Meditations - Second Week of Advent

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Monday, Week 2: Day 1

Isaiah 35:1-10; Psalm 84; Luke 5:17-26

Hot and Cold

Deserts are amazing places. By day they can be baking hot, by night icy cold. There are desert storms, and there are days of stifling, windless heat. Yet even in the desert, life goes on. Animals and plants have adapted to the hostile conditions, and flourish amidst the extremes. The coming of the Messiah will cause the desert to bloom. His path will not skirt the desert, but cut right through it, and the desert will come alive. Streams will gush, plants will bloom. Situations that seemed lifeless and dead will flourish, rich, fertile, full of life and growth. The loveless heart that has grown cold, cut off from life and from love, will once again become warm. The hard, uncaring heart, hurt and hostile, will melt and will love. The fearful, closed heart will change; freshness and growth will return. This glimpse of what is to come is strength and a consolation today.

The Gospel says:

The paralyzed man has little say over his own destiny, and so must lie and await whatever will befall him. How can life return to a man that seems condemned to a living death, unable to move? The power of God, working through the faith of His friends, saves him. The response of Jesus is to forgive the man’s sins — to go to the heart of his malaise, his unease with God. After this, it is a comparably simple step for Jesus to cure him and command him to walk. And for this one man, who had lived in helplessness and isolation, the desert bloomed. The prophecy of Isaiah, it seemed, was coming true.

Moment of Prayer

Think of situations where you have felt helpless and have needed the help of other people. Were others sensitive to your needs? Did you receive the help you were looking for? Think of the people you live with, the people you meet from day to day. Is there anyone that needs your help? Do you need help from others? Pray for those you know who are in need, and pray for yourself too.

Lord Jesus, help of the helpless, help me.

 


Tuesday, Week 2: Day 2

Isaiah 40:1-11; Psalm 95; Matthew 18:12-14

Say it with flowers

‘Say it with flowers’, the slogan advises. Flowers are beautiful, and then they die. Part of their appeal is that they pass away, and then they are just a memory. Artificial flowers, no matter how life-like, are not prized so greatly. To give flowers is to live for the moment, to appreciate the day. Living for the present moment can be a full way of living life; it can also be an avoidance of the past, and a reluctance to face the future. The healthy life lives for today, remembering yesterday and looking forward to tomorrow. Isaiah ponders the past, observing that all must fade and die. But for the prophet, weariness with the past is not a reason for taking refuge in the present; he challenges the people to announce the coming of the Lord, and looks forward to the day when He will come.

The Gospel says:

Jesus often uses the image of sheep in His teaching. A flock of sheep never stays still for long; they are always on the move, dependent on the shepherd to keep them together and protect them from harm. The shepherd knows the sheep, having shepherded them from birth, being used to their ways. The transient nature of the flock of sheep does not lessen the shepherd’s concern. Though the flower fades and dies, it’s birth, life and death are with the Lord, in the Lord’s care. We live, breathe, laugh and cry watched by God. He rejoices when we rejoice, and shares our suffering too. With the Lord, we are confident of the future to which our faith looks forward.

Moment of Prayer

Write down five things about your past, five things about your present, and five hopes or fears about your future. Where was God in the events from your past? Where is God in your life now? Where would you like God to be in the months and years that lie ahead? Read aloud today’s Psalm.

Lord Jesus, master of yesterday, today and tomorrow, guard my life.

 


Wednesday, Week 2: Day 3

Isaiah 40:25-31; Psalm 102; Matthew 11:28-30

When it seems there is no-one at home

There are questions to which we may never know the answer, at least on this side of the grave. Tragedy strikes and we try to find God in it. How can God let such things happen? Why doesn’t God answer our prayer? These questions are the oldest questions of all. As long as there have been people who have been aware of God, they have asked these questions of God. Isaiah reprimands those who do not have faith, pointing to the evidence that God is present, that God does care. Isaiah reminds us of what God can do, of Who God is. Being in touch with the Lord, it would seem, is being in touch with the source of life and strength.

The Gospel says:

The Lord is indeed rest for the weary, strength for the weak. Jesus says, work for Me and learn from Me and you will find the rest and the inspiration and the strength that you need. Does this mean that when we are tired we retreat into prayer? Prayer and time for ourselves are important, and when they are absent we will feel their absence. But it is more that that. Working for God means we share the vision of the world as God wants it to be, and this gives us motivation. In Christ we find fellowship and peace.

Moment of Prayer

Pray alone, holding your hands in the air. This symbolizes the life you are living for God. Feel the tiredness in your arms, and the longing for rest. Lower your arms, symbolizing the rest given you by the Lord. Thank God for the work God has given you to do. Pray for the strength to accomplish it, and rest when it is done.

