Advent Day 18 – The Burning Bush of the World

st. augustine beach, florida

Advent Day 18 ~ Wednesday of the third week of Advent

Advent themes are all about waiting for light to shine in our darkness.
For we who are Christians we await, Jesus, Yeshua, who is for us the Light of the World.
We prepare a place for him to shine in our own hearts this day.
We invite you to search out your own inner meaning whatever that might be.

During Hanukkah later this month we will honor our Jewish brothers and sisters with these words
that appear in the Catholic liturgy just before Christmas, one of the magnificent O Antiphons:

O Adonai and Ruler of the House of Israel,

you appeared to Moses in the fire of the burning bush

and on Mount Sinai gave him your law.

Come, and with outstretched arm redeem us.

And my prayer . . .

O Adonai*, we need you in our world more than ever!

You appeared in the burning bush long ago.

I remember this awesome sunrise over the ocean when I lived some  years ago on St. Augustine Beach, Florida.

I’m reminded of the old sailor’s maxim:  “Red at night, a sailor’s delight; red in the morning, sailors take warning.”

Come with your refiner’s fire and burn your way into our hearts.

so we can prepare the way for the Messiah to come into our lives,

into our homes,

our workplace and marketplace,

our neighborhoods

and, most especially into our beloved country that so badly needs You right now,

and our waiting world!

Come Lord Jesus!

I have a couple of notes for you as we make our countdown toward Christmas. Hanukkah begins at Nightfall on Sunday, December 22nd and goes through sundown on December 30th.

Hanukkah, which is Hebrew for “dedication,” is the Jewish Festival of Lights.

It commemorates the victory of the Maccabees over the Syrian Greek army, and the subsequent miracle of rededicating the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and restoring its menorah, or lamp.

The miracle of Hanukkah is that only one vial of oil was found with just enough oil to illuminate the Temple lamp for one day, and yet it lasted for eight full days.  Jewish children usually receive a new gift each day of Hanukkah.

May we pray for our Hebrew sisters and brothers who have suffered so much violence and fear in our country and abroad these past few years.

The other important event that we won’t be able to cover this year directly in this blog this year is the Winter Solstice that is observed in ritual form my our pagan sisters and brothers in places like Stonehenge in Great Britain and the Easter Islands in the Pacific. I don’t use the term “pagan” here pejoratively, as we actually got our date of Christmas from their celebrations of the Winter Solstice!

Actually, we haven’t the slightest idea when Jesus was born. We only celebrate it liturgically. On the Winter Solstice, the sun in the northern hemisphere is beginning to ascend again, connoting the phrase of John the Baptist about Jesus: “He must increase; I must decrease” (John 3:30). This year the Winter Solstice is on Saturday, December, 21st. (My last post before Christmas will be on Friday, December 20th, since many of you may be taking advantage of the long weekend for travel.

And before you go, Here’s another prayerful rendition of “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel. Click here.

And here are today’s Mass Readings. Click here.

* Adonai is one of the names the Jewish people use for God, meaning “Lord God Almighty.”

With love,

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer

What Wondrous Love is this?

Thursday of the Fourth Week of Advent

img_2402O Come, O come, Emmanuel,

And ransom captive Israel,

That mourns in lonely exile here,

Until the Son of God appear,

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel

Shall come to thee, O Israel!

 (My Advent Wreath)

 IMG_0126Emmanuel, they tell us you are “God-with-us.”

Where are you, Emmanuel?

Are you here?

Are you here in the messiness of our lives?

Can you really ransom us from our captivities,

our slaveries to addictions, our hatreds and grudges and jealousies

that eat us up and spit us out?

Our guilts, our “coulda, shouldas, wouldas — our druthers and regrets?

Our lethargy, our hopelessness, our slumber, our rage?

O Israel!  O America!

Do You really want Emmanuel to come?

Do We want you to?  (Do I?)

Many languish in mourning, Emmanuel

in exiles made by Wall Street and homelessness and sickness

and loneliness and selfishness.

Many a young heart yearns ~ aches for direction and meaning and love.

