Christmastide Blessings

Christmastide Blessings
Annual Incarnation of the Story of the Birth of Jesus

Continuing the work of Jesus, simply, peacefully, JOYFULLY, together.

We worship at 9:30 am on Sunday.
Sunday School begins at 11 am.
Potluck is the first Sunday of the month.

17975 Centreville-Constantine Road, Constantine, MI 49042

florence.brethren.mennonite@gmail.com

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

December 24: Blessed Christmas to All!

"To us a child is born,
to us a son is given."




We are knit once more into God's DNA
as we embody the old, old story
of Jesus becoming flesh and bone.

May you know the peace and power of "God with you"
on this day and tomorrow and in the year to come.

peace,
Nina for Florence Church of the Brethren Mennonite







December 23: O Emmanuel


O Emmanuel:

“O Emmanuel, king and lawgiver,
desire of the nations, Savior of all people,
come and set us free,
Lord our God.”

Isaiah had prophesied,
“The Lord himself will give you this sign:
the Virgin shall be with child, and bear a son,
and shall name him Emmanuel.” (7:14).

“Emmanuel” means “God is with us.”


The face of The Christ is always Emmanuel, God with Us.

And we are all Mary before God,
welcoming our full humanity
by agreeing to hold The Living Christ in our own cells.

Emmanuel, you are whispering
your invitation in my ear:
"Come dance!"
It is the eve of Christmas eve.
This is the day of innocence
and the gateway of New Birth.
You will need to knit this joy in your bones,
because humanity is the necessary and fleshy fabric
stretched between birth and death.
With Jesus you are swaddled.
Tomorrow, who knows, with him you may embrace
the winding cloth.

Today is always the Dance Between
of Life.

"Holy, holy, holy,"
it is all holy.

Let the Holy-Days begin again!

December 22: O Desire of Nations


O Rex Gentium:

“O King of all the nations,
the only joy of every human heart;
O Keystone of the mighty arch of humanity,
come and save the creature you fashioned from the dust.”

Isaiah had prophesied,
“For a child is born to us, a son is given us;
upon his shoulder dominion rests.
They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero,
Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.” (9:5),

and
“He shall judge between the nations,
and impose terms on many peoples.
They shall beat their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks;
one nation shall not raise the sword against another,
nor shall they train for war again.” (2:4)


In the face of The Christ we see the Desire of Nations.

"Where are the African women?"

I was in Asuncion, Paraguay for a women's gathering as part of Mennonite World Conference. The women from Latin America were our hostesses.

"Dé todos un abrazo."
"Give a hug to everyone," they said.

And like long lost friends, we were given crushingly warm embraces, one after another, all around the crowded room. Holy Spirit energy flared, faces lit from deep within.

"Where are the African women," I asked again.

I was eagerly waiting to meet the sister I had only known through a few phone calls and emails over a four year period. We had been paired to support one another as Sister-Link women theologians.

The African women had been invited her to Paraguay, to this women's gathering, to tell their story of organizing and supporting one another as gifted theological leaders. They were that morning, not too surprisingly, late.

"There they are. Sibusisiwe is right over there."

We found each other. We embraced. And floods of tears burst from both of us, beyond words. Only face to face recognition and repeated embraces could speak between us though we had a common English language.

What a well-spring of desire for this friendship, this meeting, I had! What a desire for this one heart-link around the globe. How that must be, in some deeply unrecognized way, be the desire of billions!

The hall echoed with songs and shouts of praise to the King of All, the Desire of Nations!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

December 21: O Daystar


O Oriens:
“O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice:
come, shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.”

Isaiah had prophesied, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shown.” (9:1).

Dawn, face of The Christ.
In you we have faith always.
Though the sun may be obscured by darkness,
the gray shroud of northern Indiana in this season,
yet the light shifts, daily, from night into day.
Though the hours of the day wax and wane,
the seasons remain constant in their rotation.
And sometimes, for the early riser, there is glory!

On this day of Solstice: full moon, longest night, you hold promise.

