Sat, April 15th

By: Maggie Leonard

Luke 24: 1-12

Reflection—v.11, dead to sin

Whenever a particular friend and I hang out, we always laugh a lot, like a whole lot—everything we see is funny and warrants a joke.  As I thought back through one such img_20160325_132755evening where my ribs were sore from all of our laughing, I realized that while it was pleasurable, I had not always been thoughtful as I made jokes.  Later when I shared my observations with my friend, he scoffed.  In his eyes, this is who I am—funny, and sometimes a bit salty—but ultimately good-hearted, so I need not worry too much when I’m accidentally thoughtless.  I appreciated his encouragement to accept who I am, but I couldn’t help but disagree.  I feel strongly that I want to be a person who is always pursuing personal growth.  As I understand God’s call to us, I want to grow in my ability to be loving.  Because I know who I am, and I trust in my belovedness and goodness, I can let go of the need to defend my rough edges.  I look forward to the day when my humor is more quirky, wholesome, and less biting. For me, growth provides the opportunity for an even better expression of my true self.  I can let go of bits of me, knowing that someone just as funny and even sweeter can be cultivated with God’s help.

Prayer Holy God, help me never to hold on to my sin but to release it permanently.

Sat, Dec 31

By: Chad Hyatt
Luke 2.1-20
Reflection—v. 17, ‘they made known the saying’
The good news we celebrate is not just for angels to sing. It is for all to tell. At
first, the shepherds trembled in fear when the angel appeared and the ‘the glory
of the Lord shone round about them’ (2.9). God’s glory—even God’s gracious
promise to save and heal us—often fills us with fear. To enter the promised land
is to leave behind everything that we know. To experience sobriety and recovery
from our addictions is to give up sources of comfort we have long held. But the
shepherds do not allow fear to decide their fate. Courage has less to do with banishing all our fears than with choosing to face them and to move toward wholeness despite them. The shepherds ‘go with haste’ to search out the sign they had been foretold. This is genuine faith in the face of fear, of believing the impossible just might be possible for us because of the greatness of God’s love. When the shepherds come upon the holy family, they take up the evangelizing—the good news telling—of the angels: they ‘made known the saying which had been told them concerning the child.’ Where the glory of God once terrified them, now they are the ones giving God glory for all that they had ‘heard and seen’ (2.20).
God, we tell the good news the angels sang: you have come to set us free.

Fri, Dec 30

By: Chad Hyatt
Luke 2.1-20
Reflection—v. 12, ‘a sign for you: …a babe… lying in a manger’
Sometimes the signs we seek might be in front of us—but we miss them because
they are not the signs we think they ought to be. The angel tells the shepherds their
announcement of the good news is authenticated by a homeless infant. How can
something so powerless, so weak, be the sign of something so powerful, so great?
This is not the kind of sign we are looking for, but it is the kind of sign that God gives.
It reminds us that the politics of God—the merciful way of organizing power, resources, and even ourselves as people—begins and ends among those who are most often
left out and excluded. This is how God comes to save us all—in the fragile flesh of the
poorest and powerless. To ignore this sign is to ignore God’s great desire to save us,
to heal us, to give us new and abundant life. This sign points to other signs, that God
is still found in those forgotten by our secular, this-worldly politics: women, children,
and those without homes, as in the nativity itself. Can we see signs of life where we
expect only death, hope where we presuppose hopelessness? Can we see our own
fragile but beloved humanity in the humanity of our sisters and brothers—can we see
there, in the eyes of others, the face of God?
God of the poor, help us see the signs of your presence with us.

Thur, Dec 29th

By: Chad Hyatt
Luke 2.1-20
Reflection—v. 11, ‘a Savior, who is Christ the Lord’
The angel announces that the child who is being born is ‘Lord.’ Always and every where, in every age and time, this is our scandalous proclamation: Jesus is Lord. Make no mistake, to declare he is Lord is to deny that there is any other. Just as ‘good news’ signals the angelic message is political, the content of that good news—that a Savior is born for all the people, Christ the Lord—is an exclamation point. The birth of Jesus is a direct challenge to all other ways of organizing human communities apart from God’s justice and mercy. Caesar proclaimed he was ‘Savior’ and a ‘son of God,’ the unquestioned Lord of his empire. But we owe our allegiance to Jesus alone. We should, of course, work for the well-being of our nation—and all nations. We should vote, advocate, and vigorously debate the
merits of public policy. But we must never allow such passions, however noble
we believe them to be, to take the place of our call to a higher, transcendent,
and fundamentally transformative politics—a revolution of God’s love, filled with
mercy and justice, forgiveness for enemies and peace for the world.
Lord Jesus, our only Savior, let us give our only allegiance to your mercy.

Wed, Dec 28th

By: Chad Hyatt
Luke 2.1-20
Reflection—v. 10, ‘to all the people’
The good news is not just for some. It is for ‘all the people.’ That the announcement is to shepherds is evidence enough of this. Contrary to Christmas pageant imagery, shepherds were considered dangerous outsiders by those who lived in homes. Could these men who slept in fields be trusted? What if they were to poach animals not in their care or steal from their neighbors? The religious elite considered them, along with other poor Israelites, to be ‘sinners.’ There was no middle class in first century Palestine. There were the very few who ‘had’ and the great many who ‘had not.’ ‘Crowds’ or ‘the people’ in Luke are just other ways of saying the ‘poor.’ That the heavenly angelic messengers would come first—and it would seem, exclusively—to shepherds with such earth-shattering good news only underscores the point that this is news for ‘all the people’—especially those
for whom genuine good news is rare. With this announcement, God begins to
re-gather a divided nation into one—eventually leaping the borders—walled or
not—of any one particular nation in order to include everyone of us who will hear it.
God, no one is left out of your love; open our hearts as wide as yours.

