Archive | December, 2020

I walk

31 Dec


5 Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;

2 And walk in love,

my, lord, walk , walk in love

27 Dec

advent wonders 8, Boxing Day 2020, muted voices

26 Dec

Tim Keller, ‘wonder is involuntary praise, joy…wonder, even for 15 minutes each day, to develop praise’ Isaiah 9:1 – 7 ( 12/23/07 )

As we, I, finish ‘advent wonders 2020’, I cannot help but see how this season has been a silent season, a time of voices being muted.
Mute comes from the Greek, myein “to be shut.”
Some writers see muted speech as the powerful expressions of total emotions. Emily Dickinson wrote the “best grief is tongueless,” and Thomas Wolfe defined mute as “choking exasperation and wordless shame.”

As I write this day, the news reports are laced with stories of the pandemic virus Covid-19 mutating in London, South Africa and France. Mutation occurs when one life form is ‘shut down/off’ and another begins. In this time of seemingly endless lockdowns, fractured economies and where breathes are taken and deaths given, living hopes wane.

And yet, … Jesus’ birth story is one of voices, songs, angelic words of eternal hope: a prophecy, the Messianic prophecy fulfilled.

For over 400 years before Jesus’ birth the voice of the prophets in Israel were muted, silent. The people longed to hear God’s words, his voice. But there was nothing.
Silences. Silence.

And then … and then, angels speak: they speak to the elder priest Zechariah; to the virginal teen Mary; they speak to Joseph and Magi in dreams; they speak, sing, to shepherds in fields. And the spirit speaks also, to Anna the Prophetess and to the waiting elderly Simeon in the temple.

There is an after story, a Boxing Day story, to Advent: we are all to speak, sing, shout, as shepherds who function as angelic messengers, for,

when the angels had left them and gone into heaven, shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

In, for all advents, we are to speak to one another; go to our Bethlehems; see him deeply and worship. We are to sing Jesus’ name, as Joseph did that first advent.

And as we return to our everyday after this Christmas, let us glorify and praise God for,

‘For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given, Isaiah 9:6

Jesus, our Messiah is given. And so, shepherds, angels, peoples sing.

I sing- Jesus. I sing Jesus. Jesus.

our lovely Christmas Eve, a night of 7 fishes

25 Dec

bottarga and sweet grape tomatoes

calamari and black ink squid pasta
salmon in a dill savour
diana and martha
Priscilla, Christmas crackers

his swaddling, his burial clothes, one clothe in this time when we may be, when we may not see, when we may grieve, a lost one and we are, alone, but, but, a wonder – one,

24 Dec

advent wonders 7, from Mark 15 and from Luke 2,
‘And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”’

Jesus is at his death moment, alone. On a cross, tortured, flayed, only one person recognises this moment. One. A centurion, a Roman centurion. And this moment calls up another, the night of Jesus’ birth., a starry filled, angel lit night.

‘And it came to pass, in their being there, the days were fulfilled for her bringing forth, and she brought forth her son — the first-born, and wrapped him up, and laid him down in the manger, because there was not for them a place in the guest-chamber. ‘ YLT

Jesus is borne with only his earthly family, Mary and Joseph. Surrounded not by people in a house, but in an animal shelter, placed in a manger. Joseph, Mary are the only ones with him. And the guest-chamber’s animals. But… soon, soon, there will be many; various visitors and worshipers. Soon he will not be alone. Soon, shepherds and angels and Magii will come. Groups of people to see, witness, and attend to Jesus’ birth. 
Other groups of people, though, will come later and led Jesus to his death, his cross. They come not for life, but to call for death.
Very early in the morning, the chief priests, with the elders, the teachers of the law and the whole Sanhedrin, made their plans. So they bound Jesus, led him away and handed him over to Pilate.

Are you the king of the Jews?”asked Pilate.

“You have said so,” Jesus replied.

The chief priests accused him of many things…’

The elders and the teachers, the whole company of the Sanhedrin cry against him. Angels hear. We hear. 

Now it was the custom at the festival to release a prisoner whom the people requested. A man called Barabbas was in prison with the insurrectionists who had committed murder in the uprising. The crowd came up and asked Pilate to do for them what he usually did.

Do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews?” …But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have Pilate release Barabbas instead.’

The crowd calls for a murder’s release, and Jesus death. Many who probably a week earlier cried ‘Hosanna’ now ask for Barabbas life, not Jesus’. 

Our Saviour moves closer to complete aloneness. But he still will grow in this experience, in suffering. 

‘The soldiers led Jesus away into the palace (that is, the Praetorium) and called together the whole company of soldiers….Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him…’

Jesus is surrounded in an open space that is filled with mocking soldiers, Romans. He could not be more alone, confined, abandoned.

He could not be more solitary.

‘They crucified two rebels with him, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads …. In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” … Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him….’

‘With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last. 

The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God.’

With a cry beyond words, as a new born’s cry, Jesus dies. Yet, yet, there another’s cry, a lone centurion. So, surely….

And I m, I, join with this unnamed centurion, this man who has witnessed multitude of deaths; who leads crucifixion squads, who has killed – this man cries ‘life’ – Jesus is surely life. The Messiah.

