Tag Archive for: Photo by KaLisa Veer on Unsplash

Day 23. Provocative Humility.

“Provocative Humility,” a Christmas message by Mary Pandiani, discusses the intersection of provocation and humility evidenced in the story of Christmas. The piece emphasizes the impact and importance of humility, love, and understanding in human interactions.

Christmas Eve

On Christmas Eve, we light the Christ candle signifying the birth of Jesus.

The Gospel of Luke

The Christmas Story

Luke 2:1-20

The Birth of Jesus

1 In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria.

3 All went to their own towns to be registered. 4 Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. 5 He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child.

 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

The Shepherds and the Angels

8 In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 

Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. 

12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” 13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. 

17 When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. 

20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

GLORY TO GOD

IN THE HIGHEST

HEAVEN

AND ON EARTH

PEACE

AMONG THOSE

WHOM HE FAVORS


Wrapping Up

By Debora Buerk
Editor, Here & Now
Selah Companion

Today is the last day of Advent, and our Advent series also concludes. On behalf of all of the writers, our executive director Mary Pandiani, and myself, thank you for following this special edition of the Here & Now blog. Look for us as we return to our once-weekly posting. 

We’d love your thoughts about this grown-up Advent Calendar and the Here & Now blog. If you’d like to stay in touch with the blog, then I recommend you “follow” this blog or, with your email, receive an email from us when a blog posts.

I pray your Christmas is holy and joyous and joy-filled. May you find time today and on Christmas to pause and know that you are also part of the Christmas story. Now that’s a gift worth savoring, better than chocolate! 

Look for a new post for New Year’s. Until then, Christmas blessings.
Debora

Fourth Week of Advent

FOURTH SUNDAY OF ADVENT, DAY 22

SCRIPTURE

Isaiah 7:10-16
Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19
Romans 1:1-7
Matthew 1:18-25

The Revised Common Lectionary

We light the fourth candle representing love on this final week of Advent.

GOD SHOWS UP

By Mary Pandiani
Executive Director
Selah Center

The Emmanuel Story
Luke 1:68-79

The Christmas story isn’t only about Jesus’ birth. It also involves all the other characters who make up the narrative of God’s story of Emmanuel – “God with Us.”

Zechariah, a priest for the Israelites, is one of those people. His story includes not believing God when his wife, Elizabeth, tells him after years of trying that she is pregnant with their son. As a result, he is struck mute and cannot communicate again until his son is born, and he names his son John (as in John the Baptist), the cousin of Jesus.


In Luke 1:68-79, the words of adoration and praise come from Zechariah in response to the birth of his son. Zechariah sees the faithfulness of God’s promise as a “new day is dawning” in verse 78. In the darkest places, God breaks through so that we might find ways of peace and freedom.


While I wouldn’t say I was struck mute in 2008 after a difficult decision to leave a position I enjoyed for a number of years. I did lose the voice I once had in people’s lives. I was in a dark place, searching for identity and worth, apart from the vocation that once defined me.


Eventually, I recognized God’s invitation to live into a “new day” of freedom only God provides, not other people or positions. In that place, I began to name the life God has always held for me. My Emmanuel story continues to encourage me today. I have a voice because of the God who is with me, not for any other reason.

.
God shows up in light and dark places of our life, whether we recognize God or not. So whatever place you might find yourself during this Advent season, know that the Emmanuel story is part of your story just as it is for me and as it was for Zechariah.

God is with you. Emmanuel.

GOD SHOWS

UP IN LIGHT

AND DARK
 
PLACES

OF OUR
 
LIFE,

WHETHER

WE 

RECOGNIZE

GOD 

OR NOT.

Third Week of Advent

THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT

Day 15

Scripture
Isaiah 35:1-10
Psalm 146:5-10 or
Luke 1:46b-55
James 5:7-10
Matthew 11:2-11

The Revised Common Lectionary

On this third Sunday of Advent, we light the Rose Candle representing joy. This Sunday is also known as Gaudete Sunday (Latin).

The Advent Wreath

By Debora Buerk,
Editor, Here & Now,
Selah Companion

The Advent wreath originated among German Lutherans in the sixteenth century. However, it was not until three centuries later that the modern Advent wreath took shape, thanks to German protestant pastor Johann Hinrich Wichern (1808-1881). Along with Wichern’s wreath came the tradition of lighting candles during Advent worship services. 

