H/T to Lucille for the following video.
H/T to Lucille for the following video.
On January 6 Christians celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany of our Lord. The word epiphany comes from the Greek word epiphainen and means “to manifest” or “to reveal.”
In the Catholic Church in the United States we observe Epiphany this year today, Sunday January 5th, rather than the actual date. So, some confusion for me as to which day to post this, so I am putting it up today, to be here for all to enjoy, whether you choose to observe today or tomorrow.
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
The Epiphany is the manifestation of Jesus as Messiah of Israel, Son of God and Saviour of the world. the great feast of Epiphany celebrates the adoration of Jesus by the wise men (magi) from the East, together with his baptism in the Jordan and the wedding feast at Cana in Galilee.
In the magi, representatives of the neighbouring pagan religions, the Gospel sees the first-fruits of the nations, who welcome the good news of salvation through the Incarnation.
The magi’s coming to Jerusalem in order to pay homage to the king of the Jews shows that they seek in Israel, in the messianic light of the star of David, the one who will be king of the nations.
Their coming means that pagans can discover Jesus and worship him as Son of God and Saviour of the world only by turning towards the Jews and receiving from them the messianic promise as contained in the Old Testament.
The Epiphany shows that “the full number of the nations” now takes its “place in the family of the patriarchs”, and acquires Israelitica dignitas (is made “worthy of the heritage of Israel”) [CCC 528]. Taken from a post on NCR here.
The magi, also known as the Wise Men and the Three Kings, although the number was never specified in the Bible, came seeking the King because of a widespread belief that a universal king would come from the nation of Israel.
According to Chinese Zodiac, the Jade Emperor said the order of the zodiac would be decided by the order in which they arrived to his party. The Ox was about to be the first to arrive, but Rat tricked Ox into giving him a ride. Then, just as they arrived, Rat jumped down and landed ahead of Ox. Thus, Ox became the second animal in the zodiac and the Rat the first.
From all the crew here at the The Conservative Treehouse, we wish you the best new year ever. Over the years you have laughed and cried, celebrated and prayed with us, not only for our country, our President, and many events that have brought this rag tab bunch together in mutual interest, but for each other and our families.
We wish you the very best today and every day to follow, and appreciate the fact that you are here with us.
Some of us believe in New Year’s Resolutions and some don’t. In the past I have devoted a lot of time to coming up with too many things to put on my list. These past years I have greatly pared it down to a few things.
After that I looked underneath the one or two things most important to me, to see if I could think about specific things to bring about the end result I wanted, and work on basics.
This year I have yet another approach, but it is really hard to put into words and share. A few weeks ago our priest suggested (and of course I am paraphrasing his idea here, but trying very hard to stick to his meaning) that we limit God with our idea of who He is, what He is capable of, what His plans ought to be.
Because we are small, timid, afraid spiritually, and most of all perhaps, afraid to really trust Him enough, we stick to really little things, we approach the perimeters of His greatness, glory, mercy, and wonderful design, for us, for all humanity, for all of history, unfolding now and forever.
Despite constant evidence that great things are accomplished by people just exactly like you and me, despite the two thousand year history of Christianity, despite the ages old history of God’s faithfulness to His people, we cower and rarely venture out in faith, in hope, in charity, fully clothed in the power that is ours to call on.
This year I am going to work on changing my vision. Can’t say that today or any other day it will be a done deal, but I am going to try to remember to ask God not only for what might be no trouble for Him, some little thing that is likely to come my way anyhow. And nope, it won’t be asking to win the lottery or something along those lines.
I am going to try to open my heart, give God my fears and insecurities and let Him help me grow into whatever He might intend. That isn’t really easy for me, because first of all, I am a control freak. Second, I naturally try to boss people around, and I think I am pretty good at logistics and getting things done. I like to plan things.
Most of all though, I read a lot, and observe things. Giving God control is not an easy thing, and there actually is a lot that can be scary about it. He has a habit of taking a lot of people where they don’t want to go.
John chapter 21, v 18 says:
* Amen, amen, I say to you,j when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.”
