rule, conversion and obedience do not mean the loss of identity, but the discovery of our true identity as one in Christ.

Think about it.

What can we do today to bring more harmony into the habitat in which we live . . .

– at home, at work, at church, in my neighborhood, in our world? 

In America today, we are so polarized and torn apart, this story can be an inspiration to us to help bring us together. Maybe this week you and I can make a little effort to reach out to someone across a divide and make a new acquaintance.

Behold a broken world, we pray,

Where want and war increase,

And grant us, Lord, in this our day,

The ancient dream of peace.

Bring, Lord, your better world to birth, 

Your kingdom, love’s domain,

Where peace with God and peace on earth,

And peace eternal reign. 

         ~ Timothy Dudley Smith / 1985

 

If you’re new to this Advent blog,  I recommend reading Welcome to Advent 2009 to get a sense of why we want to spend four weeks preparing for our Christmas celebration and how it can help you deepen your spirituality whether you are a Catholic or even a Christian.

I will be posting each day of Advent, (God willin’ n’ the creek don’t rise.

You can make yourself  mini-retreat for five minutes a day and have the best and most meaningful Christmas ever!
It’ll relieve your stress.  Calm your nerves.  Put a bounce in your step and a smile on your face.  And it’s free!
So, what are you waiting for?  Come on board!  Put your email address in the hopper and you won’t have to think about it again.

And now, for your listening pleasure from Handel’s Messiah here’s “And the Glory of the Lord”  from Robert Shaw’s Atlanta Symphony.  Be sure to enter full screen and turn up your speakers.

And here are today’s Mass readings: Click here.

With love,

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer



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The wolf and the lamb ~ the owl and the lion

IMGTuesday of the First Week of Advent

Dear Friends,

Isaiah dreams of a bright future for us.

In the first reading of today’s Mass, he shows us a wonderful vision: the animals lead the way to peace!

Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb . . .

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 an ox.

The baby shall play in the cobra’s den – Isaiah 11:5-10.

Let’s muse about peace and harmony today.

Let’s muse about the animal’s leading the way to peace.

(I have a Christmas short story about an owl from the banks of the Shenandoah

and a young lion from the Serengeti in Africa leading the way to peace.

It’s a fun story.  Why not download it and save it for close to Christmas? 

 (If you’re not tech savvy, go to the top left corner of your computer and click on the < “back arrow” and it will bring you back to this screen.)

My puppy Shivvy (of happy memory) was quite curious of his  fellow creatures.

I have told stories about him with turtles and little doves with broken wings and bunny rabbits and ducklings on our walks around our condo.

Think about this . . .

What can I do today to bring more harmony into the habitat in which I live

~ at home, at work, at church ~ in my neighborhood, in our world?

Behold a broken world, we pray,

Where want and war increase,

And grant us, Lord, in this our day,

The ancient dream of peace.    ~ unattributed.

If you’re new to this Advent blog,  I recommend reading Welcome to Advent 2009 to get a sense of why we want to spend four weeks preparing for our Christmas celebration and how it can help you deepen your (our) spirituality whether or not you are a Catholic or even a Christian.

And for your listening pleasure from Handel’s Messiah here is And the Glory of the Lord ~ from Robert Shaw’s Atlanta Symphony ~ Click here.  Be sure to turn up your speakers

And here are today’s Mass readings, if you’d enjoy reflecting on them.  Click here.

With love,

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer

 

 

img_00442
photo (c) bob traupman 2007. all rights reseved

Thursday of the First Week of Advent

Misty mornings can be cool, Lord.
They can teach us about You, about us.

There is lots of misty-ness in our lives, Lord.

We often don’t see anything clearly.

But You are still there, our sun, the Son.
somehow, some way, penetrating  the fog, the mist.

Help us realize that mist is OK, Lord.
Misty-ness has its own beauty.

Thank You, Lord, for what it teaches us about You, about us.

Teach us to be patient, Lord, to wait.
For the light, our light, Your light.
Come Lord, Jesus this Christmas
in our lives and in our world.

Your light will come, Jerusalem;
Your light will come, dear people of God;
the Lord will dawn on you in radiant beauty.
You will see his glory within you.
       – the Advent liturgy.

And now before you go, here is more from Handel’s Messiah. Click here >>> Rejoice Greatly O Daughter Zion!  ‘Tis Awesome! Be sure to enter full screen. 

And here are today’s Mass readings for your reflection: It’s the Memorial of St. Francis Xavier, one of the founding members of the Jesuit order and preached the gospel in the far east in the early 16th century.  Click here.

photo (c) bob traupman 2007. all rights reserved

With love,

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer

Advent Day 3 ~ The wolf and the lamb ~ the owl and the lion

Advent Day 3

Tuesday of the First Week of Advent

Dear Friends,

Isaiah dreams of a bright future for us.

In the first reading of today’s Mass, he shows us a wonderful vision: the animals lead the way to peace!

Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb . . .

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 an ox.

The baby shall play in the cobra’s den – Isaiah 11:5-10.

Let’s muse about peace and harmony today.

Let’s muse about the animal’s leading the way to peace.

(I have a Christmas short story about an owl from the banks of the Shenandoah

and a young lion from the Serengeti in Africa leading the way to peace.

It’s a fun story.  Why not download it and save it for close to Christmas? 

 (But, if you’re not tech savvy, go to the top left corner of your computer and click on the < “back arrow” and it will bring you back to this screen.)

My puppy Shivvy (of happy memory) was quite curious of his  fellow creatures.

I have stories of him with turtles and little doves with broken wings and bunny rabbits and ducklings on our walks around our condo.

Think about this . . .

What can I do today to bring more harmony into the habitat in which I live

~ at home, at work, at church, in my neighborhood, in our world?

Behold a broken world, we pray,

Where want and war increase,

And grant us, Lord, in this our day,

The ancient dream of peace.    ~ unattributed.

If you’re new to this Advent blog,  I recommend reading Welcome to Advent 2009 to get a sense of why we want to spend four weeks preparing for our Christmas celebration and how it can help you deepen your (our) spirituality whether you are a Catholic or even a Christian.

And for your listening pleasure from Handel’s Messiah here is And the Glory of the Lord ~ from Robert Shaw’s Atlanta Symphony ~ Click here.  Be sure to turn up your speakers and enter full screen.

And here are today’s Mass readings, if you’d like to meditate upon them.  Click here.

With love,

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer