#AdventWord #Prepare #預備
As a young Navajo boy growing up, I remember the elders talking to us about following our road of life, our path, and how we must prepare ourselves for the journey. We need to prepare for a path that can veer to the left or right, and that even can be hard to walk. But the journey we are on is God’s journey and with God’s help, we are prepared for all that lies ahead. This Advent we are asked to make the path straight, to make a way for God to guide us down the path of life and we may come to know Christ.
The causeway leading to the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, on a rising tide. Tide tables and weather forecasts need to be consulted before crossing, because the road is covered by the sea for 6 hours twice a day. Road signs warn of the dangers ahead. The wooden structure on the left is a refuge shelter for stranded travelers, who find they need to abandon their cars (and maybe their egos too) to the rising waters. Otherwise, the only way out is by calling the coastguard. But rest assured, 650,000 people visit the island safely every year. Just go prepared.
#AdventWord #Prune #修剪
The prophet Malachi speaks of God’s messenger as one who will “purify” the people, like “a refiner’s fire” or “fuller’s soap,” to make them “pleasing to the Lord.” The prophet’s point is that God has a lot of scrubbing and refining of human nature to do as God’s reign makes its advent. William Temple speaks of God’s seemingly harsh desire to prune away that which is not pleasing as done purely for “very love’s sake.” This love is “not a sentimental readiness to give us what we want; it is a passionate yearning to raise us to its own likeness.”
Roses in front of Cambridge House, Holy Island. Late autumn is not a good time for roses, they’re overgrown and straggly. They’re coming to the end of their flowering season, though everyone seems to wait until early spring for pruning rosebushes. At this time of year, they’re not at their best, but still providing beautiful splashes of colour in the garden. The rose garden is a metaphor for life. Making our lives “pleasing to the Lord” is what we’re called to do afresh this Advent.
#AdventWord #Smooth #平坦
We envision with John the Baptist a great day of leveling for all creation. Making the way smooth for all to have access to the liberating life of God requires removing every obstacle we have constructed that blocks the path of grace. We persevere as we face the Caesars of the world for our hope is in the One who has already made the way smooth, Jesus the Christ.
Fire escape on the side of Marygate House, Holy Island, Lindisfarne. Many visitors and pilgrims come to Holy Island today to escape from their everyday lives, even if just for a few hours. Making the way smooth may well involve a time of escape. The obstacles blocking our path of grace are many. We need a chance to reflect. A place to lay aside our concerns. A time to be, and to pray. The liberating life of God is on offer to all.
#AdventWord #Rough #粗糙
Luke the Gospel writer, quoting John the Baptizer quoting Isaiah the Prophet, proclaims that the “rough ways will be made smooth” in preparation for the coming of God. This message, passed down through the ages, now comes to us and we are called to the task of making smooth. Harsh words, sharp elbows, and uneven temperaments are challenges to harmonious relationships, human and divine. Refinement is the process of making smooth and we are called to this work by the One who lovingly refines us. Pass it on.
The local herring industry was at its peak on Holy Island during the second half of the 19th century, when there were 30+ herring boats, and the herring were smoked and preserved onshore. These days, the fishing industry is much smaller, just a handful of small boats catching mainly lobsters and crab. The old herring boats have been upturned, coated in tar, and are now used by local fishermen as storage sheds. The sheds are almost iconic, architecturally and culturally ‘rough diamonds’ but lovingly restored and maintained. Recycling at its best. On one of them is the sign, ‘An old fisherman and the catch of his life live here’. Yes, we are called to the task of making the rough ways smooth. Today.
#AdventWord #Go #成長
In Advent, we pray for the grace to go and “prepare the way for our salvation . . . that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ.” What shall we wear when we to to greet him? Why, says Baruch, we should “put on the robe of the righteousness that comes from God.” So, put on that wonderful garment and go! Prepare the way! Go! Greet Jesus with joy! Go!
