Meditations and blessings about love as Advent’s fourth theme & Hannukah blessings also

Love is the bridge between you and everything. — Rumi

The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is to love and be loved in return. – Natalie Cole

Mankind was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The deals of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!
— Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

Love, in the New Testament, is not something you feel; it is something you do….Love seeks the well-being of others and is embodied in concrete efforts in their behalf. — Francis Taylor Gench

DANCE— Wendell Berry
… And I love you
as I love the dance that brings you
out of the multitude
in which you come and go.
Love changes, and in change is true.
 

I GOT KIN — Hafiz

Plant
So that your own heart
Will grow.

Love
So God will think,
“Ahhhhhh,
I got kin in that body!
I should start inviting that soul over
For coffee and
Rolls.”

Sing
Because this is a food
Our starving world
Needs.

Laugh
Because that is the purest
Sound.

TOUCHED By An ANGEL
 Maya Angelou

We, unaccustomed to courage
exiles from delight
live coiled in shells of loneliness
until love leaves its high holy temple
and comes into our sight
to liberate us into life.

Love arrives
and in its train come ecstasies
old memories of pleasure
ancient histories of pain.
Yet if we are bold,
love strikes away the chains of fear
from our souls.

We are weaned from our timidity
In the flush of love’s light
we dare be brave
And suddenly we see
that love costs all we are
and will ever be.
Yet it is only love
which sets us free.

BOUT LOVE

Where there is love there is life. – Mahatma Gandhi

The greatest degree of inner tranquility comes from the development of love and compassion. The more we care for the happiness of others, the greater is our own sense of well-being. – Dalai Lama

Love is more than a noun – it is a verb; it is more than a feeling – it is caring, sharing, helping, sacrificing.– William Arthur Ward

Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it. — Rumi

Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage. – Lao Tzu

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.– C.S. Lewis

… But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round—apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that—as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it! ― Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol 

The ancient Hebrew word “ahava” that is often translated as “love” in the Bible has a unique meaning too.  Sadly, this amazing Hebrew word is hidden behind the nonchalant English term that everyone uses for everything. … Love or “ahava” in the Hebraic mind is very different in today’s culture. In the Hebrew, love is connected directly with action and obedience. Strong’s Exhaustive Dictionary defines ahava as “to have affection, sexually or otherwise, love, like, to befriend, to be intimate.”  It brings to mind the idea of longing for or breathing for another. Hebraically ahava is a verb and a noun, it is an act of doing. Ahava is not just a feeling. — Daniel Rendelman

Nothing God ever does, or ever did, or ever will do, is separate from the love of God. — A.W.Tozer

… the action and behavior produced by love is distinctly countercultural. … In a society where so much is presented in terms of “self”—self-awareness, self-esteem, self-acceptance, self-image, self-realization—to present a way of existence in which a person lives for the other in a life of loving self-sacrifice will be highly provocative. Following the one who gave his life as a sacrifice for us will be humbling and undoubtedly costly in terms of human recognition and progress in life as secular society defines it.— zondervanacademic.com

I love you not only for what you are, but for what I am when I am with you. I love you not only for what you have made of yourself, but for what you are making of me. I love you for the part of me that you bring out.  – Elizabeth Barrett Browning

In the end we discover that to love and let go can be the same thing.— Jack Kornfield

Let the beauty of what you love be what you do. – Rumi

You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching, Love like you’ll never be hurt, Sing like there’s nobody listening, And live like it’s heaven on earth. – William W. Purkey

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that. – Martin Luther King Jr.

Love is never lost. If not reciprocated, it will flow back and soften and purify the heart.  – Washington Irving

Life is the first gift, love is the second, and understanding the third. – Marge Piercy

Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place. – Zora Neale Hurston

The chance to love and be loved exists no matter where you are. – Oprah Winfrey

No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another. – Charles Dickens, Dr. Marigold

MEDITATION on LOVE
— Howard Thurman 

I’m continuing our thinking togetherabout the meaning of love. And today, I want to read a few verses from Moffatt’s translation of the 13th chapter of 1 Corinthians.

Love is very patient, very kind. Love knows no jealousy. Love makes no parade, gives itself no airs, is never rude, never selfish, never irritated,never resentful. Love is never glad when others go wrong. Love is gladdened by goodness, always slow to expose, always eager to believe the best, always hopeful, always patient.

