Monday, December 22, 2008

Ordinary People- Extraordinary God (Sermon 12/21)

2 SAMUEL 7:1-11, 16; LUKE 1:46B-55; ROMANS 16:25-27; LUKE 1:26-38


Do you ever think much about David and Mary having anything in common? David is that king of Israel, whose story we know so well, better than, say, Zerubbal and Jehosophat. Mary is the woman who bears the Son of God. Many years separate them and, technically, they are not related since Joseph is the descendant of David, not Mary.

But in today’s readings, chosen by the lectionary elves for this last Sunday before Christmas, are combined to highlight David and Mary together. The goal of the readings, however, isn’t to shine the light on these two as examples of faith. The goal is that the light of God’s promise of Christ and in Christ would shine through them, through them and onto us.

At the beginning of his life, David was a shepherd. He had, perhaps, an enviable life of watching sheep, fighting clear enemies and composing praise songs to God. Until Samuel appeared and anointed him, David’s life was ordinary, particularly for a youngest son at that time.

Then his life became filled with extraordinary circumstances. He killed a giant Philistine, he was named the successor of Israel’s first king, Saul, and he rescued the Ark of the Covenant. And David’s life also remained ordinary, almost painfully so. He loved and lost his best friend, Jonathan, he made decisions that were wise, marrying Abigail and he made decisions that were bad, lusting after Bathsheba.

Toward the end of his life, David has an ordinary desire born out of his extraordinary circumstances. He has a beautiful house and he wants to build one for the Lord as well. He would like to see God’s presence have a permanent home. However, through the prophet Nathan, David discovers that is not his call. God neither desires nor needs a house. His presence is not and cannot be tethered. However, the Lord comforts David by telling him that the Lord, that God, will build David’s house.

In Hebrew, the word “bayit” means house, as in dwelling, but it also means dynasty. God is telling David the building of a dynasty- the everlasting mark of David’s faith will be God’s work. And David will not get to see it. But God compels him to accept on faith the truth of his promise. David’s house will be built, for God and by God.

And what about Mary? At best, she’s in her mid-teens and engaged. This means she spending a year in her parents’ house, preparing for the day when Joseph, her betrothed, will come to get her. They will be married and she will move into the house of his family, the family of David. Their betrothal is significant because it means if he dies during the year, Mary will be considered a widow and will be offered the protections and treatment that go with that status.

So believing the death of her fiancé is probably the worst thing that can happen to her, here comes an angel. There was a folk story that was popular at the time about a jealous angel who visited brides on their wedding nights and killed the grooms. So Mary was probably more than a little intimidated, to say the least.

What the angel tells her, though, is almost worse. It’s certainly more scandalous. The angel isn’t there to take her husband. He is there to take her life, her life as she knows it. From normal Jewish girl to social pariah and family burden, Mary remained the ordinary girl she was, but suddenly she found herself in extraordinary circumstances. God’s favor does not look like anything we’d particularly like to court when we examine Mary’s story and what it must have done to her life. And yet she is able to utter the words, “Let it be with me according to your word.”

The Holy Spirit did come over and helped her to utter the words that she needed to say. Suddenly, she moves from passive bystander to actively moving in the stream of God’s justice and action. And we know from the gospels that the rest of her life, from that moment on, could not have been easy. However, she was able to pray the Magnificat to and with her cousin Elizabeth. Though the path wasn’t what she would have picked for herself, the grace of being chosen by God settled in her heart and created praise within her.

For David and for Mary, there is an understanding of obedience that comes with blessing. God’s blessing is extended, through them to Christ, to us as well. And we too are called to obedience within that blessing. Yet, like Mary and David, we cannot know God’s promises apart from the risks that a faithful response brings. When we want to go out and build, when we’re ready to act- it’s hard to wait and look both ways to see if it is God’s desire. When we want simplicity and no pain, it’s hard to say, “Let it be with me according to your Word.”

