Fourth Sunday of Advent: Promises to Keep

Photo by Alex Harden, licensed under Creative Commons.

Advent is a time of promise and a time of waiting. Two verses from the Magnificat, Mary’s song in Luke’s Gospel, describe a future that does not yet exist. These verses voice promises of a future we still hope and wait for. 

He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly;
He has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.

Over the past five months, 7.8 million Americans have fallen into poverty. That is “the biggest jump in a single year since the government began tracking poverty 60 years ago.” Poverty has risen most rapidly for people of all races with a high school education or less, for Black families, for households with children. 

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What Side Are We On? Third Sunday of Advent

“Who are you? What do you have to say for yourself?”

These are the questions put to John the Baptist, according to today’s Gospel. The authorities sent people to question him. The powerful people of the time, the representatives of the rulers, wanted to know what side he was on. Was he a threat to the powerful, to the authorities? They wanted to know whether he claimed to be the Messiah or Elijah. No, replied John, neither of those. 

John quoted the prophet Isaiah: “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord.'”

That’s not reassuring. Like Isaiah, John is someone sent by God. His voice is the voice of a prophet, and prophets always threaten the powerful.

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Repent From Racism: Second Sunday of Advent

Black Lives Matter sign

In today’s Gospel, the beginning of the Gospel of Mark, we read: 

“As it is written in the prophet Isaiah, “See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way; the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.'” John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

Some sin is personal and some is social. Some sins are intertwined, the personal and social sin feeding on and supporting one another. Racism is such a sin. 

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Getting Woke for Advent: First Sunday

Zebra48bo, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Keep awake. Beware. Keep alert. 

This is a Gospel message for pandemic times, and for the national and global crises that we are living through right now. 

Pope Francis sent a message about our response to these crises, writing in the New York Times on Thanksgiving Day:.  

“Sometimes, when you think globally, you can be paralyzed: There are so many places of apparently ceaseless conflict; there’s so much suffering and need. I find it helps to focus on concrete situations: You see faces looking for life and love in the reality of each person, of each people. You see hope written in the story of every nation, glorious because it’s a story of daily struggle, of lives broken in self-sacrifice. So rather than overwhelm you, it invites you to ponder and to respond with hope.

“These are moments in life that can be ripe for change and conversion.”

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Walking in Winter
Early morning waking, 
two cats in the bed.
Early morning shoveling, 
wet snow below, bright sun above. 
 
Afternoon dilemma: nap or walk?
Snow and ice or quilt and cat? 
Am I 70 years old? 
Or 70 years strong? 
 
Bed beckons but I resist, 
choosing blue skies, bright sun, 
snow and slop and ice, 
and Yak Trax. 
 
Last time I tried these ice-biters,
I hated them. 
But I am older now, and need
insurance for old bones. 
 
Or so I think.
In half a block, the first one falls off. 
Another block before I notice,
and retrace my steps to find it.  
 
Carrying their failed coils, I continue, 
down wet streets, through puddled alleys. 
I'm 70 strong and, dammit, 
I am gonna walk. 

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October Laughed

Today began gray and rainy, 

until mid-morning sun burst through, 

scattering clouds, sparkling puddles,

lighting up leaves as they

sway from wind-tossed branches

skitter along sidewalks

gust golden on a wild wind. 

A puddle picture captures gold:

mirroring a tree

floating fallen leaves.

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Phenology Report: September 20-23

Sumac in full color
Mississippi colors changing
Oak leaves underfoot

This week’s weather moved from 60s to 80s, comfortable to summer-sticky.

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The Sky Is Burning

Sky in Oakland during daytime during wild fires.
Oakland, California, 11 a.m., September 9, 2020 (Photo courtesy of Macy Salzberger)

Red brown copper colored sky 
dropping ash smoke fear 
lighting up Twitter across the country 
as texts say I’m okay Mom
but I don’t believe it.  

I am not okay. You are not okay. 
We are not okay when the 
sky is on fire and forests in flames
and evacuation orders fly like 
cinders on a hot dry wind.  

Nero is fiddling, Donald is golfing
we are all going to hell in a handbasket
and no one knows how to stop. 
The sky is burning, Chicken Little,
the world is falling to pieces.       

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Phenology Report: August 30-31

Tomatoes coming in, squirrels feasting, Mexican sunflowers blooming happily at the back fence. My first tomatoes came from Kenny at the beginning of the month, followed by my own. Haven’t had to buy any at the grocery store all month long!

After 90 degree days last week, these two days were a welcome relief, with temperatures down to the comfortable 70s.

Mexican sunflowers blooming at the back fence
Tomatoes from my garden – started from seed.
Along the back fence, a riot of zinnias and tall marigolds

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Phenology Report: August 10-17

Sunflowers burst with color against a blue sky.
After moving to greener pastures on the Minneapolis side of East River Road in early spring, the turkeys have returned to Desnoyer Park.
Butterflies sip zinnias.
Sumac leaves are beginning to turn.
Sumac is candling.

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