Tag Archive for: Reflection

Advent Day 12

Shepherds

By Kathleen Heppell,
Selah Companion

While we prepare for sleep and night watch of our sheep, the fire warms us. Sky cloudless, black, yet bright with stars… We whisper… how such beauty takes our breath away.

A blinding light. Bright as day. Stunned. Paralyzed. Will we die? “Fear not.” we hear, shaking as we fall on our faces, our arms covering our heads. These words… we try to make sense of what we hear and have seen. 

Lifting our heads, we see an angel announcing Rejoice! Rejoice! The Messiah is born this night in Bethlehem, as scripture foretold. Wrapped snugly in clothes, lying in a manger.

Our Savior lying in a manger?

The sky becomes brighter as the heavenly host sings, filling us with joy as we have never known. We hear Glory to God in the highest heaven and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.

And then they are gone, leaving us with baaing sheep, our fire, and one another. 

How is it that He chose us,

lowly shepherds,

to hear and see

the good news?

We must see our Savior. No one wants to be left behind, yet our sheep must be protected. We don’t argue in our usual ways; a hush among us as we decide who will go into Bethlehem. The fastest run toward the sleeping town to the stable at the inn guided with a knowing in our hearts. 

We stop in front of the opening. Panting, we gather ourselves. How to enter this place with the promised Savior within? This smelly stable is Holy. Our overflowing joy gives unfamiliar confidence. We enter in silence. Oldest to youngest, our torches held high.

There he is, a baby lying in a manger, wrapped in snug clothes. Nearby his parents sit up, rubbing their eyes, questions on their faces. “The angel of the Lord told us our Savior, the Messiah, was born this night. We have come to worship.”

They nod in understanding, with curiosity and awe on their faces. We fall to our knees. Foreheads to the ground, we praise the Lord of Lords and King of Kings, Adonai, and in our midst, Immanuel, just as was promised.

We know within our depths…

at the right time…

this baby will grow up to

lead us and redeem us.

Strange… the smells of animals would be incensed to our God. Somehow we know our presence, the offering of our hearts and voices, is pleasing to the Lord Most High.

We excitedly share more of our story with Mary and Joseph. Tired as they are, they, too, praise our God, who keeps His promises. We leave as dawn begins to kiss the earth. Travelers and shopkeepers on the road look at us as worse than the dirt they walk on. They hear us praising God to the highest heaven; we don’t care who we awaken.

Shrinking back from the stench of our clothes, they cannot miss the glory shining, like Moses, upon our countenance when they look at our faces. “Our Savior is born this day in the stable just down the road. The angel of the Lord told us; the heavenly host sang praises. It was the darkest night yet shone brighter than the noonday sun!”

Trying to take in what we are saying, they can see our joy. Some shake their heads, “Shepherds! The heavenly host coming to them? The Savior of the world born in a stable? How can that be?”

We tell them, see for yourselves, providing directions… While some seem curious, most keep shaking their heads. They don’t seem to want to see for themselves.

Yet nothing dampens our overflowing joy. Returning to our flocks, we tell everyone.

As we watch over our sheep, we ponder within ourselves and to one another how is it that He chose us, lowly shepherds, to hear and see this good news. How did He choose this young couple, peasants, to be His parents? How is it that the Messiah was born in a stable? And we ask, when will He deliver His people? 

We know within our depths… at the right time… this baby will grow up to lead us and redeem us.

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.

The Invitation

Stepping out of my house,

Turning, locking the door,

Already noticing the warmth of this mid – October day,

And the light cool, almost crisp breeze underneath the warmth of the sun.

Walking to my car,

Focusing on thoughts of the work day ahead,

I notice in my mind’s eye

A young girl, maybe five or six.

Facing me, with straight, almost chin length brown hair, parted in the middle with bangs;

Deep brown eyes, sparkling, alive!

Cheeks rosy, her smile broad, showing large, slightly crooked teeth.

She turns away

Spreading her arms, running this way and that.

She appears to embrace the day with joy and exuberance.

She turns and calls come run with me!

Let’s play!!

I feel her pleasure, excitement, and invitation to this moment.

I smile, then laugh, and say

Go ahead and run, enjoy, and I will follow behind you.

 I see myself, sans briefcase and purse,

Arms stretching out; running this way and that

Following my younger self

Relishing the promise, and playfulness

Of this breathtaking day.

