Month: December 2014
God of all Space and Time, view
we celebrate the explosion of your consciousness
that formed the stars, try the planets, unhealthy
the skies and oceans,
the plants and animals,
and every single human
on this precious, fragile planet.
The birth of the Christ child
reminds us that we are very physically
One with your consciousness,
formed from you.
The Christ reminds us that
we are more than physical.
We are metaphysical,
experiencing a briefly glorious moment of time
in an eternal lightness of being.
We praise you
and give thanks
for the opportunity to serve.
We pray that we don’t squander this gift of life.
Guide us through all our days, Lord.
Help us make decisions that reflect
and your love for all living things.
We confess that this physical existence distracts us.
We look around and see limited resources
rather than unlimited love.
rather than share.
We make decisions about people’s worth
based on the color of their skin,
the perceived and subjective beauty of their features,
and the amount of money in their checking accounts.
all the time,
and we judge harshly,
even when we judge ourselves.
Forgive us, Tender One,
for our judgmental,
Change our hearts, dear God.
We give up and give in.
We give ourselves to your power.
Remind us from where we came.
Reminds us from whom we came.
Remind us we are all brothers and sisters.
Show us that the truth of this physical reality
is that it all began as a dream—
an imperceptible moment
of conscious self-realization
as you exploded
in a life-giving bang of reality.
We pray that remembering and rediscovering this truth
will help us love each other more deeply,
respect each other more honestly,
and support each other more completely.
As our global economies collapse,
as the world reinvents itself,
as we once again find ourselves thrown into global wars
fought over false perceptions of difference,
lack, and limitation,
lead us out of the darkness.
Show us we are One,
with each other.
As the Christ child lit the way so many years ago,
ignite the Christ within us,
all your children,
so we too may light the way forward
out of this long night’s journey into day.
We pray for everyone around the world
suffering at the hands of evil people.
We pray for the loved ones in our families,
and our synagogues.
We pray for family members and friends
who are suffering from the effects of disease,
which torments us and our loved ones,
physically and spiritually.
Be with us now and forever,
God, who never deserts us,
God who cannot desert us,
for you are us,
and we are you,
infinite being created and recreated,
cleansed and nourished,
born from and ever returning to
the stuff of the stars.
We pray to you in the manner Jesus taught his disciples:
who is everything,
honored be your name.
Your kingdom come,
Your will be done,
throughout our being,
as it is throughout the universe.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For you are the truth, the way and the light,
This very special series of Christmas devotionals is by Trudy Junkroski.
Gazing into the Manger, help Part III
Scripture: But Mary treasured all these things, recipe pondering them in her heart. The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them. Luke 2:19,20 (NASB)
Thought for the Day: This Christmas season more than any other in my life, I keep feeling drawn to the manger. I’ve had several sleepless nights contemplating the manger – not the broader Christmas story, but focusing on the manger in particular. I have felt shrouded by the intense light emanating from where Christ lay, and I have also seen the manger dark and empty. I’d never thought of the manger that way before. The dark and empty manger was a little disconcerting at first, but then led me to a different train of thought. The light of God’s love is there whether we’re looking into a glowing manger or into emptiness. It’s there when we’re on the holiday high of the season, or feeling melancholy; in the face of loneliness, in the loss of a loved one, devastation, oppression; every time we wake up greeting the morning enthusiastically or when we’re willing ourselves to put one foot in the front of the other to get through the day. It’s there in the face of uncertainty, in having to let go of the familiar and step into the unknown, in the birth of a child, in a wedding, in the courage to face another medical procedure, in caring for children, friends and strangers. The light is there because it’s alive in us.
At the heart of Christmas, gazing into the manger, we experience the humility and the power of God’s infinite love embodied in the Christ Child. We are forever transformed by the Light of the World. Long after the crèches and manger scenes have been packed away, the light still shines. The light is for everyone, while at the same time being the most personal gift that we will ever receive. Whether it’s shining brightly or a dim flicker, we carry the gift of God’s light into the world, renewed in us every time we gaze into the manger.
