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.

angelic words, angelic songs — Zechariah’s silence; Zechariah’s song – advent wonders – 2 of 8

4 Dec
angelic words


Who, what are angels? I may as well ask, who, or what am I? A husband and father. A teacher and a principal? Or a grandfather? A Writer?
Have what I have done, or may do in the future, define who I am? No. I think not.
I believe I am formed, defined, by what I truly, fully hear. Words, sights, sounds I open to, absorb shape, have shaped my life. Bruised fruit shapes other fruit it comes in contact with. Abuse can bred more hurt. Love seeds greater loves. Life sends me words, feelings, hurts and desires…. messages.

Angels are life’s messengers. Wikipedia tells us that the name, the itself word comes from the medieval Latin masculine name Angelus, which is derived from the Greek word ἄγγελος (angelos) meaning “messenger”. Their name defines them, as an agent, a speaker for God. And how we, others hear them, define us. Defines me. Zechariah is the first person to hear a biblical angel in over 400 years. How he hears, speaks of how we hear today, this advent. 
Luke’s gospel narrative begins with the angel, Gabriel, coming, coming, to speak, 

“ Once when Zechariah’s division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshipers were praying outside. Then an angel of appeared … When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid,Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born.

He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.” The angel said to him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at the their appointed time.” Luke 1

A priest who cannot speak? Who cannot sing or pray? Who can not read the scriptures? Who can only now hear his own inner voice asking over and over, “How can I be sure?” 

How can I know? 

Gabriel tells him: on the day this happens; at this appointed time; you will see, feel the truth of my words. Then believe.

And then John is born. And then Zechariah hears. And this silent priest now sings. Sings this song of praise, this prayer for us, to Luke, to Jesus, 

“He asked for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s astonishment he wrote, “His name is John.”Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue set free, and he began to speak, praising God.All the neighbors were filled with awe, and throughout the hill country of Judea people were talking about all these things. Everyone who heard this wondered about it, asking, “What then is this child going to be?” For the Lord’s hand was with him.”

Zechariah’ angelic song

‘Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,
because he has come to his people and redeemed them.
69 He has raised up a horn of salvation for us
in the house of his servant David
70 (as he said through his holy prophets of long ago),
71 salvation from our enemies
and from the hand of all who hate us—
72 to show mercy to our ancestors
and to remember his holy covenant,
73 the oath he swore to our father Abraham:
74 to rescue us from the hand of our enemies,
and to enable us to serve him without fear
75 in holiness and righteousness…”

From silence to song, from unbelief to faith, a priest sings as angel. He hears and sings at the right moment, the appointed time. Zechariah sings.

And as we hear, so will we sing angelic songs.

This advent sing of Him, His wonders, sing His life song.

Sing as an angel. Sing.

a tent

3 Dec
sarah’s tent

from Genesis 24, “Then the servant told Isaac all he had done. 67 Isaac brought her into the tent of his mother Sarah, and he married Rebekah. So she became his wife, and he loved her; and Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.”

in sarah’s home, her tent, a palace of rich fabrics, soft fabrics, generous

loving and painful moments, where her child, her one & only child – Issac, was

conceived in faith, within her old age, & with,

with Abraham’s broken,

ruined

body,

after hearing of the coming promise it is her tent, within it and herself, she laughs 

inwardly at the Lord God’s promise, yet, yet

after hearing,

she invites her husband, Abraham, to leave his tent once more, & to once again, & to enter hers, it

is all she has to

give … to give…

Issac, sarah loves Issac; she is his home, dying, she leaves him this, her

tent, 

her beauty, her life & when Issac weds Rebekah, it is here & sarah, though

passed,

blesses him, her, them with a faith, a covering, a tent

advent wonders, angelic voices, the smallest, the first song

30 Nov
Bethlehem’s hills

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me
one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old,…
from ancient times.