The working definition that we are using is this– love is the experience of being dealt with at a point in oneself that is beyond all the good and beyond all the evil. To love is to deal with another person at a point in him that is beyond all the good and beyond all the evil.

There is something in the experience which has with it always a note of security, of emotional security. And security in its simplest terms means the experience of having one’s needs satisfied. And whoever is able to satisfy one’s needs, simple needs or complex needs, the response, because of this sense of satisfaction, is in terms of not only dependence but in terms of trust, in terms of confidence, in terms of affection, in terms of love.

It is for this reason that religion insists that God loves man and that it is man’s experience of the love of God which in the first instance enables him to be able to love anyone. I wonder if you take for granted the fact that so many of your own basic needs are satisfied by life. And if you take this for granted, then your attitude towards life may not be one of responsibility, of responsiveness, of reverence, of gratitude. It may be an attitude that is simply callous.

You may decide, for instance, that you elate the fresh air that you breathe and the cool water that you drink and all of the other simple creature ways by which your needs are satisfied. But if you reflect upon your total experience of life in this regard, then your attitude towards life will be one of reverence and towards the creator of life one of trust and confidence.

For the Upcoming 4th Sunday of Advent (and the week that follows) Focused on Love 

ADVENT CANDLE-LIGHTING BLESSING— Maren Tirabassi(excerpt, full article with multiple liturgies: https://pilgrimwr.unitingchurch.org.au/?p=7304)

In our church and homes
we gather around wreaths
to pray our lost hopes, broken peace, limited joys, and love so hard to find and share in this season …
We affirm that our candles mean
we claim the power to call this season Advent, when God’s light comes into the world and nothing can overcome it.
We light the candles of hope, peace, and joy.
We now light the candle of love even when many things dim our sparkling
eg loneliness, racism, queer bashing, body shaming
God’s love illuminates hatred and a compassionate heart
and brightens the path to the birth of Christ.
Emmanuel, God be with us in the week to come lighting hope, peace, joy and love on the wick of our lives, so that we may shine on our world your unconditional welcome to all. Amen.

HANUKKAH BLESSING — from hias.org

Hanukkah 2022 will begin in the evening of Sunday,. Dec 18

and ends in the evening of Monday, Dec 26. Recite or sing these blessings as you light the Hanukkiyah each night during Hanukkah:

Baruch atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, asher kid’shanu b-mitzvotav, v-tzivanu l’hadlik ner
shel Hanukkah.

Blessed are you, Our God, Ruler of the Universe, who makes us holy through Your commandments,
and commands us to light the Hanukkah lights.

Baruch atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, she-asah nisim la-avoteinu v-imoteinu ba- yamim ha-heim
ba-z’man ha-zeh.

Blessed are you, Our God, Ruler of the Universe, who performed miracles for our ancestors in their
days at this season.

On the first night of Hanukkah add this blessing:

Baruch atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, shehecheyanu v-ki’y’manu v-higianu la-z’man ha-zeh.

Blessed are you, Our God, Ruler of the Universe, for giving us life, for sustaining us, and for enabling
us to reach this season

HANUKKAH 101 (excerpts) — full article: https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/hanukkah-101/

Hanukkah, or the Festival of Rededication, celebrates the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem after its defilement by the Syrian Greeks in 164 BCE. Although it is a late addition to the Jewish liturgical calendar, the eight-day festival of Hanukkah has become a beloved and joyous holiday. It is also known as the Festival of Lights and usually takes place in December, at the time of year when the days are shortest in the northern hemisphere.Historical Origins of Hanukkah

Beginning in 167 BCE, the Jews of Judea rose up in revolt against the oppression of King Antiochus IV Epiphanes of the Seleucid Empire. The military leader of the first phase of the revolt was Judah the Maccabee, the eldest son of the priest Mattityahu (Mattathias). In the autumn of 164, Judah and his followers were able to capture the Temple in Jerusalem, which had been turned into a pagan shrine. They cleansed it and rededicated it to Israel’s God. This event was observed in an eight-day celebration, which was patterned on Sukkot, the autumn festival of huts. Much later rabbinic tradition ascribes the length of the festival to a miraculous small amount of oil that burned for eight days.How to Celebrate Hanukkah at Home