Prayer: God of infinite light, this Christmas, we gaze into the manger and are renewed. Your light is alive in us and through us! Hallelujah!
This very special series of Christmas devotionals is by Trudy Junkroski.
Gazing into the Manger, treatment Part II
Scripture: When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds begansaying to one another, “Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.” So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. Luke2:15,16 (NASB)
Thought for the Day: One year, as an adult, I broke tradition a bit and went away for Christmas. I had the wonderful experience of being in Spain at Christmastime. I was only there for a short time, wandering around the cobblestone streets and old stone buildings in an old area of Barcelona. I was particularly enjoying seeing all of the crèches – manger scenes – on display throughout town. Just as it was getting dark, I heard hymns coming from somewhere in the midst of the old stone buildings closely clustered together. I followed the sound down some narrow alley-like streets, and found a small cathedral where hymns were being quietly sung while people filed in to view the crèche, light candles, meditate and pray. It was a surreal Christmas scene. Even though I wasn’t certain how welcome I was to enter the cathedral, I couldn’t resist. I was a long way from home on Christmas, gazing into the manger, this beautiful crèche; experiencing the peace, joy, and light – not just feelings associated with Christmas, but a transformation of spirit.
Throughout my life, I’ve enjoyed and embraced the festivities of the Christmas season as window-dressing for the main event of gazing into the manger at the Light of the World. The manger scene has been sort of encapsulated into a nice package with the typical characters – Mary, Joseph, the animals, shepherds, wise men, angels, and Jesus. I think in packaging the story this way, in envisioning this Biblical event of several thousands years ago, perhaps we leave ourselves out of the scene. All of us have a place at the manger. Whether we view the Christmas story literally, metaphorically; have strong opinions or no opinion at all; whether we’re in church, out of church; at home, or strangers in an unfamiliar place, we are welcome at the manger.
(To Be Continued…)
Prayer: God of infinite love, no matter where we are physically and spiritually at this moment, guide us to the manger.
This very special series of Christmas devotionals is by Trudy Junkroski.
Gazing into the Manger, ailment Part I
Scripture: This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, generic “Glory to God in the highest, mind and on earth peace…” Luke 2:12-14 (NASB)
Thought for the Day: Of all the wonderful memories of Christmas from my childhood, my favorite is Christmas Eve – not one particular Christmas Eve, but all of them. In my memory, Christmas Eve unfolded pretty much the same every year. My family would spend all day baking, preparing food, and getting the house in shape for that evening when grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins would gather at our house following the Christmas Eve service at church. We would sometimes prepare up to the last possible minute before it was time to go to church, and we were usually the last family to slip into a pew in the crowded First Methodist Church of Bartow just as the service was beginning. There was always that “Ah…we made it” moment, when we could look down the pew and see that each family member was accounted for, when we could finally breathe, hear the Christmas story, sing the moving hymns that were always part of the Christmas Eve service, and focus on the true meaning of the season. No matter what had happened up to that point during the busy holiday, or what would come after, Christmas Eve was the event that spiritually centered me. In those moments of worship, awe, love, joy, and peace, I experienced God. I felt complete, renewed by the wondrous story of the Christ child, bringing light and new life to the world. Hearing the Christmas story again and again, I could picture the scene from long ago, while experiencing it in the present – this story of humility and power, made real to me again and again in the innermost part of my being.
(To Be Continued…)
Prayer: God of infinite peace, through the bustle of life, guide us to the manger.
There’s no reality except the one contained within us. That’s why so many people live an unreal life. They take images outside them for reality and never allow the world within them to assert itself.
Thought for the Day: We live in a world that leads us to believe we must fight, claw and scratch our way to the top of the heap (Just ask Frank Sinatra). The problem is the heap has no top. As soon as we think we’re king of the hill, we look down and all we see is a pile of hurt feelings, dishonest dealings, half-truths, and lies—mostly to ourselves. Such is the nature of materialism. Such is the affect of this false reality we have created.
