July 17, 2018

Advent III: Bearing the fruits of mercy

Advent III Bearing the fruits of mercy I find today’s Gospel reading most interesting and instructive. 3:7 John said to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 3:8 Bear fruits worthy of repentance. Do not begin to say […]

Advent II: Mercy takes the risk of birth

Advent II Mercy takes the risk of birth. I thought of this poem last week, when each day seemed to bring more news of violence, death, and fear. It gave me words when I had none. It portrays the world in realistic terms and speaks of God’s response to the world at all times: overcome […]

Putting a Krampus in your Christmas

In the benign stories of “Santa” most of us were told, the jolly old elf knew who was “naughty or nice.” He checked his list (twice) and gave gifts to the good children, and, tradition says, a lump of coal in the stockings of children who had been bad. Bummer on Christmas morning, but hey, […]

For Advent — Fr. Thomas Hopko: 55 Maxims

Father Thomas Hopko (1939–2015) was a prominent teacher, speaker, and theologian in the Orthodox Church of America. Recently, I came across his list of “55 Maxims” and found them interesting and instructive. I think simple lists like this can be useful in penitential seasons like Advent. They help me focus and reflect on my life before God. […]

Advent I: A Holy Year of Mercy

Advent I A Holy Year of Mercy We will be moving “Sundays with Michael Spencer” to Mondays this year so that we may follow the liturgical calendar with our Sunday posts. On Sundays we will also emphasize “mercy,” following the lead of Pope Francis, who on December 8 will open the Holy Door at St. […]

A Wake Up Call for Shepherds

This is the season when we remember heaven’s wake up call to the shepherds abiding in the fields, keeping watch over their flocks by night. The divine alarm sounded a brilliant “Gloria!” and the angel enlivened them with “good news for all people.” The shepherds were awakened with the gospel of the newborn Savior. Pope […]

Advent with Christina Rossetti (4)

Christina Rossetti’s most familiar poem for this season of the year was penned in 1872. She called it simply, “A Christmas Carol,” and it was first published in Scribner’s Monthly Magazine. The poem weaves its wonder through the vivid use of contrast: overall, the hard, cold bleakness of winter vs. the warmth of a newborn […]

Lisa Dye: Parousia!

When my children were little, I diligently taught and enforced their close adherence to my side as we got in and out of the car, walked into stores, church or any other place. Looking back, I wasn’t strict or controlling in most respects. In fact, all my daughters voiced at one time or another that […]

iMonk Classic: The Mood of Advent: We All Need A Savior

I have several friends who are doing Advent in their Baptist churches for the first time, and they have lots of questions about candles and logistics. I wish there were more questions about Advent itself. For example, the mood of Advent is dark and serious. It’s not the mood of Lent, which is a particular […]

Advent with Christina Rossetti (3)

The third Sunday in Advent is Gaudete Sunday. In the midst of the Advent fast, we encouraged to rejoice in the Lord. This day has a counterpart in Lent: Laetare Sunday. Both come just past the midpoint of a penitential season and are designed as merciful reprieves from the demands of fasting so that the […]