Prisoners waste away.  Such a waste of young lives!

Will you ransom their hearts, and souls, Emmanuel?

~ our hearts and souls?

Will you change our justice system to be truly just?

Will you truly rain down justice as the psalmist says?

Yes, Emmanuel, come!

Be God-with-us!

Even though we can sometimes hardly be with ourselves.

Captivate us! Inhale us with Your love.

Dazzle us with hope and new life and possibility.

Yes, Emmanuel!  We believe you will come.

Maybe not today or tomorrow.

You will transform the secret yearnings of our souls.

We will dance and sing and embrace You and each other

because you came among us, Emmanuel.

You ARE with us, Emmanuel.

You are LOVE ITSELF!

Because of You our own being becomes “being-in-love!”

We rejoice! We give thanks! We believe!

Come, Lord Jesus!  Yes, Lord Jesus, come.

Brothers and sisters, this Christmas let each of us give thanks

— and receive again in a new way

                                such a precious, wondrous love,

 such a wonderful gift.

Here is a YouTube presentation of the powerful hymn sung by Steve Green  “What wondrous love is this? Be sure to  turn up your speakers and enter full screen,  

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

We have two days remaining to prepare our heart to receive the new gift Jesus wishes to give us this year.  Be sure to take time to prepare. As for me, this Advent, as I’ve written these blogs and my new Reflection / Letter, in spite of the personal life difficulties I’m going through right now, the joy and happiness I feel as I approach Christmas is truly amazing. I live alone with my dog Shoney and my Lord as a companion as well. My hope, my prayer, my desire is that in some small way I am able to share that with you, my beloved readers. Tomorrow I will publish my blog for Christmas.

With love,

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer

 

Advent Day 22 ~ The Burning Bush of the World

st. augustine beach, fL
st. augustine beach, fL

Monday of the Fourth Week of Advent

Advent themes are all about waiting for light to shine in our darkness.
For we who are Christians  await, Jesus, Yeshua, who is for us the Light of the World.

We prepare a place for him to shine in our own hearts this day.
We invite you to search out your own inner meaning whatever that might be.
In the Catholic liturgy just before Christmas, one of the magnificent O Antiphons appears:

O Adonai and Ruler of the House of Israel,

you appeared to Moses in the fire of the burning bush

and on Mount Sinai gave him your law.

Come, and with outstretched arm redeem us.

And my prayer . . .

O Adonai*, we need you in our world more than ever!

You appeared in the burning bush long ago.

I remember this awesome sunrise several years ago over the ocean at  St. Augustine Beach.

I’m reminded of the old sailor’s maxim:  “Red at night, a sailor’s delight; red in the morning, sailors take warning.”

Come with your refiner’s fire and burn your way into our hearts.

so that we can prepare the way for the Messiah to come into our lives,

into our homes,

our workplace and marketplace,

our neighborhoods

our beloved  country especially,

our waiting world!

Come Lord Jesus!

______

What are  the “O Antiphons?” One of the most cherished collections of our ancient liturgical chants are the seven “O Antiphons” which are sung each of the seven nights before Christmas at Vespers. They have beautiful chant melodies.  I am using some of them interspersed in the next  few days before Christmas. Here is a web site that has information and  recordings of all seven. Click here. , if you’d like to learn more about our Gregorian chant tradition. Each of them are listed and explained. (Then if you wish, scroll all the way down to the bottom of the page; when you see the little speaker symbol with a music note next to it, click on it and it will give you the recording for each O Antiphon you want.

Here is an audio slide show of O come,O Come. O Come Emmanuel for your reflection. Click here.  Be sure to turn up your speakers and enter full screen.

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

* Adonai is one of the names the Jewish people use for God.

With love,

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer

The Fourth Sunday of Advent ~ Joseph’s dream

a_fourthsundayofadvent-josephs-dreamThe Fourth Sunday of Advent ~ December 18, 2016

We’re quite used to hearing St. Luke’s version of the Annunciation story. But we’re in the A-cycle of readings this year that features the Gospel of Matthew.