Pastor Wichern’s wreath consisted of a large wooden ring (made from an old cartwheel) with twenty small red candles and four large white candles. The small red candles were lit during the week, the white candles on Sundays.

While the form of the Advent wreath changed over time, the tradition of lighting candles during Advent spread throughout Germany and beyond Lutheranism. The Advent wreath expanded into the western Church and took hold in the United States during the 1930s. 

Symbolism. Advent wreaths are circular, representing God’s infinite love, and are usually made of evergreen leaves, expressing the hope of eternal life Jesus brings. 

Hope


Peace


Joy


Love

Within the wreath, four prominent candles represent the four weeks of the Advent season. Collectively, the candles symbolize the light of God coming into the world through the birth of Jesus. 

The colors of the candles have their significance. In the Western Christian church, violet is the liturgical color for three of the four Sundays of Advent. Rose is the liturgical color for the third Sunday of Advent. White is traditionally chosen for the Christ candle to represent the liturgical color for Christmas. 

The centerpiece of the wreath is a white candle, the Christ candle, to represent the arrival of Christmastide. Lit on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, the Christ candle is the fitting completion of Advent.

Traditionally, the candles stand for the Christian truths of hope (week one), peace (week two), joy (week three), and love (week four). 

The rose candle, lit on the third Sunday of Advent is also known as Gaudete Sunday—from the Latin meaning “rejoice, ye”—represents joy

May this third week of Advent be joy-filled for you.

Second Week of Advent

SECOND SUNDAY OF ADVENT
Day 8

Scriptures

Isaiah 11:1-10

Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19

Romans 15:4-13

Matthew 3:1-12

from The Revised Common Lectionary

Peace


God of peace,


Instill in us Your peace


That surpasses all understanding.


As we prepare for God’s coming,


Make us instruments of Your peace


And held us to find rest


In the Prince of Peace


Your Son, Jesus the Christ.


Amen.


ON THIS SECOND WEEK OF ADVENT, we light the candle of peace. A state of being that means tranquility, mental calm, and serenity. We bring our request before God in asking for peace, no matter what circumstances we find ourselves in. Christmas is typically a time of celebration and joyous expectations. 

Anticipating the Christ

By Debora Buerk
Editor, Here & Now
& Selah Companion

Advent.

[ˈadˌvent] (noun).

Old English, from the Latin

adventus ‘arrival’

and from advenire,

from ad- ‘to’ + venire ‘come’.

Synonyms: arrival,
birth, approach, nearing.

For Christians, Advent is a time spent preparing for Christmas. For many of us, this can include decorating our homes, putting up a Christmas tree, creating an Advent calendar, writing Christmas cards, gathering with family and friends for dinner, and giving gifts.  

The word Advent originates in Old English from the Latin word “adventus,” or “coming”—the arrival of God in human form, umbilical cord, and all. 

While some are tempted to think of Christmas as an event to be observed at the end of the calendar year, they would miss the origin and meaning of Advent.

We don’t know when the period of preparation for Christmas, now called Advent, began. It existed from about 480, with the Council of Tours in 567. What we know and celebrate is a time of preparation for Christmas Day, when we celebrate the birth or beginning of the Christian liturgical year. 

Advent anticipates the “coming of Christ” from three different perspectives:

  1. The physical Nativity in Bethlehem
  2. The reception of Christ in the heart of the believer
  3. The eschatological second coming 

This third meaning, I believe, was the focus of the early church—to wait for Christ’s second coming. This, however, has become downplayed among today’s Christians.

What if our focus

was to shift to waiting

for Christ’s

second coming?

What if our focus shifted to waiting, anticipating, and preparing for the King’s return to earth, the defeat of Satan and sin, and peace on earth? Now that would be something to anticipate and celebrate.

So this Advent season, as you decorate for Christmas, sing the carols, and light the advent wreath, try to anticipate—look forward to Christ’s return and, with it, peace on earth. What if we wished each other a “Blessed Advent” as a prelude to “Merry Christmas?”

In doing so, we can simultaneously give and receive the love of God to each other—as we anticipate and draw near his birth.

I wish you a joy-filled Advent for all of us in the growing Selah community.