Daily Advent Devotional: Day 18 – Wed, Dec 16

Joy may also come from practicing kindness and/or serving others. This approach to life feeds a sense of purpose and optimism. Kindness can happen in simple, daily interactions: recognize the dignity of another person and choose compassion and courtesy in your exchanges. Likewise, you can serve others informally by being a good neighbor and caring for others with acts of thoughtfulness, or more formally by volunteering for a cause in which you believe. Such outreach can be as modest as making a meal or checking in with people by phone. It may take a more committed path as a dedicated volunteer who supports others, and should be done with balance and boundaries.
            As a spiritual practice, this is an empowering approach to life. It identifies your competencies and capabilities, and reminds you that you have choices. It affirms your value and purpose as a human being and helps to acknowledge others, also.  
            Being kind and being of service enlarge personal perspectives. They alter the understanding of others’ circumstances, thus allowing you to recognize your own blessings. They cultivate appreciation for your own individual agency and the ability to be helpful to others. With kindness and service, through small acts or major forms of participation, you may renew your internal sense of fulfillment and joy. — Rev Gail

… for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I sing for joy. — Psalm 63:7

But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them … — Psalm 5:11

To get the full value of joy you must have someone to divide it with. ― Mark Twain

The joy that isn’t shared dies young. — Anne Sexton

Find joy in everything you choose to do. Every job, relationship, home… It’s your responsibility to love it, or change it. – Chuck Palahniuk

When you can stop and ask yourself, “How can I help,” or, “How can I be of service,” you create a new internal dialogue that leads to alternative and expanded ways of thinking and responding. … You have something to offer, a gift brought into this world to share with others. It could be your ability to listen, give a great hug, advocate for those in need, build something, or be there for someone In being able to share this gift, you build a greater sense of connection and belonging, something you can relate to as a basic need. Joy is often a side effect of what can happen when you are in the service of something greater than yourself. — Rachelle Williams

Gratitude begins in our hearts and then dovetails into behavior. It almost always makes you willing to be of service, which is where the joy resides. It means that you are willing to stop being such a jerk. When you are aware of all that has been given to you, in your lifetime and the past few days, it is hard not to be humbled, and pleased to give back. — Anne Lamott

Thoughts on the Trinity, and reflections on justice, kindness, and humilitty: what is required of you. Themes from Micah & 2 Corinthians on Trinity Sunday.

In the name of the Bee, and the Butterfly, and the Breeze – Amen!  — Emily Dickinson

Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public. ― Cornel West

Remember there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end. – Scott Adams

… whether a person practices religion or not, the spiritual qualities of love and compassion, patience, tolerance, forgiveness, humility and so on are indispensable.  — Dalai Lama

I should like to be able to love my country and still love justice. ― Albert Camus

Let the first act of every morning be to make the following resolve for the day:

  • I shall not fear anyone on Earth.
  • I shall fear only God.
  • I shall not bear ill will toward anyone.
  • I shall not submit to injustice from anyone.
  • I shall conquer untruth by truth. And in resisting untruth, I shall put up with all suffering.

― Mahatma Gandhi

I bind unto myself today the strong name of the Trinity, by Invocation of the same, the Three in One, the One in Three.   I bind unto myself today, the virtues of the starlit heaven, the glorious sun’s life-giving ray,  the whiteness of the moon at even, the flashing of the lightning free, the whirling wind’s tempestuous shocks, the stable earth, the deep salt sea, around the old appointed rocks.  Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ in quiet, Christ in danger, Christ in hearts of all that love me, Christ in mouth of friend and stranger. — St Patrick

Video:


Songs about Trinity, Justice, Kindness and Humility:

Questions to consider:

  • What relationships have you experienced that are so fulfilling or well-balanced that they create an overflow of love and affection?
  • Who in your life (if anyone does) offers you love without boundaries or conditions? To whom (if anyone) have you offered such love?
  • Who represents justice in your life? To whom do you embody justice?
  • Who has modeled kindness in your life? To whom do you offer kindness?
  • Who has taught you humility? With whom are you humble?
  • Which of these is most challenging for you to practice: justice, kindness, or humility?

