Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Peace part one



I enter the stillness of the moment.
Begin to explore and experience the silence.
Let the quiet wrap around, enfold me.
Sometimes the stillness comes at the beach with the sun shining bright and sand between toes.
Sometimes the stillness comes at night with a single candle burning before my eyes.
Sometimes the stillness even comes in traffic
Like a surprise guest knocking at my door.
Stillness even here at a red light?

But this peace is deeper than quiet or silence or stillness.
This peace that nourishes my hungry soul is shalom.
Shalom as well being.
My mind, body, soul in harmony.
Shalom as bigger than me too.
The world is at peace.

In A Christmas Carol Scrooge sees is taken by the hand by the Ghost of Christmas Present to scenes on a sea.
He seas people in boats, out on the seas of life, toasting Christmas morn.
This fleeting, fading too fast moment when peace is shared.
Peace connects us.
Peace is the shared dream for the whole creation.
Peace where the lion and lamb, the old divisions are put permanently away before we have found a new way.
A new way of being God's people.
But the distance between today and God's realm sometimes feels like a chasm.
The distance between today and God's realm, peace on earth, can feel like it might never be bridged.
But there are those moments when peace is found in our hearts, our home, and even our world.

May the peace that surpasses understanding and certainly our control enter into your heart this Advent season.

Blessings ~~

Friday, December 2, 2016

Hope in a Stable??



Can hope really be found in a stable where the wind whipped through the cracks in the walls along with the flies?
Can hope really be found in a place where cows and sheep and humans all crowd together to keep warm?
Can hope really be found in a cramped space and dirty, dusty place?

God's wisdom is not our wisdom.

Because if hope is found in a cold stone of a manger filled with soft straw, maybe hope can be born in our hearts cold with fear.
Because if hope is found when the wind moves through flimsy walls, maybe hope can be born in the flimsy walls of our communities and homes.
Because if hope is found with an eclectic gathering of two unwed parents, ragtag/outcast shepherds, and foreigners...maybe that calls us to where hope is still be born again.

Not necessarily in neat, tidy churches, but in the messiness of life.
Not necessarily in people who think and look like us, but in the harmony of those who sing differently.
Not necessarily among the elite and powerful, but among the meek and lowly and least.

After all God's wisdom is not our wisdom.  And perhaps it behooves all of us to listen deeper for our still speaking...still creating...and still hope forming God.

May God's hope awaken in your heart and may we cultivate and care for the flame of hope flickering and guiding us to a stable of all places.

Advent blessings ~~

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Hope part 3



Prayer practice this week

Remember those paper advent chains you would make as a kid to count down the days to Christmas?
Each morning eagerly removing a link getting closer to the day you'd open presents.
You'd watch it shrink until only a few links clung to your Christmas tree.

This year...what if you made a paper advent chain with 25 paper links...writing your prayers on each.
      Maybe you can write down reflections from the past year on what was good, bad, and ugly.
      Maybe you can write down a prayer for each day...a person or place in your hear.
      Maybe you can write down a prayer for the coming year...how do you hope the presence of God in Emmanuel will make a difference in the coming year.

What if instead of counting down...we count up.
What if instead of counting down...we allowed this prayer practice to help us process our pain rather than pass it along.
What if instead of counting down...we let these pieces of paper lead us deeper into hope for such a time as this.

C.S. Lewis said that prayer doesn't necessarily change God...prayer changes us.

May our journey to the stable this year clear away clutter and deal creatively with the chaos of our lives.

With prayerful hopes for this Advent journey ~

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Hope Part 2



Lighting a candle of hope when the night is falling around is an act of courage.
Lighting a candle of hope against the night creeping in is a deep act of prayer.
Lighting a candle of hope to keep the night at the edges is to be open to God's presence even here and now.

The candle may not solve Syria, but it might help you see the suffering of those half a world away.
The candle may not solve fear, but it might remind you that fear is not the only voice in the world.
The candle may not solve hopelessness, but it might help us see our pain clearer and deeper.

We light one candle of hope at the beginning of a new church year not only to light the way to Bethlehem, but to light the way for the coming 365 days.
We light one candle of hope at the beginning of a new church because hope is first sign post we need to notice and name.

