Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Cousins Visit

Wednesday, December 23, 2009 -- Week of 4 Advent, Year Two

Today's Readings for the Daily Office (Book of Common Prayer, 939)
Psalms 72 (morning) 111, 113 (evening)
1 Samuel 7:1-17
Titus 2:11 - 3:8
Luke 1:39-48a(48b-56)

Today we read Luke's story about Mary's visit to her cousin Elizabeth, which was also our Sunday reading. Chuck had a fine sermon about the earthiness of the whole Christmas story, and about the central place that women occupy in the story (and how the men sit on the sidelines to some degree).

I remember a quote from former Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold: "The meeting of Mary and Elizabeth teaches us... we need human friends who are companions along the way. They are not always friends, for sometimes critics speak the word more deeply than friends -- but they are fellow travelers. They show up to confirm the word we think we are hearing, which invites us to a deeper fidelity."

We all need people with whom we can be completely open and honest. We also need friends who will tell us the truth about ourselves, whether we want to hear it or not.

The church provides a sacramental context for just such a friendship. It is called Confession, or Reconciliation of a Penitent. In Confession, we can be completely open and honest, especially about our sins. The priest tries to help us see the truth about ourselves, and then gives us a great truth, the free gift of God's forgiveness. I had a spiritual director who used to say, "It is not good for one to be alone with one's sins." (A take-off from the creation of Eve, when God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone.")

Spiritual Direction or Spiritual Friendship is another structured relationship for being in a context of open, honest support. Those of us with a Spiritual Director or a circle that will help us with discernment find welcome hospitality and wisdom, like Mary found with Elizabeth.

Most of us have friends that have known us a long time, and when we reconnect, we are instantly back to a place of deep familiarity, even if years have passed. I'm hearing reports of people reconnecting thanks to the Internet and some of the social media we enjoy. Families and friends now can see each other and talk for free on their computers, thanks to Skype. That's been a great connector for us while our son has been living in China.

Holidays are often times for reunion. Cousins visit. Families reconnect. Our families are often much more diverse than our friendships. You don't pick your family. We learn to love and to live with one another despite differences when we live in families. Families are Red and Blue, Episcopalian and Baptist. When we do family well, love transcends those differences of opinion or spirituality. When that happens, the spirit gives us a deep gift.

It takes a little getting ready for family. You have to remember that ole so-and-so will be just like himself/herself again, so don't be surprised or act outraged. Being together is part of God's teaching us about God. God loves us all. Red and Blue / Episcopalian and Baptist. As Tiny Tim exclaimed, "God bless us every one."


Audio podcast: Listen to an audio podcast of the most recent Morning Reflections from today and the past week. Click the following link: Morning Reflection Podcasts

About Morning Reflections
Morning Reflections is a brief thought about the scripture readings from the Daily Office of Morning and Evening Prayer according to the practice found in the Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church.

Morning Prayer begins on p. 80 of the Book of Common Prayer.
Evening Prayer begins on p. 117

An online resource for praying the Daily Office is found at
Another form of the office from Phyllis Tickle's "Divine Hours" is available on our partner web site at this location --

The Mission of St. Paul's Episcopal Church
is to explore and celebrate
God's infinite grace, acceptance, and love.

Visit our web site at

Our Rule of Life
We aspire to...
worship weekly
pray daily
learn constantly
serve joyfully
live generously.

Lowell Grisham, Rector
St. Paul's Episcopal Church
Fayetteville, Arkansas


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