On Justice

Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends. ― J.R.R. Tolkien

There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest. ― Elie Wiesel

If you spend your time hoping someone will suffer the consequences for what they did to your heart, then you’re allowing them to hurt you a second time in your mind. ― Shannon L. Alder

As my sufferings mounted I soon realized that there were two ways in which I could respond to my situation — either to react with bitterness or seek to transform the suffering into a creative force. I decided to follow the latter course. ― Martin Luther King Jr.

Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are. ― Benjamin Franklin

Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events. It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance. ― Robert F. Kennedy

The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice” is [Martin Luther] King’s clever paraphrasing of a portion of a sermon delivered in 1853 by the abolitionist minister Theodore Parker. … Parker studied at Harvard Divinity School and eventually became an influential transcendentalist and minister in the Unitarian church. In that sermon, Parker said: “I do not pretend to understand the moral universe. The arc is a long one. My eye reaches but little ways. I cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure by experience of sight. I can divine it by conscience. And from what I see I am sure it bends toward justice. — Mychal Denzel Smith 

For there is but one essential justice which cements society, and one law which establishes this justice. This law is right reason, which is the true rule of all commandments and prohibitions. Whoever neglects this law, whether written or unwritten, is necessarily unjust and wicked. ― Marcus Tullius Cicero

Each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done. ― Bryan Stevenson

To be wealthy and honored in an unjust society is a disgrace.  ― Confucius

“Rats and roaches live by competition under the laws of supply and demand; it is the privilege of human beings to live under the laws of justice and mercy. ― Wendell Berry

To sin by silence, when they should protest, makes cowards of men. ― Ella Wheeler Wilcox

 I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits than strict justice. ― Abraham Lincoln

In keeping silent about evil, in burying it so deep within us that no sign of it appears on the surface, we are implanting it, and it will rise up a thousand fold in the future. When we neither punish nor reproach evildoers, we are not simply protecting their trivial old age, we are thereby ripping the foundations of justice from beneath new generations. ― Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn

Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe. ― Frederick Douglass

We are not to simply bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice, we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself. ― Dietrich Bonhoeffer

For children are innocent and love justice, while most of us are wicked and naturally prefer mercy. ― G.K. Chesterton

I believe that there will be ultimately be a clash between the oppressed and those who do the oppressing. I believe that there will be a clash between those who want freedom, justice and equality for everyone and those who want to continue the system of exploitation. I believe that there will be that kind of clash, but I don’t think it will be based on the color of the skin… ― Malcolm X

Never pray for justice, because you might get some. ― Margaret Atwood

It is more important that innocence be protected than it is that guilt be punished, for guilt and crimes are so frequent in this world that they cannot all be punished. But if innocence itself is brought to the bar and condemned, perhaps to die, then the citizen will say, ‘whether I do good or whether I do evil is immaterial, for innocence itself is no protection,’ and if such an idea as that were to take hold in the mind of the citizen that would be the end of security whatsoever. ― John Adams

Right is right, even if everyone is against it, and wrong is wrong, even if everyone is for it. ― William Penn

On Kindness

Sometimes it takes only one act of kindness and caring to change a person’s life. – Jackie Chan

Do things for people not because of who they are or what they do in return, but because of who you are. – Harold S. Kushner

Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you. – Princess Diana 

Because that’s what kindness is. It’s not doing something for someone else because they can’t, but because you can. – Andrew Iskander 

Love and kindness are never wasted. They always make a difference. They bless the one who receives them, and they bless you, the giver. – Barbara DeAngelis

What wisdom can you find that is greater than kindness? – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Kindness can become its own motive. We are made kind by being kind. – Eric Hoffer

Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough. – Franklin D. Roosevelt

We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone. – Ronald Reagan

Kindness begins with the understanding that we all struggle. – Charles Glassman

Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for a kindness. – Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Unexpected kindness is the most powerful, least costly, and most underrated agent of human change. – Bob Kerrey

Constant kindness can accomplish much. As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust, and hostility to evaporate. – Albert Schweitzer

Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love. – Lao Tzu

Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see. – Mark Twain

I’ve been searching for ways to heal myself, and I’ve found that kindness is the best way. – Lady Gaga

On Humility

Discard yourself and thereby regain yourself. Spread the trap of humility and ensnare love. —  Rumi

If one assumes a humble attitude, one’s own good qualities will increase. Whereas if one is proud, one will become jealous of others, one will look down on others, and due to that there will be unhappiness in society. — Dalai Lama XIV

These are the few ways we can practice humility:

  • To speak as little as possible of one’s self.
  • To mind one’s own business.
  • Not to want to manage other people’s affairs.
  • To avoid curiosity.
  • To accept contradictions and correction cheerfully.
  • To pass over the mistakes of others.
  • To accept insults and injuries.
  • To accept being slighted, forgotten and disliked.
  • To be kind and gentle even under provocation.
  • Never to stand on one’s dignity.
  • To choose always the hardest.

