Saturday, December 31, 2011

Breakfasts with the Wise Men, Part I

I have a story to share with you today about three wise men – THE three wise men.  Some of this story is biblical and some of it is not, and some of it is purely from my imagination.  Because it is an important skill to develop – the ability to tell the difference – I’ll leave it to you to determine which is which. 

Our story begins in Persia, with three wise men gathered together for breakfast.  Melchoir had invited Caspar and Balthazar to join him for a wise-men’s retreat – Melchior lived in Babylon, and he had the largest home of the three, so Caspar had come from Persia, and Balthazar from Asia.  It was a time to get together to read and study and to share their many “wise-men” insights.  Can’t you imagine all of the intense discussions, the certainty of “rightness” and the quoting of ancient masters?  As we join in their discussions, all three are sitting together at a large wooden table, drinking the strong coffee that Balthazar had brought with him from home.  Melchior’s trusted servant, Abid, moved around the room, serving plates of fruits and cheese.  The three men, much to Abid’s chagrin, were working their way through several manuscripts, reading, and dropping crumbs on the precious scrolls.  Abid was almost always frowning and scurrying around to clean up their messes.

All of a sudden, Caspar jumped up, his plate flew to the floor, and Abid grabbed for the hot coffee.  Ignoring all of that, Caspar said, “Listen to this, it is from an oracle by the name of Balaam – “I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near – a star shall come out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel.”

Balthazar countered, “Very interesting.  Listen to this one – from Micah – But you, O Bethlehem, who are one of the little clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to rule in Israel.”

Not to be outdone, Melchior said, “The prophet Isaiah says this -- For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.”

The three men reviewed their calculations and compared their star charts.  Caspar said, “Now is the time.  We must go and see this child-king.” 

Another one said, “No, not now – maybe next year – look at this calculation”  He waved a parchment around, barely missing Abid’s head. 

Caspar banged his hand on the table, rattling the cups of coffee, and frustrating the attentive Abid.  “Buck up, friends!  We must follow that star!”   Abid, righting the coffee cups, filed the word ‘Starbucks’ away for future reference.

“Listen to this,” said Balthazar, ‘They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall proclaim the praise of the Lord.’  We should bring gifts!  Who will bring the gold?  Who will bring the frankincense?  I think I have some extra myrrh stored away.”  The three men shuffled their papers and stared at their feet.

“Abid,” said Caspar, “I don’t think I really need to take gold.  What would a child do with gold?  But in my room is a bag of copper coins.  When you pack for me, add that to the camel’s bag.”

“And, Abid,” said Melchior, “I might have some frankincense in my room, but let’s leave that for another giving opportunity.  Pack that perfume we picked up at WalziarMart.  That will do.”

“Oh, yes, Abid,” added Balthazar, “It must be myrrh for my gift, but bring the myrrh my mother-in-law gave me last year, not the jar I’ve been saving back for my own funeral.  That child won’t know the difference, I’m sure.  It’s the thought that counts, right?”

So Abid rolled his eyes, and started packing. 

To be continued tomorrow...


Friday, December 30, 2011

Arise. Shine.

Isaiah 60:1a: Arise, shine; for your light has come...

I was reading a devotional this morning from the Upper Room book Disciplines.  The author (Natalie Hanson) was using this scriputre as the basis of what she was writing.  She said, "We catch light from one another; God models it.  We're given the great priviledge of helping ignite other live.  We catch light from each other -- or darkness."

Are you contagious?  Am I?  This scripture would tell us that we all are.  Others can "catch" the light of Christ from us, or they can catch darkness. 

Do others rise and shine in God's glory because of me?  Because of you? 

What do we need to do to brighten the light of Christ in ourselves?  To be open to become an agent of God? 

How can we refrain from spreading the darkness?

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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Turn Around

Christmas, coming at us at full speed.
Rushing towards us, like a train.
Are you ready for Christmas?
Have you shopped?
Have you wrapped?
Have you cleaned?
Have you planned?
Are you ready?