Lord Jesus, I need Your help and Your strength. Come soon.

 


Thursday, Week 2: Day 4

Isaiah 41:13-20; Psalm 144; Matthew 1:11-15

Hand in hand

We walk and wait and pray with others for the coming of the Lord. An image of our unity with each other is the clasped hand. Our security is knowing, “I, the Lord, your God, I am holding you by the right hand; I tell you, ‘Do not be afraid, I will help you.”’ As we prepare to celebrate the birth of the One of Whom Isaiah spoke, and as we await His glorious return, we live in hope. What difference does this make? We can think of ourselves as the hands of God, always looking to comfort, to strengthen, to heal, to share, to guide. What will we do today that will show God’s care to someone else? What will we say today that will help another to hold their head high? How will we seem to the casual observer, and to those to whom we are close? Are we taking a pride in who we are, rejoicing in what we do?

The Gospel says:

Jesus challenges us to listen. He endorses the teaching of John the Baptist, placing John firmly in the tradition of the Old Testament prophets. What we have heard from Isaiah about the coming of the reign of God, and what we hear from John the Baptist about the One Who is to come after him, are prophecies from God, announcing the coming of the Messiah. We pray that the Messiah, Jesus, will be born again in our heart at Christmas. We pray that our longing for His return in glory will motivate us to live as best we can the Gospel of Christ. We pray that we will announce the Good News of God’s great love for us, to all who need to hear it.

Moment of Prayer

Jesus says, ‘If anyone has ears to hear, let him listen!’ Sit for a few minutes in silence. Let your listening be your prayer.

 


Friday, Week 2: Day 5

Isaiah 48:17-19; Psalm I; Matthew 11:16-19

Why is it like this?

As one war finishes, another begins. Never does the world know a day of peace. What is it in the heart of human beings that stirs up strife, that works for misery and not for peace? Even one day of world peace would be so marvelous, that surely it would turn the hearts of those who stir up conflict. We could say, ‘This is what it could be like, if only we all work for peace’. When we see the consequences of our own sin, and realize our ultimate helplessness in the face of sin, then can we most clearly see our need of God. There will always be wars, except that God will rescue us from wars. God’s frustration at our disobedience resulted not in punishment, but in eternal life won for us by Jesus. In Jesus and with Jesus is our peace.

The Gospel says:

Jesus appears frustrated at the perversity of human nature. It seems as though He cannot do anything to please some people because they are predisposed to dismiss what He has to say. How can He break through this resistance? Jesus is confident that the truth will win, and stubborn resistance to His Word will be shown up for what they are. If we pretend that what we want is for the good of others, or that we are acting out of a sense of justice and right, whereas we are serving our own self-interest, our attitudes and actions will be shown up for what they are.

Moment of Prayer

We can remind ourselves of our need of God, and that only in God will we flourish and grow. Say today’s Psalm, putting yourself in the Psalm: ‘I am happy indeed when I do not follow the counsel of the wicked, and when I do not linger in the way of sinners...’ Pray for a pure heart and mind.

Lord Jesus, You are the only answer to all our longings. Come soon.

 


Saturday, Week 2: Day 6

Ecclesiasticus 48:1-4.9-11; Psalm 79; Matthew 17:10-13

Waiting for someone to come

King Arthur and his knights of the round table lie sleeping in an underground cavern, waiting to ride again in the hour of England’s greatest need. Thus says the legend. Mythology is full of stories of humans and super-humans who are able to defy death and come to the aid of their friends in need. The Jews awaited the return of the prophet Elijah, God’s messenger. God would rescue them, and Elijah would be God’s messenger. First, they thought John the Baptist was Elijah; then they thought Jesus was Elijah. But the messenger God was to send was none other than Christ. It was as if all the myths expecting a hero to return were fulfilled at once, in one Person. Jesus healed the sick, forgave sins, and battled with the forces of darkness and death, to triumph when He was raised from the dead.

The Gospel says:

Jesus is telling the disciples that the prophecies of scripture are coming true, but that the people do not realize that this is so. Similarly, we can believe that what Jesus has said is true; we may not see the reality, but we can believe it, and act upon it. Instead of waiting for a superhuman being to rescue us, we recognize that God is in our midst and that with God we can change the way things are. We will not wait until the last days before we prepare to meet the Lord. We will live justly, mercifully, humbly and lovingly.

Moment of Prayer

Ask God for help. After each request, say to yourself, ‘Come, Lord Jesus, give me Your help and Your strength.’

 Lord Jesus, Help me be attentive to Your word, and to help others in their need. Come to us, in our need. Come soon.