Good King Wenceslas — Carols of Advent Love

Scripture Focus: 3 John 3-6
3 It gave me great joy when some believers came and testified about your faithfulness to the truth, telling how you continue to walk in it. 4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.

5 Dear friend, you are faithful in what you are doing for the brothers and sisters, even though they are strangers to you. 6 They have told the church about your love. Please send them on their way in a manner that honors God.

Luke 6:38
Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

Reflection: Good King Wenceslas — Carols of Advent Love
By Jon Polk

In 921, the Duke of Bohemia (in modern Czech Republic) died when his son Wenceslas was only 13 years old, too young to rule. Wenceslas’ late grandfather converted to Christianity under the influence of Byzantine missionaries and his grandmother had seen to his education, so she was made regent in his stead.

At age 18, Wenceslas was made Duke of Bohemia and his reign was characterized by his Christian heritage. He became known for acts of charity and almsgiving, winning the admiration of his subjects.

Historian Cosmas of Prague wrote about Wenceslas in 1119:

His deeds I think you know better than I could tell you; rising every night from his noble bed, he went around to God’s churches and gave alms generously to widows, orphans, those in prison and afflicted by every difficulty, so much so that he was considered, not a prince, but the father of all the wretched.

Wenceslas’ legacy helped shape the medieval concept of the righteous king, whose power is based on great piety in addition to regal authority.

Written by English hymn writer John Mason Neale in 1853, the carol “Good King Wenceslas” recounts one incident of love and generosity by the good king.

Good King Wenceslas looked out
On the Feast of Stephen
When the snow lay round about
Deep and crisp and even
Brightly shone the moon that night
Though the frost was cruel
When a poor man came in sight
Gathering winter fuel

The king orders his servants to gather food, drink and firewood and summons his page to help him deliver the goods to the poor peasant. 

Page and monarch forth they went
Forth they went together
Through the rude wind’s wild lament
And the bitter weather

As the weather worsens, the page insists he can go no further; the king suggests that the page simply follow boldly in his footsteps. Upon doing so, the page discovers that he is warmed by the sod where snow had melted under his master’s footprints.

The Christmas season often prompts many people to engage in acts of charity and kindness. There are toy drives, meals served in soup kitchens and generous donations made to notable causes, all our expressions of God’s love.

Unfortunately, however, our generosity usually ends on December 26th.

While the carol recounts only one incident at Christmastime, Wenceslas was remembered for a life of generosity and love for those in need.

We follow a Righteous King who lived his whole life as a servant. He invites us to simply walk boldly in his footsteps, serving others not only for a few weeks during the Christmas season, but consistently throughout the year.

Therefore, Christian men, be sure
Wealth or rank possessing
Ye who now will bless the poor
Shall yourselves find blessing

Listen: Good King Wenceslas by Downhere
Read: Lyrics from Hymnary.org

Divine Hours Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. — Matthew 5.6

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
2 Chronicles 8 (Listen – 3:02)
3  John 1 (Listen – 1:51)

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Read more about He Became a Servant — Love of Advent
Jesus is our perfect and complete picture of what God is like. He is still among us as one who serves and we are to be like him.

Blessing and Woes :: A Guided Prayer

Luke 6.18-19
Those troubled by impure spirits were cured, and the people all tried to touch him, because power was coming from him and healing them all.

Reflection: Blessing and Woes :: A Guided Prayer
By John Tillman

Luke’s version of the Beatitudes strike a sharper tone than their setting in Matthew because Luke pairs them with a mirrored set of woes. Where Matthew mentions that we are like the prophets of old when we are treated poorly, Luke adds the woeful warning that when we are treated well, we are like the false prophets of old.

Pray Luke’s Beatitudes through the rest of this week. Hear God speaking to you in both parts of the prayer.

A Prayer of Blessings and Woes

Lord help us press onward through the blessing of being poor, of being hungry, of weeping, of being hated, excluded, insulted, and rejected. There is blessing in the pain of the journey and surpassing joy on the other side.

Blessed are you who are poor,
    for yours is the kingdom of God.

Blessed are you who hunger now,
    for you will be satisfied.
Blessed are you who weep now,
    for you will laugh.
Blessed are you when people hate you,
    when they exclude you and insult you
    and reject your name as evil,
        because of the Son of Man.

“Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets.

May we take heed of the woes we are subject to. May we not deny that we are rich, that we are comfortable, that we are well-fed, that we laugh, and are spoken well of. There is comfort now in acclaim, and acceptance, but there is woe and destruction if we turn away from the path of Christ.

But woe to you who are rich,
    for you have already received your comfort.
Woe to you who are well fed now,
    for you will go hungry.

Woe to you who laugh now,
    for you will mourn and weep.
Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you,
    for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.

Prayer: A Reading
Jesus said: “In all truth I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave. Now a slave has no permanent standing in the household, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will indeed be free.”  —  John 8.34-36

Today’s Readings
Exodus 3 (Listen – 3:59) 
Luke 6 (Listen – 6:46)

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Read more about The Path of the Cross :: A Guided Prayer
God’s way in the world leads to the cross and through the cross to life. — Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Read more about In The Face of Wonder :: A Guided Prayer
“He has filled the hungry with good things
   but has sent the rich away empty.”
Your power, Holy Spirit, working on behalf of the outcasts and the downtrodden is the beat that our boots must march to.