We turn around, knowing that Christmas comes
whether we are ready or not.
Christmas.  Wham.  Here.
Gifts ripped open.
Oohs and awe.
Meals prepared, table set.
Time spent together as a family.
Christmas has come.

We turn around, and sigh,
a little bit of relief.
Christmas has come,
and if finished.
Nap, if we are lucky.
Clean up paper, pack up boxes, put away (or return) gifts.
Thank the creator of the gift bag.
We sink into the chair, glad
to have 364 days until it comes again.

We turn around, and miss Christ.
Among all of the hoopla,
The Happy Holiday vs Merry Christmas,
among the emails from stores and the
rush to get everything done,
We have turned around,
and we have missed him.

We turn around, and Christ comes
Christmas comes,
each and every day,
Breaking into our lives,
Loving us with his compassion,
Saving us with his grace.
Are we ready?
Christmas comes every day.
Christ comes every day.
Just turn around.

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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Memories

Five (out of many) memorable moments from our Christmas celebration:
  1. The Christmas Eve services were both joyful in their own ways. Watching our younger son play the trumpet while worshipping with our older son was a joy.
  2. We went to bed after we got home from the late night Candlelighting service. That doesn't sound very monumental, but it means that the gifts were wrapped and the stockings were stuffed prior to 1:00 am. It was so nice to go to bed -- at bedtime instead of in the middle of the night! I love gift bags! Whoever thought of gift bags should win a Nobel prize. They are attractive, don't require a box, are fast, and are reusable. Never has been being green been such an advantage!
  3. Watching the boys open their stockings again was fun. They are growing up, and I'm not sure when stockings will end, but I'll enjoy it while it lasts.
  4. Christmas Eve dinner was nice, with 11 people sharing the meal at our house. Christmas morning with the boys and mom was special as always. Christmas evening at Steve's brother was joyful and casual. Great family times.
  5. Christmas is great, and the time after Christmas is stress-free. Because the actual day was a Sunday, we also had Monday off. Steve and I went to see a movie, and then Josh went with for an "appetizer" dinner and an evening movie. Great day.
Hope your holiday was memorable.

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Monday, December 26, 2011

Would she have done it?

On Christmas Eve, our church had a 5:00 worship service featuring the children, youth and Alternative worship band.  I listened as a couple of young people from our church sang a duet of Breath of Heaven.  It's a song written from the standpoint of Mary.
I am waiting in a silent prayer
I am frightened by the load i bear
In a world as cold as stone
Must I walk this path alone
Be with me now
Be with me now
As I listened to them sing, I realized that Mary herself had probably been their age, perhaps the age of the 15 year old youth who sang of the young mother to be.
Breath of Heaven
Hold me together
Be forever near me
Breath of Heaven

Breath of Heaven
Lighten my darkness
Pour over me, your holyness
For your holy Breath of Heaven
Young.  New to the world.  Beloved of God, but not famous, not experienced, not a person with a resume of encounters with the holy leaders of the day.  She didn't have political experience or a degree in theology. She was a young girl, beginning her life.  She was probably afraid, a little lost, and worried what this would all mean in her life.
Do you wonder
As you watch my face
If a wiser one, should of had my place
But I offer-all I am
For the mercy-of your plan
Help me be strong
Help me be
Help me
Would she have done it if she could have seen what it would mean? Would she have said "yes" if she had known it would mean becoming the mother of a young Jesus?  Would she have done it if she had known it would mean knowing he would leave his home and travel across the known world, preaching to sometimes hostile crowds?  Would she have done it if she had understood the nature of Simeon's warning to her?  Would she have done it if she had known it would mean standing at the foot of a cross, watching her son die?

What would it be like to be Mary, young, perhaps 15, listening to the words of an angel?

