Contemporary Scripture Reflections for Spiritual Seekers

Dr. Elizabeth-Anne Stewart, BCC, PCC

www.elizabeth-annestewart.com

SUNDAY BIBLETALK

The Feast of the Nativity of the Lord

Christmas 2022

Christmas Christ

From Frost and Fire

EAS, 1985

Who is the Christmas Christ?

A child!

A man!

A god!


One we leave in the cradle

because He is safer there


because He is easier to worship there


because He is less demanding there


and a child

fills us with the hope

that tomorrow might be easier

that tomorrow

is worth waiting for

when we cannot bear

our todays.


We can dream on

without rebuke

plotting His destiny

--and ours--like protective parents

who want to control

everything

so as to avoid risk, pain,

uncertainty.


And so, in our wisdom,

we worship the Babe,

taming Christmas

into a birthday party

for children

though we have not learned

to be children ourselves.

Who is the Christmas Christ?

A child.

A man.

A god.


The Child

breaks free

of His swaddling clothes,

of our expectations,

surprising us

by being Himself.


The gentle snow

becomes a whirlwind storm

that disturbs, dismays,

upturns households,

shatters the status quo.

and beneath the tinsel

and the glitter is more than we bargained for:

A Child!

A Man!

A God!

The reflection of who WE are!

'




GIFT CERTIFICATES


If you would like to give a "spiritual gift" this Christmas, please consider giving a Spiritual Direction or Life Coaching package, or else a customized retreat. Please contact me by email for further details! Thank you!

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Greetings, SBT Readers!


With much of the country dealing with unprecedented cold and blizzard conditions, I am going to send out this issue of SBT while I still have internet connectivity. Please accept this issue as my Christmas card to YOU-- you can find a special message here: http://jlcards.com/J875dD



Christmas Blessings!


Elizabeth



SCRIPTURE REFLECTION

Link to the Sunday Readings


In the beginning was the Word,

      and the Word was with God,

      and the Word was God.

   He was in the beginning with God. 

   All things came to be through him,

      and without him nothing came to be.

   What came to be through him was life,

      and this life was the light of the human race;

   the light shines in the darkness,

      and the darkness has not overcome it.

Jn 1:1-18


Readings for the Vigil Mass, Readings for the Mass at Dawn, Readings for the Mass during the Day.... With so many rich texts to choose from, it is interesting that I found myself drawn to the first chapter of John's Gospel. While this text does contain some narrative elements, it is more a proclamation of faith than a story in the traditional sense. Yes, it presents the story of salvation but it does not reflect the cast of characters and events we typically associate with Christmas -- angels, shepherds, the stable, the star, magi... In fact, with its focus on the testimony of John the Baptist, this text takes us back to the Second Sunday of Advent and the coming of the adult Christ. It is not a text written for children nor for those seeking a Christmas experience that evokes familiar sights and sounds, the "stuff" of carols and nativity scenes.


And, yet, as I read Jn 1:1-18, I feel the power of this text, the authority of the words, the fullness of the Christmas message. At both a heart level and a head level, the text strikes home, its very cadences awakening the reader --or listener-- to the presence of Mystery, to a sense of absolute awe. Read slowly, deliberately, clearly, this Gospel transforms both reader and listener, burning away doubt and uncertainty, dispelling fear, opening our minds to a Reality beyond the mundane, even beyond the cosmos. The text demands our attention, calls us to think, to feel, to respond; it shakes our complacency, insisting that we behold the Holy One's wondrous deeds-- that which the psalmist describes as the "saving power of God" (Ps 98).


Perhaps the reality of Christmas is too overwhelming for us to grasp; perhaps this is why we need the Infancy Narratives which collectively provide a gentler approach to the same message. The Annunciation opens us to the presence of the eternal Word; the Birth in Bethlehem reflects God's unfathomable humility and love; the Shepherds' awe connects us to our own amazement; the Star invites us to seek the Holy Child; the wicked king reminds us of the forces of darkness.... Story by story, each of the Infancy Narratives helps us penetrate the message of Jn 1:1-18, allowing us to become like little children as we attempt to understand what lies beyond human comprehension.


Sadly, popular culture has hi-jacked the Christmas message with alternative narratives of jolly old Santa Clause, Frosty the Snowman, gnomes, fairies and red-nosed reindeer. Children and adults alike are dazzled by a wonderland of fantasy driven by mindless consumerism. Frenzied shopping shatters the stillness and church bells are silent....


Nevertheless, Jn1:1-18 resounds more loudly than any advertising jingle. The eternal Word is still eternal, still among us, still illuminating the darkness for all those who welcome it. And the eternal Word eternally invites us into stillness. May our hearts be open to the fullness of grace that is the true gift of Christ's coming. Amen.


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QUESTIONS

FOR REFLECTION


* Which Christmas text resonates with you the most deeply and why?


* What words and images help you enter more deeply into the Christmas Season?


* What spiritual practices can help you slow down this Christmas?

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RESOURCES


Try my Spiritual Self-Assessment ToolAfter you take the Quiz, you will automatically receive a computer-generated analysis of your strengths and "growing edges." https://assess.coach/eastewart/


Please note that I offer

Life Coaching, Spiritual Direction and Retreats. and Writing Coaching/ Editing, 

www.elizabeth-annestewart.comwww.ChicagoWritingCoach.com


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UPCOMING COURSES


Coaching Through Story

Institute for Life Coach Training

Wednesdays, 6-7:30 PM ET

January 25th-March 8th, 2023


Imagery and Spiritual Awakening

Institute for Life Coach Training

Wednesdays, 6-7:30 PM ET

March 15th - (skip April 5th) - May 3rd


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´╗┐Pray

that sanity will prevail and that all those suffering on account of the terrible conflict in Ukraine will find the comfort and resources they need.

SPIRITUAL DIRECTION &

´╗┐ LIFE COACHING

This video explains my approach to this ministry, while my website provides further details as well. Most sessions are on Zoom; I am also available to facilitate in-person or "virtual" retreats for groups and individuals.

Spiritual Direction

Dr. Elizabeth-Anne Stewart | www.elizabeth-annestewart.com | e.a.stewart@sbcglobal.net


C. All Photos by Elizabeth-Anne Stewart, www.artfulphotographer.com

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