Advent Word 2018, Day 22 ‘Persist 堅持’

#AdventWord #Persist #堅持

復臨節的季節幾乎快到最高潮時節。它是一段漫長的旅程,尤其對瑪麗亞和約瑟來說。他們親身體驗到堅持的意義,一直堅持直到應許的事物被成就。也許抄捷徑會是誘人的–「我們就在家裡獻祭吧。」但上帝不希望我們抄捷徑。上帝呼召我們,不是要我們選擇容易的道路。上帝要的是一群願意堅持旅途的人民,願意做足準備真實接納基督到我們的心裡和生活裡。

The season of Advent has almost reached its climax. It has been a journey, certainly for Mary and Joseph. They experienced first hand what it meant to persist, to keep going until all that was promised was fulfilled. It might have been tempting to take a shortcut–“Let’s just make an offering or a sacrifice and stay home.” But God does not want shortcuts. God does not call us to take the easy way. What God does require is a people who persist on the journey, who make all the necessary preparations to truly receive the Christ child in our hearts and our lives.

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Along the Holy Island seashore when the tide is out, it’s fun to search the rocks and rockpools for fish or whatever marine life can be found.  The tiny shells are barnacles, while the big conical ones are limpets, officially aquatic snails.  Limpets cling tight to the rock crevices when the tide is out, but when covered in water, off they slide to graze on algae.  For us to try to prise them off the rocks at low tide is virtually impossible without damaging them.  They cling tenaciously, stubbornly resisting whatever might try to remove them.  Even the strongest men and women are no match for limpets.  Persistance, indeed, and a challenge to us in our journey of faith.

Advent Word 2018, Day 21 ‘Expect 期待’

#AdventWord #Expect #期待

我們每天被廣告衝擊著,以明顯的訊息告訴我們,我們應當在人生中期待些甚麼—更多,更好,更大的事情。然而,如果我們接收到的訊息促使我們不是期待我們可能會得到的事物,而是期待我們可能會給予的事物呢?當瑪麗亞被上帝邀請成為歷史上最有名的未婚青少年媽媽時,她沒有問:「我可以從這樣的安排中得到甚麼?」沒有,她說:「我在這裡。我是主的使女,情願照你的話成就在我身上。」(路加福音第一章38節) 瑪麗亞並沒有思考她期待接受到甚麼東西。她僅只奉獻她的生命,活生生的犧牲,獻給那位呼召她的神。你在復臨節時期「期待」甚麼呢?

We are pummeled daily by advertisements that, in not so hidden messages, tell us what we should “expect” out of life–more, better, bigger things.

What if, however, the messages we received prompted us to expect not what we might get, but what we might give?  When, invited by God to become the most famous unmarried teenage expectant mother in history, Mary did not ask “What do I get out of this arrangement?” No, she said, “here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38)  Mary did not think about what she could expect to receive.  She simply gave her life, a living sacrifice, to the God who called her.  What do you “expect” this Advent season?

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See all these people? They’ve just arrived on Holy Island and are walking from the car park into the village.  A steady stream, but in summer this path is choc-a-block with visitors.  Everyone comes with a sense of expectancy, looking forward to a day out on Holy Island – perhaps a visit to the priory or castle, coffee or lunch at one of the cafes, a walk on the beach or up to the hill, a bit of shopping, and a visit to the church.  Many pilgrims and visitors have found that their faith has been awakened, refreshed or renewed by their visit, and they return home keen to share their experiences with others.

“Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God” (William Carey)

Advent Word 2018, Day 20 ‘Sign 符號’

#AdventWord #Sign #符號

許多我們所遇見的符號都是潛在危險的凶兆。他們是要提醒我們保護自己。注意落石,注意癌症的徵兆,回頭以免溺斃。但在復臨節,我們遇見的是即將來臨的可能性預兆。他們帶來寬宥,祝福以及愛。留心愛。要知道愛的預警。轉身並接受愛。如同詩人克莉絲汀娜.羅賽提所言:「愛是我們的替身…是祈求,禮物以及符號的愛。」

Many of the signs we encounter are portents of potential danger. They are intended to keep us safe. Watch for falling rocks. Know the warning signs of cancer. Turn around don’t drown. But in Advent, the signs we encounter are portents of impending possibility. They offer us forgiveness, blessing, love. Watch for love. Know the warning signs of love. Turn around and accept love. As poet Christina Rossetti says, “Love shall be our token . . . Love for plea and gift and sign.”

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Signpost in Holy Island village.  Choose the way you want to go.  Choose the way you want to live.  Think of all the major decisions that have been made on Holy Island since the beginning of time, decisions to come, to leave, to flee, to return, to build, to create, to establish, to settle, to pray, to worship, to love.  Christmas is coming, let us choose the way of love.

Advent Word 2018, Day 19 ‘Ablaze 燃燒’

#AdventWord #Ablaze #燃燒

約翰宣讀耶穌將用聖靈與火來施洗的訊息。這些話語激發五旬節如火一般舌頭的意象,當聖靈降臨在耶穌的跟隨者之中,激勵著他們把福音的訊息帶給這世界。什麼會激發你火熱的心?你如何因著基督的福音而被燃燒?你將如何傳遞愛給世界?你受浸的火又在哪裡?

John proclaims the message that Jesus will baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire. These words evoke images of the Pentecostal tongues of fire as the Holy Spirit descends upon the followers of Jesus, inspiring them and sending the gospel message into the world. What sets your heart on fire? How are you ablaze with the good news of Jesus? How are you spreading love in the world? Where is the fire in your baptism?

