Advent Word Day Twenty-two: RESTORE December 22, 2013
All day I kept thinking that today’s word would be easy…it’s the last Sunday in Advent, but it wasn’t. I saw it earlier today, but until about an hour ago, I didn’t know it. As I lit the candles in the Advent Wreath, I thought about this journey that Our Father has been leading me on with all these words. Words that He spoke to my heart….words that for one reason or another seemed to pop out at me during the day…words that encircle the Christmas story…words that set the world on fire so long ago. LOL – literally. The Advent wreath caught fire – set off the fire alarms – and I had to remind myself that this is the reason, you never let candles burn down to the plastic pine decoration surrounding the wreath. Obviously, no serious damage done (not even the wreath was destroyed); lesson learned and things were RESTORED to normal within minutes. (husband was not happy – he doesn’t like candles much) I wonder – can I use candle warmers for an Advent Wreath next year??? – hmmmmm….
Words have power. As I mentioned in an earlier Advent Word post, God “spoke” creation into being, but if you think about it…theeeee “WORD” came to RESTORE…He “RESTORETH our souls…”
“I lie down and sleep;
I wake again, because the LORD sustains me.
I will not fear though tens of thousands
assail me on every side.”— Psalm 3:5-6
Jewish tradition states that sleep is “one sixtieth of death”. They believe that the soul actually leaves the body during sleep and runs the risk of never returning. (Rabbi Eckstein) Jewish tradition then states that they should offer a prayer thanking God for RESTORING their soul and creating a new miracle of life.
“….He RESTORETH my soul …” (Ps 23:3) David’s words take on a whole new meaning when you add in the meaning of Jewish tradition behind the words, yet one miracle was not enough. Our Father created another miracle to RESTORE our souls. The birth of a baby in a stable far from his home…under a bright star…a baby whose path would RESTORE a path back to His Father for all who listen and follow…”ruined nature now RESTORED...” Charles Wesley “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” v. 4
Advent Word Day Twenty-third: IMMANUEL December 23, 2013
Christmas is drawing nigh. Countdowns are almost over. Presents bought? Wrapped? Ready or not – Christmas is almost here. And yet, at the Kaufman house, the holiday always began on the 24th. Tomorrow is (as we liked to call it when Kaufman Kids were little) “Christmas Eve Day”. It was a day as special – if not more so – as Christmas itself. A day together – baking cookies – finishing crafts we had started – making handmade presents together- laughing – singing Christmas songs – going to Candle Light Service or having our own…Dad reading the Christmas story…opening one small present…praying…lighting our little glass votives and carrying them into our rooms…tearing off the last ring of the countdown bell…”O Come, O Come, IMMANUEL”
IMMANUEL – God with us. “Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name IMMANUEL, which being interpreted is, God with us.” Matt 1:23
God folded Himself…lowered Himself…into a tiny, vulnerable baby. IMMANUEL: God with us, and as He was later nailed to a cross, He was called King of the Jews. “Melekh” (Jewish word for king” that felt cold, pain, fear, love, loneliness, sadness, happiness, temptation) inside a baby. Getting the picture yet? Human. The neat thing about Jewish words is there are always meanings that go with every letter of the word. MeM the first letter is also the first letter for water and is often associated with feminine waters – womb, creation. “Lamed” the second letter in the Jewish word “King” means to teach, learn. “Khaf” the final letter means: hands open to receive and give. Getting a picture of the man this baby would grow to be?
IMMANUL: God with us.
A rabbi once wrote, “from the physical, we can perceive the spiritual.” Baal Shem Tov
God became physical so that we could perceive the spiritual path we should follow…the greatest role model of all time.
IMMANUEL: God with us.
On John Wesley’s final minutes on this earth, his words reflected his life, “The best of all is God is with us.” IMMANUEL
“Veni veni, Emmanuel
captivum solve Israel,
qui gemit in exsilio,
privatus Dei Filio.
R: Gaude! Gaude! Emmanuel,
nascetur pro te Israel!”
Advent Word Day Twenty-four: HOLY December 24, 2013
Could there be any other word for this night? The night when wise men were still on the road following a star to an unknown destination … when shepherds heard angels singing while watching over their flocks … when a young girl and her espoused husband gave birth to a tiny baby – in a dirty stable filled with animals, manure and vermin … when the incomprehensible being we call God accepted the limitations of a physical, vulnerable body. HOLY,
The etymology of HOLY (you knew this was coming, right? I am a former English teacher, remember?) while given many origins: Dutch, German, Old English, but because of the nature of this night it is the Hebrew word, kodesh, that holds me. Kodesh (in a simple breakdown) means “set apart, separated” by God for a special purpose. There’s much more, but tonight isn’t the night for an English lesson. Tonight is a night to be HOLY.
HOLY night – this night – set apart for a remembrance of a birth. Did you remember or were you busy trying to make this night a perfect memory?
HOLY star – bright, big, bold enough to catch the attention of three wise men born in far away countries? Do you look up at night or is the tv too bright, too captivating, too magical to go outside and look?
HOLY messengers – angels sent to earth and singing their joy regarding the Gift of Grace. What would you have thought if they were singing outside your window right now? Would you stop and go outside and follow or ignore it so your neighbors wouldn’t think you were crazy?
HOLY knees that bowed upon hard ground before a manager holding an unknown infant and scared parents.who were as overwhelmed as the shepherds who found themselves kneeling. When was the last time you kneeled for anything? “I can only imagine…or to my knees would I fall? …would I be able to speak at all?” (love that song)
HOLY infant – “so tender and mild” – an infant – set apart for a special purpose…a purpose that no one knew – not the messengers…not the wise men…not the shepherds…not even the parents…only the infant opening his eyes for the very first time as a human baby. HOLY
I grew up with a mother who watched Christmas Eve Mass from the St. Peter’s Basilica of Rome every year, and I have continued the tradition. Christmas would not be the same without its blessing. As I watch Pope Francis in his first Christmas Eve Mass as the celebrant, listen to the ancient Latin, and remember the HOLY words recorded in the Book of Luke, I think of all the history that this church has seen – bad and good – and I wonder what this new year will bring. I hope his new year in Christ will bring to the world –
HOLY. HOLY. HOLY.