By KATHLEEN HEPPELL
a Selah Companion
part of the Selah Community

From the Editor

Debora Buerk, Editor

If you enjoy reading the Here & Now blog, then I invite you to write for it. I’m accepting submissions now for blogs through the end of the year. In particular, I’m interested in blogs about gratitude, Thanksgiving, Advent, Christmas, and New Year, as well as fall content through Thanksgiving. I welcome any form of contemplative posts such as poetry, reflections, original art, and original photography. If you’re interested or need more information, leave me a message in the comments. I hope to hear from you.

If you enjoy reading the Here & Now blog, you can subscribe to receive each new post through email. You’ll find the form on this page. Or, you follow Here & Now through your RSS on WordPress.com.

Pause, Encounter, Grow
with the Here & Now blog,
DEBORA BUERK
Editor, Here & Now blog
a Selah Companion
part of the Selah community

A Shift

Tonight I pray for you.

This ongoing–going-on kind of talking with God thing I do.
This candle burning.
This open window.

Heart of mine
trembling over how long you’ll be here.
I’ve never loved you more—than now.

Different intimacy, it’s higher, deeper
different than I’ve known with you before.
The chase is not on.

The embrace is on.
Holding you—holding me.
Curious.
Ever curious about where this road leads.

By Anonymous
a Selah Companion
part of the Selah Community


Debora Buerk,
Editor

From the Editor

If you enjoy reading the Here & Now blog, then I invite you to write for it. I’m accepting submissions now for blogs through the end of the year. In particular, I’m interested in blogs about gratitude, Thanksgiving, Advent, Christmas, and New Year, as well as fall content through Thanksgiving. I welcome any form of contemplative posts such as poetry, reflections, original art, and original photography. If you’re interested or need more information, leave me a message in the comments. I hope to hear from you.

If you enjoy reading the Here & Now blog, you can subscribe to receive each new post through email. You’ll find the form on this page. Or, you follow Here & Now through your RSS on WordPress.com.

Pause, Encounter, Grow
with the Here & Now blog,
DEBORA BUERK
Editor, Here & Now blog
a Selah Companion
part of the Selah Community

Where Do I See God?

God is the generosity of wildflower
Fields dotted with blooms 
Of every imaginable color 


God is the majestic Mt. Adams
A towering presence 
Light glistening off snow-capped peaks
Evergreens sheltering His creatures


God is the ocean tide responding to the distant moon
Waves rolling forward, building, cresting again and again
Chilling and tickling my toes with retreating foam
A vehicle for surfers and swimmers, 
A dinner vessel for seagulls


God is in the ruby-throated hummingbird
Feathers shimmering emerald in the sunlight 
Colorful, busy, seeking the nectar of His creations
Resting on the butterfly sculpture, 
Peering in living room window, igniting joy


God is in the cawing black crows,
Squawking, stomping on our skylight
Littering the roof with clam shells
Recent signs that God was 
Here and here and here.


God is the gift of a double beauty rose 
Fuscia tipped white rose scented
With a lingering sweet aroma
Reminding me God beckons
More than one of my senses


Is God in my Yorkie? 
Looking in my eyes with adoration?
Yes, God’s here, also. 
Although I’m not convinced 
God wants his tummy rubbed


God is the blue sky, the green trees,
The soft brown pine needles littering the forest


God is the hot fudge, warm caramel
Crunchy toasted pecans
Sweet pillows of whipped cream
Inviting me to savor all He offers


God is all the seen and unseen
Calling out from flowers, waves, birds,
Trees, mountains, pets, even desserts.


Through all of creation God invites me
To the joy and awe of being loved.


He draws me closer in each manifestation
Trusting me to sense His Presence
In whatever way I can, 
Day after day.

By DEBBIE TRIPP
A Selah Companion
part of the Selah community

Photo by REV. ANDREW LARSEN
a Selah Companion
part of the Selah community

From the Editor

If you enjoy reading the Here & Now blog, then I invite you to write for it. I’m accepting submissions now for blogs through the end of the year. In particular, I’m interested in blogs about gratitude, Thanksgiving, Advent, Christmas, and New Year, as well as fall content through Thanksgiving. I welcome any form of contemplative posts such as poetry, reflections, original art, and original photography. Interested or need more info, leave me a message in the comments. I hope to hear from you.

If you enjoy reading the Here & Now blog, you can subscribe to receive each new post through email. You’ll find the form on this page. Or, you can view the blog from your RSS feed on WordPress.com.

Pause, Encounter, Grow
with the Here & Now blog,
By DEBORA BUERK
Editor, Here & Now blog
a Selah Companion
part of the Selah Community