“He will stand and shepherd his flock
in the strength of the Lord,
In the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.
And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great
to the ends of the earth.
5 And he shall be their peace. “ Micah 5: 2 -4

I have walked the hills and fields surrounding Bethlehem and in the town itself. The people there are Palestinians thru and through.  All places, for me, are composed of their peoples. Here, the fields have its shepherds, flocks and farmers; the town its small businesses and restaurants. Merchants and tourists walk together here. Bethlehem is a place one should pass by and not stop at. But I didn’t. 
Bethlehem’s peoples love to speak. A friend shared with me that they were people of ‘tent’; and people who love to gossip, ‘ who speak as the winds, always moving, blowing.’ 
Bethlehem, before Jesus, spoke in the softest, the gentlest of voices. Micah, a prophet ( grouped with others called by academics, the ‘lesser prophets’ ) speaks God’s, words, calld to us. Less calls to, speaks of less. And I am of the least. I walk.
In my thoughts, my memories, my life, I am small, really somewhat insignificant. Forgotten, rejected, betrayed by others and myself, I – in truth – grow smaller with time and peoples. Yet, in Bethlehem-
I am as a sheep on a hill, in a pasture. Precious to my shepherd as I stand, as I walk.
Advent is a time of unspoken expectations; silenced worries and concerns. For me these moments, these Advent times, have always been laced with sadness. Visually, trees have let go of their leaves; dark nights come as days let light fade. And in 2020 people await a vaccine, a small liquid to cure an invisible and even smaller virus. We wait for a saving, a cure: a return of, to peace.
Israel, Bethlehem also waited. And Jesus came. 
He came as a baby, the softest and smallest of things that can be held. He came into a broken marriage that needed resurrection. He came to the smallest of towns, Bethlehem, from the most broken of worlds. Why?

He came to give a physical form to prophet’s words; Jesus came to listen those silenced and to those self-silenced; he came to speak for the sinner and the meek. And he, Jesus, still comes. And Micah’s soft angelic prophetic voice sings


‘Who is a God like you,
who pardons sin and forgives the transgression
of the remnant of his inheritance?
You do not stay angry forever
but delight to show mercy.
19 You will again have compassion on us;
you will tread our sins underfoot
and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.
20 You will be faithful to Jacob,
and show love to Abraham,
as you pledged on oath to our ancestors
in days long ago.’

Jesus comes with Micah’s whisper,

He faithfully trends, covers all sin, hurts. He hurls diseases away.


Walk with him, me, others this Advent.
Advent comes. Jesus has been, is and will always be faithful to his promise embedded in Bethlehem of his birth: my sins and sadness; my rejections and betrays. Silences and my own sins and self-silencing is gone.
Trampled underfoot, hurled away, my sins no longer shout unto me.

In Advent comes the softest of sounds, the silence of peace, ‘forgiveness.’
Advent wonders: songs, mercy, forgiveness.

this is the first of 8 meditations of Advent wonders, our next one will be published 7 December

‘quick, angelic voices, advent wonders 2020 – a prologue

28 Nov
Rembrandt

Advent has always been a time of ‘quickness’”,’ a quick season. People, presents, preparations. All has to be done quickly. Even more so for this 2020.

For 2020 ‘haste’ is what is greatly desired: a quick end to lockdowns; a smooth transition in political manners, leadership; fast ‘black friday’ deal shoppings; and, especially, a quick vaccine to end the Coronavirus, A quick passing to this year of virus, for Black Lives Matter deaths, to immigration global injustices, this economic recession, and our own isolations from others. And especially from ourselves.

Advent 2020 is a time to see and be seen; to hear and be heard; and a time sing with angels. To sing angelically.

How will I sing this Advent Season?

By reading, meditating, and conversing with God’s word and other others around me. And especially myself.

And I am to do it quickly. So, Three ‘quick’ Bible passages for us today,

• Luke 15:22 NIV – the Prodigal’s father first word his returning son hears from his father’s is ‘quick.’

