All Saints

Remembering my saints this weekend.

On All Saints’ Day, it is not just the saints of the church that we should remember in our prayers, but all the foolish ones and wise ones, the shy ones and overbearing ones, the broken ones and whole ones, the despots and tosspots and crackpots of our lives who, one way or another, have been our particular fathers and mothers and saints, and whom we loved without knowing we loved them and by whom we were helped to whatever little we have, or ever hope to have, of some kind of seedy sainthood of our own.

Frederick Buechner
Sacred Journey: A Memoir of Early Days

The Gift of Advent

I’ve loved Advent as long as I can remember. And running across this photo of me, face to face with the Nativity set let me see the gift my parents gave me as a young child.

My memories are of our family lighting the Advent wreath together every Sunday. Each child yearned to be old enough to light the candle. Once you could read, there was the Bible passage or that week’s meditation from the Advent booklet. I didn’t love accompanying the family’s Advent hymn on the piano. 😉

When The Upper Room invited me to write a book for the Advent season, I was thrilled. It called back all those memories of the Advent wreath, the candles, the little book, the awkward hymn playing and the singing.

And I am grateful for this gift.

God, open our hearts and the hearts of the world to your hope. Peel back the layers of our stubborn opinions, our fearful assumptions, and let the light of your life-giving spirit enter in. Amen.

The Uncluttered Heart

Advent Hope

I’m sitting here reading about the world’s latest craziness. (What is going to happen next?!?) And I’m wondering where those the nice Advent feelings are that I used to be able locate inside myself. “Maybe, this year, there will be peace.” “Oh, look, there are the signs of hope (or joy, or love).” Right now, I’m not feeling very hopeful.

I remembered something I’d written about hope in The Uncluttered Heart and share it here:

Hope isn’t a simple, sweet sentiment or an unreachable goal. Hope’s a bit risky — it’s not based on and doesn’t rely on some kind of secret-handshake promise from God. Our hoping does not mean that everything will turn out the way we want it to.

Hope is, instead, a spiritual practice, appropriate any time but especially during the season of Advent. We wait and hope for the coming of Christ into the world. We hope even when it doesn’t feel like it’s going to make a difference. We hope because we are children of God, children of hope. …

When we hope, we align ourselves more closely with the God of the Universe — the eternal force of good, of hope and love and peace.

Carry these words in your heart today: I am God’s partner in hope.

From The Uncluttered Heart by Beth A. Richardson. Copyright © 2009 by The Upper Room. Used with Permission.

Uncluttered Heart – Links to Daily Posts

For those of you looking for The Uncluttered Heart … The emails and texts are no longer available. But the content is here — though you will find the dates are wrong. Blessings on your Advent season! – Beth P.S. The book is available in print, EPub, and Kindle formats.

Week One of Advent
First Sunday of Advent – December 2, 2018 – Read reflection.
Monday, Advent Week One – December 3, 2018 – Read reflection.
Tuesday, Advent Week One – December 4, 2018 – Read reflection.
Wednesday, Advent Week One – December 5, 2018 – Read reflection.
Thursday, Advent Week One – December 6, 2018 – Read reflection.
Friday, Advent Week One – December 7, 2018 – Read reflection.
Saturday, Advent Week One – December 8, 2018 – Read reflection.

Week Two of Advent
Sunday, Advent Week Two – December 9, 2018 – Read reflection.
Monday, Advent Week Two – December 10, 2018 – Read reflection.
Tuesday, Advent Week Two – December 11, 2018 – Read reflection.
Wednesday, Advent Week Two – December 12, 2018 – Read reflection.
Thursday, Advent Week Two – December 13, 2018 – Read reflection.
Friday, Advent Week Two – December 14, 2018 – Read reflection.
Saturday, Advent Week Two – December 15, 2018 – Read reflection.

Week Three of Advent
Sunday, Advent Week Three – December 16, 2018 – Read reflection.
Monday, Advent Week Three – December 17, 2018 – Read reflection.
Tuesday, Advent Week Three – December 18, 2018 – Read reflection.
Wednesday, Advent Week Three – December 19, 2018 – Read reflection.
Thursday, Advent Week Three – December 20, 2018 – Read reflection.
Friday, Advent Week Three – December 21, 2018 – Read reflection.
Saturday, Advent Week Three – December 22, 2018 – Read reflection.

Week Four of Advent
Sunday, Advent Week Four – December 23, 2018 – Read reflection.
Monday, Christmas Eve – December 24, 2018 – Read reflection.
Tuesday, Christmas Day – December 25, 2018 – Read reflection.

Wednesday, Christmas 2 – December 26, 2018 – Read reflection.
Thursday, Christmas 3 – December 27, 2018 – Read reflection.
Friday, Christmas 4 – December 28, 2018 – Read reflection.
Saturday, Christmas 5 – December 29, 2018 – Read reflection.
Sunday, Christmas 6 – December 30, 2018 – Read reflection.
Monday, Christmas 7 – December 31, 2018 – Read reflection.
Tuesday, Christmas 8 – January 1, 2019 – Read reflection.
Wednesday, Christmas 9 – January 2, 2019 – Read reflection.
Thursday, Christmas 10 – January 3, 2019 – Read reflection.
Friday, Christmas 11 – January 4, 2019 – Read reflection.
Saturday, Christmas 12 – January 5, 2019 – Read reflection.

Ashes and Hearts

20140305-053728.jpg

Ashes and hearts.
Hearts and ashes.
The convergence of this day of
Sacred and secular.

As if we needed a reminder that
To dust we will return.
We with our bodies showing signs of age …
We with our society exploding?
Imploding?
Teetering on the edge of
We-don’t-know-what?

What is this day,
Then,
Of hearts and ashes?

Ashes of hearts?
Hearts of ash?

From dust you came,
And you will go back to dust.
And, along the way,
There is Love.
Before, behind, beside, within,
There is Love.

Great Lover of the Universe, may there be love … before, behind, beside, within us. Mark us with your love. Amen.

Baby Watching

I sit on the floor watching a sleeping child. Three months old, she is a miracle of breath, of tiny hands and feet and eyes and mouth.

How can hearts not be softened by the sight and sound and touch? Perhaps this intent was part of the divine gift. …

That a child would come into the mess of this world. That we who stopped to watch would be forever changed by the sight and touch and sounds of an infant babe.

Come, all you with hearts of stone. Come, all you with spirits of cynicism. Come and see this miracle of breath, of tiny hands and feet and eyes and mouth.

To us, this child is born.

Our Strength, Our Hope

Israel’s strength and consolation,
hope of all the earth thou art.
-Charles Wesley
“Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus”

Jesus, Child of God, you are our strength, our hope, our comfort, and our consolation. You are, indeed, the hope of the world. Send your strength and healing to every broken place, every despondent heart.

From Child of the Light by Beth A. Richardson. © 2005 by the author. Published by Upper Room Books.

Photo: St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, Ireland.