Tag Archives: advent

“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.

How?

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,

‘Jesus’

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

‘Jesus.’

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.

advent wonders 2020

10 Nov
an image of the priest, Zaharias

beginning Sunday 15 November my yearly series on Advent will be published here with a prologue.

‘angelic voices’ is the theme of 2020 advent wonders, and, in draft form, their 8 publishing dates are:

Friday, 4 December ‘a soft voice’

Monday, 7 December ‘a clear voice’

Friday 11 December ‘Mary’s voice’

Monday 14 December ‘ancestors’ voices

Friday 18 December ‘manger’s sounds’

Monday 21 December ‘lament’s cry’

Thursday 24 December ‘love’s voice’

Saturday 26 December ‘silence’

Angels are mentioned in only one of the above titles by design. These pieces look, move and, hopefully, will touch very familiar texts in a different form. Angelic voices, as a trope, a metaphor, is embedded in unexpected places throughout the Advent scriptures. From prophets to priests; from Micah to Zaharias; to Mary and Joesph, we hear. We hear sorrows and joy; lies and promises; cries and silences. People here speak as angels speak. Answers, promises, warnings and directions are in these angelic voices. All speak.

And sometimes there are also silences.

Yet, what all these voices have in common is God and his love through, to and within his word. His voice is love, angelic love, and in this Advent we hear, experience, live his love

1 John 4:19 ‘We love because he gets loved us.

We love because his angels always speak to us. They aways speak. Always.