Advent Daily Prayer
Blessed are those who trust in the LORD,
whose trust is the LORD.
They shall be like a tree planted by water,
sending out its roots by the stream.
It shall not fear when heat comes,
and its leaves shall stay green;
in the year of drought it is not anxious,
and it does not cease to bear fruit. Jeremiah 17: 7-8
2011 has been year of calamitous drought and wildfire in New Mexico and much of the Southwest, yet here at Menaul School we are blessed by green. We have on our historic campus marvelous old trees, lovingly planted by our forebears, that have provided beauty and shade to generations of students. These trees symbolize for us our deep roots in Holy Scripture and the Presbyterian Church, nourished by prayer and generosity, our branches ever reaching out and continuing to bring forth green leaves and bear fruit season after season.
The season of Advent is a time of drought, of thirsting for the Lord. During Advent we look both backward and forward. We remember Israel’s longing for the Messiah, but we also anticipate Christ’s coming again in glory to consummate the work begun on Easter morning. Just as during Lent we are confident of the Resurrection, so during Advent we do not pretend that we are ignorant of Christmas. We know that the Light has come into the darkness. Sea La Luz.
Advent thus offers us a time to reflect upon our faith, to examine and experience our hopes, to celebrate the tension of anticipation. In an impatient, noisy society that encourages busyness and glorifies instant gratification, honoring Advent can give us space, silence and sanity. In a world that seems broken beyond repair, observing Advent can help us to renew our ties with ourselves, one another, and with God. We Connect.
May these daily reflections and prayers composed by the students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends of Menaul School nurture and inspire you during this season of preparation.
To view the articles from the previous weeks of Advent:
Sunday, December 25, 2011 Nativity of the Lord / Christmas Day
Isaiah 52: 7-10
Hebrews 1: 1-4 (5-12)
John 1: 1-14
Advent season always brings up joyful memories of my years in Presbyterian Mission Schools in New Mexico: John Hyson School in ChimayÃ³, Allison-James School in Santa FÃ© and Menaul High School in Albuquerque. The Presbyterian missionaries in these schools were truly messen-gers of the Word. They provided us with invaluable tools that would help us live successful and productive Christian lives. The activities they planned for us during the Advent season were es-pecially memorable because of the lessons we learned about worship, love, giving and human-kind. They also emphasized the fact that the lessons we learned were to be practiced year-round and not only at Christmastime. These missionaries, pastors, teachers and administrators were bearers of the Good News in modern times. As we celebrate the coming of Jesus Christ into the world let us remember the words of Scripture found in the first chapter of John -- " And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father full of grace and truth."
Merciful Father we thank you for having sent your Son Jesus Christ into the world as our re-deemer. We pray in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Ambrosio Ortega, Menaul School Class of 1946, History Teacher , Guidance Counselor, Dean of Students at Menaul School
Saturday, December 24, 2011 Christmas Eve
Luke 2:1-14 [15-20]
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, â€œGlory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors.
My Christmases as a Cubex
As a child I remember entering our home on December 24th and being overpowered with the odor of garlic marinating our lechon asado, for some an overwhelming sensory overload. That was mi casa. If you visited a few days later on December 31, my siblings, mother and I would all be around the kitchen table in assembly line format making tamales. That was mi casa.
During this most precious time of Christmas I am grateful for the family traditions in mi casa. My Cubex traditions, which were given to me by my Cuban father and Mexican mother, are now passed down to my children. We still to this day make lechon asado on the 24th with black beans and rice. And to bring in the New Year we make all types of tamales.
However, our most important tradition is to live out the essence of this season, love as seen through the birth of Christ, our gift. As we go about our traditions I wish you all Merry Christmas and as it says in Luke 2:14:
Glory to God in the highest, and peace, good will toward all men!
Lina Ramos, Middle School Dean, Spanish, Theatre, and Choir Teacher, Menaul School
Friday, December 23, 2011
The LORD your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.
Zephaniah 3: 1
As I think about the birth of Christ, I am taken back to a time when I viewed this special season entirely different than I do today. I am reminded of a time when Christmas was centered on food, gifts, the hope of snow, playing games, and friends. My thoughts rarely, if ever turned to a relationship with the Almighty, and definitely not to the birth of my Savior.