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Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

I hope you and your family have had a wonderful Christmas. 
I pray God's blessings on your new year. 
I'll be back tomorrow with a "real" post. 


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Song of Joy

Inspired by Zephaniah 3:14-20

Sing a song of Joy, my children.
Shout your praise of God, my beloved.
Celebrate and proclaim the Word of God,
You, who are a precious creation
of the Lord of the universe.
Our God has taken away
the judgments against us.
He has restored our relationship
with our enemies.
God is here.
He is moving among us,
and we have nothing to fear.
Today, God speaks to us.
His words ring true,
full of grace and power.
A pure note of joy,
Vibrating through our spirits.
Fear not.  Be strong.
I am your God,
and I am here.
You are in my presence.
I have given you victory over sin,
victory over pain and tears.
I have made you
and remade you,
and you bring laughter and joy
to my face.
You are my beloved children.
I sing of my love for you
with every breeze,
every ray of sun,
every bird song.

My love for you has removed
all blame, all guilt,
all sin.
I have made you clean.
I am here with you,
and I have forgotten none of you.
The outcast, the broken, the lost,
the stubborn, and the brave,
all are my beloved creations.
I will make your names known
throughout the earth.
I will make my salvation for you
obvious to all.
I will wrap my arms around all of you
and welcome you home.
You will see me
and you will know
that you rest in my hand,
and you have nothing to fear.

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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Going Out

I'm reading Tikva Frymer-Kensky's book, Reading the Women of the Bible: A New Interpretation of Their Stories.  Every chapter gives me a different look at a passage about one of the women of the Bible.  I'm very much enjoying the reading, and have had lots of "blog thoughts," although I haven't written any of them down.  Yet.

The chapter I'm reading today is about Dinah.  Genesis 34:1 says, "Out went Dinah the daughter of Leah whom she bore to Jacob, to see the girls of the land."

Out went Dinah....

This is the only phrase in the story in which Dinah is the object of the verb. Even though the rest of the story is about what happened to her, and the responses to it, it is not about Dinah herself.
My first reaction was that we should all follow suit.  Go out.  Meet people.  Develop relationships even among those we do not understand. 

The author writes that the phrase "out went Dinah" might have another implication for those who originally heard the story.  The culture in which Dinah lived -- and not just the Israelite culture, but much of the world's culture at the time, was patriarchal.  When a woman "goes out" in a patriarchal society, she leaves the protection of her family.  She is vulnerable, but the family is also vulnerable.  What happens to her could have a poor impact on her family. 

"The laws of Hammurabit demonstrate this attitude" when they speak to the idea of divorce.  A woman who is seen as a "gadabout" (which literally means 'the woman who goes out') and who wants a divorce, is thrown into the river.  The word had such a negative connotation that "an Old Babylonian word list equates it...with prostitute."  They walk the street.  They have gone out.

Even today, remnants of this attitude exist.  Think for a moment about the word "streetwalker."

I go out.  I am not, of course, a prostitute, but each day, I leave my home and I "go out."  Sometimes I encounter resistance because of it, even though I'm sure no one considers that I am selling s*x.  (avoiding odd search engines -- sorry).  I wonder if the idea of "going out" -- the woman leaving the protection (and authority, perhaps) of the patriarchal family and going out on her own has impacted our society's unconscious response to women who work outside the home.  Or who "go out" from the submissive role of wife to impact the world.

Is what we do seen as wrong -- even subconsciously -- because we are "going out"?

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Monday, December 19, 2011


One thing I would like to do for the blog next year is to take and post more images.  This one is blurry and not that great.  I'll try to do better.

According to what I read today, the first nativity scene was seen in the 1200's, arranged as a live re-enactment by St. Francis.  The tradition caught on, as more and more churches held live nativities, and then nativity scenes with representations of the characters.

