Tag: Advent

Jan 2 2013

Christmas reflection: Following the stars

Larry LivingstonEvery Wednesday during the Advent/Christmas season, we will post a reflection in hopes that it may help you on your own journey. This week’s reflection is offered by Larry Livingston, CFCA director of church relations.

“They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother.” (Matthew 2:10)

One of the few things we are told about the mysterious group of visitors called the Magi is that they saw, in the ascension of a star, the sign of a new king.

According to the story of the Epiphany in Matthew’s Gospel, that star led them to the Christ-child, but the details of their amazing journey remain a mystery.

Perhaps that lack of detail is one reason why the story of the Magi has so captured the imaginations of Christians throughout the centuries. Each of us must answer for ourselves why we think these travelers followed the star. And, in so doing, we are invited to reflect on the ‘stars’ that we ourselves follow.

Our stars come in a variety of forms and, like the literal stars in the heavens, they can both illuminate and consume.

Some people follow stars of greed and selfishness while others are guided by stars of compassion and generosity.

Whatever values form the trajectory of a person’s life, there can be found that person’s star. read the rest of the reflection

Dec 26 2012

Christmas reflection: Feast of The Holy Family

Father Mark LaneEvery Wednesday during the Christmas season, we will post a reflection. We hope these reflections help you on your own journey during this time.

This weekís reflection is offered by Father Mark Lane, CFCA preacher.

“And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection.” (Colossians 3:14)

A child causing parents anxiety is nothing new, and Jesusí role in this highly developed narrative is no exception.

His rather pious answer would seem somewhat impertinent if we were dealing with a straightforward recounting of an historical fact.

In todayís Gospel for the Feast of The Holy Family, Luke narrates this story to point to Jesusí uniqueness and to give content to the otherwise gapping lacuna that is the so-called lost-years of Jesusí life: the 30-year period from infancy to the beginning of his public ministry.

As with many conversations, it is not only what is said that is informative ó silence is important. Jesus matured in the obscurity of those lost 30 years. Read more

Dec 19 2012

Advent reflection: Christmas on the practical, everyday level

Father Mark LaneEvery Wednesday during the Advent season, we will post a reflection in hopes that it may help you on your own journey through Advent. This weekís reflection is offered by Father Mark Lane, CFCA preacher.

“Ö Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.” (Luke 1:45)

When my oldest sister was expecting her first child, I called her close to the end of her last trimester because I had just eaten something that had given me such a pain in the stomach, and I was feeling a deeper sympathy for her situation.

My brother-in-law answered the phone to say she had gone into labor. Read more

Dec 12 2012

Advent reflection: ‘God dwells within the human family’

Larry LivingstonEvery Wednesday during the Advent season, we will post a reflection in hopes that it may help you on your own journey through Advent. This weekís reflection is offered by Larry Livingston, CFCA church relations director.

“Cry out with joy and gladness: for among you is the great and Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 12:6)

More often than not, living our faith is simply a matter of doing the right thing.

What tends to complicate it is the impressive ability we humans have to con ourselves into not recognizing the right thing when we see it.

In today’s Gospel for the Third Sunday of Advent, John the Baptist is urging the crowd to change their lives in preparation for the coming of the Messiah. Read more

Dec 5 2012

Advent reflection: ‘For it is in giving that we receive’

Father Mark LaneEvery Wednesday during the Advent season, we will post a reflection in hopes that it may help you on your own journey through Advent. This weekís reflection is offered by Father Mark Lane, CFCA preacher.

“Ö I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus. Ö” (Phil 1:6)

Sometimes it is the simplest and most obvious detail that is the most revealing.

When God comes into this world it is among the ordinary people of a not so remarkable period in history and in a corner of the world far from the center of prominence.

Luke, in the Gospel reading for the Second Sunday of Advent,, tries to give Jesus’advent an historical grandeur that the raw facts do not exactly bare out.

John the Baptist is indeed an exotic character, but his ministry is mainly in the desert, far from the center of things in Jerusalem. Read more

Nov 28 2012

Advent reflection: Awakening our hearts to love

Larry LivingstonEvery Wednesday during the Advent season, we will post a reflection in hopes that it may help you on your own journey through Advent. This weekís reflection is offered by Larry Livingston, CFCA church relations director.

“Ö May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all Ö”
(1 Thes 3:12)

Most of us know to be on guard against hardness of heart. Nor do we want to be faint-hearted, cold-hearted or broken-hearted.