Genesis 18: 6 NIV

• Father Abraham, to his soon to be in-with -child wife Sarah, he speaks-‘quick’ for her to prepare a meal for 3 heaven sent visitors. And, David-

• Psalm 38: 22 ‘Haste to help me, O Lord, my salvation’ YLT or another translation

‘Come quickly to help me, my Lord and my Savior.’ NIV

What is striking in common in these three passages is the desire to serve, to hear, and to then act ‘quickly’ in the Lord’s presence, or his seemingly absence. David, Abraham and our Prodigal Father are all quick and respond to God with spirit led haste. How?

The Prodigal Father stops his son’s apology in mid-sentence. Speaking to his servants who followed him to the son’s return, he commands, ‘Quick!’ He desires a ring, a robe and a fatted calf meal for the lost. His word is an act. This father runs, embraces, loves and forgives ‘quickly.’ He wants his servants to have loving and quick hands.

Abraham, though, does not have his servants feed, water or prepare a meal for his heavenly sent visitors. His and Sarah’s hands act. He gives cool water in the heat of the day; Sarah bakes a fine meal. And they do so from the love of God that has been quickened in their hearts.

In the same spirit, David sings his prayer of his heart’s desire and need to feel his Lord God. Here, David’s voice is as quick as hands touching his musical instrument. Haste ( present tense )

Sound, as hands, reach out to his Lord asking, pleading for a quick God.

My prayer: as we begin Advent 2020, Lord let me, let us, pray with hands and heart. May our voice be as an Angel’s to you and others. Please, come.

Come quickly our generous Lord. Come.

Amen.

Genesis’ Abram, Phillip Pullman, author, Dust ( His Dark Materials ) and CS Lewis’ Narnia, part 2, listening

25 Nov

from part 1

‘Dust in Abram’s walk parallels his attentive look, his call by his God to see, the uncountable stars. ( Genesis 15 ) Each star, each particle, each seed is a new world. We just have ‘walk’ to see, walk to understand, to grow.

Consciousness in these texts come from dust, stars, and from seeing. And from these new worlds of consciousness come life.’

from Genesis 15,

5 “He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars – if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”

6 Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.”

Abram/Abraham is being built by the Lord. Slowly, ever so slowly, the Lord God develops his servant into an acute and active listener. What, how is Abram/Abraham growing in his abilities to hear? to see and to feel? to understand? Abram sees God as the Lord actively and totally listens to him. Abram moves to becoming Abraham, the complete and finished father of stars and dust, nations, by experiencing how God listens to him: to Abram’s thoughts, spoken and unspoken; to his fears and desires and his anxieties; and to Abraham’s faithful loving actions. And to Abram/Abraham’s failings.

In Genesis 17: 3 Abraham falls ‘face down’ ( his mouth and eyes touching, covering the dust that he had walked earlier ) as God explains how Abraham will father many nations.

And in Genesis 17: 17 – 20

Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to himself, “Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?” 18 And Abraham said to God, “If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!” 19 Then God said, “Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him. 20 And as for Ishmael, I have heard you: I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers.”

God hears both the spoken and unspoken. As we grow in seeing how God listened to Fathers, Mothers and children of the past, we listen well.

By dust, Abram/Abraham grows. By dust and stars Abraham learns, sees and understand, how the Lord hears him. Verse 20 underscores this when after the Lord voices Abraham’s inner speech with complete answers, he says to Abraham, ‘And as for Ishmael, I have heard you: I will surely bless him; …’

Abraham heard because God first hears him. And we hear as He first heard us, hears our prayers, spoken and unspoken.

Walk this day with Him; see stars and dust. Be conscious of Narnia and Dark Materials. Hear, see, be with him.

the lovely, priscilla

24 Nov
slippers
her flowers

Genesis’ Abram, Phillip Pullman, author, Dust ( His Dark Materials ) and CS Lewis’ Narnia, part 1

23 Nov

Phillip Pullman lives in Oxford and in a real sense the opposite of another Oxford resident, CS Lewis. Lewis is champion of Christianity; Pullman is an avowed opponent. Yet, they have more in common than an Oxford life: both have written loved children books in series – ‘His Dark Materials’ and for Lewis, the Narnia narratives. Worlds, alternative lands, ‘dust’ are the settings of each of their series. And they use ‘dust’ to serve as connective tissue in their imaginative universes.

