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Showing posts from November, 2014

Hope

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A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse,     and a branch shall grow out of his roots.  Isaiah 11:1
Hope is a fickle and fleeting; hope shows up unannounced and can leave just as quick; hope is intrusive and refuses to be ignored.  And yet, if you asked me which of the four Advent candles we will light in church in the coming four weeks (hope, peace, joy, and love) is the most important, I would not hesitate to say, "Hope!"
Hope is as elusive as a snowball in Florida this time of year.  Hope is slippery and can quickly turn to wishing; which is not the same as hoping.  Hoping is active, hope makes demands upon our very lives.  Wishing is more passive.  I can make list after list of wishes, but once I write down my hopes, they stake a claim on my life.
It is difficult to define hope.  The dictionary uses words like "desire and expectation" or a "feeling of trust" or "something to happen".  But that seems to be dancing around what is at the …

Happy Thanksgiving

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O come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!  Psalm 95
This evening at church, we enjoyed a Thanksgiving feast.  There was turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and of course, pumpkin pie.  There is something about this combination of food that fills us with comfort, joy, and Tryptophan to grant us all a peaceful night's rest.  Thanksgiving is also a time of counting blessings, reflecting on what brings us joy, and makes us laugh. 
Thanksgiving is a threshold moment too.  We know that 2014 is dwindling and soon a new year will dawn.  We know that December days are packed with a variety of tasks and parties and events.  The cooler winds, even in Florida, proclaim that change is in the air.  
Music plays a key role in this time of year.  Familiar carols fill the airwaves as we shop, drive down the road, entertain, decorate, on television …

Disappointments

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Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Psalm 23:4
We all have moments of feeling disappointed.  Something doesn't go our way: we are passed over for a job promotion; someone says something that reminds us that while sticks and stones can break our bones, words really do sometimes hurt us; or we feel an internal sense of unrest.  In these valley moments sometimes we turn to the church.  But what exactly are we looking for?  Do you want the pastor to do a reprise of "The sun will come out tomorrow" from Annie?  Or do you want the pastor to dwell with you in the disappointment?  Or do you want a distraction?  Or some random combination of all three?  
Most of the time when dwelling in the valley of disappointment, I don't know exactly what I want.  Someone starts to give me advice or cheer me up or give me that look of concern and I find myself frustrated that it is …

In the still of the night

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I am a morning person.  There is something about the crispness of the air as the sun starts to peak over the horizon; that warm cup of coffee in your hands; facing the day as a blank canvass.  But by the end of the day, I am usually exhausted.  My mind is sluggish and that blank canvass I started with twelve hours ago is now covered, spilled on and even spilling over onto the ground from the activities of the day.  Some of what covers the canvass of today I am proud of; moments ~ when I sensed God in a real way.  But other parts are not my best work; moments I strayed or said something that I instantly regret.  Even though I love to begin each day, it is also sacred work to step back and look back at what happened in the past hours.

This is an ancient practice within the Christian developed by St. Ignatius called the Examination,  He advocated for five steps before going to bed each night:
1. Become aware of God’s presence. Take deep breathes, clear your mind, try to let go of the &q…