During the French Revolution, people were not allowed to worship in their churches, so the nativity scene in the home became important.  In Provence, France, figures called "santons" (little saints) were made.  These were nativity characters, and they included much more than the traditional ones.  The baker, the scissors-sharpener, the hat maker, the blind man - representations from the neighborhood were made and included in the scenes.

These were originally constructed of terracotta, in two halves, then assembled together.  They were air-dried, rather than kiln-dried.  The process left the figures fragile.  They were handmade by the santonnier

What I read today brought to mind our role as "santons' in the nativity story.  We are also "made of clay," brought to life by the master's hand.  We are fragile, and yet we have a divine mission, to bring the light of Christ to those who need it, even when we are not in church.  We are from every walk of life, and we are witnesses to the miracle.  We have seen God, and our job is to tell others about what we have experienced.

We talk so much about leaving the "Christ in Christmas."  We worry about nativity scenes on courthouse lawns.  Nativity scenes are a poor substitute for the real thing.  The best way to keep Christ in Christmas is to BE Christians.

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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Branches and the Vine

At the Gathering last night, Martha talked about an idea from the book Abide in Christ.  We are all familiar with:
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.   John 15:5
The image of being branches connected to the vine -- people connected to Christ -- so that we will bear fruit is familiar and easy to understand.  The branches need their connection to the vine.

But what about the opposite.  The point Martha made is that without the branches, the vine does not bear fruit.  The vine needs the branches.

God didn't have to design the world that way.  He didn't have to place his faith and his trust in us.  He could have done it all by himself.  Instead, he works through the branches -- he works through us. 

We have the ability to say yes or no to him.  We have free will; he made us that way.

Isn't that amazing?

Perhaps one of the ways to keep Christ in Christmas is to remain a branch, attached to the vine.

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Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Look Moment

Brenda Dayne, in her podcast, said that when you create something, there is a hidden "look" moment, that usually appears at the end of the creative process.  She was specifically talking about knitting -- that moment when you block the shawl, and you see the entire lace pattern at one time, for the first time, as a whole created piece.

It applies to all kinds of created projects. 

I can relate to what she is saying.  I notice it when I knit.  I notice it when I create a brochure or a completed project.  J, when he completed a project for a English, had a "look" moment when it was completed.

It is a moment of awe, when you have that "look" moment -- perhaps not awe at the quality of the project, but instead awe that what was in your mind is now a reality.

I see it in my children as they grow.  Moments of awe that our children are growing into adults. 

I wonder if God has those moments. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Motion Sickness

My church is considering a renovation of the sanctuary.  It wouldn't mean huge changes, but would alter the altar area.  (grinning).  We were talking about it last night at a meeting of the Ministry Leadership Council, wondering about timeline 

Could it be finished by Easter?  Do we wait until after Easter to start.  The consensus was that starting in time to be finished by Easter might be rushing the congregation into something without giving them time to adjust.

This morning, in my email, was a message from the Lewis Center for Church Leadership.  There was a one-line tag about motion sickness, and the author's opinion that it is something churches can suffer from.  Disclaimer -- I didn't read the article, but the concept intrigued me. 

Was that what we were talking about last night?  Motion sickness?  Move a church too fast through a change and watch the members battle motion sickness?

Two thoughts come to mind.  The first is that we need to be aware of the possibility, and sensitive to it, when we begin to lead a church through a change.  What can help with the motion sickness, especially when the goal is not to stop the boat and leave it docked?

What can we do when we ourselves suffer from motion sickness?  An image of Peter walking on the water came to mind, coupled with the disciples waking Jesus during a storm when they were in a boat.  Would it help with our motion sickness if we remember who walks on water?  Who calms the storms? In whom we place our faith?

