The Second Day of Christmas Advent. Saint Matthew Apostle and Evangelist.

The name Matthew is derived from the Hebrew Mattija, being shortened to Mattai in post-Biblical Hebrew. In Greek it is sometimes spelled Maththaios, BD, and sometimes Matthaios, CEKL, but grammarians do not agree as to which of the two spellings is the original. Matthew is spoken of five times in the New Testament; first in Matthew 9:9, when called by Jesus to follow Him, and then four times in the list of the Apostles, where

The Sixth Friday of Great Lent. The Fast that Keeps.

By Fr. Stephen Freeman, March 12, 2013  Corrie Ten Boom, the Dutch Christian who suffered in Hitler’s Ravensbruck for her work rescuing Jews, shared stories of her life within those death camps. I recall one of her remarks, “We did not keep the Sabbath, the Sabbath kept us.” Some years back I was filming a television show with the local Rabbi and a member of his congregation (who was a Holocaust survivor). In the course

The Third Day of Christmas. Feast of Saint Stephen, the First Christian.

THIS DAY is set aside as a memorial of Stephen, the first Christian. Once again, the church seems to take a counter-intuitive approach, reminding us of sin and suffering hard on the heels of the joyful celebration of the Nativity. But it is possible to see the reason behind this decision. In Advent we were reminded that our longing for the light of Christ is conditioned by the darkness that often surrounds us. In remembering

The Fortieth Day of Christmas Advent. Christmas Eve.

A WOMAN I KNOW, whose family owns a retail business in a small town, once commented, “Christmas is not a pleasant time at our house.” I found this a sad commentary on what Christmas has become for so many of us: a time of increased anxiety and stress and discord. We lash out at loved ones because we’re spending money we can’t afford to spend, or, as with this woman, because Christmas is what makes

The Thirty-Seventh Day of Christmas Advent. The Story of Christ’s Birth.

The story of Christ’s birth speaks to us about the mysterious ways of God.  The Triune God acts in ways that we do not always expect! His ways are truly wonder-filled. For centuries, the Ancient Israelites had expected the Messiah. The prophets, especially Isaiah and Jeremiah, called the people to readiness and openness to God’s actions. Their message provided the people with indications about the coming Messiah. Yet, when ‘the fullness of time had come’

The Thirty-Sixth Day of Christmas Advent. The Voice Calls Out to Us.

EVEN NOW THE VOICE CALLS OUT TO US, asking that we turn, bidding us again to prepare the way of the Lord. And most of us, most of the time, will break our hearts trying to respond as we should. Repentance—that turn of heart and mind—is not so easy to accomplish, nor do our preparations of “the way” ever feel quite complete. Still and always, the voice calls to us from the wilderness and calls

The Thirty-Fifth Day of Christmas Advent. Would Have Been!

I LOVE THESE LINES IN ISAIAH; the sweetness of their assurance is absolute: I am the LORD your God, who teaches you to profit, who leads you in the way you should go.   And my heart is broken by the verses that follow. O that you had hearkened to my commandments! Then your peace would have been like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea; Your offspring would have been

The Thirty-Fourth Day of Christmas Advent. CRY!

A VOICE SAYS, “CRY!” And so I prepare to lift my voice to cry. But, like the holy prophet, even as I take in breath to make my cry, I wonder, “What shall I cry?” I’m guessing that this must be the unceasing prayer of the prophet; it is certainly the unceasing prayer of the poet. I would suppose that very few poets turn out to be prophets, but what I gather, even so, is

The Thirty-Third Day of Christmas Advent. The Desert of Human History.

INTO THE DESERT OF HUMAN HISTORY, and even here, in to the modern deserts we shape and inhabit, at a time when the poor and needy—their tongues parched with thirst—desperately seek life-sustaining waters, the Holy One pours out rivers and fountains. He places the cedar, the acacia, the myrtle, and the olive along their banks, and he sets together the cypress, the plane, and the pine. He is with us in our poverty, and he

The Thirtieth Day of Christmas Advent. Witness a Mystery.

WE PREPARE TO WITNESS A MYSTERY. More to the point, we prepare to witness The Mystery, the God made flesh. While it is good that we seek to know the Holy One, it is probably not so good to presume that we ever complete the task, to suppose that we ever know anything about him except what he has made known to us. The prophet Isaiah helps us to remember our limitations when he writes,