― Mother Teresa

The humblest tasks get beautified if loving hands do them. ― Louisa May Alcott

I like the scientific spirit—the holding off, the being sure but not too sure, the willingness to surrender ideas when the evidence is against them: this is ultimately fine—it always keeps the way beyond open—always gives life, thought, affection, the whole man, a chance to try over again after a mistake—after a wrong guess. ― Walt Whitman

It is those who avoid the spotlight that tend to be doing the greatest things because their hearts are set on avoiding the lesser things. ― Craig D. Lounsbrough

To learn one must be humble. But life is the great teacher. ― James Joyce

I realize today that nothing in the world is more distasteful to a man than to take the path that leads to himself. ― Hermann Hesse

Sit down before fact as a little child, be prepared to give up every preconceived notion, follow humbly wherever and to whatever abysses nature leads, or you shall learn nothing. I have only begun to learn content and peace of mind since I have resolved at all risks to do this. ― Thomas Huxley

Thoughts on the Trinity

I didn’t need to understand the hypostatic unity of the Trinity; I just needed to turn my life over to whoever came up with redwood trees. ― Anne Lamott

The Genesis account does not say “Let me make humankind in my own image, but let us make humankind in our own image according to our likeness” This is not a “me” God, but a “we” God.  God from the beginning is, not God as bad math, but God as community.  The triune nature of God assures that God is in fellowship with God’s self.  In the Beginning is Creator, Word and Spirit all co-mingling to bring forth creation. Here God creates communally. In the Trinitarian nature of God, individuality and communality are related in a beautiful life giving dance of creation … — Nadia Bolz-Weber

Emily Dickinson wrote her own Trinity:  In the name of the Bee, and the Butterfly, and the Breeze – Amen!  In them she has caught an image for the Maker, the Christ, and the Spirit …  All live in, sanctify, and are vulnerable to this world. — Nancy Rockwell

I don’t for a moment pretend to understand the Trinity, and quite frankly I don’t frankly trust those who say they do. (Goodness, but even Augustine said it was beyond him.) But I do know this: at the heart of our understanding of God as somehow three-in-one is the notion that you can’t fully or finally understand God without talking about relationship. That God is so full of love that there has to be some way of talking about that loved shared in and through profound relationships. Some say that’s why God created the cosmos and humanity in the first place, to have more people to love. But the Trinity goes even further, saying that from the very beginning of time the dynamic power of love that is at the heart of God’s identity and character can only be captured – and that dimly! – by thinking of the love that is shared. (Perhaps it’s simply impossible to think about love that isn’t shared.) And so God’s essential and core being has always been a giving and receiving and sharing of love that finally spills out into the whole of the universe and invites all of us into it. First through creation and God’s series of covenants, then and pre-eminently in the sending of God’s Son to demonstrate in word and deed just how much God loves us, and now as the Spirit bears witness to God’s ongoing love for us and all creation.
      Which means, I think, that when we talk about the Trinity as God being three-in-one, we really haven’t captured the heart of the doctrine and reality unless we recognize that God is three-in-one in order always to add one more – and that’s us, all of us, an infinite “plus one” through which God’s love is made complete in relationship with all of God’s children. — David Lose

St. Ignatius of Loyola once had a revelation of the Trinity as a harmonic chord, with three notes being played at the same time but forming one sound. This revelation was so overwhelming that after receiving it, he wept tears of joy all day. God is not an isolated, contained being. His nature is to be communal. The one being of God is really the interrelationship between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. — Patty Mitchell

The dogma of the Trinity was defined in two stages, at the First Council of Nicaea (A.D. 325) and the First Council of Constantinope (A.D. 381). — Jimmy Akin

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