The stories about Jesus’ birth are very much parables designed to awaken us all to a greater reality. They are meant to break the spell of the material world and help us transcend materialism by letting God burst forth from within us. Like Jesus, we too are destined to become agents of change, acting from God’s space rather than running around between spaces at the shopping mall.
There is deep meaning in the Christmas story about an explosion of spiritual consciousness into the world. The Christ child is a symbol of that awakening within every human being and the transformative power spiritual awareness has on our concept of reality.
The greatest present I can imagine this year is a Christmas where humans all over the world begin to transcend this reality that burdens us with material dissatisfaction. I hope we all receive the present of open minds and realization of Oneness.
Prayer: Transcendent God, unwrap the ties that trap my mind and reveal your gracious presence within my soul. Awaken the world to a greater sense of purpose and unity. Amen.
Holy God of Love,
we lift our voices in song and praise to your glory.
We give thanks for the presence of the Christ,
God with us,
now and forever.
We are grateful for your unconditional love,
which transforms our lives
and energizes us
with the passion of Jesus.
We pray to know you more deeply, dearest Lord.
We pray to feel you in our lives,
lighting our way,
leading us to lives of faithful service, t
he way Jesus served,
and the way the Christ continues to serve
Help us to be a people who make a difference—
not only through our prayers,
and our hopes,
but also by our witness to the world.
Teach us to treat others as we would be treated.
Keep us from depersonalizing those we
and treating them as statistics.
Help us to remember that
each person has feeling and hope
and no one is so foreign
that he or she deserves to be forgotten.
We know we often fail
to live up to our human potential,
the potential Jesus exemplified
throughout his human life.
We are sometimes petty,
too often intolerant.
from the depths of our souls
to find within us
all the compassion that Jesus so freely shared
with everyone he ever met.
We pray you also grant us
the ability to share our compassion with others.
You are with us,
now and forever,
Holiest of all.
We pray that
your healing presence
will be with all those we love,
and with those we will never meet,
who suffer at the hands
of global injustice and oppression.
With all praise and adoration,
we ask these things in the name of the One
whose birth and rebirth
we celebrate and always
The Cave, look Part 4
Once ascended into the light, returning to people still living in darkness and convincing them their reality is but a shadow of reality, becomes a difficult, perhaps impossible sell. We have lived in darkness for so long that we refuse to believe there is anything else. Even when we accept there is a deeper reality, it takes a long time for us to adjust to the world beyond the shadows.
Jesus showed us that the power and capacity of knowing the truth exists within us already, and the process of becoming is not simply like turning over of a clamshell to reveal a pearl, but is rather the complete and utter turning around of a soul passing from a day which is little better than night, into the true day of being and always becoming the light itself.
The ascent into the light is difficult, and it’s easy to lose hope that we’re making any progress in a world that seems to relish darkness. Our world has a way of snuffing out the light of change. But hope is always in the advent of things to come. Hope is in the realization that God is quietly and persistently turning every single one of us into a beacon, and that one by one, we are leading each other out of the dark night of our soul, into God’s new, loving, peaceful, wise society.
The event horizon is coming, and once upon us, a united human race will begin to explore the heavens in earnest. We will develop technologies that feed, clothe, and house every man, woman and child. We will, finally, claim our birthright as children of light.
The Cave, buy viagra Part 3
We will then proceed to argue that the person who rescued us is the one who gives the seasons and the years, and is the guardian of all that is in the visible world, and in a certain way the cause of all things which we and our brothers and sisters have been accustomed to behold. We reason that our savior is the cause of everything, for he has shown us a new reality, and when we first perceive this reality, we’re like newborns again, still blinded by the greatness of our savior and unable to imagine that same greatness lies within us all, now freed of the baggage and illusion of the shadows.
And when we remember our old habitation, and the wisdom of the cave and our fellow-prisoners, we begin to congratulate ourselves on our change, and pity those still stuck in the cave.