The king and the young woman probably looked at themselves in reflecting pools and said, “How did I get here?” And we’ve all asked that question. Teachers, carpenters, paint salesmen, lawyers, engineers, outdoorsmen, doctors, nurses, parents, single people, married people, widows and widowers, all of us have asked that question in our hearts and in the responding silence, we see the scope of grace in our lives. Grace that has been sufficient for all our needs. Grace that has carried us by inches and feet through darkness and light, through cold and warmth, through ordinary and extraordinary.

We know the foundation of the house of David, Jesus, the Son of Mary. Yet we know in that ordinary man, Jesus, there was an extraordinary God. A God who, through Christ, still comes to us in extraordinary ways.

That “bayit”- house is also said, “bet”, though we would say “beth”. And at Christmas we say it frequently, “beth- lehem”. Lehem means bread. The dynasty of David is fulfilled in the streets of the House of Bread. The Son of Mary comes into the world in the House of Bread. And the legacy of extraordinary encounters with God continues at this table with the Bread of Life who was born in Bethlehem, the House of Bread. Nothing more ordinary than bread. Nothing more extraordinary than the Body of Christ.

In our humanness, there is nothing more miraculous than being ordinary. God doesn’t need extraordinary. Mary wasn’t. David wasn’t. You aren’t. I’m not. But God is and God uses the ordinary for the extraordinary. We are called, by God, to respond obediently to the gift of favor and the gift of faith, to be like David and to be like Mary. To hunger for the Bread of Life and to share it with all those in our lives who also long for it.

May God give us all the grace to respond in patience and faithful obedience to His call to us. And, especially in this season, may our eyes be opened to see our extraordinary God in the most ordinary of places.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Essential Passage #8 (Romans 5:1-5)

Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained accessto this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. (Romans 5:1-5)Link

I've been thinking recently about Blue Christmas services. I wish I had early enough to have held on at my church- a service for people who want to, or need to, acknowledge the pain in their lives, losses they've experienced, their struggle to find or feel joy. A Blue Christmas service is one where the cross shines all the more brightly through the straw of the manger. A Blue Christmas service is a reminder, in the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, that only the suffering God can help.

This leads me to this passage from Romans, one of my personal favorites. I have a sermon on suffering here, but there is something to be said here about the nature of suffering and the difference between optimism and hope.

Think of the oft mentioned story of the little boy digging his way through the pile of horse manure, certain that there's a pony in there somewhere. That's optimistic, true, but not realistic and not hopeful.

Hope is a different creature. Hope says this is a pile of horse manure. And it stinks. It doesn't dress it up. It doesn't say it is there for a reason. It acknowledges the presence of the horse manure. However, hope also looks ahead to a time when the horse manure may be gone or lessened in stench and to the continued possibility of a pony.

Christians are not called to ignore suffering in the world nor to rationalize it. We must speak the truth about suffering and about sin. They stink. They obscure joy. They are confusing and best and faith-destroying at worst. In the midst of infant deaths, accidents, abuse, theft and spiritual assault, we often find ourselves standing with someone (or standing alone) waist deep in horse manure, with nary a whinny within earshot.

Suffering produces endurance, endurance produces character, character produces hope and hope does not disappoint us. I don't know about you, but I would have been (and would be) glad to suffer a little less at the cost of being less of a character or having a little less character (however you read that sentence). Yet if that were so, I would not have the hope that I have now. That God does not abandon us in our hour of need. That we do not walk alone. That, though we may not now or ever understand why we are experiencing what is happening in our lives, there is a light shining in and on our darkness.

The point of a Blue Christmas service is not to wallow in misery, but to remember that bright and shiny does not cover real dull, numbing pain. In this season, of all seasons, we must remember that our suffering does not have any redemptive value. Not for us. Not for anyone. But Christ's suffering does.

Sometimes we wade through the manure and find not a pony, but the cross. And that is the hope, the only hope, that does not disappoint us.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Friday Five: The Eyes have it

The Friday Five questions come from here.


1. What color are your beautiful eyes? Did you inherit them from or pass them on to anyone in your family?

Due to my maternal-side Eastern European heritage and a genetic tendency on my paternal side, I have abnormally dark brown eyes for my complexion. When I was an infant, people consistently asked my parents if I had been adopted [from Asia] because of my dark eyes. Because they are deep-set (another genetic trait), they aren't as obvious now.