I now know my parents could see where my mind and focus was during this time, and being the loving and godly parents they were at that point in their lives, they felt Menaul School would be a good place for me to begin a spiritual journey that would help nurture, define, and build who I would ultimately become as a man. They knew that God would always be with me, take delight in me, quiet me, and most importantly save my soul.
Cleaning dishes or mopping floors would help give me a good work ethic; playing sports would foster the importance of team building; studying academic subjects would help develop my critical thinking skills which were all valuable activities at Menaul, but the daily exposure to the truths in the Bible is what has made the most profound impact in my life.
I to this day continue to develop a life, with my wife, filled with gratitude, purpose, direction, peace, joy, and anticipation because of my relationship with my Lord and Savior, Jesus.
Father, I ask for your presence in our lives, that we would be clothed with the Lord Jesus Christ, as we try each day not to give into our sinful nature.
Robert Perea, Class of 1984, Board Trustee at Menaul
Thursday, December 22, 2011
Oh sing unto the Lord a new song, sing unto the Lord all the earth.
For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Romans 10: 13
I have read the three biblical readings in the context of how they apply to the extended family of Menaul School - administrators, staff, students, volunteers, alumni, etc. These three references are hard to speak to because they are upbeat but at the same time speak to God's judgment. Most people do not want to focus on God's judgment at Christmas time. However, it is important to remind ourselves why Christ came to earth â€“ for the salvation of humankind.
When reading Zephaniah, the prophet refers directly to God's judgment and condemnation of Jerusalem. But God also provided for a remnant of his people to be saved. It says that He will make this remnant "pure of heart". I feel that this applies directly to Menaul School. Menaul has been favored by God and Menaul was established to bring the "Good News" and "Light" to the peoples of the Southwestern U.S. (as well as the larger world). I believe that Menaul School emphasizes the need for a â€œpure heartâ€. Also, it is not an accident that Menaul's motto is "Sea La Luz - Be the Light!"
In Psalms 96, the psalmist (likely King David of Israel) talks of God's salvation, Godâ€™s greatness, Godâ€™s glory, but the psalmist also speaks of coming judgment. I feel that this again applies to the Menaul community because Menaul has become a place where faith is central to belief. Menaul has become an example of praising God through both Christian and academic education of young people.
In Romans 10, Paul speaks to God's salvation for all people on only one condition - an open declaration of belief in the risen Christ! Here again, I believe this applies to the Menaul community in that Menaul, as a institution, openly declares a belief in Christ and is not apologetic or ashamed of this declaration.
We need to be thankful that God has called us to be part of the Menaul community! We can expect that the young students at Menaul School will â€œsing a new song to the Lordâ€ and will also â€œcall upon the name of the Lordâ€ to help change the world for the better.
Blessed are you oh Lord God Creator and Ruler of the universe! Dear God, be with us at all times, help us and sustain us. Bless the Menaul School Community and continue to make Menaul School a blessing to your kingdom and to all peoples of this world! We pray this in Christ's name. Amen.
Will Chavez, Menaul Alum Class of 1971
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
1 Samuel 2:1-10
But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.
My first four months teaching English to Menaul seniors who were as unsure of what to make of me as I was of what they needed from me proved difficult for all of us. I loved my students, but I felt pretty sure I wasnâ€™t right for them. So, I accepted a job as a graduate teaching assistant in the philosophy department at UNM. As the end of the semester approached, I began to prepare for my new classes.
I hadnâ€™t told anyone except Gladys Brown, the principal, of my plans to leave in January. When we talked, she scowled a bit and said, â€œWeâ€™ll see what happens.â€ Miss Brownâ€™s authority was absolute, so I didnâ€™t question her.
Then came the Christmas program. In 1976, virtually all Menaul students lived on campus. They came from all over the world as well as from California, Colorado, and northern New Mexico. And they all wanted to be in the program. As my husband and I settled into our seats, we had no idea what to expect. We certainly werenâ€™t prepared for the three-hour program of singing, dancing, and story telling that followed.
Miss Brown nodded as I approached her after the thunderous ovation that preceded the final curtain â€œIâ€™d like to keep my job if youâ€™ll have me,â€ I said. â€œIâ€™ll call UNM tomorrow and tell them theyâ€™ll need to find someone else.â€ She smiled her mysterious smile and walked away.
