Advent Day 23 – Good News for December 20

20 12 2010

Luke 1:26-38

In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.” But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his Kingdom there will be no end.”

But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” And the angel said to her in reply, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.”

Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

The Daily Path: “May it be done according to your word.”

I wish those words were always on the tip of my tongue, etched in my consciousness. Instead, old Gabriel hears this when he visits me: “Behold I am a stubborn, obstinate, egocentric servant of the Lord. Not sure why he even bothers with me.” Then the angel departed to report back on this woeful child of God. “Master, why DO you bother with this one?”






Advent Day 22 – Good News for December 19

19 12 2010

Isaiah 7:10-14

The Lord spoke to Ahaz, saying, Ask for a sign from the Lord, your God; let it be deep as the netherworld, or high as the sky! But Ahaz answered, “I will not ask! I will not tempt the Lord!”

Then Isaiah said, Listen, O house of David! Is it not enough for you to weary people, must you also weary my God? Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel.

The Daily Path: Today’s Gospel is a repeat of yesterday so I’m sharing the words of the prophet Isaiah that foretold the birth of Jesus to the virgin Mary. Did you know that the Qur’an mentions the birth of Christ and of Mary? It’s true. Both appear dozens of times. After receiving a comment from noted author Kashif Shahzada on yesterday’s post (GNTG 12/18) that led me to this bit of enlightenment, I started to think again about the void of understanding between so many on this earth. Where do we come together? What have I done to bridge the chasm, if anything? As we prepare for the birth of Christ, it strikes me that instead of harping on what divides we should spend our time finding common ground to build understanding, tolerance, peace, and the love of God. Governments and political agendas can’t accomplish this, but I believe people who are “truly” enlightened by God can.

Kashif, thank you for reaching out. Peace be upon you.





Advent Day 11 – Good News for December 8

8 12 2010

Luke 1:26-38

The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.”

But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father,
and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his Kingdom there will be no end.”

But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” And the angel said to her in reply, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.”

Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

The Daily Path: Imagine the surprise when you arrive at the door of your fiance and she announces a pregnancy… her own! Not only that, but she also springs news of a supernatural being making an appearance to tell her of “the test results” accompanied by a heavenly request for the child to be named Cornelius. You might quickly run down a mental checklist of how this could be, coming to a screeching halt on the fact that you never had sex with the woman who, up until this moment, you believed to be a virgin. Astonishment? To say the least. Cause for a trip to the counselor’s coach? Most likely. Yet this is pretty much what happened to a young girl named Mary and her much older fiance, Joe the carpenter, some two thousand years ago.

How would you have taken this news as the mother or father to be? Would you have taken it all in stride having complete faith that nothing is impossible for God? I don’t think I would have, but there is my challenge!





Accepting the Light – Good News for March 25

25 03 2010

Luke 1:26-38

The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.”

But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his Kingdom there will be no end.”

But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” And the angel said to her in reply, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.”

Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

The Daily Path: The angel brought news of God’s light to a young virgin. She freely accepted this light, knowing nothing of the “how” only that this was God’s will and that was enough for her.

In Burstein’s “Church” painting, that I’ve been focusing on this week, we see a great light casting its warm glow on the back of a person sitting just outside a church. As I reflected on this painting it reminded me of Luke’s gospel. When I stop to think about it, the light we see in this image is not unlike my own experience with God’s call. The light was ALWAYS shining on me, but for so long I chose to sit outside – ignoring the opportunity to step inside – and missing out on the chance to be fully bathed in its glow.

When the light hit Mary she walked right in with the great gift of perfect acceptance. I took decades to get my rear up from the steps I sat on, turn towards the light, and accept his love. But once I did, God’s light immediately penetrated my heart. To me, this re-conversion has been nothing short of miraculous.

I know that NOTHING is impossible for God.