"By the tender mercy of our God
the dawn from on high with rise upon us
to give light to those who sit in darkness
and the shadow of death
and to guide our feet into the way of peace."
Luke 1:78-79

Monday, December 20, 2010

December 20: O Key of David



O Clavis David:

“O Key of David, O royal Power of Israel controlling at your will the gate of Heaven: Come, break down the prison walls of death for those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death; and lead your captive people into freedom.”

Isaiah had prophesied, "I will place the Key of the House of David on His shoulder; when he opens, no one will shut, when he shuts, no one will open.” (22:22),

and “His dominion is vast and forever peaceful, from David’s throne, and over His kingdom, which he confirms and sustains by judgment and justice, both now and forever.” (9:6).

Key Wielder, you are a face of The Christ.

I see you breaking into prison today. I hear your keys rattling. They are not the rattle of death, though they have sounded so in the past. They are the rattle of a familiar, of the one who comes "home" to unlock the door, and I am not afraid. The door is opened by the friend who has been given the spare key to the house. No need to knock.

So what if such a one, a powerful one, a liberator, walked into prison today. Walked into the cells of my friends. Walked into "solitude" to bring a message of unimaginable freedom. Beyond the bars, that is where we all want to be.

But which are stronger, bars of steel or invisible bars that lock us into isolation while barraged by all manner of voices and bodies assailing our eyes and ears and souls without the permission of the intimate who has earned our key?

Jailer! Chaplain! Come in! In this lock down in my heart, sit awhile. Lock me in your embrace of confrontation and comfort. Show me the freedom of your safety.

December 19: O Root of Jesse


O Radix Jesse: “O Flower of Jesse’s stem, you have been raised up as a sign for all peoples; kings stand silent in your presence; the nations bow down in worship before you. Come, let nothing keep you from coming to our aid.”

Isaiah had prophesied, “But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom.” (11:1),

and "On that day, the root of Jesse, set up as a signal for the nations, the Gentiles shall seek out, for his dwelling shall be glorious.” (11:10).

Remember also that Jesse was the father of King David, and Micah had prophesied that the Messiah would be of the house and lineage of David and be born in David’s city, Bethlehem (Micah 5:1).


Root. You are a face of The Christ. Roots of the family tree of God. Roots of creation. The tentacles that root us into the DNA of God.

Lucy, you speak to me today from the voice of that unknown couple long ago who fostered me into the family of humanity. Maybe in eastern Africa, you held my fore-bear infant, aping love.

How did you know to tend and protect, to nurse and nit pick? Because, it seems, God's DNA is set on pro-creation. This is not only the expansion of life, that that ROOT FORCE that keeps arising anew.

After the long cold winter, deep roots will send up juice into plants and trees. They will release their waster, oxygen. We will breath back: carbon dioxide. Male and Female, root and fruit. God's tendrils hold us fast.

We are rooted and grounded in love...

Saturday, December 18, 2010

December 18: O Mighty Lord


O Adonai:

“O sacred Lord of ancient Israel, who showed yourself to Moses in the burning bush, who gave him the holy law on Sinai mountain: come, stretch out your mighty hand to set us free.”

Isaiah had prophesied, “But He shall judge the poor with justice, and decide aright for the land’s afflicted. He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked. Justice shall be the band around his waist, and faithfulness a belt upon his hips.” (11:4-5);

and “Indeed the Lord will be there with us, majestic; yes the Lord our judge, the Lord our lawgiver, the Lord our king, he it is who will save us.” (33:22).


Mighty Lord, Master Ruler,
is one of the faces of The Christ.

Beyond any guru prophet for whom I have longed in the past,
beyond charisma and confrontation,
this ONE GOVERNOR IN GOD is embedded in the heart
of each politician's best visions
and each lawmakers gut sense of justice, and
like Judge Judy or Dr. Phil
can also call such ones to task in a moment
making all evasion of truth blatant foolishness.

When I call you to rule in me,
you appear as Mother Teresa,
who sternly, solidly ruled an army of nuns and volunteers
to not even try to save Calcutta
but only, O ALMIGHTY LORD, tend its destitute dying.

What task do you have for me, Mother?
What foolishness do you discern
in my distracted heart?
Put me to work at the task YOU see at hand.