2. What color eyes would you choose if you could change them?

I always like green eyes and if I had to change, I might go to that bright color. However, I'm partial to my own eyes (at least their color, if not their level of sightedness).

3. Do you wear glasses or contacts? What kind? Like 'em or hate 'em?

I wear glasses. I've worn glasses since I was five and it became obvious that I could not see the school bus headed up the street toward my house... until it was practically in front of me. Both my parents wear glasses and they deeply lamented how long it took them to realize that I couldn't see. At 11, I got bifocals (frustrating and embarrassing), but wearing such a strong prescription helped my eyes improve to reading glasses level by the time I was 14.
I wanted contacts for a time, but my astigmatism prevented that. Now it wouldn't be a problem, but I've developed a fear of things coming toward my eyes (no eyeliner for me!). I go back and forth on the Lasik surgery. It would be great to be able to go hunting without worrying about the scope hitting my glasses, but eye surgery (?)... we'll see. (rim shot!)

4. Ever had, or contemplated, laser surgery? Happy with the results?

I go back and forth on the Lasik surgery. It would be great to be able to go hunting without worrying about the scope hitting my glasses, but eye surgery (?)... we'll see. (rim shot!) I'm glad to hear opinions on this.


5. Do you like to look people in the eye, or are you more eye-shy?

I look people in the eye, unless I'm thinking. Then I seem to look off to the left. In general, people on my left in a group probably get more eye contact that people on my right.

Bonus question: Share a poem, song, or prayer that relates to eyes and seeing.

Dust in the Eyes- Robert Frost
If, as they say, some dust thrown in my eyes
Will keep my talk from getting overwise,
I'm not the one for putting off the proof.
Let it be overwhelming, off a roof
And round a corner, blizzard snow for dust,
And blind me to a standstill if it must.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Essential Passage #7- Genesis 1:1-2

In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Genesis 1:1-2 (NRSV)

This is an essential passage of Scripture for me because of the nature of God that is revealed here. In contrast to what we are able to do, God is able to bring about creation out of nothing, in fact, out of a void. The Hebrew word for that void stirs my imagination.

Hebrew: tohu wabohu (TOE-hoo vah-VOE-hoo or wah- BOE-hoo)

Tohu - root word (unused) meaning to lie waste
- “formlessness, confusion, unreality, emptiness”, “place of chaos”, “vanity”
- Reference: Job 26:7

Bohu - “from unused root meaning to be empty”
- emptiness, void, waste

____
Though other citations point to the use of the words empty or void, the passages do not convey the same absolute emptiness that seems to be implied by the writer of Gen. 1. Tohu wabohu, used specifically here from typically unused roots, create a feeling of a deeper emptiness than simple non-existence (if such a thing were simple). This void speaks to something deeper than what might have been before humans were and points to the reality of God and the reality of the felt absence of God. The “deep” is not even really the ocean, in the sense that we think of the great blue deep, but is a deep darkness- something that stirs in our subconscious and tweaks at our ultimate concerns. In that tohu wabohu are all our fears: “What will happen to me? Why am I here? What is beyond me?”

The possible translation of tohu as “vanity” can be related to Ecclesiastes 1:1- where all is vanity. The comparison between what God’s hand can bring about and what human hands can leaves nothing but vapor or vanity. The comprehension of that void is the most punishing part of the law (which is not always punishing) in that we are forced to realize the world came about neither through our bidding nor our doing. Rather the Spirit of God moved over an absence and brought everything into being. This creation story answers the others of its time by making God the prime mover and shaker- there is no sun (and thus no Sun god) or sea (and thus no water gods). There is nothing but tohu wabohu until God brings it into existence- in creation, in faith, in living.

In each step of the creation, God notices what has been made is good. We might consider the work of our hands good, but such blatant approval of our own works can lead to vanity, self-centeredness and, ultimately, emptiness. Tohu wabohu demonstrates that the void- without God- is vanity and because God creates out of a void, is not tohu wabohu, God is not empty or vain.