Church by Jonathan Burstein





Never Before – Good News for March 28

28 03 2009

Never before has anyone spoken like this…

John 7:40-53

Some in the crowd who heard these words of Jesus said, “This is truly the Prophet.” Others said, “This is the Christ.” But others said, “The Christ will not come from Galilee, will he? Does not Scripture say that the Christ will be of David’s family and come from Bethlehem, the village where David lived?” So a division occurred in the crowd because of him. Some of them even wanted to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him.

So the guards went to the chief priests and Pharisees, who asked them, “Why did you not bring him?” The guards answered, “Never before has anyone spoken like this man.” So the Pharisees answered them, “Have you also been deceived? Have any of the authorities or the Pharisees believed in him? But this crowd, which does not know the law, is accursed.”

Nicodemus, one of their members who had come to him earlier, said to them, “Does our law condemn a man before it first hears him and finds out what he is doing?” They answered and said to him, “You are not from Galilee also, are you? Look and see that no prophet arises from Galilee.” Then each went to his own house.

The Daily Path: “Never before has anyone spoken like this man.” 

I can understand what the guards of the chief priests felt after hearing Jesus speak. When my ears were finally opened to hear the word of Christ, nothing to that point had ever had such an impact on me. Your experience, outlook and internal response mechanisms are changed.

The only comparison I can offer is falling in love. There’s a feeling in your heart that is unlike any other. When the lightning bolt hits, you can’t get enough of that person. You desire more and more. That’s how I feel with my faith in God. I want more and more of me to be touched. I want my old ways of living to die so that a more perfect me can be born. Note that I say “more perfect”, not perfect. Complete perfection can’t happen, but anything is an improvement over my old model. Something has to die in order to be reborn.

As I said, never before have I experienced anything like what God has brought to my life.

Room to Chat: Never before have I wanted to find ways to spend time with God as I do now. I’m actually disappointed when I don’t get enough in my day. The spring weather is kicking in here in California, meaning the hills are green, the weather is warming up, and it’s the perfect time to get outdoors. Regardless of where you are, take a walk today and talk to God by enjoying the beauty around you. Allow yourself to see the things as never before.





Deal Some Mercy – Good News for February 28

28 02 2009

John 7:40-53

Some in the crowd who heard these words of Jesus said, “This is truly the Prophet.” Others said, “This is the Christ.” But others said, “The Christ will not come from Galilee, will he? Does not Scripture say that the Christ will be of David’s family and come from Bethlehem, the village where David lived?”

So a division occurred in the crowd because of him. Some of them even wanted to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him. So the guards went to the chief priests and Pharisees, who asked them, “Why did you not bring him?” The guards answered, “Never before has anyone spoken like this man.”

So the Pharisees answered them, “Have you also been deceived? Have any of the authorities or the Pharisees believed in him? But this crowd, which does not know the law, is accursed.” Nicodemus, one of their members who had come to him earlier, said to them,  “Does our law condemn a man before it first hears him and finds out what he is doing?” They answered and said to him, “You are not from Galilee also, are you? Look and see that no prophet arises from Galilee.” Then each went to his own house.

The Daily Path: Here’s a question for Lent. What can you offer up to God that will help someone else?

I don’t see how my giving up candy and ice cream does much to show love and mercy for another. In fact, the resulting downturn in confection sales might actually put someone out of work! Phew. Dodged that bullet.

Seriously though, a precious commodity in this society is our time. Giving up our time during lent to help someone in need seems to be a great way to prepare for the Resurrection of the King of Sacrifice. Find a way to share the burden of the cross that another carries.

Remember, it doesn’t take much. Don’t get caught up in a grand scheme that will never get off the ground. Keep it simple! Perhaps it’s only a minute to bend down and perform a random act of kindness. Consider ten minutes of prayer petitioning God to help someone you know. It can be an hour online researching non-profit aid organizations, while asking the Holy Spirit for inspiration on where you can make a difference. The point is to look for ways to give up your time in the service of someone who needs your help. 

Room to Chat: For the next 24 hours, open your eyes for one opportunity to help. Dealing love and mercy is cool!