Friday, December 17, 2010

December 17: O WISDOM


DECEMBER 17 – O WISDOM
O Sapientia: “O Wisdom, O holy Word of God, you govern all creation with your strong yet tender care. Come and show your people the way to salvation.”

Isaiah had prophesied, “The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: a spirit of wisdom and of understanding, a spirit of counsel and of strength, a spirit of knowledge and fear of the Lord, and his delight shall be the fear of the Lord.” (11:2-3),

and “Wonderful is His counsel and great is His wisdom.” (28:29).


Wisdom.
You are a face of The Christ.
When I asked you to speak to me today
you appeared as a fourteen year old Mexican immigrant
named Manuel.
You did not say much.
You stood in your early manhood, silent,
watching, absorbing
a world that says you are not entitled.
And you look at me and see all the perks
that I live with mindlessly.

What is your wisdom for me?

"Look at me," you say.
"See the river and the desert I have crossed
to reach out my hands to you,
to wash your car and your dishes,
to pick your strawberries and lettuce,
to work as hard as I can to gain your dream."

"Look at me," you say,
"with eyes made wise, with eyes that smile
and see us both living beyond bread alone.
Show me, in how you live,
that there is Another Way."

O Antiphons anticipate Christmas


For worship at Florence we have been using the ancient tradition of the O Antiphons. The hymn "O come, O come, Emmanuel" sings out these longings, and is often used week by week in congregations as one, then two, then three, then four Advent candles are lit. However, the tradition has a deeper structure, which you will find reflected below.

For each day from December 17 through December 23 you will find here a reflection on each of these prayers.

What are the "O Antiphons"?

The “O Antiphons” refer to the seven antiphons that are recited (or chanted) preceding the Magnificat during Vespers of the Liturgy of the Hours. They cover the special period of Advent preparation known as the Octave before Christmas, Dec. 17-23, with Dec. 24 being Christmas Eve and Vespers for that evening being for the Christmas Vigil.

The exact origin of the “O Antiphons” is not known. Boethius (c. 480-524) made a slight reference to them, thereby suggesting their presence at that time. At the Benedictine abbey of Fleury (now Saint-Benoit-sur-Loire), these antiphons were recited by the abbot and other abbey leaders in descending rank, and then a gift was given to each member of the community. By the eighth century, they are in use in the liturgical celebrations in Rome. The usage of the “O Antiphons” was so prevalent in monasteries that the phrases, “Keep your O” and “The Great O Antiphons” were common parlance. One may thereby conclude that in some fashion the “O Antiphons” have been part of our liturgical tradition since the very early Church.

The importance of “O Antiphons” is twofold: Each one highlights a title for the Messiah: O Sapientia (O Wisdom), O Adonai (O Lord), O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse), O Clavis David (O Key of David), O Oriens (O Rising Sun), O Rex Gentium (O King of the Nations), and O Emmanuel. Also, each one refers to the prophecy of Isaiah of the coming of the Messiah. …

According to Professor Robert Greenberg of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, the Benedictine monks arranged these antiphons with a definite purpose. If one starts with the last title and takes the first letter of each one - Emmanuel, Rex, Oriens, Clavis, Radix, Adonai, Sapientia - the Latin words ero cras are formed, meaning, “Tomorrow, I will come.” Therefore, the Lord Jesus, whose coming we have prepared for in Advent and whom we have addressed in these seven Messianic titles, now speaks to us, “Tomorrow, I will come.” So the “O Antiphons” not only bring intensity to our Advent preparation, but bring it to a joyful conclusion.


This information was provided by the following website: http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/religion/re0374.html

Sunday, December 12, 2010

December Family Night

Cold night, warm meal! A great crowd of almost 40 came to the third Family Night. The meal: spagetti, garlic bread, green salad, apple cider, pumpkin pie and whipped cream. Thanks to all helpful hands!

If you have suggestions about Family Nights in the year 2011, get in touch with planners Nora Harris and Jane Bowers.










Tuesday, December 7, 2010

NOVEMBER FAMILY NIGHT



Thursday, November 14, lots of people were coming down with the flu. But that did not prevent twenty of us from having a great time, playing Legos, tickling babies, talking in the kitchen, and taking cool photos!

This Thursday, December 9, is the next Family Night! Come on down!