Tag: reflection

Dec 15 2010

Advent reflection: Embrace the humanity that led to our salvation

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…the virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel.î (Isaiah 7:14)

With the Fourth Week of Advent we enter into the final few days of preparation for our celebration of Christmas and the gift of the Incarnation. As the prophet Isaiah proclaims, and as Matthewís Gospel reiterates (Matthew 1:18-24), God is with us!

Try as we might, we can never fully wrap our minds around such a wondrous reality. The best we can hope to do is humbly reflect on what it means, for each of us and for the world, that God has entered into such intimate solidarity with the human family.

Being human ñ that is to say, being a spiritual person with a physical body ñ has its own particular challenges. Humans experience hunger and thirst. We endure sickness and disease. We canít fly without machines, nor can we move through walls.

Unlike our spiritual cousins, the angels, to be human is to be bound by the limitations of the material world.

And, of course, humans are mortal. More to the point, we know we are mortal.

Samuel and his family

The family of Samuel, second from left, a sponsored child from Kenya. Samuel is physically challenged.

No matter how we try to distract ourselves from it, the reality of death is ever present within our consciousness. So much of what we do, for better or worse, is influenced by that awareness.

But there is so much more.

To be human is also to be blessed with imagination and ingenuity. We have the ability to hope, to dream and to work to make our dreams come true.

While we have limitations, we also have the will and the resourcefulness to overcome those limitations in highly creative ways. We are storytellers, poets and visionaries.

We are also capable of great and generous acts of kindness. We are compassionate beings whose natural impulse is to love, and we seek out others with whom we can dwell in loving communion.

Yes, in our sinfulness we are also capable of acts of selfishness and cruelty, but like a magnet that always seeks true north, the genuine inclination of most human beings is toward the good.

At CFCA, we are blessed to be reminded on a daily basis of human goodness. In the resolve of sponsored persons, in the loving support of their families, in the resourcefulness of their communities, and in the willingness of sponsors to invest in their hopes and dreams, we see the best of humanity.

The CFCA world proclaims, with joy, that God is truly with us!

In Jesus we come to know that it is not the denial of our humanity that leads to salvation, but rather the full embrace of it.

May this Christmas be a time to embrace in ever deeper ways the God who dwells within each of us and among all the people of our good world.

Dec 8 2010

Advent reflection: Invest in the gift of joyful anticipation

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.

ìMake your hearts firm, because the coming of the Lord is at hand.î (James 5:8)

In the second reading this Sunday from the Letter of James (James 5:7-10) we are advised to be patient as we wait for the coming of the Lord.

But patience, though it is a virtue, is also a hard sell in a society like ours that places such value on instant gratification.

Our lives are filled with microwave ovens, instant messages, movies on-demand and a million other little enhancements that fuel our hunger for immediate results.

It seems the more time we save with these gee-whiz wonders of contemporary life, the less time we are willing to invest in the kind of patient waiting that the Advent season calls us to.

Benito from Nicaragua

Benito, a sponsored child from Nicaragua

It might be good for those of us who struggle with patience to ask ourselves just what purpose our impatience serves.

What do we gain from the five minutes we save at the drive-up window? How are our lives richer because we can text and shop at the same time?

Do these abilities enhance the moments of our lives or simply fill them? And, if we are in a hurry, what is it we are hurrying to?

When CFCA sponsors visit the communities where sponsored friends live, they often receive a surprise bonus ñ a valuable lesson in time non-management.

Sponsor visits are causes for celebration in these towns and villages, and the people prepare joyous receptions complete with parades, music and food. But, travel being what it is in developing countries, our sponsor groups are sometimes hours late in arriving.

In the U.S., such delays would likely be cause for anxiety, but in the CFCA world they only increase the joyful anticipation. Where we might be worried about getting off schedule, the people in these communities accept delays as an unexpected gift.

The longer it takes for some gifts to arrive, the more deeply we appreciate them. Ask a pregnant mother who longs to see her babyís face, or the father of a soldier serving overseas.

They know lessons about anticipation that only time and love can teach. They are not always easy lessons, but they are life-changing ones.

As we continue our journey toward Christmas, may we be people of patience. May we wait for Jesus with joyful anticipation, always open to the unplanned lesson, always ready for the unexpected gift.

Nov 24 2010

Advent reflection: Discover Christ in your daily life

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.

ìTherefore, stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come.î (Matthew 24:42)

The season of Advent begins this year with an apparently somber Gospel warning to remain alert in preparation for the coming of Christ (Matthew 24:37-44).

In tone it doesnít seem to differ much from readings we are accustomed to hearing at the end of a Church year ó readings that portend doom for those caught napping on the Day of Judgment.

But while alertness is a virtue, the alertness that God asks of us in this new Church year is not the terror of one afraid to blink for fear of a cosmic reprimand.

Rather, it is the heightened awareness of one wise enough to know that life is short and wondrous and that if you donít pay attention you could miss the good stuff.

It helps to think of Christís coming not just as a future event but as a joyful gift in the present. In truth, Christ comes to us often and in surprising ways through the people and happenings of life, but it takes alertness to see these moments of grace for what they are.

Laya Annamaynolu, Hyderabad, India, and her family.

Laya Annamaynolu, CFCA-sponsored child in Hyderabad, India, and her family.

Do we recognize the blessings that come our way or are we so wrapped up in our hurts and anxieties that we let them pass unnoticed? Do we embrace the Christ who dwells in other people, or do we focus only on their weaknesses and failings?

The attitude with which we approach each day and each person ñ as either a gift to cherish or obstacle to overcome ñ is also the lens through which we view God.

Is it any wonder, then, that so many people see God only as a stern judge? God does hold us accountable, but to focus only on accountability is to miss the point.

More than anything, God wants each of us to be happy. Our faith teaches that true happiness is the natural consequence of living in loving relationship with God and other people.

If we take care of our relationships, the rest will take care of itself. That is one of the underlying principles of CFCAís Hope for a Family sponsorship program.

We believe in building relationships across divides of poverty, culture, language, race and all the other conditions that separate human beings from one another.

When we have the grace to reach across those divides, the face of Christ becomes visible to us in the faces of other people.

This Advent, may we be awake to the opportunities that God places before us ñ opportunities to discover his Son in wondrous and surprising ways every day.

Dec 3 2008

A moment of reflection with Prayer Partners

By Sponsor Terrie Watkins

As so many of us, my daily life is hectic and distracting. When I received the invitation from CFCA for Prayer Partners, it sounded appealing. What I didn’t expect was that I would be so moved and impressed with the prayers.

They take me out of my daily “busyness” and bring me to a moment of reflection and communication with the Lord that is all too often neglected. It has provided a talking point with my family, as I can read the prayers at dinner and share the message. I am eagerly looking forward to continuing this communication. Thank you!


ppemail2Prayer Partners†began in August 2008†to provide a doorway into the CFCA projects. These weekly e-mails offer a prayerful way to support the CFCA community†and hopefully, to also enhance your own spiritual life. Prayer Partners is delivered on Mondays, and you can sign up to receive the e-mails on our†Web site.