Matthew’s Annunciation story is less known, so I’ve placed the entire text here for us to look at, because it’s a bit convoluted for our western mindset. With the help of our Scripture-scholar William Barclay and others, I’ll try to help us unpack this for us.

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about.
When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph,
but before they lived together,
she was found with child through the Holy Spirit.
Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man,
yet unwilling to expose her to shame,
decided to divorce her quietly.
Such was his intention when, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said,
“Joseph, son of David,
do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home.
For it is through the Holy Spirit
that this child has been conceived in her.
She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus,
because he will save his people from their sins.”
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel
,
which means “God is with us.”
When Joseph awoke,
he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him
and took his wife into his home.

Here’s where the confusion lies.  

 First, the text says that “Mary was betrothed to Joseph but before they were living together she was found with child.”  Then it says, “since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly.  Then after the angel makes his Announcement that Mary will bear a son and told him not to be afraid of taking Mary into his home.

 Barclay indicates that in Jewish marriage procedure there were three steps.

1) There was the engagement, which was often made when the couple were only children, usually through the parents or through a professional matchmaker.

2) There was the betrothal, or the ratification of the betrothal. Once the betrothal was entered into it was absolutely binding. It lasted for one year. During that year the couple were known as man and wife. It was at this stage that Mary and Joseph were. And Joseph wanted to end the betrothal, which could happen in no other way than by divorce.  Mary was legally known as his wife during that year.  

3) The third stage was the marriage proper.  

                                        Barclay/ The Gospel of Matthew – Volume 1 p.18

Now let’s take a deeper look at the meaning of Matthew’s Annunciation story.

Bishop Robert Baron offers a beautiful commentary for us . . . .

When Moses asked God for his name, the Lord enigmatically responds  I am who am.  Hebrew scholars tells us that the root sense of the [Hebrew word] is ” I will be with you.” God identifies himself as the one who had pledged his solidarity with his suffering people Israel.  

Writing during a time of particular trial in the history of the chosen people God will send a sign:

The virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and shall name him Emmanuel,

which carries the sense that God is with us.  

And has he wrestles with the terrible dilemma of what to do with his betrothed who had become pregnant, Joseph dreams of an angel who tells him to take Mary as his wife.

She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus,
because he will save his people from their sins.”  

God’s truest name and most distinctive quality is he will be with us. In good times and in bad, during periods of light and darkness, when we are rejoicing or grieving, God is stubbornly with us, EMMANUEL!  

And here’s one more thought for you about our dear St. Joseph . . . .

When Joseph awoke,
he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him
and took his wife into his home. 

The word awoke has the greater meaning of “to arise, to get up.”  Gospel awakening / arising marks the beginning of a graced, personal transformation. One is struck by the rapid succession of these five verbs [he rosehe did, he took, he did not know, he called], indicating a sense of swiftness in everything Joseph did following his dream.

Joseph is the obedient man of action whose every move is attentive to the will of God.

He is the man called upon to love, cherish, nurture and protect the Mother and the Child while at the same time having to accomplish a profound renunciation of natural instincts.    

His vocation is to be the visible fatherhood of God on earth. 

O dear St. Joseph,  

how I’ve come to love you even more

in the four hours writing this blog.

Tears are forming in my eyes.

I seldom think of you or pray to you, dear St. Joseph.

What a wonderful story St. Matthew weaves for us!

Help us, then, prepare for Jesus coming into our hearts.

And help me to be more like you. 

Strong. Silent. Caring. Always there.  

Thank you for what I’ve learned tonight in these wee hours.  

What a grace! 

And what about you, dear friends?

What do you take away from this story?

We only have five more days to prepare our hearts to receive our Lord and Savior.  

Are you ready?

And now before you go, here’s the great Advent hymn, O Come, O Come Emmanuel. Click here.   

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

With love, 

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer 

Bishop Robert Baron is an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and a regular contributor to the Magnificat  monthly liturgical magazine from which this article was selected for December 18th. p. 266