With the dissolution of the monasteries and the closure of Lindisfarne Priory in 1537, so the last of the monks left Holy Island. Soon after, in the 1550’s, Lindisfarne Castle was built to protect the island against invasion from Scotland, but in 1603, England and Scotland were united under the rule of James I, and so its military importance diminished; the castle was finally demilitarized in 1819. Fast forward to 1903, and Edward Hudson of Country Life magazine bought the castle, and with the help of the famous architect, Sir Edwin Lutyens, converted it into a very stylish holiday home. Today it is owned by the National Trust and open to the public. Saints, monks, soldiers, magazine owners, tourists and pilgrims, all have come and played a part in Holy Island’s rich history. Many have stayed a while, some their whole lives. Holy Island is a place to come to, and a place to go from. Hopefully we all leave the richer for having been there.
#AdventWord #Cry #哭泣
Advent is a season to turn our cry of fear to joy. A young Mary’s fear for the unknowns of motherhood. Yet, we, like Mary, have favor with God and in all seasons of life, our Lord is with us to hear our cry. The coming of the Christ child is soon… joyful tears as Mary first touches wisps of soft newborn hair and cries with love as he tenderly claims her breast. Advent is the cry of fear turned to joy.
The Holy Island of Lindisfarne must have shed many tears over the centuries, cries of fear as the monks were forced the flee the island in 875 to escape attacks from the Vikings, and then again in 1537 when Henry VIII closed down the Benedictine Priory, which had been established in the 1120’s. These days, Holy Island is a peaceful place, the ruins of the Benedictine Priory are well-maintained by English Heritage, and when the tides and weather are good, there are visitors and pilgrims galore. Holy Island’s cries of fear have turned to joy.
#AdventWord #Wild #野地
Across uninhabited and inhospitable spaces, the voice of love cries out. The proclamation of forgiveness sweeps across the uncultivated terrain of neglected hearts, making way for abundant life. In the abandoned places, God is. In the wilderness, God works. We await no one less than the savior of the world, full of strength and truth. We wait with joy: wild abandon; wild hope.
Teasel growing on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, with St. Cuthbert’s Isle in the background
#AdventWord #Alert #儆醒
In Advent, we are all pregnant. Like Mary, we, too, have been wooed by God. And, moved by her courageous example, we also say, “be it unto me according to your word.” And having spoken those words, we observe with wonder the gestation happening within us, we live in expectation of the birth pangs. We must be patient, resilient, and stay alert, for it will happen in God’s time. We are all called to be God bearers and in this season we are being readied to give birth to the life, light, and love of God.
In 875, violent attacks by marauding Vikings forced the monks of Lindisfarne to flee for their lives, and their priory was abandoned. In the 1120’s, monks from Durham Cathedral re-founded a Benedictine Priory on Holy Island, which flourished until 1537 when it was closed down by Henry VIII. Not long after the dissolution of the priory, in the 1550’s, Lindisfarne Castle (see above photo) was built to protect the harbour against invasion from Scotland. Over the centuries, the people of Holy Island have long been on alert against hostile attack, and also against the incoming tides which cut the island off from the mainland for six hours twice a day, and can leave travelers – and boats – stuck in the sands. The old posts of the jetty stand out in the photo, remnants of Lindisfarne’s 19th century past, where ships would load the lime from the nearby lime kilns, to be taken to Dundee.
#AdventWord # Sprout #發芽
This is a time of expectancy, much like the moments of curiosity and wonder we experience while we anticipate the sprouting of seedlings, hoping that they will take root. We are called to faithfully sow seeds that will take root and sprout in the promised days that are surely coming. So be curious and watch for those sprouts of hope and be alert to the wonders that abound today. May your marvelment inspire you to keep on sowing.
One of Holy Island’s many dry stone walls. The picture says it all.
#AdventWord #Light #亮光
Jesus, God’s gift to humanity, is the true light of Advent. He is the “light of the world” and conquers spiritual darkness so that those who believe in him may be children of light, shining as stars in the dark world through loving words and kind acts.
St. Mary’s Church on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, built sometime before 1145, is believed to be built on the site of St. Aidan’s first wooden church. With many changes through the ages, and after major renovation in 1860, it is still in use as the parish church.