Light (adj.): Advent Word 23 (Christmas Word)

The lectionary for Christmas Eve and Christmas is replete with references to light, used as a noun. Contrarian to the bitter end, however, I have chosen to write instead about light, the adjective. Jesus bids us,

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30, KJV)

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Covenant: Advent Word 22

Covenant, “a mutual compact to do our not do something; a contract” came to English (through Old French) from the Latin for “come together.” The Hebrew word used in the Old Testament means the same thing, but its root sense is “cutting” because covenants often involved blood sacrifice. Continue reading

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Ponder: Advent Word 21

August Rodin, “The Thinker” (1904)

Today’s assigned word–ponder–seems to give me the license to reflect on my own experiences of this year’s Advent Word project. I realize that extended autobiography is neither the intended end nor means of the daily assignments. However, with all apologies Lesley Gore, it’s my blog and I’ll bloviate if I want to.

If I were asked in a job interview to enumerate my strengths, pondering would not be among them. If Rodin were planning a new and female version of The Thinker, he would not choose me as a model. As empirical evidence, this semester I took a yoga class two days a week and skipped out before the meditation part at the end–making the plausible excuse that I had to get dressed for my 9:00 class. Continue reading

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Quench: Advent Word 20

Gustave Doré, “Ezra Reads the Law to the People” (1866)

When I saw today’s word, I immediately knew exactly what my subject would be. In order to provide context for my ideas, I began an Internet search that led me not only to Wikipedia and Britannica, but also to sites as far-ranging as the Jewish Virtual Library and The Bible Journey. In scurrying to discover “just the facts, ma’am,” I confess that I was not nearly so meticulous about documenting my sources as I encourage my students to be. Thus, I begin with two caveats: I cannot tell you precisely where I got the individual details in the timeline that follows, nor do I even vouch for the accuracy of its specifics. However, as I have written often (most recently just eight days ago), fact and truth are distinguished by the valuational element of the latter. If I have erred factually, I apologize. I do believe utterly, however, that the Truth I have discovered in today’s word is valuable indeed—beyond facts or even words. Continue reading

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Laughter: Advent Word 19

SOURCE: Bernstein, Jüdische Sprichwörter und Redensarten. (Image: with apologies to Michelangelo.)

According to a Yiddish proverb, “Man plans, and God laughs”–or, in Woody Allen’s famous paraphrase, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.” It was this thought that first came to my mind as I pondered today’s word, laughter. Continue reading

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Dream: Advent Word 18

From the Parma Psalter

Psalm 126
A Song of Ascents

1 When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
then were we like those who dream.
2 Then was our mouth filled with laughter,
and our tongue with shouts of joy.
3 Then they said among the nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”
4 The Lord has done great things for us,
and we are glad indeed.
5 Restore our fortunes, O Lord,
like the watercourses of the Negev.
6 Those who sowed with tears
will reap with songs of joy.
7 Those who go out weeping, carrying the seed,
will come again with joy, shouldering their sheaves.

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Give (Thanks): Advent Word 17

The epistle reading for Advent III provides the source for today’s word: Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). Continue reading

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Repair: Advent Word 16

Context îs everything. Each day as I ponder my contribution for the Advent Word ministry, I like to check to see how my initial ideas conform to the scripture from which the day’s word was chosen. So today, my first thought was that most discussions would probably focus on our need to repair ourselves–personal habits, behaviors, and relationships–a penitential kind of reparation as preparation appropriate to the discipline of Advent.

But then I turned to the scriptural reference and found an entirely different focus, one that fits very well with the most important themes I have been pondering in my daily posts. Continue reading

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Rejoice: Advent Word 15

Today is Gaudete Sunday, named for the Latin rejoice. The other three candles on the Advent wreath are purple, symbolizing penitential preparation for the coming of Jesus. However, today’s candle is pink to remind us of the entire purpose of the Christian liturgy and the Gospel message—rejoicing in the Lord. Continue reading

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Begin: Advent Word 14

Mark 1:1, the scripture from which today’s Advent Word was taken, is a mere preface: “The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ.” In the verses that follow, Mark pinpoints that beginning in a passage from Isaiah about the “voice of one crying in the wilderness”–John the Baptist.

I would like to differ slightly with Mark. My favorite service in the entire church year is the Festival of Lessons and Carols. whose narrative locates in Genesis a more remote beginning for that good news we await during Advent. Continue reading

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