Maybe one of the ways we can keep Christ in Christmas is to remember who our Lord is when the storms toss us about.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011


I was reading a blog post by a knitter yesterday.  Stephanie says:
Perfecting things doesn't perfect people. Even if you have the perfect napkin rings, a really beautiful gift, eighty-seven candles and a fabulous side dish. Give up now. I promise it doesn't change squat about people's happiness or ability to get along.
Sometimes, at Christmas, we try very hard to get everything done.  We work to buy the perfect gift, wrap it "just so," put up all the great decorations, send out personalized Christmas cards -- we try to do it all.

For instance, when my oldest son was a toddler, we worked hard to prepare a great Christmas.  He opened the first gift, loved it, and started to play with it.  It was all he needed, and yet there were other gifts to open, other things to be done.  "Hey, Grant, stop having fun and come over here and open gifts!" 

There are some things I do at Christmas because I really enjoy doing them.  I love to play with the table decorations for dinner.  I find joy in it, and my family usually notices that it looks nice.  It adds to our dinner. 

I don't think they notice how I wrap gifts.  I don't always (ever, usually) have the time to wrap the gifts perfectly, but I've decided it doesn't matter.  I let it go.

Why struggle with how the nativity sets are arranged when my younger son gets great pleasure in arranging them?  I give him that job.

What I can do to "prepare" for the holiday rarely changes (if ever) my family, but I can let my family change the way we "prepare" for the holiday.  It works better that way. 

Maybe one of the ways to keep Christ in Christmas is to love your loved ones, as they are.  Enjoy them.  Let them enjoy you.

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Monday, December 12, 2011

Flash Mob

Nine Lessons and Carols Worship
Johnson Memorial UMC -- December 11, 2011
A friend sent me a You-Tube link to a Christmas Flash mob.  Take a look.

I very much enjoyed the video.  As I watched it, a few thoughts about faith sharing came to my mind:
  • It all starts with the single saxophone.  I wonder if it takes courage to stand in a room by yourself and start playing your sax.  It's unexpected, and might not have been appreciated by the management students.  And yet it was hauntingly beautiful.  Do we have the courage to be the lone voice, singing of God?  And when we do it, we might be met with derision or aggravation, and yet, I imagine God hears the beauty.
  • After the solo started, someone joined in, adding her voice to the song.  Do we do that?  Do we add our voice to the one who courageously stood up and spoke of God?
  • Then the chorus starts, and they sing together.  The sound is amplified, perhaps sarcastically.  More will join in the song because it doesn't take as much courage.
  • The tempo changes, enthusiasm is injected as the speed of the signing increases.  The participants start to dance and clap, and to me, this becomes even more appealing.  Do we get to a point in our witness when the enthusiasm becomes infectious?  Energizing?  Hard to resist?
Perhaps that is one of the ways we keep Christ in Christmas -- we proclaim his word with our energy and enthusiasm.  Perhaps that is one of the ways we keep Christ in our lives, all year long. 

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Saturday, December 10, 2011

Christ in Christmas

On the way home from work on Friday, we were discussing a radio show JtM had heard that week. It was about keeping the "Christ" in Christmas. From the way the discussions were going, it sounded as if the speakers were more interested in making sure people said "Merry Christmas" rather than "Happy Holidays" and that no one write Xmas.

I wonder, though, are there better ways to keep Christ in Christmas? Alternative giving, feeding the homeless, caring for children, telling your friends about the transformative power of grace? Are there ways to keep Christ in Christmas?

Friday, December 09, 2011

Random Friday

Today's Friday Five at RevGalBlogPals is a suggestion to list Five Random Things (Surprises, Thoughts, whatever...).  I can be random, so here goes:
  1. We toured eight homes in our town last Sunday as part of an Arts Fundraiser. We enjoyed it, and it motivated us to go buy a new Christmas Tree. We are modifying it, from a tree with pre-strung white lights to one with pre-strung white and colored lights. It was funny to see "unlit" trees advertised. All trees used to be "unlit," and the modifier was unnecessary.
  2. I have an empty weekend ahead and much to get done. I wonder how much will actually get done.
  3. G is coming home from school -- for one night -- to take his girlfrield to a formal dinner to which she has invited him, and then he'll go back to school, and then, on Tuesday, he'll come back home for Christmas break. That's a lot of driving!
  4. This weekend is our church's service of Nine Lessons and Carols. Choirs, bells and brass.
  5. Sometime, I would like to write a "liturgy" for Advent Candle lighting. I wonder what some of the basic requirements are for this kind of material. Could I leave out the very tired song, "Light the Advent Candle"? Surely there is some other song we could sing.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

