Calling the quarters for Advent

Hills of the North, Rejoice

Charles Ernest Oakley (1832-1865)

Hills of the North, rejoice,
river and mountain-spring,
hark to the advent voice;
valley and lowland, sing.
Christ comes in righteousness and love,
he brings salvation from above.

Isles of the Southern seas,
sing to the listening earth,
carry on every breeze
hope of a world’s new birth:
In Christ shall all be made anew,
his word is sure, his promise true.

Lands of the East, arise,
he is your brightest morn,
greet him with joyous eyes,
praise shall his path adorn:
your seers have longed to know their Lord;
to you he comes, the final word.

Shores of the utmost West,
lands of the setting sun,
welcome the heavenly guest
in whom the dawn has come:
he brings a never-ending light
who triumphed o’er our darkest night.

Shout, as you journey home,
songs be in every mouth,
lo, from the North they come,
from East and West and South:
in Jesus all shall find their rest,
in him the universe be blest.

Let’s talk about power

Christians, I think we need to have a talk about power, and in particular, the important distinction between domination and empowerment. Domination is power-taking, it works by crushing others down. The image that comes to mind is a black hole sun, that sucks up everything in its orbit. The second type is power-giving, especially to the powerless. It works by building people up. The image that comes to mind is a bright yellow sun, that radiates warmth and sustains life. Jesus adopted the mode of a servant, washing the feet of his disciples and lifting up downtrodden women as demonstrations of what real power was about. He was not lacking in power. He had power to share. And he encouraged them, dominant ones in particular, to see things with new eyes. The truly powerful one is the one who gives out of their abundance of power

A prayer for living the gospel

From the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council

God of yesterday, today and tomorrow,
we call to mind your presence within us and around us.

Open our ears that we may hear your Word.
Open our hearts that we may understand your Word.
Open our mouths that we may speak your World.

Inspire us with the Gospel message,
that we may celebrate all that is life-giving,
restore hope where it has been lost,
and work to bring about change where it is needed.

May we live the Gospel with courage, 
constancy and love.
May we be open to the challenge 
of your call to true freedom.
May we be faithful to you in our daily choices and decisions.
May we make your love known 
through our words and actions.

May the triune God reign in our hearts, now and forever.

Amen

Divinity and Gender in Christianity

I’d just like to float a few thoughts here related to divinity and gender in Christianity. Whilst I would affirm that God transcends gender, and assert such a view is completely biblical, based on texts like Genesis 1:27 and others, there’s no denying that the bible uses masculine metaphors for God more often than feminine ones. The question is though: masculine in relation to what? In more recent times a lot of folks have said: well, in relation to a goddess. But that’s not the impression I get from surveying Christian tradition. Rather, the answer from Christian tradition seems to be: in relation to the people of God. Now, the divine consort metaphors from the Bible are somewhat multivalent. Sometimes they seem to suggest Israel, other times the Church, other times Mary as the mother of the Church, other times the human soul, or even, the presence of the Spirit of God within the human heart. But in every case, the guiding metaphor seems to be a spiritual experience as a sacred marriage, with God being the initiator and us being the recipients. The language is often in terms of a bride and groom, or wife and husband. And nowhere is this more evident than in mystical interpretations of the Song of Songs. In light of this I find the introduction to John’s second letter quite suggestive: “To the Lady chosen by God and to her children, whom I love in the truth”. Now, such metaphors may not sit so comfortably with us today, given the implied hierarchy, but I wonder if they still have some relevance for us. After all, they require male church leaders to think of themselves as the bride.

Sick of Political Correctness?

I find myself disturbed when my efforts to exercise discipline over how I speak to others, and about others, is casually dismissed as “political correctness”. The brother of Jesus did after all urge us to tame our tongues. He wrote,

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.” (James 3:9-12)

Prayer to the Sacred Three

This prayer was sourced from a Forest Church liturgy at Brigid’s Mantle by Gelli Ma

Prayer to the Sacred Three 

Sacred Three, whose love spirals the Universe

I ask you to guide my footsteps 

To open my eyes, to reveal your presence

in the world that is your gift to me.

May the blessing of the Father be in 

the depth of earth, the stability of rock, 

the turning of the seasons

to hold and protect me.

May the blessing of the Christ be in

the life that springs forth from the earth

creatures, trees and plant life

companions in my journey

May the blessing of the Spirit be in 

the eddying waters, the zephyrs of air

the breath of God’s love 

to ward me and guide me.

Amen

When did Christians start meeting on a Sunday?

When did Christians start meeting on a Sunday? Many assume that it’s a tradition that arose centuries after the apostles. And yet evidence survives within the Bible itself that churches began meeting on the first day of the week soon after the resurrection of Jesus on the first day of the week.

For instance, in Acts 29:7 we are told, “On the FIRST DAY of the week, when we met to break bread, Paul was holding a discussion with them; since he intended to leave the next day, he continued speaking until midnight.”

And Paul himself writes, in 1 Corinthians 16:2, that “On the FIRST of every week, each of you is to put aside and save whatever extra you earn, so that collections need not be taken when I come.”

So gathering, breaking bread, talks, and taking up collections, all things which we practice on a Sunday today, were practiced by the earliest churches on that same day.