Saturday, December 24, 2011


I wonder as I wander out under the sky
How Jesus the Saviour did come for to die
For poor on'ry people like you and like I;
I wonder as I wander out under the sky
When Mary birthed Jesus 'twas in a cow's stall
With wise men and farmers and shepherds and all
But high from God's heaven, a star's light did fall
And the promise of ages it then did recall.
If Jesus had wanted for any wee thing
A star in the sky or a bird on the wing
Or all of God's Angels in heaven to sing
He surely could have it, 'cause he was the King
I wonder as I wander out under the sky
How Jesus the Saviour did come for to die
For poor on'ry people like you and like I;
I wonder as I wander out under the sky
John Jacob Niles
The One Who Cries in the Wilderness

This is another passage from a piece we used
earlier in the series, written by a Father Alfred Delp S.J.,
who was condemned as a traitor in Nazi Germany.
He wrote this shortly before he was hanged in 1945.

Woe to an age when the voices of those who cry
in the wilderness have fallen silent, outshouted
by the noise of the day or outlawed or swallowed up
in the intoxication of progress,
or growing smothered and fainter
for fear and cowardice. The devastation will soon
be so terrifying and universal that the word
"wilderness" will again strike our hearts and minds.
I think we know that.
But still there are no crying voices to raise
their plaint and accusation. Not for an hour
can life dispense with these John-the-Baptist
characters, these original individuals, struck by
the lightning of mission and vocation.

Their heart goes before them,
and that is why their eye is so clear-sighted,
their judgment so incorruptible.
They do not cry for the sake of crying
or for the sake of the voice.
Or because they begrudge earth's pleasant hours,
exiled as they themselves are from the
small warm companionships of the foreground.
Theirs is the great comfort known only to those
who have paced out the inmost and furthermost
boundaries of existence.

They cry for blessing and salvation.
They summon us to our last chance,
while already they feel the ground quaking
and the rafters creaking and see the firmest of
mountains tottering inwardly and see the very stars
in heaven hanging in peril.
They summon us to the opportunity of warding off,
by the greater power of a converted heart,
the shifting desert that will
pounce upon us and bury us.

Let us ask for clear eyes that are able to see
God's messengers of annunciation;
for awakened hearts with the wisdom to hear
the words of promise. Let us ask for faith
in the motherly consecration of life as shown
in the figure of the blessed woman of Nazareth.
Let us be patient and wait,
wait with Advent readiness for the moment
when it pleases God to appear in our night too,
as the fruit and mystery of this time.
And let us ask for the openness and willingness
to hear God's warning messengers and to
conquer life's wilderness through repentant hearts.
We must not shrink from or suppress
the earnest words of these crying voices,
so that those who today are our executioners
will not tomorrow become accusers because
we have remained silent.

Let us then live in today's Advent,
for it is the time of promise.
To eyes that do not see, it still seems
that the final dice are being cast
down in these valleys, on these battlefields,
in those camps and prisons and bomb shelters.
Those who are awake sense the workings
of the other powers and can await
the coming of their hour.

Space is still filled with the noise of
destruction and annihilation, the shouts
of self-assurance and arrogance, the weeping
of despair and helplessness.
But just beyond the horizon the eternal realities
stand silent in their age-old longing.
There shines on us the first mild light of
the radiant fulfillment to come.
From afar sound the first notes as of
pipes and singing boys, not yet discernible
as a song or melody. It is all far off still,
and only just announced and foretold.
But it is happening. This is today.
And tomorrow the angels will tell
what has happend with loud rejoicing voices,
and we shall know it and be glad,
if we have believed and
trusted in Advent.
Our brains are no longer conditioned for reverence and awe. We cannot imagine a Second Coming that would not be cut down to size by the televised evening news, or a Last Judgment not subject to pages of holier-than-thou second-guessing in The New York Review of Books.
John Updike
American Author
“You must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say ‘Where is this coming he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation’ … But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: with the Lord, a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
 2 PETER 3: 3-4, 8-9

We live in astounding times. The combination of momentous political change and unusual natural phenomena in recent years has many folks wondering just what the heck is going on. The evangelist Billy Graham recently wrote that he has never in 50 years of ministry had so many people ask him if the end of the world is at hand. The timing of the Second Coming has always titillated Christians, perhaps because it is concealed. For as Jesus said, “No one knows that day or hour, not even the angels in Heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”

That instruction often gets forgotten when believers see events that correspond with the signs Christ said would foreshadow His return. There is growing speculation that the Second Coming is imminent, a trend that will only intensify as the turn of the millenium approaches. Christians must take care to not be deceived – either by those who insist He’s coming tomorrow, or those who claim He won’t return in our lifetime. For the “scoffers” are also many, and are on thin ice as well. For decades, progressive thinkers ridiculed “Bible believing” scholars who insisted that Christ’s return would be immediately preceded by such unlikely events as European political union and a cashless society. No one’s laughing today.

But as Peter understood, a comma on a page in the Bible could be 50 or 100 years for us. God defines “soon” much differently than we do. God’s desire is for “everyone to come to repentance” – for us to invite Christ into our hearts and our lives. On a Bethlehem night 2,000 years ago, He came as a babe. One day, He will come in glory.

In our world, He comes to us through the love and caring of forgiven people living changed lives. Christ means for us to join him in eternal life. For now, His will is for us to be here, loving our neighbor until they ask us why, and then pointing them toward the Cross.

These meditations were prepared by Rich Miller of Lawrenceville, New Jersey. Rich is a lay speaker who attends the The Hopewell United Methodist Church in Hopewell Borough, N.J.
From the Christmas in Cyberspace website

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