Sunday, December 18, 2011

Sunday Reflection - Fourth Week of Advent

The Fourth Week of Advent

The Christmas season - those weeks immediately after Thanksgiving through the first of January - is a time of great anticipation and hopefulness.

It is also a time of paradox, a contemplative time, an ambiguous season of bitter cold and cozy homes with family and friends gathered around the fireplace, of solstice celebrations and holiday lights, of reverence and loneliness, of renewal and dormancy.

At Christmas time we are called to lift our spirits with good cheer and merry laughter; to appreciate the commonplace and simple things, like an evergreen tree set against the backdrop of a steel grey sky. The senses turn inward. The days grow darker. We burn candles and recall old dreams, dreams of our youth or years to come. We enjoy the bounty of local farmers - pumpkins, gourds, apples, squash. Cold weather vegetables and herbs, like parsley and thyme, come into renewed vigor with the first frost. It is a time when too many hunger for a warm embrace, to be loved, and for kindness.

It is a time of evening carols and lessons, a time when special rose incense is burned, a time marked by contemplation, anticipation, waiting, watching, preparation in the Christian calendar for the birth of Jesus Christ. For a few short weeks, the world is sanctified with the fullness and richness of these paradoxes.

As a Quaker, we believe that there is "that of God" in each person, regardless of a person's race, creed, social status, gender, level of education, or whether a person believes in God or not. This belief is an integral part of Quaker faith and practice. It invites us to remember, to recognize the sacred nature of the human heart. It invites us into the self-revealing loving presence of God and of Christ. But how can we find this "Christ centeredness" in such paradox of the season?

For me, the spirit of Christ is the spirit of kindness, love and compassion. It is a consciousness that pervades heart and mind. The Light of Christ is a way of knowing the path of goodness.

Christmas reminds me of these important lessons and a deeper knowing of the Light of Christ!

A Seasonal Reflection -by Valerie Brown
From the Kirkridge Retreat Center

Take time to be quiet and to rest

Offer simple hospitality to others

Express gratitude


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