What hopes are stirring and swirling in you right now?
Seriously...stop...light a candle...and name your hopes

Do some of those hopes seem foolish?  Like wishful thinking?  Like a thing with feathers that might be whisked away with the slightest breeze?  Keep going deeper.

Do some of those hopes seem vulnerable, a bit of timidity and trepidation to admit them out loud?
Good!  The candle is helping!

Have some of those hopes been so covered by years of cynicism and criticism and concerns that others just won't understand?  Because our hopes need to first be spoken to God and ourselves.

We need to live with hope day-after-day.

Barbara Kingsolver says, the least we can do is build a place for our hopes...and the most we can do is live inside that place where hope is at.

As we take the first tentative steps toward Bethlehem may the movement awaken hopes now and for months to come.  And may your hopes keep you company as we journey to the stable where hope is born anew and afresh even here and now.

Advent Blessings ~

Friday, November 18, 2016

Hope



How absolutely foolish to light a candle at the beginning of Advent and call it, "Hope".
Have you not read the paper?
Have you turned off the news?
Has your ears not heard the unrest and hurt and pain and noticed this mess?

Who would believe that one candle can help?
What happens if a strong breeze...or even a weak one at that...might stir and cause the flame to flicker, fade, and even extinguish suddenly becoming a rising stream of quickly disappearing smoke?
Where is hope then?

Maybe hope is not only the candle.
Maybe what is lit is hope within us.
Small.
Warm.
Drawing us deeper.

Hope needs to be tended and trimmed.
Hope needs to be fed with oxygen and space.
Hope needs us to notice.

Where do you long for the light of hope?
Where does it feel foolish and you'd rather not admit it out loud?
And where might you hold hope for another whose heart, hands, head are too full right now?

For the candle of hope reveals, to all who draw near, that there is a deeper truth which causes the light to burn brighter:
We are not alone.
In the light of hope, we see another.
And we find the courage, strength, conviction we need to face another day.

May God's hope burn brightly beside you.
May God's hope find space within you.
May these words and the ones stirring with you right now...be hope in the days to come.

With much love and hope ~

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Good-bye



I said, "Goodbye" to someone today.
He laid his head upon my shoulder.
I felt a tear well up in my eye.
We might never see each other.
No matter how much we may try.

The miles can be so daunting.
The busyness of life can force us to stay.
So the days start to pile up.
As the word "Goodbye" fades away.

Sure the memory lives in our heart.
And you never know what happens when a new day starts.
But something seems so final.
And sometimes the "Goodbye" makes us idle.

So, we say it, and something else not spoken.
Something deeper that can never be broken.
For in that, "Goodbye" I felt a deep tug,
Of a love we exchanged as we hugged.

So we say the word,
The heart holds on.
Maybe one day, I might hear another word that I long to share.
"Hello!"

With love and blessings ~

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The Problem of Pain


The problem of pain, C.S. Lewis, observed is it exposes the cracks we'd rather ignore.
It awakens our inner atheist who wonders if God exists.
It awakens our inner agnostic who wonders if God cares.
It awakens the doubts and the tears and all the things we think are not part of faith.

But struggling with God is one of the widest ways to encounter the divine...
To be sure it is fraught with potholes, bumps, twists and turns, we'd rather avoid.
It is filled with ups and downs that causes our hearts, heads, souls, and lives to feel dizzy.

But Israel means to strive...struggle with God.
Jacob wrestled;
The People of God wandered for forty years;
Years later, they were carted off to live in exile lamenting, "How do you sing to God in a foreign land?"
And the soil that bares that name still longs for peace.

Perhaps faith is not the absence of conflict, but what helps me breathe through the pain.
Perhaps faith is not a guarantee, but a promise...and there is difference.
Perhaps faith is not certainty, but mystery that continually invites us deeper.

In the face of pain, I remember one of the great lines from poet Leonard Cohen,
Of course there is a crack in everything...that is how the light gets in.

And while that light might not solve everything.
While that light might barely keep the darkness at bay.
It does help us see, if only a few feet.

And for the One who is as close as our next breath,
That is enough for us to maybe sense that pain is not the only truth there is in that moment;
For God is there too.

Blessings ~