An Analogy

I was on the road Tuesday and Wednesday, and I listened the entire audiobook of Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis. 

To hear the whole book in what felt like one sitting was an odd experience.  The advantage is that I heard the whole book as one piece, each part fitting togehter with the other parts to make a cohesive unit.  I must admit, however, that it was a large amount of information to digest in one large gulp.  I think I might have retained more if I had read it chapter by chapter and given it some thought as I went along.  I have read the book before, and this was a different way to encounter it.

Several images from the book stand out in my mind, including this one to explain Theology.  One man might say to you, "I have seen God, and I don't need your theology to explain him: I have experienced him."  Lewis says that is true, as far as it goes, and he agrees with the man to a point.

Consider that you are standing beside the ocean, feet in the surf.  It is a wonderful experience.  It is much better than looking at a map of the ocean.  However, the useful thing about a map is that it is a composite of many people's views and knowledge of and about the ocean -- not just yours.  And if you goal is to cross the ocean -- if you have a destination -- then you will need the map.  Standing, looking at the ocean won't get you there.

The same can be said of theology.  An experience of God is wonderful -- a gift.  Theology is a combination of many people's experiences of God, and it is a way for you to move beyond your own, personal experience, to a place of growth.

I like the analogy.

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Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Arguing about Disagreements

I am currently listening to Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis -- the audio book version.

He says in the very beginning that one of the things that Christians disagree about is the importance of their disagreements.  What one may say is a matter of little consequence is a huge matter of faith to another Christian.  Not only do they disagree about the issue itself, but they can't understand each other's attitude toward how vital the issue is in faith.

I was riding to work one day, listening to NPR.  The report was about evolution and the Creation story in Genesis.   The interview was with a person who said that if the Genesis story is not absolutely true, then the whole faith crumbles (I'm paraphrasing).  Others (including myself) would say my faith stands either way. 

We argue about these matters. Perhaps our priorities are not God's priorities.


Monday, December 05, 2011

Truth Telling

Several years ago I was having a conversation with a fellow in our lab about faith. We were speaking about prophets, and he was surprised that anyone would think that prophets could still be found today. In his faith, there was a time of prophets, and that time has passed.

I read two devotionals this morning written by Harriet Jane Olson in Disciplines 2011. She writes, "In the New Interpreter's Bible commentary, Dr. Dvid Peterson notes that prophets are 'boundary figures, representing God to humans and humans to God.'" I can infer, from her writing, that she would disagree with the person I mention above. We can all serve as prophets. She goes on to say that we attend to the things of God, watching for God, and then we attempt to discern if we are hearing from God. After that, we speak. "We see God at work in our world, and we must name it."

We listen for God, watch for God, and discern the path onto which God is leading us. We are, as Bible study teachers have taught me, fulfilling the role of a prophet when we tell forth the truth of God. It's not future-telling, it's truth-telling.

So, what about those uncomfortable moments when we say nothing? Are there times when it is more comfortable to remain silent instead of speak the truth of God? I'm not talking about the times when we aren't sure, but I'm talking about those time when we are absolutely sure, and say nothing.

Are we answering our calling then? Or are we failing to be disciples?