Pullman described ‘Dust’ in a 2017 interview as “an analogy of consciousness, and consciousness is this extraordinary property we have as human beings”.

And,

“Dust came into being when living things became conscious of themselves; but it needed some feedback system to reinforce it and make it safe, as the mulefa had their wheels and the oil from the trees. Without something like that, it would all vanish. Thought, imagination, feeling, would all wither and blow away, leaving nothing but a brutish automatism; and that brief period when life was conscious of itself would flicker out like a candle in every one of the billions of worlds where it had burned brightly.” — The Amber Spyglass, Chapter 34

Dust here is created when we are conscious of we. And we use this dust, along with consciousness of any type, if we don’t create and recreate with it.

CS Lewis has no desire to create a detailed world with Narnia. Lewis wants only to create a brief illusion of some extra dimension. ( or Dust ) And, in at least one reported conversation shows, he was indifferent to breaches of internal consistency in the stories. His good friend, the poet Ruth Pitter, challenged him about how the Beaver family in The Lion manage to produce potatoes for their meal with the children, given the wintry conditions that had prevailed for most of living memory; not to mention oranges, sugar and suet for the marmalade roll.

Yet a world is created, a new garden paradise where sin is overcome by love. Narnia is CS Lewis’ Canaan and Dust is Pullman’s paradise. In one evil and wrong is when consciousness is being stifled and disconnected; in the other awareness of a child’s innocence ( the forgiveness and rescue Edmund ) is is preserved by Aslan’s self-sacrificing love. Sin here is forgiven, then forgotten. In Pullman’s works ‘sin’ is the lost consciousness, forgetting.

Both these series call to mind the journey of Abram from place to place; from being Abram to becoming Abraham. Dust connects Abram from world to worlds. And he walks to get there, growing in consciousness, covering in dust, as he walks. As in here,in Genesis 12,

The Call of Abram

12 The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.

2 “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” 4 So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Harran. 5 He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Harran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there. 6 Abram traveled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. 7 The Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the Lord, who had appeared to him.”

Abram travels to an unknown land to grow in knowing himself and his God. The God who created the first man, Adam, out of dust is now using this same dark material to reform Abram, and also his descendants, us.

Genesis 13 continues Abram’s story,

‘But the land ( the dust ) could not support them while they stayed together, for their possessions were so great that they were not able to stay together. “The Lord said to Abram after Lot had parted from him, “Look around from where you are, to the north and south, to the east and west. 15 All the land ( dust )that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever. 16 I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted. 17 Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you.” 18 So Abram went to live near the great trees of Mamre at Hebron, where he pitched his tents. There he built an altar to the Lord.”

Dust in Abram’s walk parallels his attentive look, his call by his God to see, the uncountable stars. ( Genesis 15 ) Each star, each particle, each seed is a new world. We just have ‘walk’ to see, walk to understand, to grow.

Consciousness in these texts come from dust, stars, and from seeing. And from these new worlds of consciousness come life.

a passing

23 Nov

This week we saw the passing of a loved nephew at 39 years of age, Noah. He struggled in life, yet he was dearly loved in his life. His father shared at Noah’s passing service, his church service, that Noah at family gatherings always sat at the kids’ table. Mike said that now he understood that Noah sat there because he did not feel judged there.

Jesus in Luke 18 days,

Let the Children Come to Me

15 Now they were bringing even infantsto him that he might touch them. And whenthe disciples saw it, they prebuked them.16 But Jesus called them to him, saying, “Let the children come to me, and rdo not hinderthem, qfor to such belongs the kingdom ofGod. 17 sTruly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”’

Noah received as a child.

Lord help me to receive like him, like Noah this day, these days.

All days.