Now, I do not expect to be martyred as St. Peter was, and every other apostle except St. John, but I do think that God expects me to sacrifice myself to His work and plans, and I absolutely have no agreement or basis of understanding for the prosperity gospel folks.
As I read the Bible, I am told that Jesus expects me, tells me himself, to take up my cross and follow him. And I should do it joyfully because he promises to help make that burden light.
So, this year I hope to work to trust that promise, and learn that way. I really suck at that. I’ve pretty much failed every attempt, with a few exceptions, exceptions that were in fact gifts of pure grace from God, not my doing at all, just rare moments of me not getting in His way.
So, this year, I figure my best bet is to start everyday with the truth. Jesus, Father God, Holy Spirit, I am afraid, I can’t do this, but I believe you can. Help me, lead me, carry me today, for I have nothing to give, so please, please, help me empty myself and let you do the work. I am not sure I even have the ability to crack the door open God, so please, would you just come in and get started on me today?
You see, I might never be courageous, faith filled, or even able to say yes and do it, even in little ways. But I finally believe that I can just tell Him that and hopefully hang on for the ride.
I hope you will pray for me, as I will for you guys. Happy New Year. Ask.Big.Things.
I have long felt that life is like a series of links in a chain. You might be driving down the road and you hear a song on the radio, or see a picture, and you feel a memory…. Something that reminds you of a different time and place than where you are right now.
The memories you consider remind you of a totally different time in your life. Perhaps you lived in a different place. Perhaps you were surrounded by different people. Perhaps a different job or completely different friends.
You recognize those memories were constructed like frozen moments in time. They become individual links in the chain in your life.
We never actually realize, in the immediate moment, when one link closes, and another link begins. But when we look back, we can clearly see distinct points where things changed, the link closed, and a new link began. The links are only clearly visible in reflection.
At the point where the links are joined we carry parts of the previous link forward to the next.
For many people those connections are bonded by family, or very strong life long relationships. Connections which continue beyond our geographic moments, jobs, or temporary acquaintances.
But for everyone, the primary bonding agent brought forward from one link to the next is ourselves, our center, our values and core principles. Our beliefs.
The strength of the steel which comprises the links of our life is determined by forging in the fire of adversity, weakness, challenge, pain, loss, and painful growth. The steel is then cooled with the tears of triumph, hurdles overcome, and resolve.
The forging makes the steel stronger and able to withstand the pressures that accompany the additional length. Slowly the chain becomes wiser as it lengthens. Able to reach further, form more significant benefits, and become more useful.
Hope replaces fear. Love replaces loneliness. Success replaces adversity. These are successful links began and finished while contributing to the whole.
At times we may manipulate the links with avoidance. We hide from or choose to avoid an issue in our effort to begin a new link before the old one was naturally, and spiritually, prepared to be closed. Eventually as life continues, and the chain lengthens, the weak link can fracture and we are forced to revisit/repair what we originally chose to avoid.
You see, in life we cannot control the universal laws that guide us. So if we manipulate circumstances to avoid confronting our own weakness, we cannot fully strengthen our life of links. Eventually, the weakness of our past will impact our future.
So what principles do we carry from link to link? What core values and beliefs stay with us throughout the journey of our lives? The answers to these questions are what makes us human spiritual beings.
We possess freewill able to make choices about what we do, and how we define our individual humanity; but can we then define ’right’ and ‘wrong’ according to our individual principles? Or are there principles that exceed our influence and definition? Are there natural laws of right and wrong, good and bad, that cannot be subjected to the determination of man? These are the bigger questions, perhaps the more important questions, and yet perhaps the ones we reflect upon the least.
A student can skip class, take few notes, pay only half attention, then stay up all night cramming for a test and manage a decent grade. It depends on the students goal: grades or learning.
The student can choose to manipulate the education, by avoiding the learning and capturing the grade. This is possible in the ‘Law of the School’. However, a farmer cannot take short cuts. A farmer cannot avoid tending to the soil, preparing the seed, fertilizing and nurturing the crop, and still gain benefit of an abundant harvest. The farmer must necessarily do all of the appropriate work in order to benefit from it. Such is the ‘Law of the Farm’, the natural law.
