That is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks,
The ultimate, the last test and proof.
The work for which all other work is but preparation”
~Rainer Maria Rilke~
"Jesus, you told a powerful story of a person who stopped on a risky road to care for someone’s wounds. Help me also to stop at the unpleasant places in my life, to be present to those who need a touch of love, especially on those days when my life is moving hurriedly and intensely. Grant me the courage to be less fearful of reaching out and walking with others who need a gesture of kindness and care (Lk. 10:29-37)." ~Joyce Rupp~
Taken from An Altar in the World by Barbara Brown Taylor
“However you choose to do it, the practice of getting lost is both valuable and undervalued, at least by the North American culture most of us know best. In this culture, the point is to get from point A to point B as quickly as possible, even if that means you miss most of the territory, including the packed dirt under your feet.
Sometimes this is because you are doing at least five other things while you are in transit, including talking on the phone, listening to the radio, drinking a mocha latte, checking your text messages, telling your dog to get in the back seat, and checking out how good you look in your sunglasses by admiring yourself in the rearview mirror.
Once you become lost, everything but the dog and the telephone will become suddenly unimportant – the telephone because it may allow you to call someone who loves you enough to come find you, and the dog to keep you company while you wait. If you are not able to set priorities any other way, then getting lost may be the kick in the pants you have been waiting for.
You had better do it quickly, however since the growing popularity of Global Positioning Systems may soon make getting lost impossible to do. I think I understand the appeal. Following the instructions of a disembodied voice coming from your dashboard takes less time than pulling over to ask for directions or look at a map. Plus, it may be comforting to think that a big eye in the sky can see you no matter where you are, even though this will do nothing to prevent you from missing your turn or running into the car ahead of you…
You will think of other ways to get lost, or to accept that you really have gotten lost through no choice of your own. It can happen anywhere, in all kinds of ways. You can get lost on your way home. You can get lost looking for love. You can get lost between jobs. You can get lost looking for God. However it happens, take heart. Others before you have found a way in the wilderness, where there are as many angels as there are wild beasts, and plenty of other lost people too. All it takes is one of them to find you. All it takes is you to find one of them. However it happens, you could do worse than to kneel down and ask a blessing, remembering how many knees have kissed this altar before you.”
"When God puts a dream in your heart, when He brings opportunities across your path, do you step out boldly in faith, expecting the best, moving forward with confidence, knowing that you are well able to do what God wants you to do? Or do you shrink back in fear, and say that’s too big for me. I am not qualified. I am not able. I could never do that. God wants to do new things in your life! Start thinking big!
There was little frog that was born at the bottom of a small circular well, similar to those you might see at a typical rural farm. He and his family lived there, and he was content to play in the water, swimming all around that little well. He thought, life doesn’t get any better than this. I have all that I need.
But one day, he looked up and noticed the light at the top of the well. The little frog became curious, wondering what was up there. He slowly climbed up the side of the well. When he got to the top, he cautiously peered out over the edge.
Lo and behold, the first thing he saw was a pond. He couldn’t believe it. It was a thousand times bigger than the well. He ventured farther and discovered a huge lake. He stood there gazing in amazement. Eventually, the little frog hopped a long way and came to the ocean, where everywhere he looked, all he could see was water. He was shocked beyond measure. He began to realize how limited his thinking had been. He thought he had it all back in the well, but all he really had was a drop in the bucket compared to what God wanted him to enjoy.”
“I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today.
"I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.
This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.
This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning, "My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring."
And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!
Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!
But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!
Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!
Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.
And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"
Epiphany, the 12th day after Christmas, celebrates the visit of the three wise men to the Christ Child.
The Feast of the Epiphany of Our Lord Jesus Christ is one of the oldest Christian feasts, though, throughout the centuries, it has celebrated a variety of things. Epiphany comes from a Greek verb meaning "to reveal," and all of the various events celebrated by the Feast of the Epiphany are revelations of Christ to man.
"O God, Who by the guidance of a star didst this day reveal
Thine only-begotten Son to the Gentiles,
mercifully grant that we, who know Thee now by faith,
may be so led as to behold with our eyes the beauty of Thy majesty.
Through the same Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son,
Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost,