July 30, 2016

Jan Richardson: This Luminous Darkness – Searching for Solace in Advent and Christmas

Note from CM: One of my favorite sites on our blogroll (listed as “J Richardson”) is Jan Richardson’s The Painted Prayerbook. Her art is evocative and profound, her love for the seasons of the Christian Year instructive, and her writing talent remarkable. She maintains several different sites, including a blog for Advent called, “The Advent Door: Entering […]

Advent IV: The King is coming, and we shall overcome!

Advent IV The King is coming, and we shall overcome! (First posted in 2011) One day in my chaplain work, I had marvelous conversation with an African-American woman who had grown up in Mississippi, moved to Indianapolis, whose family had relocated to other rust-belt cities like Chicago and Detroit in the 1960’s and 70’s. She […]

The Haunting of Christmas

There’ll be scary ghost stories And tales of the glories of Christmases long, long ago • It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year • • • As with other posts this Advent/Christmas season, we’re exploring some of the strange and interesting ways people celebrate the season. The way we as Americans celebrate Christmas hasn’t essentially […]

Another Look: Why do we love this season?

Why do we love this season? I would suggest that aesthetics have much to do with the answer to that question. Advent and Christmas are made sensible to us by means of the things we see, hear, smell, taste, and touch at this time of year. Spiritual truth comes out of the closet of the abstract and makes itself […]

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 […]