When one considers the weakness remaining within a poorly constructed, and manipulated link, perhaps established by selfish choices and driven by avoidance and fear, one can be faithfully be assured those who have dealt dishonestly with us will have to visit the issues of their association again. No amount of manipulation or avoidance is going to improve the frailty of any link without first resolving the lack of character which created the weakness.
So we have choices in our lives. Decisions we each make regarding how we interact, and participate in the lives and links of others; As well as how we choose to construct the links that compromise our own lives. Do we base our sense of purpose around natural principles? Principles based on natural laws of right and wrong, good and bad, truth and lies.
Do we forge strong links based on following our heart, our values? If we can interact with others absent of a prideful self-driven agenda, or manipulative intent, we can then apply such principles and strength to our endeavors.
If we protect the integrity of the soil upon which we build the foundation of our lives, we can live without regret. If we fertilize and cherish our crop, and the crop of our neighbor with honesty and sincere appreciation for the souls we meet along our chosen path, we will live a life of abundance. If we tend carefully to the consideration of everyone, yet holding true to our values and principles, we can strengthen ourselves amid the face of adversity and disenchantment.
If we do not hide from, nor ignore, our individual and collective faults, we can build the chain of our life with strength, humility, and purpose.
I wish for each of you a long chain of bold, strong, beautiful links, polished with the reflective brilliance of Love…….. The very happiest of blessings for a brand New Year.
Because giving at Christmas is always better than receiving, isn’t it?
He woke suddenly and completely. It was four o’clock, the hour at which his father had always called him to get up and help with the milking. Strange how the habits of his youth clung to him still! Fifty years ago, and his father had been dead for thirty years, and yet he waked at four o’clock in the morning. He had trained himself to turn over and go to sleep, but this morning it was Christmas, he did not try to sleep.
Why did he feel so awake tonight? He slipped back in time, as he did so easily nowadays. He was fifteen years old and still on his father’s farm. He loved his father. He had not known it until one day a few days before Christmas, when he had overheard what his father was saying to his mother.
“Mary, I hate to call Rob in the mornings. He’s growing so fast and he needs his sleep. If you could see how he sleeps when I go in to wake him up! I wish I could manage alone.”
“Well, you can’t, Adam.” His mother’s voice was brisk. “Besides, he isn’t a child anymore. It’s time he took his turn.”
“Yes,” his father said slowly. “But I sure do hate to wake him.”
When he heard these words, something in him spoke: his father loved him! He had never thought of that before, taking for granted the tie of their blood. Neither his father nor his mother talked about loving their children–they had no time for such things. There was always so much to do on the farm.
Now that he knew his father loved him, there would be no loitering in the mornings and having to be called again. He got up after that, stumbling blindly in his sleep, and pulled on his clothes, his eyes shut, but he got up.
And then on the night before Christmas, that year when he was fifteen, he lay for a few minutes thinking about the next day. They were poor, and most of the excitement was in the turkey they had raised themselves and mince pies his mother made. His sisters sewed presents and his mother and father always bought him something he needed, not only a warm jacket, maybe, but something more, such as a book. And he saved and bought them each something, too.
He wished, that Christmas when he was fifteen, he had a better present for his father. As usual he had gone to the ten-cent store and bought a tie. It had seemed nice enough until he lay thinking the night before Christmas. He looked out of his attic window, the stars were bright.
“Dad,” he had once asked when he was a little boy, “What is a stable?”
“It’s just a barn,” his father had replied, “like ours.”
Then Jesus had been born in a barn, and to a barn the shepherds had come…
The thought struck him like a silver dagger. Why should he not give his father a special gift too, out there in the barn? He could get up early, earlier than four o’clock, and he could creep into the barn and get all the milking done. He’d do it alone, milk and clean up, and then when his father went in to start the milking he’d see it all done. And he would know who had done it. He laughed to himself as he gazed at the stars. It was what he would do, and he musn’t sleep too sound.
He must have waked twenty times, scratching a match each time to look at his old watch — midnight, and half past one, and then two o’clock.
