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Showing posts from November, 2016

Hope part 3

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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 tim…

Hope Part 2

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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 wish…

Hope

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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 c…

Good-bye

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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 ~

The Problem of Pain

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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.
Pe…

Processing the Pain

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When the hurt is heavy as a rock on our soul,
When all the tossing and turning can't help us find rest.
When the unanswerable question, "Why?" seems to be our only companion.
When our heart is broken...

How do we process the pain?

When all the words ring hallow and the container of balm is empty.
When others stare and glare as if to demand us to try to explain...
But the words are slippery and won't satisfy
And all we want to do is sigh.

How do we process the pain?

When the valley is deep and dark and the days of lush green grass of Psalm 23 is light years away;
When God might seem angry...or distant...or at least disinterested.
When our own voice doesn't even sound familiar to our own ear.

How do we process the pain?

When we know the deep ditch that Saint Julian of Norwich fell in.
When we cling at the dirt walls and seem to constantly slide and slip down, unable to gain our footing.
When we long for Julian's prayer, her beautiful prayer in that pit of life…

Tuesday prayer

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When all the speechifying stops.
When all the ads stop shouting at us,
Where will we find ourselves?

When all the votes counted,
All the stickers passed out,
And the polling place is closed,
Where will we find ourselves?

When we wake up tomorrow morning,
will we face our divisions that has been visited on every generation since our Civil War.
Where will we find ourselves?

When the cries for peace and love and justice
Fall deaf on the ears of those with power,
Where will we find ourselves?

We find ourselves still praying for God's realm to come.
Inside
Around
Here and now...
But it rarely comes knocking on our door with a quick fix or easy money back guarantees.

God's presence comes in like a weak force,
At once we might miss
But deeper still God was always there.

I pray for our country today,
I pray for peace.
I pray for one day we might stop waiting and start being the embodying and enacting and expanding God's realm.
For two thousand years, Jesus has kept saying, "…

Peaceful Walk

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The wind whipped around me,
Refreshing after weeks of humidity.
The sun had already set,
The moon, stars just starting to twinkle over head.
Dusk...and wind...on this All Saints Day.

When in-between the full sun and darkness of starlight.
When in-between the space where everything makes sense and pure mystery.
When in-between the noise of voices clamoring and the quiet center.
Like standing in the doorway, not quite inside or out...but enjoying pieces of both.

That was the walk tonight.
Nothing amazing, life-changing.
Nothing that would constitute a best-selling book.
Nothing that would deserve a re-tweet or thumbs up on Facebook

But in a quiet space of a peaceful walk with the breeze,
There is more than a trace of grace...there is God.

Blessings ~

For ALL the Saints

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The hymn is stuck on repeat, replaying all day long.
"For all the saints who from their labors rest, Who Thee by faith before the world confess,
Thy name, O Jesus, be forever blest, Alleluia! Alleluia!"

This coming Sunday, we will light a candle and name the saints who have passed from this life into the next.  It is a powerful ritual.  It is powerful because the names awaken memories.  It is powerful because with some names I can still hear the sound of their voice.  It is powerful because when I see all the candles burning...I glimpse the truth of the phrase, "A great cloud of witnesses."  We are blessed by our ancestors...our forefathers and foremothers in the faith.  Men and women who taught us Sunday School.  Grandmothers who held us in their lap as they softly whispered the psalms in our ear.  Our teacher who banged out hymns on the piano.  We are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses who confessed, professed, and helped us catch the faith.

Yet, increasin…