In God’s act of creation, we are able to see God as the opposite of tohu wabohu and the bringer about of creation. What we [vainly] put our hands to always seem to turn to chaos until we recognize the One who is truly in control. Only the God who can bring wholeness through suffering, creation from a void, hope from hopelessness, can bring peace.

Preparing for a Visit (Sermon 12/7)

Isaiah 40:1-11; 2 Peter 3:8-15a; Mark 1:1-8


The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. There are no shepherds, no angels, no manger, no silent night and no verbs. Yes, verbs- action words. In this first sentence of Mark, there are no verbs. So, where is the action?

Is this the start of the story of the ministry of Jesus the Christ, starting with the proclamation of John the Baptizer? Or does the story begin with the prophesy in Isaiah, when Israel is still in exile in Babylon and God says, “Well, they are just not getting my message. I’m going to have to try something different.”

In the Isaiah text, we hear the call to prepare a way in the wilderness, a way for the Lord. So, through Isaiah’s words, the people were called to get ready for a royal visit. What comes with a royal visit? Well, what comes with having guests over to your house? Countertops are suddenly exposed to daylight, bathrooms get fresh towels, corners are vacuumed, minor repairs are made, and new food is purchased. And that’s not even for royalty.

A royal visit promises new and improved infrastructure. The countryside must be ready for the whole entourage to come in and settle for the duration. Buildings are upgraded, food storage is increased, and roads are improved, widened and smoothed. Everyone looks forward to the gifts that will come with a royal visit.

But preparing for that visit costs everything. Everything a town or city might have. All the other plans that have been made completely bypass the back burner and are taken completely off the stove. A royal visit takes all the money, all the time, all the energy and all the vision that can be mustered. But it’s all given because of the promise that comes with the event: the knowledge that a royal visit will be a physical, significant and transforming occasion.

That’s the action that John the Baptizer points to at the side of the Jordan. “Come,” he says. “Come and be baptized for the forgiveness of your sins. Get ready for the one who is to come. Level the mountains of your sin. Smooth the highways of your understanding. Get ready. He is coming! And, oh, what gifts he will bring!!”

We are further out in scope than John now. We see, through faith, to whom John was pointing. We know the nature of that royal visit, of the coming of the Son of God, so that we might have life. But sometimes we still get lost in the preparations. Just like you can get tired of getting ready for guests and lose sight of the excitement of their coming, so too has the Church, have we, forgotten the excitement of Christ’s visit.

In anticipation of his return, we also forget the joy of his presence with us still. For our God does not follow rules. For Israel, God was not going to abandon them in exile or because of their failure to keep their end of the covenant. God spoke through the prophets and said, “I am with you and I am coming!” And God still says to us today, through the Spirit, “I am with you and I am coming. Get ready for me and the changes I will bring. Pay attention to what I am already changing.”

Each of the readings today points to that reality in the life of faith: that God is approaching and God is here. If it were any other way, all the preparations, all the action, all the initiating would be on us. But God has sent his Spirit into the world, from the time of creation until now, so that we would not prepare alone and we would not be lost.

In our Advent time, even now, God is with us- giving us patience, giving us hope, granting us salvation within the wilderness of our lives. In our wildernesses of grief, of pain, of worry, of anxiety… the Spirit lifts us up so that we can hear the voice that cries, “Here is your God.” Get ready for a royal visit. Confess your sins. Prepare to celebrate.

Where is the action in “the beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God”? It is in God. And it is in you. “Do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day.” How that may be is a mystery, but so is this: the Lord is with us and the Lord is coming. We live in and with that mystery.

We are called to prepare ourselves, to prepare one another and all those around us for the royal visit, but those preparations only happen through the One who remains with us- in the wilderness and in civilization, in sorrow and in joy, in the manger and at the cross. We are ready for a royal visit through God’s grace that we encounter at the table, in the water and in one another.

In a season of too many to-dos, do not ignore this one fact, beloved, the beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is in you, today.