His voice this day echoes the night songs of shepherds and the angels; Mary and Joseph’s. Jesus’ life, and his death, sing. This is his song, Jesus, 

who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together 

with Him. 1 Thessalonians 5:10


But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5: 8

Advent in 2020, as in all time past and all time to come, can only make heart, mind, and spirit sense in looking at both his birth alongside his death. Jesus’ birth and his death are one, one cry, one song.


christmas 2020, 2 pictures, and one video

22 Dec

two pictures, 39 years apart, tell Priscilla&Charlie’s one life together. 2020 is a year of masks: coverings to keep the virus out, peoples, even friends and families, socially distant, our emotions within. So, this Christmas letter is written to let you all in, in two paragraphs, two pictures, two moments. para1: a snowy day in November we wed in Fordham Manor Church in the Bronx. Priscilla had light pink roses in he hair; we bought her dress together at the little shoppe. I wore a blue pin stripped suit and we served cake and tea and coffees after the ceremony. I invited a small group of friends and family; Priscilla sent out two hundred invites. She wanted a local church so a number of the elderly women who lived in the area could attend. She arranged the transport for them, to and from. Kind, gentle, thoughtful of the unseen, Priscilla. I like to think we married that day because I saw her and she sees me.

and in 1981

When I first met Charlie,I saw his soft brown eyes and heard his unmistakable laughter. Often we drank tea and shared Linzer raspberry cookies at the Tibbett Diner. We talked and dreamed there. It was our hideaway. We still sit there and do our bible study. It’s about three blocks from our house in the Bronx. How grateful I am in this season of uncertainty to know that God has kept us; that He remains the same. May God Bless and keep you all. Merry Christmas Charlie and Priscilla
Hebrews 13:8 “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

and a grandchild

a hero

advent wonders 6, songs for angels as they, we, journey

21 Dec

My wife, Priscilla, sang Mary’s song in our church when she told me, and loved others, she was pregnant with our first child. A Lupus survivor in her thirties, no one, not even herself, could believe we were having a child. Moved, with her angelic voice and a 12 string guitar she sang Mary’s song,
My soul glorifies the Lord
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
49 for the Mighty One has done great things(for me— Luke 1: 47 – 49

Angels visit, speak, call, exclaim In the Old and New Testaments. Their words are never actually called ‘song.’

But their appearances always are poetic. And Poetic songs, words result. Appearances that from angels inspire song. From Hagar’s response to her Angel visit, ‘the God who sees sees me.’; ( Genesis 16:13 ) to Mary’s song, and to how she sang ( I believe ) with Joseph as they traveled to Bethlehem, …. In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world…. And everyone went to their own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.’ ( Luke 2 )

What did Mary and Joseph say to each, how did they speak, sing to each other and to their baby?
I think they spoke and sang Psalms: David’s songs and words; his prophecies and prayers.
And then, warmed by the hot breathes of the manger animals, ….
I think they sang these words from Psalm 2,
‘ I will proclaim the decree of the LORD:
He said to me, ‘You are my Son;
today I have become your Father.’
8Ask of me,
and I will make the nations your inheritance,
the ends of the earth your possession.’

This is the first of David’s Messiah songs. Mary and Joseph would have heard, sang it in synagogues. They would had been thinking of David as they entered Bethlehem, his hometown.
And then, in the midst of their son’s birth night, angels appear to them, through the shepherds who enter into the borrowed manger. The shepherds would proclaim the angelic words which surely echoed as they quickly ran through the night to this animal manger. What were these words?

First, from a solitary Angel,

‘I bring you good news at will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

…and then from a great Angel company,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2: 10 – 14

El Roi, the God who sees and hears. He sees all. He sees Hagar and Mary; he sees Priscilla and Charles. He has his angels visit shepherds. He is a God who loves to sing, as the prophet tells us,

The Lord your God is with you,
the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
but will rejoice over you with singing.’ Zephaniah 3: 17

Mary, angels, shepherds sing because the God of the universe first sang over us.We can sing, because He sings.
This Advent, sing.

“Joseph, listens, speaks, sings” – advent wonders, 5

17 Dec

Joseph’s song, his one word song,

St Joseph with the Christ Child in His Arms– by Guido Ren

‘This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.’

‘“But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:

“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).

When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.’ Matthew 1

It is, and has always been, easily noted that Joseph never speaks verbally in the Gospels. Yet, he does. Here, he does not just speak, he sings.


Joseph’s song is in his thoughts and heart as he listens to Mary’s narrative on how she came with this child; his lyrics are his plan to put Mary away, quietly, without shame; his music is in his dream when the Angel tells him to take Mary as his wife. And his builders’ hands forms, creates, a heavenly and an earthly family.

But this is not the family song he believed Mary and he would together sing. It ,though, is the hymn their Lord his heaven them, and handed to Joseph.

The hymn is the name, the person, of Jesus.