At a quarter to three he got up and put on his clothes. He crept downstairs, careful of the creaky boards, and let himself out. The cows looked at him, sleepy and surprised. It was early for them, too.
He had never milked all alone before, but it seemed almost easy. He kept thinking about his father’s surprise. His father would come in and get him, saying that he would get things started while Rob was getting dressed. He’d go to the barn, open the door, and then he’d go get the two big empty milk cans. But they wouldn’t be waiting or empty, they’d be standing in the milk-house, filled.
“What the–,” he could hear his father exclaiming.
He smiled and milked steadily, two strong streams rushing into the pail, frothing and fragrant.
The task went more easily than he had ever known it to go before. Milking for once was not a chore. It was something else, a gift to his father who loved him. He finished, the two milk cans were full, and he covered them and closed the milk-house door carefully, making sure of the latch.
Back in his room he had only a minute to pull off his clothes in the darkness and jump into bed, for he heard his father up. He put the covers over his head to silence his quick breathing. The door opened.
“Rob!” His father called. “We have to get up, son, even if it is Christmas.”
“Aw-right,” he said sleepily.
The door closed and he lay still, laughing to himself. In just a few minutes his father would know. His dancing heart was ready to jump from his body.
The minutes were endless — ten, fifteen, he did not know how many — and he heard his father’s footsteps again. The door opened and he lay still.
His father was laughing, a queer sobbing sort of laugh.
“Thought you’d fool me, did you?” His father was standing by his bed, feeling for him, pulling away the cover.
“It’s for Christmas, Dad!”
He found his father and clutched him in a great hug. He felt his father’s arms go around him. It was dark and they could not see each other’s faces.
“Son, I thank you. Nobody ever did a nicer thing–”
“Oh, Dad, I want you to know — I do want to be good!” The words broke from him of their own will. He did not know what to say. His heart was bursting with love.
He got up and pulled on his clothes again and they went down to the Christmas tree. Oh what a Christmas, and how his heart had nearly burst again with shyness and pride as his father told his mother and made the younger children listen about how he, Rob, had got up all by himself.
“The best Christmas gift I ever had, and I’ll remember it, son every year on Christmas morning, so long as I live.”
They had both remembered it, and now that his father was dead, he remembered it alone: that blessed Christmas dawn when, alone with the cows in the barn, he had made his first gift of true love.
This Christmas he wanted to write a card to his wife and tell her how much he loved her, it had been a long time since he had really told her, although he loved her in a very special way, much more than he ever had when they were young. He had been fortunate that she had loved him. Ah, that was the true joy of life, the ability to love. Love was still alive in him, it still was.
It occurred to him suddenly that it was alive because long ago it had been born in him when he knew his father loved him. That was it: Love alone could awaken love. And he could give the gift again and again.This morning, this blessed Christmas morning, he would give it to his beloved wife. He could write it down in a letter for her to read and keep forever. He went to his desk and began his love letter to his wife: My dearest love…
Such a happy, happy Christmas!
In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus
that the whole world should be enrolled.
This was the first enrollment,
when Quirinius was governor of Syria.
So all went to be enrolled, each to his own town.
And Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth
to Judea, to the city of David that is called Bethlehem,
because he was of the house and family of David,
to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.
While they were there,
the time came for her to have her child,
and she gave birth to her firstborn son.
She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger,
because there was no room for them in the inn.
Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields
and keeping the night watch over their flock.
The angel of the Lord appeared to them
and the glory of the Lord shone around them,
and they were struck with great fear.
The angel said to them,
“Do not be afraid;
for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy
that will be for all the people.
For today in the city of David
a savior has been born for you who is Christ and Lord.
And this will be a sign for you:
you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes
and lying in a manger.”
And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel,
praising God and saying:
“Glory to God in the highest
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
This is a Christmas post. Absolutely no tolerance will be given to any off topic comments. Please respect the intent and nature of this post, keeping it open for Christmas greetings and comments.
Steadfast, unwavering, and with abiding love… I wish everyone a joyous and Merry Christmas.
Luke 2-8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
[…] 14-And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. 16-And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. 17-And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. 18-And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 19-But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. 20-And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.
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