Mary Rejoicing, Rachel Weeping

1824 (oil on canvas), Cogniet, Leon (1794-1880) Musee des Beaux-Arts, Rennes, France / Giraudon / The Bridgeman Art Library

by Wendy MurrayA disastrous event that took place in Bethlehem related to Jesus’ birth that is also part of the picture of Christmas. Herod ordered the slaughter of all the boys two years old and under. Yet we tend to allow sleigh bells, evergreens, and shopping trips to push it out of view. It is nevertheless, in all its brutality, what Christmas is about: a Savior's "invasion" (to borrow from C. S. Lewis) and confrontation with the forces of evil.Matthew's narrative of Christ's b … [Read more...]

Affliction shall Advance the Flight in Me ~ A Poem


The season of Lent rises to its devastating and astonishing conclusion this week. At long last, the veil of the dark night will be forever rent and those who abide in death will have a door to walk through into a new kind of life. Jesus will suffer first (Good Friday), and then the forces that crushed him will themselves be crushed two days later (Resurrection Sunday). In its time it was a cosmic event that, in its starkest movements, occurred beyond the veil, in a place where human eyes cannot … [Read more...]

For Lent I Give Up Not Buying Sweet Rolls

Hot-crossed buns

Even as a person of faith for more than forty years, Lent still confounds me. The stated purpose according to the Catholic tradition, is to spiritually prepare for Holy Week by means of personal penance.As I have worked this over in my mind, not being rooted in the Catholic tradition, I have come to appropriate Lent not so much with the mindset of "giving things up" -- to suffer because Jesus suffered -- but of making room for holiness, even as Jesus embodied holiness during his last … [Read more...]

The Secret Life of Jesus ~ Thoughts on Prayer

Archangel Michael

Jesus would welcome anyone, even liars and religious hypocrites, before whom he leveled a steady gaze into unsettled eyes. Is it possible then that one can accept the challenge of his grace yet dismiss the force behind them?He acted and-- in some cases restrained from acting-- in harmony with the purposes of his Father whom he met in prayer. When he was weak he prayed to stay the course, to complete the work of his Father, and to resist the temptation to exercise his bestowal before its … [Read more...]