Advent Mini-meditations from Mennonite Church Manitoba’s working group on Palestine and Israel. 1. The angel’s announcement and justice
Painting of the angel’s visit to Mary,Church of the Annunciation, a prominent holy site and tourist attraction in Nazareth, Israel.
“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour.” --Mary, in Luke 1:46-47
As a young woman, Mary was so amazed that God had chosen her to be the mother of the Messiah, the Prince of Peace, that she sang this song of praise. Mary was from Nazareth, a humble Jewish village in the hinterlands of Galilee, on the margins of religious and political power. Like Bethlehem and Jerusalem, Nazareth was under the firm military control of the Roman Empire. Today, 2,000 years later, Nazareth is a bustling town in northern Israel, where Christians, Muslims, and Jews live side by side. But like Mary, its citizens experience the struggles of ethnic discrimination and inequality. At this time of year, Christians remember Mary’s proclamation that God has “scattered the proud… and lifted up the lowly” (Luke 1:51-52).
God of peace, at this time of year we rejoice in the coming of Jesus, our Messiah and Saviour. With Mary we hold to your promise of the day when the lowly will be lifted up, with equal dignity. Amen
The season of Lent began on Ash Wednesday, February 14. We invite you to participate in an intentional spiritual practice during these six weeks; these practices are “pauses” in our days, when we stop to pay attention to the presence of God wherever we are, whatever we may be doing. In her book sevensacredpauses, Macrina Wiederkehr writes:
The mystical possibilities of every moment are revealed to us in our intentional pauses. There are, of course, times when we are startled into pausing because grace takes hold of us in an unexpectedly profound manner... Suddenly we see the aura, the holy light exuding from all things. More often, though, we need to practice living in such a way that our pauses become treasured anointings in the midst of our work. If we practice living mindfully, we slowly begin to see the holiness of so many things that remain hidden when we choose to rush through the hours, striking tasks from the list of things we must accomplish before day’s end. It will be a happy moment when we remember to add the wise act of pausing to our to-do lists (20).
There are many ways of pausing, many spiritual practices. Here are a few that some Home Streeters are practicing during Lent; we invite you to join us, or to adopt a practice of your own:
Lenten walks: 10:00 am Saturdays during Lent., beginning Feb. 17. A one-hour outdoor walk in locations to be determined. Optional brunch afterwards.
Men's Prayer Group. Join us for Lenten readings, songs and prayers from Take Our Moments and Our Days--An Anabaptist Prayer Book. Each Friday 7:15 to 7:45 a.m. in the prayer room.
Listening to Today’s Contemplative Voices: Listen – while you drive, while you cook, while you clean, while you relax in the evenings – to one podcast a week from modern contemplatives who invite us to deepen our spiritual lives. You’re also invited, if you like, to engage in some weekly online conversation about the podcasts.
Praying a Shawl: Knit or crochet a shawl during Lent, and fill the stitches with prayers. When it’s done, pass the prayer shawl along to someone who needs to be wrapped in prayer. Or give it to the church, and pastors will share it where needed.
Musings on Faith – Come grab a cup of coffee or tea and join in some conversations about faith and doubt; about God as Creator and Christ and Spirit; about what authority and relevance the ancient texts of the Bible can possibly have today; about what the church is anyways; about what makes a Mennonite. Come become you’re curious; or come because you want to wrestle with questions of faith; or come because you might consider baptism and membership.
Praying the Colours: Take some time to reflect on the colours of your day. Pick up a bag of coloured beads on the back table; each colour invites you to reflect on part of your day and to remember God’s presence with you. This is based on St. Ignatius’ practice of the Daily Examen. It’s a wonderful practice for people of all ages, including families with young children.
Contemplative Lenten Photo Journey: Making images with a camera is, in Howard Zehr's words, "seeing with wonder, respect, and humility" ("The Little Book of Contemplative Photography" available from commonword.ca). Those three words can also represent our human experience as we once again figuratively walk with Jesus toward the cross... In these weeks, wherever you go, be conscious of your surroundings and have your phone/camera at the ready to freeze a scene that inspires your soul.
Call the church office (204-783-1721) if you’d like more information about these Lenten practices at Home Street.