Tues, Dec 27

By: Chad Hyatt
Luke 2.1-20
Reflection—v. 10, ‘I bring you good news…’
‘Good news’ in the Hebrew scriptures announces God’s liberating work in bringing an exiled people back home. In the time of Jesus, the word was associated with events of political significance for Rome—a celebration of the birth of the emperor or a military triumph. The announcement of good news by the angel would have had a strong political edge for the shepherds and those who heard their message. And it should for us, too. But I do not mean the hyper-partisan politics of our day. One way to define politics is how people, power, and resources are organized. I believe the good news calls us to critically examine the ways in which all our communities, big and small, organize people (who’s included, who’s left out?), power (who’s got it, who’s denied it?) and resources (who has access to the necessities of life and who does not?). Do we seek to organize our lives,
our families, our communities—and, yes, our nations—in ways that show we
value mercy, justice, and the intrinsic dignity of every human life? The announcement of God’s joyous good news calls us precisely to this rigorous task.
God of good news, show us whom we have excluded from our tables.

Mon, Dec 26th

By: Chad Hyatt

Luke 2.1-20

Reflection—v. 10, ‘Behold!’

‘Behold’ is a great word, a wonderfully old-fashioned word, full of the hushed gravity that many associate with the Bible. Literally it means ‘Look!’ But literal translation is not the point. It is a marker word—there to call our attention to what follows, the ‘reality of the situation.’ As such, this old word serves us well because it is not part of our everyday conversation. I am not even sure how to ‘be-hold,’ but I know it calls me to presence—from which my fears and restless anxieties keep trying to lure me away. Beholding calls me to ‘be’ in the moment, present to what is now. And it calls me to ‘hold’ that reality, to keep it, as much as I am able, just as it is, without assimilating it into my own being—to allow the reality to speak for itself, to speak to me. To behold is to be present to a holy moment and to safeguard it for what it is—even if I do not immediately understand it or am disturbed by it. Fear will not let us be present or to hold the holiness of a moment. But we can be filled with a different sense of things, a different way of standing within reality—we can be filled with ‘beholding.’

Prayer God, help me to be and to hold, present to the holy reality of your mercy.

Christmas Day — Sun, Dec 25th

By: Chad Hyatt

Luke 2. 1-20

Reflection—v. 10, ‘The angel said to them, “Do not be afraid…”’

Today is Christmas, and the message of the angel speaks to uncertain times such as ours. The pentecostinvitation to not allow fear to dominate our lives is a call to enter into and to help create truly safe spaces—for ourselves and for others. Through Zechariah, Luke tells us God’s people will be ‘saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us’ so that we might serve God ‘without fear… all the days of our lives’ (1.71, 74-75). We live in times in which it seems everyone is afraid. We even fear one another. But for the God of the Nativity, freedom from fear always begins first at the margins, at the edges, outside our huddled encampments. First to poor shepherds the angel comes, even as they are trembling in terror, and comforts them, ‘Do not be afraid.’ This message is truly for all of us. But first it comes to those outside any sense of protection and safety, outside city and village, upon the wild plains. We must respond to the gospel call to not be afraid any longer by going first to those outside, those left out, joining with them to create the safe places, the safe world, that God’s joyous salvation promises us all.

Prayer O Christ, be with us—a safe place for all people—and save us from fear.

Saturday of Holy Week, March 26

By: Chad Hyatt

Luke 24: 1-12


In the partnership of our churches on Ponce, we are blessed to have a vivid experience of the Triduum, or the Three Days from Maundy Thursday until Easter JorgeSunday. Discovering the practice of Easter Vigil through the dramatic and beautiful worship of our sisters and brothers at St. John’s has been especially important for me. Saturday is the time of the tomb—of uncertainty and confusion, where we mourn the ways in which the promises of God seem to lie dead. Easter Vigil has allowed me to connect the dots—not just the mysterious line between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, but the line that connects the story of Jesus to the larger story of God’s people throughout Scripture. During Easter Vigil, we move from darkness, pierced only by the warm amber of glowing candles, to full, festive light at the joyous celebration of the Eucharist, as we stand circled as God’s beloved around the table. In the Scriptures, we move from the joyous mystery of creation, through the opened waters of the Exodus, as slaves on the run from Pharaoh’s deadly grasp, onto the promises of the prophets that point toward an unbelievable hope, until finally we listen to a reading of the good news that the tomb of our sorrows, now lies empty, because God’s promises, though dead, have been raised, at last destroying death itself.

Prayer Praise the Lord, risen from the dead; he has trampled down death by death!

Tuesday of Holy Week, March 22

By: Maggie Leonard

Luke 19:28-40

Reflection—v. 39, the stones would shout

Can you imagine, how would you feel if true peace were within reach—true world peace, true inner peace—where each individual is respected and honored and loved.  A world in which each person is self-reflective and is open to God’s loving work of transformation.  I imagine that on that day when Jesus entered Jerusalem on that peaceful little donkey, that the air was electric with joy and hope.  There is no stopping love.  While we have not yet accepted fully love, love has not been stopped.  God is truly at work in the world.  We have to pay closer attention these days, but that movement of God’s love and joy has not stopped—it’s still palpable in intimate gatherings and wildly hopeful uprisings, in the fields and forests, expansive night skies, a gentle touch from a loved one, sacred rites of passage, the soft light of a candle, and the birth of a new baby.  It’s that joy and contentment that catches us by surprise, that sensation we feel welling up in our chests and marks a moment as special.  It may seem random and accidental, but it’s always there.  With practice, even in those sparse, empty moments, if we take time to sit with God, we can find that joyful flutter in our hearts of stone. The time we spent in Lent praying helps us to remember that.

Prayer God, your love makes the stones shout—may I too know you in my heart.