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Sunrise on Holy Island, taken at the Lindisfarne Priory ruins, with the castle in the background.  In the top left, a distant aeroplane flies overhead.  In the same year that Aidan came to Holy Island to establish his monastery, 635, so the first recorded Christian missionaries reached China.  Those early travelers took the Gospel on foot and on horseback, taking months to travel distances we can now fly to in a matter of hours.  The power of fire, whether in our engines or in our hearts, has changed the world.  Long may it continue.  Set our hearts ablaze today, O Lord, for you!

Advent Word 2018, Day 18 ‘Wash 洗淨’

#AdventWord #Wash #洗淨

在路加福音裡,約翰告訴我們:「我是用水給你們施洗,但有一位能力比我更大的要來…」在復臨節,我們用水清潔並預備我們的家迎接家人和朋友,以一起慶祝基督的再來。願每一次的洗淨,清潔和沖洗都提醒我們受浸的意義,並再次預備我們的心,接待基督進入我們的家,我們的心並進入我們的世界。

In Luke, John tells us, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming…” In Advent, we use water to clean and prepare our homes to welcome family and friends as we celebrate the coming of Christ together. May each act of washing, cleaning, and rinsing remind us of our baptisms and prepare our hearts once again to receive Christ into our homes, our hearts, and into our world.

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Lindisfarne Castle on Holy Island has just reopened after an 18-month, £3m, restoration project to repair the castle from long-term water damage to the walls and roof.  During the restoration, 17th century wall paintings were uncovered in the old kitchen and one of the bedrooms; dating from the time when the castle was a military base.  “An exciting and rare find” says the National Trust, “suggesting that there might have been more to life at the castle than just a military base”.

Washing implies cleaning, cleansing and refreshing.  Advent is a chance for us all to undertake a mini-restoration project on our own hearts and lives.  We never know what treasures we might unearth in the process!

Advent Word 2018, Day 17 ‘Ancestor 先人’

#AdventWord #Ancestor #先人

向前看,帶著喜悅的心向前看。在充滿暴風的時代,在基督裡尋找你們生命之樹的根。永遠紮根於上帝永不止息愛的翠綠土壤中。汲取那些所有曾經並在這一刻滋養我們,並應允我們隨救贖而來所開展的恩典。

Look ahead, look ahead with joy. In the stormy winds of time, find your roots in Christ our tree of life; eternally held in the verdant soil of God’s unending Love, drawing in all that ever was, nurturing us in this moment, and promising the outstretched grace of our salvation.

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When Aidan established the first monastery on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne in 635, he started with 12 young monks. These monks, and their successors, would go on to travel extensively throughout England preaching, teaching and setting up churches.  Most famous are St. Chad, St. Cedd, and St. Wilfrid.  Aidan, and his successor, Cuthbert were responsible for the establishment of numerous monasteries and churches throughout northern England and southern Scotland. Cuthbert was regarded by many as a saint, with many coming to seek advice, prayer and miracles. In 875, violent attacks by marauding Vikings forced the monks of Lindisfarne to flee, taking Cuthbert’s body (which, on opening up his coffin was discovered to be uncorrupted) with them. They found refuge in Chester-le-Street, and in 995 finally settled in Durham, where Cuthbert’s shrine became part of what is now Durham Cathedral.

This sculpture, in St. Mary’s Church, Holy Island, titled ‘The Journey’ by Fenwick Lawson, shows 6 monks carrying Cuthbert’s body, as they flee Holy Island. He writes, ‘The Lindisfarne community, with the uncorrupted body of Cuthbert, their saint, founded Durham as refugees. With this significance in mind, and some nerve, considering ‘The Burghers of Calais’ by Auguste Rodin, I saw this epic journey as a great theme for a sculpture: a journey of faith, a journey of hope, and a journey of love for fellow man; a brotherhood forged by the necessity of co-operative effort.’

These early saints are our spiritual ancestors in the Christian faith.  Though their roots were in Holy Island, in fact their roots stretched down much deeper, into Christ himself as the tree of life.  Many faced the ‘stormy winds of time’ and were forced to flee.  Persecution forced Joseph, Mary and the Christ child to flee too.  We treasure our history, our holy places and our traditions, but our faith is a journey, and we are challenged to look ahead.  Look ahead with joy!

Advent Word 2018, Day 16 ‘Sing 歌唱’

#AdventWord #Sing #歌唱

當我們朝著管理人走去,我們帶著愉悅歌唱著。歌曲雖古老,由天上的主人歌頌著並由牧羊人重複唱著,當他們千里跋涉去會見基督孩兒。榮耀歸給至高神。喔,讓我們敬拜祂。歌曲乘載著歷年信徒的希望。那是期待與期望之歌,也是歡樂與驚喜之歌。有時候只要打開我們的心和口來歌頌,就可以回應這福音以及這節慶的喜悅。唱出聖誕歌曲的希望以及因愛而生的英勇事蹟的感恩,上帝自己的兒子所帶來的禮物。

As we move toward the manger, we sing with great gladness. The song is ancient, sung by the heavenly host and repeated by the shepherds as they traveled to see the Christ child. Glory to God in the highest. O come let us adore Him. The song carries the weight of the hope of believers through the ages. It is a song of expectation, of anticipation, of joy and wonder. Sometimes our only response to the good news and great joy of this season is to open our hearts and our lips and sing. Sing the carol of hope and thanksgiving for a heroic act of love, God’s gift of God’s own son.

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Looking at the ruins of Holy Island’s Benedictine Priory (1120-1537), it is not impossible to imagine the monks going about their daily lives.  There would have been a routine of worship, work and rest, and much of their daily lives may have been lived in silence.  But not all.  Singing has been part of Christian liturgy since early times, and Gregorian chant may well have been part of the style of worship.  Very evocative, the song is ancient indeed.  Let us add our voices to that song this Christmas as we sing, Glory to God in the highest, O come let us adore Him.

Yes to God, Yes to Mission, Yes to Taiwan!