There was a certain man from Zorah, of the clan of the Danites, whose name was Manoah. His wife was barren and had borne no children. An angel of the LORD appeared to the woman and said to her, “Though you are barren and have had no children, yet you will conceive and bear a son. Now, then, be careful to take no wine or strong drink and to eat nothing unclean. As for the son you will conceive and bear, no razor shall touch his head, for this boy is to be consecrated to God from the womb. It is he who will begin the deliverance of Israel from the power of the Philistines.”
The woman went and told her husband, “A man of God came to me; he had the appearance of an angel of God, terrible indeed. I did not ask him where he came from, nor did he tell me his name. But he said to me, ‘You will be with child and will bear a son. So take neither wine nor strong drink, and eat nothing unclean. For the boy shall be consecrated to God from the womb, until the day of his death.’”
The woman bore a son and named him Samson. The boy grew up and the LORD blessed him; the Spirit of the LORD stirred him.
R. (see 8) My mouth shall be filled with your praise, and I will sing your glory! Be my rock of refuge, a stronghold to give me safety, for you are my rock and my fortress. O my God, rescue me from the hand of the wicked. R. My mouth shall be filled with your praise, and I will sing your glory! For you are my hope, O LORD; my trust, O God, from my youth. On you I depend from birth; from my mother’s womb you are my strength. R. My mouth shall be filled with your praise, and I will sing your glory! I will treat of the mighty works of the LORD; O God, I will tell of your singular justice. O God, you have taught me from my youth, and till the present I proclaim your wondrous deeds. R. My mouth shall be filled with your praise, and I will sing your glory!
R. Alleluia, alleluia. O Root of Jesse's stem, sign of God's love for all his people: come to save us without delay! R. Alleluia, alleluia.
In the days of Herod, King of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah of the priestly division of Abijah; his wife was from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. Both were righteous in the eyes of God, observing all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blamelessly. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren and both were advanced in years.
Once when he was serving as priest in his division’s turn before God, according to the practice of the priestly service, he was chosen by lot to enter the sanctuary of the Lord to burn incense. Then, when the whole assembly of the people was praying outside at the hour of the incense offering, the angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right of the altar of incense. Zechariah was troubled by what he saw, and fear came upon him.
But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall name him John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He will drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb, and he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. He will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah to turn the hearts of fathers toward children and the disobedient to the understanding of the righteous, to prepare a people fit for the Lord.”
Then Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” And the angel said to him in reply, “I am Gabriel, who stand before God. I was sent to speak to you and to announce to you this good news. But now you will be speechless and unable to talk until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled at their proper time.” Meanwhile the people were waiting for Zechariah and were amazed that he stayed so long in the sanctuary. But when he came out, he was unable to speak to them, and they realized that he had seen a vision in the sanctuary. He was gesturing to them but remained mute.
Then, when his days of ministry were completed, he went home.
After this time his wife Elizabeth conceived, and she went into seclusion for five months, saying, “So has the Lord done for me at a time when he has seen fit to take away my disgrace before others.”
This Advent we are given an opportunity to refocus our lives and redirect our hearts back to Jesus. Don’t miss out on this season of grace. Take time to honestly evaluate where you stand with the Lord. No matter where you are, no matter how close or far you feel, Jesus is inviting you to draw closer to Him.
As we learned from the first Christmas, Jesus is willing to enter into whatever space we’ve got for Him. Are we willing to open our lives to Him, to let Him dwell in even those areas where we’d least expect Him to make His home?
Because I’ve tried everything else and I’m still empty handed, empty hearted.
I’ve worshipped at the throne of a hundred false gods, each promising to fill a bigger and deeper need inside of me. Each promise falling through, letting me down, leaving me searching for more, more, more.
What I found up in that attic shocked me. There were empty boxes from our Christmas presents. This may not seem all that weird – except these were boxes from the Christmas presents we received from Santa Claus… and Santa didn’t bring them in boxes.
A horrific reality sunk in: My parents’ had kidnapped Santa Claus.