Jesus’ character is formed by the Lord’s placing of this, his son, in Mary’s and Joseph’s hands. We see his earthly character forming in his choices. Jesus chooses disciples and friends like Joseph, like his mother Mary, his family- working men and women. Fishermen and builders; caring women and mothers who design households. I can imagine their songs as they work. But …

What then is Joseph’s song? We know Mary’s song, but what of Joseph’s?

His song is love. A love freely given, first to Mary. But then taken from him as her hears of Mary’s pregnancy. Yet, this love is restored to him, through him, and not just for him. It is also for us. He first hears it from the angel in a dream. Then he acts, Joseph moves, he sings.

Joseph’s singing is in his actions, his considering, his taking, and his giving. Joseph’s song is one word. It is the first only word we know for sure he speaks. It is Jesus. Joseph’s song is Jesus. The angel gives Joseph task, the naming of Jesus. Mary listens as Joseph names, sings. This is how she knows Joseph believes, accepts her pregnancy story. This is how she knows her Joseph still loves her.

Joseph gives, calls, speaks and sings this child Jesus. He names, he sings, love. Joseph sings,


My prayer, Lord, this Advent, please help me sing as Joseph, help me to act, sing, love,


advent wonders 4, Luke sings

14 Dec

Luke- advent wonders 5, “too” Luke asks, listens, hears

‘Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first  were eyewitnesses  and servants of the word. With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.’ Luke 1: 1-4

Luke, a Gospel author and the narrator/and an actor of, in Acts, is an active listener. He probably learned and practiced deep hearing   (  at least in part ) by within his profession as a physician. How?
 He listens to hearts and minds. He talks with Mary Jesus’ mother and Peter; he speaks with Theophilus and the women who stood by Jesus’ grave. He asks; he listens: he hears. He reads others too: Mark and Matthew; Peter and John.  And then he writes for all, 

Luke hears Mary’s heart, 

 ‘But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.’
and from Simeon’s m, ‘Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts.’ 27…
Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

‘…the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed’
Luke’s birth narrative of Jesus is laced with phrases about ‘hearts and minds.’ That is the meaning of his introductory phrase, ‘With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.’‘
Lukedesires hearts and minds to be settled, certain about Jesus. His is. It is settled by seeking, investigating, organising. Transforming.

Paul in his letter to the Romans speaks of being ‘transformed’ by the renewing to our nous’ ( Greek ) Or — our minds and hearts. This how the Greeks understood their innermost thinking: a deeply continuous inner dialogue beteeen our emotions ( hearts ) an our minds. Nous.
That is what Mary is experiencing; what Zechariah sits in silence found; what Thephilus is asking for. And this what Luke is ‘ordering’ in writing: nous 
And this is why Jesus comes. He comes to speak to hearts and minds. To Tax Collectors and Pharisees; to Saducces and prostitutes; to children and the unwell. To a paralytic,
from Mark 2

When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”( Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves,“Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? 

Jesus loves us even though, actually, because of what we are thinking and feeling. He loves our Nous so that came to transform. Yes, he physically heals the paralytic. But first, Jesus heals his hear and mind, 

“Son, your sins are forgiven.”

This is is what Luke is writing; what Theophilus has been taught. This is Luke’s Advent song.

Luke sings with Mary and Zechariah; with Matthew and Mark. And what is his song?

Transforming forgiveness and nous renewal. Luke sings Jesus’ song: love for hearts and minds.

And he still sings. Sing.

Mary’s song, advent wonders – 3 – ‘how’ – how they, we, sing

8 Dec

Mary sings her song, our Magnificat, immediately after hearing Elisabeth’s ‘loud voice,’

At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her! “

Six months with child, a much older woman has her distant teen/age relative come to her, and then both speak, both sing. Luke tells us that Elisabeth’s voice was ‘exclaiming’, – ‘loud’ – Zechariah, Elisabeth’s silent priest husband, must have her her. And I silence he had to also her Mary’s response, our song,

And Mary said:

“My soul glorifies the Lord
47     and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,
48 for he has been mindful
    of the humble state of his servant.

( just as Mary ponders the Angel Gabriel’s visit and words, God is mindful of her, and therefore us )

From now on all generations will call me blessed, 
49     for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
    holy is his name. 

( Holy. Zechariah will only have his speech returned after he writes ‘John’  when asked to what his new born d

Child’s name is to be. The neighbours would not listen to Elisabeth when she first said ‘his name is John.’ But they will listen to a silent priest. Why? Names given, bestowed, gifted into us are holy. Zechariah and Elisabeth in belief will name John. Then a priest will, in obedient faith, speak, sign again, And Mary will name her son Jesus. Then, Holy will be his name, and holy will be our coming new names, the hidden manna, written for eternally on white stones. Revelation 2: 17 )

50 His mercy extends to those who fear him from generation to generation.

51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.

( As we will lift him – with our praise songs and prayers; with our eyes open and closed in prayers. Mindful of Jesus; He is always hearing us as sing. We are his angels, his song. )

53 He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
55 to Abraham and his descendants forever,
just as he promised our ancestors.”

( And as he promises for us. ) And, 

Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.

Mary leaves before John’s birth. Her song, though, echoes, resounds through peoples, years, through hearts.

She still sings.