Sunday, December 04, 2011

Two Prayer Phrases

I was thinking today as I listened to Joe's sermon of two comments I've heard concerning the Lord's Prayer:
  • Back when I was co-teaching a Wednesday night book study, one of the students said that she didn't like the phrase, "Lead us not into temptation."  She didn't believe God would ever lead us into temptation.  I was thinking about that today -- odd what pops into your mind.  I think God does lead us into temptation.  He doesn't do it for the sake of the temptation.  I don't think he does it to test us.  I do think, though, that it could be that anywhere we go, we will be exposed to temptation.  I also think that if we follow God, it will be necessary to go where he goes, and he goes where we are -- into temptation. He does not send us alone; he goes with us and will give us the strength to resist.  Perhaps it is best to say that God leads us through temptation.
  • Joe preached today about Herod.  One of his points was that we are uncomfortable with the thought of Herod because we find a part of ourselves that is not like God.  We are made in the image of God, but we are not reaching our full potential.  "Deliver us from evil" might means what we usually think it means -- from the evil outside of us, but could also be a request to deliver us from the evil inside of us.


Friday, December 02, 2011

Be still

Advent 1 from
Advent.  Waiting.

Often when I pray the words, "Be still..." come to my mind.  The ending might be different.  It could be just "be still" or maybe "be still and know," or "be still and know that I am God."  And sometimes, "be still and know that I love you."

Be still.

My younger son cannot be still.  I don't mean still as in motionless; I mean still as in quiet.  He doesn't talk all the time, but he is always making some kind of noise.  He fills the still air with tiny noises. 

Be still.

Do you have a compulsion to fill the air -- to fill the stillness?  Do you find comfort in quiet?  Or is it empty?  

Sometimes, when I pray, and I hear the words "be still," I don't want to obey.  I want to get on with it.  I'm probably praying because I have something to say, to ask, to tell.  I don't want to be still.  And yet, I try to obey.  I try to stop talking and let the empty quiet exist.  To know.  To listen.  To just be in the stillness.

Be still and know.

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Thursday, December 01, 2011


Sunset this weekend, reflected in the top of the car.
Advent is a time of waiting and preparation.  Think about the times you spend or have spent waiting.  How do you fill the time of waiting?  What is your attitude towards waiting?

I can think of several periods of waiting in my life.
  • In the year before I changed jobs, I felt like I was in a time of waiting.  I didn't know what I was waiting for, I didn't know when the waiting would end, or what would be the result, if anything.  Along with that feeling, I felt a need to prepare for whatever came next, so I focused time on cataloging samples, preparing them for long-term storage, discarding what needed to be thrown away, and generally getting the lab into shape to be transitioned to someone else.  When the waiting was over, the last two weeks were hectic, but not nearly what might have been.  Do we spend time waiting for God in preparation?
  • I carpool to work.  Often, on Wednesdays, the person with whom I carpool has a 7:00 AM prayer group meeting.  That means that we leave about 1/2 an hour later on Wednesdays than other days of the week.  I love that 1/2 hour, and on days when we don't carpool on Wednesdays, I still take the 1/2 hour of waiting time.  It feels like a retreat -- I usually have a quiet breakfast and spend the time reading.  There are no distractions.  It's a precious time of waiting.  Do we consider the time we spend waiting for God to be precious?
  • When I fly, I like to have a decent amount of time for layovers.  I don't like worrying that I won't make the next flight if the current flight runs late (as they so often do).  When the time is short, I am anxious, and I spend the time at the end of the first flight worrying about the layover, and making it onto the next plane.  Is the time we spend waiting for God a time of anxiety?
  • This time of year, between Thanksgiving and Christmas, is a time of waiting.  I usually spend it rushing around, trying to get everything done that "needs" to be done.  I don't enjoy this month, even though is is full of opportunities of grace.  It rushes by with no time to breathe or relax, and my waiting time seems focused on things that are not the priority.  Do we spend our time waiting for God distracted by other priorities.
What is the best way to wait for God?  What attitude and action would prepare the way for the Lord as well as make the best use of the time He has given to us?

What are we waiting for and how are we waiting?