That was 35 years ago. As look into the faces of my students who gather in a circle with me this Christmas season, I think of them as dozens of precious gifts who allow me to open them every time they write for me or tell me what they think about something weâ€™ve read. And I know how greatly Iâ€™m blessed.
Children of Grace
Perhaps she saw it as an adventure at first
A small town girl, never far from home
Then when her time was full come
The searing throes, the cold
No birthing room with linens laid out
For the woman child, blessed
Joseph stood by
And the humble animals, lowing
Warming the stable with their breath
As she labored, submissive and afraid
Angels sang glory to the Father
The sky proclaimed her blessedness
Always the blessedness, a green girl, Mother of Godd God
Grown wise in the holy night
She wondered at travelers from the East
Who bowed before her child, leaving gifts
For One who swept their old lives away
Emanuel, King of kings, never a king
Did she, full of grace,
See His cross as she gazed into her infantâ€™s face?
Sharon Rhutasel-Jones, Chair of the English Department at Menaul School
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
1 Samuel 1:19-28
And Mary said: â€œMy soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.
I was very fortunate to grow up in a small rural town in Northern New Mexico. There, my family instilled in me many values and lessons that have served me well in life. One value in particular, humility.
My parents did an amazing job at teaching us through example rather than through words. The older I get, the easier it is to look back and clearly understand the difference between â€œpreachingâ€ your values and â€œlivingâ€ them. I left home at 16 to attend Menaul as a boarding student. The environment at Menaul enabled me to continue to live those values on a daily basis. What I love most about our school is the fact that we as a community truly put our values into action through the humble leadership of our faculty and staff.
During the Holidays it is far too easy to lose sight of the true meaning of the Christmas season. For me, there is no greater example of understanding humility than the birth of Jesus. The conditions were less than ideal, yet at the same time fit for a king. It is important to keep in perspective during these current times that Jesus led the way for us by example and actions in how he lived his life on earth.
We are called to do the same.
Most loving God, bless each and every one of us during this season of preparation. Allow us to serve you humbly, and to honor your example by living each day as you did.
Lucas M. Rael, Menaul Class of 1999, Trustee at Menaul School
Monday, December 19, 2011
1 Samuel 1:19-28
God has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants foreverâ€¦
When the angel Gabriel approached Mary and told her she would bear a child who would be called Son of the Most High and rule over the house of Jacob forever, her reaction was predictable: fear and confusion. If you have ever sensed God calling you to a service that seemed clearly beyond your ability (or desire!), perhaps you have felt some of what Mary experienced. â€œNot me!â€ or â€œWhy me?â€ or even â€œYouâ€™ve got to be kidding!â€ But as we know, this was no joke but a heavenly blessing beyond anything Mary could have dreamed or imagined.
Hannah, whom we meet in the 1 Samuel passage, had the opposite problem. She was barren. Shamefully, she was ridiculed by her husbandâ€™s other wife and even accused of being drunk while praying in the temple. She might have wondered why God hadnâ€™t answered her petitions for a son. Was he playing a cruel joke on her? Have there been times when youâ€™ve wondered whether God hears your prayers and if he does, then why is he so silent? Have you ever wondered if God is really real?
Our final passage speaks of the blood that Jesus shed for us, to cleanse us from our sins and thus allow us to serve a Holy God. There is no cleansing, there is no redemption, there is no Life without the shedding of blood. And that truth led Jesus to the Cross. As he was dying, the perfect Servant of God cried out in agony asking why his Father had forsaken him. Was he feeling fearful, confused, ashamed, disheartened, wondering whether God was really real?
But let us return now to that last line of Maryâ€™s song of praise which frames the stories of all three of Godâ€™s servants: God has promised to be merciful to Abraham and all his descendants. Thatâ€™s us! Thatâ€™s you and me! God called Mary, Hannah and Jesus to be his servants, to be obedient in ways that perhaps they would not have chosen. God is perhaps calling you- and me- to service in ways that may frighten or confuse us, that may cause pain and discomfort. May we remember, in those times, the merciful nature of our loving God.
Loving and gracious God, we pray that when you lead us to a new area of service- one that may frighten and confuse us- we will recall not only Mary, Hannah and Jesus but also your most merciful nature.
Diana Wright, Presbyterian Minister and former Volunteer In Mission at Menaul School