#Snacks

Advent Challenge

I recently heard a famous doctor say that we need more sleep than we realize. Like a doomsday preacher, he admonished everyone to get a minimum of eight hours per night and proclaimed that we can never make up for lost sleep. This was tough for me to hear because I have never been much of a sleeper and I doubt anything is about to change. Ironically, today is the First Sunday of Advent when the gospel of Mark warns us to “stay awake.” Mark is obviously not talking about physical sleep. Rather, he warns us about spiritual attentiveness or vigilance. From my perspective, this is a much more difficult challenge in a culture that seems to foster sleepwalking through stunning sunsets, stimulating conversations and the restorative powers of prayer. Our “busyness” causes not only loss of sleep but also inner peace. To be counter-cultural, I plan to take the 21 Days of Peace Practices challenge with our parish during Advent this year. Maybe I will sleep better if I put down the lists and get out from behind the screens to breathe in the peace of Christ. Won’t you join me?

Here’s the link: http://stedward.com/advent-2017/

by DC

An Advent Message

Last night I watched the movie “A Christmas Candle,” taken from the Max Lucado book. Once a year during Advent, the story tells of an angel coming to this rural village’s candle maker and blessing one of his candles, making it glow with God’s love. The person most in need in the community receives the candle and prays with it, asking God for divine help. Each time the prayer is answered, the town believes there has been a miracle performed. However, this time, when the angel comes and blesses the candle, the candlemaker trips and falls and loses the glowing candle under a cabinet. He and his wife decide to give all of their candles away and say that each is the blessed candle. The last Sunday of Advent, in the small church, the ruse is discovered. However, each member of the community stands up and shares how their prayers had been answered. So it wasn’t the candle but the prayers of petition and trust that God would answer them that created the miracles. Grateful and blessed by this reminder of God’s faithfulness!

by Gracie

Soul-Tending

As Advent approaches, I feel my soul needing some tending to. I am thankful for this “sacred pause” that our church invites us to enter into. It’s a time for making sacred space so God can enter into our lives in a new and mysterious way. There is no special formula for how to do Advent. It is all Spirit-led if we allow the Spirit to help us in our waiting and fill us with a deep joy that no one can ever take away from us. This quote says it best, “To soul tend does not mean we do the work. Our souls are the work of the Gardener. But I believe we have to connect to the Holy to do that. We have to let the Gardener dig around our roots.. throw out the stones and twigs and clogs of clay; to fertilize with sacred time, and thoughts, and community.” So I will look for ways this Advent to allow the Gardener to tend to my soul so that I may better tend to the soul of others.

by Cathy

Saint of the Post Office

I really enjoy going to my local post office. It is a tiny pre-fab building, in the parking lot of a Laguna Woods clubhouse. The place is often crowded with older folks struggling with boxy packages, mailing envelopes, letters, or cards headed for all parts of the world. Alma runs the place. I am sure she is destined for sainthood. The first time I met her she was waiting on a senior who was trying to mail a  care package to a nephew in prison. The lady didn’t have the correct address and seemed embarrassed and frustrated. Alma looked up the information on her computer. She put the correct postage on the box, making small-talk in a kind, calm voice. The place was packed.  Alma radiated serenity. I was the last one in line. I said to Alma “You are so calm and serene. You must be a Buddhist or something.” “No. I’m a Christian. I used to be very impatient. I think God sent me here to learn patience.”

by Nathaniel

Away and Back

This was the first year that I spent Thanksgiving away from home. My husband and I squeezed suitcases, “essential” baby contraptions and our two boys into the car and set off to the mountains for the holiday. We joyfully joined my husband’s family for a week of relaxation and wilderness adventures, including some snow! Together, we “christened” the family cabin with our first Thanksgiving feast. As we sat around the table, hearts filled to the brim with love and gratitude for each other and for this one, precious life. It was beautiful. And at the same time, I missed home. We returned Saturday evening, tired and ragged from the long car ride, but my grateful heart continued to soar as I felt the comfort of being home. There is nothing like that feeling of coming home – like running into the arms of Christ.

by CMM

Prophetic Voices

I am grateful for people of courage and faith who are willing to stand up for justice and peace like beacons in the night.  This past Sunday’s gospel (Matthew 25:31-46) speaks so succinctly about our responsibilities for each other.  Jesus made it so clear! Feed the hungry. Welcome the stranger among us. Cloth the naked. Take care of the sick. Treat the imprisoned with mercy. ML King of America, Gandhi of India and Romero of El Salvador and Christ the King were all martyred for following this call.  Heeding the cry of the poor, providing decent health care for all, embracing immigrants fleeing persecution and economic hardship, and showing mercy to the incarcerated and those imprisoned by addiction are dangerous pursuits to be sure. I hail the prophetic voices that speak up for the demonized, the forgotten and the shunned. Am I a sheep or a goat?

by Andrew

Communal Thanks

I was thinking about how many times in the mass we say “thank you” to God. In the Gloria “We praise you, we glorify you, we thank you for your great glory.” One of my favorite parts of the Mass is the preface to the Eucharistic prayer when the celebrant prays “It is truly right and just, our duty and salvation, always and everywhere to give you thanks, Father most holy, through your beloved Son, Jesus Christ…” It is a firm reminder to be thankful for the many blessings in our lives as we are about to partake in the greatest of all God’s gifts, the Body and Blood of our Savior. It causes me to reflect on all the goodness in my own life: the freedom to worship, the blessing of being a part of such a vibrant faith community, and the saving grace of a God who is always with me.

by JAM

Becoming Streams of Peace

Concerns about peace have permeated my thoughts throughout my entire life. First, it was the Cold War during childhood; then Viet Nam in Middle/High School and college. During my adult life, one conflict after another paraded before the public eye. In 2001, like many others, I went into a serious depression about the increasing violence in the world. But what could I do? Prompted by the Spirit, I vowed to stream peace whenever I could. Together with concerned others, we created quiet retreats, helped build the meditation garden outside our church, and taught people contemplative prayer practices. While my individual peace of mind has definitely improved, fear still looms its ugly head every time mass violence erupts somewhere. Time to increase the stream of peace! Please come and join us, as House of Prayer, to remember those who are grieving loss and to pray for peace just before Advent begins. We will gather on November 27 at 7:00 p.m. in the church for a very special night of readings, music, and time to reflect. Begin the Advent and Christmas season with a heart full of peace, the gift that everyone needs.

by DC