I hope audiences will sit back and consider their own wrestling with God, their own prayer life, their own dilemmas and choices alongside those of Moses. Enter into the story with their own story. I received tremendous insight through this film. Many years ago, I was once told by a Jesuit spiritual director that I could “negotiate” with God. “What?!” said I. “What do you think Abraham and Moses did?” he asked me. This conversation changed my life and my relationship with God forever. Of course, the Jews totally understand this as they have continuously and intimately wrangled with God and kept their conversation with Him going for millennia: collectively and individually.
…and watching Christie, Claire, Eseni, Francesca and Stacey work, pray, and talk to the professed sisters in these two communities has given viewers an uplifting and honest look at religious life. To add to the fun, the cast has been live-tweeting the episodes. After following cast member Stacey Jackson (@StackeyJaxx), I messaged her and asked if she’d be willing to chat. She agreed, and I was so inspired to learn even more about her discernment.
Last Monday I watched protestors fill the streets of Ferguson, most peacefully protesting, some looting and burning businesses. I watched people from all over the world come together in protest. I saw the video of the death of Eric Garner.
That day, I fell apart.
I stopped what I was doing, grabbed my Bible and a journal, found an open door to my parish church and sat in the quiet darkness of the church.
That day I felt the need for Jesus to come like I had never felt before.
I don’t really know how to say this… but when you called me a few weeks ago and asked me if I was okay, I lied…[pause]… The truth is that I’ve been making myself throw up after I eat, and it’s like I can’t stop… I think I need your help…”
He was here, as a man, to walk with us and speak to us and live and die for us. We discovered that our God had some skin in the game. The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.
And during this Advent season, as we remember the anticipation of His birth in Bethlehem as a reminder that we still anticipate His coming again, we have the chance, every day, to draw nearer. And He is doing the same. He’s coming closer still.
It’s almost as if those of us who are Christian all year round begin to fade into the background and blend in with the crowd at Christmas time. But it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, I believe Christmas is a time when faithful followers of Jesus should stand out.
The fact that you are reading this proves that God has planted a desire in your heart to serve Him in a radical way. Praise God. Not gonna lie, I love camp… it’s where I first encountered the love of Christ many years ago in high school. I loved that it was more than mud […]
When I was 6 years old, there was a book was on display in the family room. It had a picture of Pope John Paul II on the cover and about 1,000 pages of text about his life inside. And around 11:45 p.m. on New Year’s Eve 1998 I decided that my resolution for the […]
In college, I learned I had been stealing. Not shoplifting. Not downloading music illegally (that wasn’t even really possible with our dial-up internet.) Not even neglecting to claim my tips as a waitress (the computer made us to it.) My senior year of college, I realized I was stealing from the poor.
We all know the tradition. Go around the table and say what you are thankful for. It may seem tedious, it may seem uncomfortable but we really have so much to be thankful for! Big or small, here are a 20 reasons to give thanks this Thanksgiving.
Once upon a time I almost ate an entire pumpkin pie. I don’t regret it. Okay, slightly. But thats not what Thanksgiving is about. This Thanksgiving I challenge you to do something crazy creative. We are gonna give thanks, but we are thinking way outside the stuffing box. Thanksgiving is certainly about being thankful for […]
There are definite “Joan of Arc” overtones at certain points. Katniss’ Mockingjay outfit is almost like armor, and her banner with fire behind it feels like a scene right out of “Joan of Arc” starring Ingrid Bergman. (Joan prided herself on never having actually killed anyone herself–similar to Katniss.) I do think Katniss could be a role model for young women to be strong as young women. Sometimes to have a bit of needed nonviolent “fight back” in their spirits.
I am one of the freshmen fortunate enough to have landed a job my first semester of college. I started working at the bakery two weeks before school started, and I love the job! One day, as I was sweeping the flour-and-crumb-covered floor, my joy poured out of me in a silent prayer of thanksgiving.
Five minutes later, as if God was saying, “let’s see how sincere you really are.” I was sent to the most dreaded place in the bakery – the dish room.