Monday, December 30, 2013

mary had a little lion
whose roar shall fall the foe
and everywhere the church might be
the lion is sure to go.

he follows her o’er land and sea
in search of souls to save
and everywhere the church proclaims
the life in love he gave.

mary had a little lion
whose mane was once stained red
that he might wash you white as snow
in blood for you he bled.

- chad bird


Friday, December 20, 2013

merry christmas!

"for unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given ..."


Thursday, December 19, 2013

winter devotion

(a winter devotion by Charles Spurgeon ...)

"Thou hast made summer and winter ..."   Psalm 74

My soul begins this wintry month with God. The cold snows and the piercing winds remind that He keeps his covenant day and night, and assures that he will also keep that glorious covenant He has made in the person of Christ Jesus. He who is true to his Word in the revolutions of the seasons of this poor sin-polluted world, will not prove unfaithful in his dealings with his own well-beloved Son.

Winter in the soul is by no means a comfortable season, and if it be upon thee just now it will be very painful to thee. But there is this comfort, namely, that the Lord makes it. He sends the sharp blasts of adversity to nip the buds of expectation: he scattereth the hoarfrost like ashes over the once verdant meadows of joy: he casteth forth his ice like morsels freezing the streams of our delight. He does it all, he is the great Winter King, and rules in the realms of frost, and therefore thou canst not murmur. Losses, crosses, heaviness, sickness, poverty, and a thousand other ills, are of the Lord's sending, and come to us with wise design. Frosts kill noxious insects, and puts a bound to raging diseases; they break up the clods, and sweeten the soul. O that such good results would always follow our winters of affliction!

How we prize the fire just now! How pleasant is its cheerful glow! Let us in the same manner prize our Lord, who is the constant source of warmth and comfort in every time of trouble. Let us draw nigh to him, and in him find joy and peace in believing. Let us wrap ourselves in the warm garments of his promises, and go forth to labours which befit the season, for it were ill to be as the sluggard who will not plough by reason of the cold; for he shall beg in summer and have nothing.


Saturday, December 14, 2013

Thursday, December 12, 2013

st. lucia

December 13 marks the commemoration of St. Lucia, who was martyred in 304 AD. She met her death in Syracuse on the island of Sicily, one of the victims of the great persecution of Christians under the Roman emperor Diocletian. Known for her great charity, “Santa Lucia” gave away her dowry and remained a virgin until her execution by the sword. The name Lucia means “light,” and the festivals of light commemorating her life became quite popular throughout Europe, especially in Scandinavia. Her day of remembrance there corresponds with the time of year when there is the least amount of daylight. Lucia is often portrayed in a white baptismal gown, wearing a wreath of candles on her head. Lucia reminds us in this season to look to Jesus, the Light of the World.


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

On the surface of it, Advent is simply the church's four-week season to prepare for Christmas.
But we must recognize Advent in and of itself - not simply as the time to go Christmas shopping.

The themes of Advent are hope and expectation, watching and waiting for the Lord's coming. And in sharp contrast to the culture and the hysteria of the season, Advent points us forward by having us look back. Which is why it comes at the start of the church's calendar and not at the end.

Of course, on the surface, Advent beckons us to look back to the birth of Christ and to the events that led directly up to it. But it goes back much further than that.

Advent reminds us that before there can be "a new heaven and a new earth," there first has to be an earth. It reminds us that the same God who created and and redeemed all things is the same one who is coming back to restore the whole creation. That means that even the most mundane, ordinary, everyday things and people in our lives are extremely important and extraordinary.

Advent reminds us that "the fullness of time" we see in the incarnation of Christ fills all times and places with the fullness of His grace and truth.

Which is why during the Advent season we talk about the three comings of Jesus. His first coming as a baby born in Bethlehem, His coming into our lives today through Word and Sacrament, and His coming again on the last day to judge the living and the dead.

Advent is all about living in the tension of the "now and the not yet". Advent is all about reminding us that this "now and not yet" is really what time is all about.

So, we await the end by remembering the beginning. We remember the beginning by awaiting the end. And we live in the middle of everything in between.

Which means we don't have to live in fear, but in stillness and peace, awaiting the end by living in the here and now. To live in Advent time is to live with eyes open wide to what the present time has for us, with arms extended to love others as we have been loved by God.