So some of us who have now seen the light return to the cave, and our eyes are once more filled with darkness. We return to bring the light to our brothers and sisters still imprisoned in the cave, to become saviors ourselves.
But you know what happens? Once back in the cave it takes time for our eyes to adjust again. Compared to those who had never moved out of the cave, our sight is weak and has to become steady. We appear ridiculous. People say of us that up we went and down we came without our eyes; and that it was better not even to think of ascending. And if any one tried to free another and lead him or her up to the light, the offender should be caught and immediately put to death.
Darkness does not appreciate insurrection.
To be concluded…
The Cave, ask Part 2
Now, medical let’s imagine that we the prisoners are released and our error is revealed—someone sets us free and shows us we’ve been seeing only a shadow world. At first, when any of us is liberated and compelled suddenly to stand up and turn our neck and walk and look towards the light, we suffer sharp pains. Our eyes ache. Our bodies ache. Our heads feel like nails are being pounded into our skulls, for the light is intense.
The glare will distress us, and we will be unable to see the realities of which in our former state we had seen only the shadows. We’ve been in the dark so long, we can’t even conceive of a different reality. It takes time to adjust.
As we’re adjusting, perhaps after some considerable amount of time has passed, the person releasing us says, “Friend, what you saw before was an illusion, but now, you are free.” And our savior begins pointing to the real objects that had been casting shadows, the shadows we thought were real. For a time, we are completely confused, insisting that the shadows we formerly saw are more real than the objects which are now shown to us. Far more real, in fact.
Yet our rescuer doesn’t give up. We are compelled to look straight at the light, which gives us a pain in our eyes that makes us turn away from it.
Perhaps a little reluctantly at first, we make a steep and rugged ascent, into the presence of the sun itself. This dazzling light irritates us both physically and mentally. When we approach the light our eyes are dazzled, and we are not able to see anything at all of what are now told is reality.
We are blinded by the true light of reality.
Over time though, we grow accustomed to the sight of the world outside the cave. At first we see the shadows best, next the reflections of people and other objects in water, and then the objects themselves. Eventually we gaze upon the light of the moon and the stars and the spangled heavens, and we see the sky and the stars by night better than the sun or the light of the sun by day.
Finally, we be able to see the sun, and not mere reflections of it in the water, but we see it in its own proper place, and we contemplate it as it is.
Now that we have seen the light, we can begin to adjust to the new reality it reveals.
To be continued…
Plato wrote “The Republic” about 400 years before Jesus was born.
Plato’s story is about the way intellect and learning help us make wise decisions, order and it was intended as a parable that would create smart leaders who would always work for the good of the entire republic. Plato had government in mind, cialis but his analogy also works as a parable about spiritual awakening and how we each become more Christlike as our minds are opened to a new reality, ailment as our eyes see a deeper truth.
This is my four-part adaptation of Plato’s story, “The Cave”, for Advent.
The Cave, Part 1
Imagine that we live in a cave, and that we’ve lived in this cave since childhood, being held prisoner therein. We’ve never known anything other than this cave, so we don’t even realize we’re captives. Our legs and necks are chained so that we cannot move. We can only see in front of us, being prevented by the chains from turning our heads.
The cave has a mouth open towards the light, which reaches all along the cave. Above and behind us a fire is blazing at a distance, and between the fire and we, the prisoners, there is a raised way.
On that raised way, people pass along carrying all sorts of vessels, and statues and figures of animals made of wood and stone and various other materials. Some of these people are talking, others are silent.
Even though all this activity is taking place, we, the prisoners, see only our own shadows, or the shadows of one another, or the shadows of the objects the people are carrying, projected on the wall of the cave in front of us like a movie.
If we could talk to each other, we would name these shadows as though they were the actual objects projecting them. How could we know any better? We know nothing but the shadows. For us, the projection of objects on the wall is the reality.
Now, suppose further that the prison had an echo which came from the other side. Would we not be sure to presume when one of the passers-by spoke that the voice which we heard came from the passing shadow?
For us, the truth would be literally nothing but the shadows of the images.
To be continued…