Tuesday, December 15

advent 2009

As is usual for me in attempting to write something meaningful for the Advent booklet, I have begun with and then discarded several ideas on this year’s theme – “Symbols of Our Faith.” Persistently, however, in the back of my mind have been the following passages from the New Testament. Reading these wonderfully beautiful words of Jesus and of Paul, you will see that there is no need for the adding of personal anecdotes or superfluous expressions to enhance their relevance to our lives.

In John 13:35, Jesus says: “By this every man shall know that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another.”

Paul writes in Galatians 5:22-23: “But the fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control; there is no law against these.”

Lastly, the magnificent words of Paul in I Corinthians 13:1-13: “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love in my heart, I am become as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not love in my heart, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned , and have not love in my heart, I gain nothing. Love is long-suffering and kind; love does not envy; love does not make a vain display of itself, and does not boast, does not behave itself unseemly, seeks not its own, is not easily provoked, thinks no evil; rejoices not over iniquity, but rejoices in truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails; but whether there be prophesies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when that which is perfect is come, then that which is imperfect shall come to an end. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a mirror, darkly; but then face to face. Now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

I have a good friend who is a Hindu. One day, while working on a beach sweep at Tybee Island with Beverly and me, Roman told me that at his home altar each morning, he lights a candle and prays to God that his living might be a burning flame for others that day. I think that is a pretty good prayer. Whether we visualize these essential qualities in the lives of Christ’s followers, mentioned in the preceding passages as gifts, fruits, signs, or symbols, let our prayer be that they are what others see in us.

– Jim Flanagan

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