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December 16 2006 By virtueonline FAITHFUL JOSEPH OF NAZARETH

After having made his decision to end the relationship, he goes to bed that night. He dreams vividly about what Mary had told him. It seems that an angel of the Lord is speaking to him. He is addressed by his patronymic, 'son of David', reminding him of his royal lineage. The Messiah is supposed to come from his line. He is aware of the prophecies about a Savior who will come who will reign over the house of David forever.

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December 11 2006 By virtueonline MARY AND ELIZABETH

Why did she take off on such a journey at that time? St. Matthew tells us that, when he discovered that Mary was with child that he was going to divorce her, but an angel appeared to him in a dream and revealed to him her divine vocation. We read that he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her until she gave birth.

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December 06 2006 By virtueonline SPEAKING OF ADVENT - Peter J.A. Cook

That's true. Many Christians have stopped speaking of sin, judgment and the need for repentance. When they think of God they go straight for grace - forgiveness, maybe later. That's why the parable of the prodigal son is such a favorite. It assures us that no matter what we have done, our heavenly father always stands with arms wide open to receive us.

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December 03 2006 By virtueonline A BRAVE MAN - by Ted Schroder

When he grew to maturity John was summoned by the word of God to preach a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, in the desert by the river Jordan. Crowds traveled from Jerusalem, attracted by this strange man, who was clothed in camel's hair (not Brooke's Brothers), like his predecessor Elijah, existing on a diet of locusts and wild honey.

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November 30 2006 By virtueonline CHRIST THE KING SUNDAY

We live in a world where truth has lost its wholeness. It lies fractured and broken amidst us. Despite the best efforts of all the king's horses and all the king's men, no one assumes that Truth can ever, like humpty dumpty's fall from the wall, be put back together again.

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November 26 2006 By virtueonline JOY OF EVERY LONGING HEART

The Old Testament looked forward with longing for the fulfillment of the prophecies of a new age where the forces of darkness would be dispelled by the light of the world. Charles Wesley expressed it in his hymn,

Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus,

Born to set Thy people free;

From our fears and sins release us;

Let us find our rest in Thee.

Israel's strength and consolation,

Hope of all the earth Thou art;

Dear Desire of ev'ry nation,

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We can learn something from this man's thankfulness, and not just that there are indeed some who would be only too thankful to regain their physical hunger. Perhaps it sheds new light on Jesus' saying: "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness." Think of some of the prayers this should lead to.

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November 18 2006 By virtueonline THE NEW CREATION

As a result, they have narrowed knowledge to an examination of matter. The physical and the material is the only worthwhile subject of study. But there are limits to physical explanations. Life reduced to the physical leads to fatalism. Because we have no observable evidence of life beyond death (if we arbitrarily exclude the resurrection of Jesus), there is nothing to look forward to in the future but extinction.

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November 04 2006 By virtueonline CHARIOT OF FIRE - by Ted Schroder

While Elijah repeats his assurance that he will not leave Elisha, he also paradoxically asks him, "What can I do for you before I am taken from you?" He knows he is going to die and leave Elisha physically, but he will not leave him spiritually. In fact Elisha asks for a double portion of his spirit - his continuing presence in his life. Here we have an awareness of the communion of saints, the ongoing relationship of time and eternity, earth and heaven, that is present in the Spirit of God.

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November 03 2006 By virtueonline HOW CAN WE MAKE IT HAPPEN? - by Ted Schroder

The metaphor Paul uses is very graphic. The church is the Body, animated by the Spirit, under the headship of Christ. It is the Body of Christ in the world. The work of Christ in the world is done by the body, by all Christians working together in one organic unity. The body is made up of many parts: just as we have different bodily parts so we have different parts of the church body. Each is connected to the other, and all need one another.

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