But do we take care to keep from becoming drowsy-hearted? In the Gospel reading for the First Sunday of Advent, being drowsy-hearted is the condition that Jesus seems to be most concerned about.

In the Gospel, Jesus cautions us to keep our hearts awake and attentive for his coming.

On the surface, the reading seems to be about his final coming at the end of time, but a deeper examination shows our more immediate concern should be the various encounters with Christ that might happen at any hour of any day. These are the encounters that a drowsy heart would be most likely to miss. Read more

Dec 14 2011

Advent reflection: God dares us to dream big

Larry LivingstonEvery Wednesday during the Advent-Christmas season, we will post a reflection from Larry Livingston, CFCA church relations director. We hope these reflections help you on your own journey through Advent.

ì…for nothing will be impossible for God.î (Luke 1:37)

An unopened Christmas present is a wondrous thing. When I was a child, many times I would park myself under the Christmas tree and gaze at a brightly wrapped package with my name on it, trying to guess what was inside.

My imagination would always kick into high gear on such occasions. This was possible because of the simplicity of a childís mind, which knows nothing of recessions, budgets or the laws of physics.

As far as I was concerned those presents could be anything, and believing that gave me the freedom to dream big.

Sadly, that sense of infinite possibility tends to fade away as we grow older, especially where God is concerned.

Instead of embracing the glory and wonder of our Creator, in our limited imaginations we try to rein God in.

The Scripture readings for the Fourth Sunday of Advent include two stories of people struggling to understand the limitlessness of God. In each situation, God lovingly reminds the person in the story of who he or she is dealing with. Read more

Dec 7 2011

Advent reflection: Choosing to be ‘eager,’ not ‘anxious’

Larry LivingstonEvery Wednesday during the Advent-Christmas season, we will post a reflection from Larry Livingston, CFCA church relations director. We hope these reflections help you on your own journey through Advent.

“Brothers and sisters: Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thess. 5:16-18)

I confess that I get a little irritated by some common ways that people misuse words.

For example, it bugs me when I hear notoriety used as a synonym for fame, or when people say less when fewer would be more appropriate. (And don’t even get me started on very unique!)

I recognize this as my own little persnickety hang-up, and my purpose here is not to lecture about the decline of the English language.

I really just want to set the table for a reflection on one common misusage that seems especially pertinent during Advent.

People often say they are anxious when they are looking forward to something. For example: “It has been two weeks since Joe left on his trip and I am anxious for him to come home.”

But anxious is a form of anxiety, which means a state of worry or apprehension ñ hardly the sentiment Joe would want to be greeted with upon his return! Read more

Nov 30 2011

Advent reflection: God shares in our humanity

Larry LivingstonEvery Wednesday during the Advent-Christmas season, we will post a reflection from Larry Livingston, CFCA church relations director. We hope these reflections help you on your own journey through Advent.

“…Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way.”
(Mark 1:2)

There is an urgency in the Gospel of Mark that contrasts with the Gospels of Matthew and Luke.

Where those writers start with events surrounding Jesusí birth, Mark begins his account with John the Baptist setting the stage for Jesusí public ministry. John is one of the most vivid characters in Scripture.

As if his garb of camel skin and his penchant for eating locusts werenít memorable enough, his single-minded devotion to calling people to repentance in preparation for the coming of the Messiah sears him into our collective imagination.

This rough intensity makes John an interesting symbol for Advent.

While society likes to pretty-up this time of year with bright colors, warm thoughts and overindulgence on sentimentality, John reminds us that preparation for Christmas isnít just a feel-good exercise. Read more

Nov 23 2011

Advent reflection: Seeing the face of Christ through sponsorship

Larry LivingstonEvery Wednesday during the Advent-Christmas season, we will post a reflection from Larry Livingston, CFCA church relations director. We hope these reflections help you on your own journey through Advent.

ì…for you have hidden your face from us and have delivered us up to our guilt. Yet, O Lord, you are our father; we are the clay and you the potter: we are all the work of your hands.î (Isaiah 64: 6b-7)

We begin our Advent journey with a beautiful and plaintive reading from the Prophet Isaiah.

In a time of exile, the prophet yearns for Israel to know once again the intimacy of her historic relationship with God, even while acknowledging the sinfulness that has injured that relationship.

In a reading filled with powerful images, one of the most haunting is that of the face of God being hidden from the people. It is an image worth some reflection. Read more