Much of the activity of Hanukkah takes place at home. Central to the holiday is the lighting of the hanukkiah or menorah, an eight-branched candelabrum to which one candle is added on each night of the holiday until it is ablaze with light on the eighth night. In commemoration of the legendary cruse of oil, it is traditional to eat foods fried in oil. The most familiar Hanukkah foods are the European (Ashkenazi) potato pancakes, or latkes, and the Israeli favorite, jelly donuts, or sufganiyot.  The tradition developed in Europe to give small amounts of money as well as nuts and raisins to children at this time. Under the influence of Christmas, which takes place around the same time of year, Hanukkah has evolved into the central gift-giving holiday in the Jewish calendar in the Western world.Celebrating Hanukkah in the Community

Since Hanukkah is not biblically ordained, the liturgy for the holiday is not well developed. It is actually a quite minor festival. However, it has become one of the most beloved of Jewish holidays. In an act of defiance against those in the past and in the present who would root out Jewish practice, the observance of Hanukkah has assumed a visible community aspect.  Jews will often gather for communal celebrations and public candle lighting. At such celebrations, Hanukkah songs are sung and traditional games such as dreidel are played.Hanukkah’s Theology and Themes

Like Passover, Hanukkah is a holiday that celebrates the liberation from oppression. It also provides a strong argument in favor of freedom of worship and religion. In spite of the human action that is commemorated, never far from the surface is the theology that the liberation was possible only thanks to the miraculous support of the Divine.

Reflections on going your way, my way, and finding ‘the way’ (themes from Luke)

Question: When do you follow the lead of others, and explore their way, and when do you invite others to join you and try your path, your way?

As you start to walk on the way, the way appears. — Rumi

Music Video:Bless the Broken Road by Rascal Flatts

The Way InLinda Hogan

Sometimes the way to milk and honey is through the body. Sometimes the way in is a song. But there are three ways in the world:
dangerous, wounding, and beauty. To enter stone, be water. To rise through hard earth, be plant desiring sunlight, believing in water. To enter fire, be dry. To enter life, be food.

The Road― J.R.R. Tolkien
The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.

My Way, Your Way

You enter the forest at the darkest point, where there is no path. Where there is a way or path, it is someone else’s path. You are not on your own path. If you follow someone else’s way, you are not going to realize your potential. ― Joseph Campbell, The Hero’s Journey

Just imagine becoming the way you used to be as a very young child, before you understood the meaning of any word, before opinions took over your mind. The real you is loving, joyful, and free. The real you is just like a flower, just like the wind, just like the ocean, just like the sun. — Don Miguel Ruiz

Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you. — Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Don’t keep forever on the public road, going only where others have gone. ― Alexander Graham Bell

You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist. ― Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

Unfortunately, when you insist on doing everything your way, what usually happens is that you repeat someone else’s mistakes. ― Augustine Wetta, Humility Rules: St Benedict’s Twelve-Step Guide to Genuine Self-Esteem

We do not draw people … by loudly discrediting what they believe, by telling them how wrong they are and how right we are, but by showing them a light that is so lovely that they want with all their hearts to know the source of it. — Madeleine L’Engle

The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others. — Mahatma Gandhi

The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing. — Walt Disney

Finding the Way

You don’t choose a life … You live one. — The Way (movie) script

In a gentle way, you can shake the world. — Mahatma Gandhi

… we have been chosen to make our own limited and very conditional love the gateway for the unlimited and unconditional love of God. — Soren Kierkegaard

… the greatest spiritual practice isn’t yoga or praying the hours or living in intentional poverty, although these are all beautiful in their own way. The greatest spiritual practice is just showing up. ― Nadia Bolz-Weber, Pastrix

The easiest way to be reborn is to live and feel life everyday. ― Munia Khan

Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time. — Thomas Edison

The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness. — John Muir

To enjoy good health, to bring true happiness to one’s family, to bring peace to all, one must first discipline and control one’s own mind. If a man can control his mind he can find the way to Enlightenment, and all wisdom and virtue will naturally come to him. — Buddha

I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness because it shows me the stars. — Og Mandino

Love will find a way through paths where wolves fear to prey. — Lord Byron

There is no way to happiness – happiness is the way. — Thich Nhat Hanh

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