Advent Waiting… Christmas Is Coming

I love the Advent Season.  When I was a kid, that meant that I loved Advent calendars.

Advent calendar

Oooo… my kind of Advent calendar!

Opening little doors every day to find hidden words, pictures, or best of all, CHOCOLATE, gave me a delighted little thrill that is still very warm in my memory.  I confess, the deeper, symbolic meaning of Advent was lost on me.  Back then, Advent was all about counting down to Christmas.

What child who receives presents on Christmas morning doesn’t shiver with excitement as the day draws nearer and nearer?  My parents were generous, but also practical.  My older sister sister and I knew that the only toys or games that we would own would be gifts received for either our birthdays or Christmas.  And we both have April birthdays.  So, during that long, long period between the end April and the end of December, whenever we might desire something, from a toy to a jacket, we would hear from our mother, “Christmas is coming.”  Even in July! Continue reading

Gathering Stars

Wishing everyone a Blessed Christmas and offering you this poem from decades ago.

May you be filled with the wonder of God Among Us – for the Word of God, the Lord of the Universe, was made Flesh for each and every one of you, for your healing redemption and eternal joy…

London to Brighton Veteran Car Run

Gathering Stars

My mother gathers stars.  Continue reading

The Great Coming of the Lord

Advent,baby-jesus-in-manger
the first coming,
is quiet.

Silently he comes
in the womb of a virgin,
the womb undisturbed, untouched by man.

Patiently he comes
in the strength of her forbearance,
until she delivers her first born son.

Fragilely he comes,
a suckling newborn –
the Incarnation of God.

Tenderly he comes
in the arms of his mother,
needing to be swaddled, nurtured, loved.

Listen… Behold…
He is come
in the awesome quiet of a winter’s night.

Listen… Behold…
He is come…
even in the darkness of a wanting heart…

so quiet, so small, the majesty of the Lord…

is here.

© 2015  Christina Chase

 

Advent Wreath

advent-wreath-4-candles-5
Waxen pillars tipped with fire

in a ring of evergreen;

like our souls, the flames lift higher

with our prayers to a God unseen.

 

And at the core, waiting…

the bone white sepulcher of Christ –

the eucharistic cradle of divine incarnation,

which yields the Everlasting Light.

 

Humble Preparations

I see this image as a visual reminder for us to make our humble preparations for Christmas. Too often are we caught up in the big, the bright, and the busy, forgetting that God came among us in the quiet bareness of a stable. We need to be likewise silent and open, with our hands empty so that we may be able to receive His Presence, His love and mercy, into our hearts and into our lives.

Like the placing of straw in a worn feeding trough, let us make our humble preparations: small acts of selflessness and sacrifice in kindness to strangers; forgiveness, forbearance, and even appreciation for runny noses, noisy neighbors, and the trials of everyday life; whispered, wordless prayers from the heart, taking just a moment to lift up our eyes in gratitude, hope, faith, and praise.

In the busyness of this season, let us be mindful of the Infant Messiah, helplessly wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in his humble manger-crib. May our hearts be as lowly and lovely as this place – fit for the King of Kings…

Christmas king-size bed

© 2015 Christina Chase

Job’s Christmas

“And you beneath life’s crushing load, whose forms are bending low,

who toil along the climbing way with painful steps and slow…”

There is so much suffering in the world. War, disease, starvation, abuse, murder… the heartache of billions of human beings. And we naturally question life, the universe, the powers that be, wondering why – why?????

I sit in the dark turmoil of my own brokenness and limitations with Job. Job, who not only lost his wealth, security, health and strength, but also his family – all of his loved ones dead. And, after all of that, he was supposed to still love God. But, how??? If this is what can happen to a good person who is loved by God, then what good is that supposed love?

Job questioned, too. His questions, in the divine light, were “words without knowledge”, merely obfuscating divine reason. The Fear of the Lord is the beginning of all wisdom, and, so, the answer for Job’s WHY began like this:

lightning

God thunders forth marvels with his voice;

he does great things beyond our knowing.

He says to the snow, “Fall to the earth”;

likewise to his heavy, drenching rain…

Out of its chamber the tempest comes forth;

from the north winds, the cold.

With his breath God brings the frost,

and the broad waters congeal.

The clouds too are laden with moisture,

the storm-cloud scatters its light.

He it is who changes their rounds, according to his plans,

to do all that he commands them

across the inhabited world.[1]

Across the inhabited world, the Unmoved Mover has unquestionable power, unlimited might. We are but creatures, who, like the grass, may fall dead with the first breath of winter. Who are we to question God? As intelligent and imaginative as we are, human beings are dependent upon Creation and the Creator behind it all. Helplessly and hopelessly limited are we, at the mercy of the Almighty One, who makes and rules the universe and beyond.

It is only reasonable that we suffer Continue reading

All the Smells and Ills

The human body isn’t always pretty. Oh no. We all suffer, or will suffer, from one weakness or another, aches and pains and afflictions of countless kinds. Sometimes, just the things we do daily to survive – chewing, toileting, washing away sweat, dirt, and dead skin from our bodies – as well as being around those who might not wash themselves so well… let’s just say that there’s nothing pretty about any of this. Nothing romantic, lyrical, or ennobling.

And, yet… Continue reading

First Sunday of Advent

Sometimes, listening to the message of the Bible, I think that Christ is asking me, “Are you ready to die?”  But, obsessing about death isn’t life.  What God really wants me to ask myself is, “Am I ready to live forever?”

We could survive with no thought of God, or even belief in God.  We could live our lives self-centeredly, devoted to the things of the earthly plane of existence, to the merely physical, and live lives that end in death.  Or… Or we could wake up to the reality beyond our physical senses, become fully alive in body and soul, devoted to the Kingdom of God, the spiritual, and live lives that never end– this is what it is to live in Christ.

None of us knows when we will die, the exact day and hour when our earthly lives will come to an end.  But, our earthly lives will come to an end – of this we are certain, with reason.  Of this we, as Christians, are also certain through faith: our spiritual lives will NOT come to an end.  Our souls, the essential heart of who we are, will never die.

God reveals to us through Sacred Scripture that His Kingdom, which has no end, is like a shining city on the highest mountain, wherein abides all justice, all prosperity, all wisdom, all peace – all that is purely of God.  As our souls are of God, this is the place to which our souls will return when our earthly lives come to an end.  But, we don’t have to wait to the end of our earthly lives to know whether or not we will be able to enter into the Kingdom.  If eternity has no beginning and no end, then our eternal lives have already begun, here and now.  If we walk in the ways of wisdom and peace, mercy and love while living our earthly lives, if we walk in the light of the Lord, then, truly, our eternal home is the eternal House of the Lord.  If we live to give our love, then we are already there spiritually, in the heart of the Kingdom, walking with Christ.

During Advent, we celebrate the coming of Christ – when the old life, the one of mere physical existence, passes away so that a new life, eternal life, may begin.  Therefore, I must ask myself: am I prepared to live eternally?  Am I ready to joyfully dwell forever in the place of all wisdom, all goodness, and all peace?  If so, I should be making this place my home already, here and now, through my prayers, my words and my actions.  Home is where the heart is: May my heart truly be the sacred abode in which God and I dwell together, now and forever.     Practical question that each of us can ask ourselves: how many hours of the week do I spend on isolating, self-centered activities that will die with the flesh and how many hours do I spend on acts of charity and direct caring for others, which, like love, will live forever?  Our answers can help us understand how to throw off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light – to be fully awake and truly alive in Christ.  May we receive him deeply into our hearts when he comes… and be at home in his Sacred Heart – God With Us, Emmanuel, now and forever.