Amen.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Strange and new

I've been reading many conversations lately among church leaders (clergy and lay) and scholars centered around the questions, "Why does church matter?" and "How does church matter?" In a world that constantly harps on "change" (with very little seeming to actually do so), how can a two-thousand year old institution still offer something that people need?

To answer this question for myself, I have been looking for something to read to stir my imagination. Granted, God's word does this for me all the time. But part of encountering the Living Word, for me, involves going into the Bible with a guide (the Holy Spirit) and a partner (some other theologian- living or dead, clergy or lay).

My newest hunting partner is G.K. Chesterton. While I would not say that G.K. and I will become best buddies- he's a good hunting partner with sharp spiritual eyes, stirring me to looking for new signs and shapes of God's work in the world. So I have begun reading his book The Everlasting Man.

I'm not terribly far into it, but I'm already thinking of so many new things. He particularly stresses in his introduction the need for the Church of Christ (and its people) to look at the Church from a different, even foreign, perspective so that the significance of the Church can be grasped. While Chesterton eventually became a Catholic, here he is emphasizing the nature of the whole Church as the body of Christ- less the institution, than the embodiment of the Real Presence.

He says this: [The] Church, being a highly practical thing for working and for fighting, is necessarily a thing for [adults] and not merely a thing for children. There must be in it for working purposes a great deal of tradition, of familiarity, and even of routine. So long as its fundamentals are sincerely felt, this may be the saner condition. But when its fundamentals are doubted, as at present, we must try to recover the candor and wonder of the child; the unspoilt realism and objectivity of innocence. Or if we cannot do that, we must try at least to shake off the cloud of mere custom and see the thing as new, if only by seeing it as unnatural. Things that may well be familiar so long as familiarity breeds affection had much better become unfamiliar when familiarity breeds contempt. (Ignatius Press, 2008, 14)

In the season of Christmas, we are full of things we "always" do because of their tradition and symbolism. Yet is the symbolism what has become meaningful to us... the symbolism more than what is actually celebrated?

We are entering the season of the church year when we see many people in the pews who have been missing in the intervening months since Easter (or maybe since last Christmas). Why is that? Because they're busy? Perhaps. Or maybe it is because we (pastors, regular churchgoers, bishops, etc) have failed to make the majesty, the grace, the awe of God known throughout the year. Church is more than tradition: Sundays, Wednesday, Christmas, Easter.

It is a strange and alien institution, formed by an alien righteousness. (Romans 3- all of it) The righteousness of Christ covers all our sins, so that we might be made right with God. The familiar shapes and sounds of Christmas- Mary, shepherds, fumbled microphones in Christmas pageants, Silent Night, green and red- consume the shocking event that we are celebrating... GOD AMONG US!!!!!! LIKE US!!!! BUT GOD!!!!

Consider this verse from Hark the Herald Angels Sing
Mild he lays his glory by
Born that we no more may die
Born to raise us from the earth
Born to give us second birth

That's no regular baby (no regular birth story either). Familiarity hasn't necessarily, yet, bred contempt, but is it still breeding affection, in the words of Chesterton? In this season of overworked metaphors, let yourself be stunned by the miracle of Christmas- a pregnant virgin, angels everywhere, an accepting fiance, God present on earth in human form (yet retaining full divinity).

May God water the seeds of your contemplation, so that they may bloom forth in good works toward your neighbor and your family.

Church still matters. It is in the Body of Christ, God's church, that we experience together the provoking wonder of the greatest story ever told.

December Newsletter Article

“Comfort, oh comfort my people, says your God… A voice cries out: “In the wilderness, prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” Isaiah 40:1, 3

“Of one hundred men, one will read the Bible; the [other] ninety-nine will read the Christian.” Dwight Moody, American evangelist and theologian

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, unless you’re on a budget, you’ve lost your job, you’re lonely, your diet is restricted, you’re over-obligated…How is it that in October- a simple Christmas sounds wonderful, but comes November 1st, we’re in a race to “survive” the season?

The thing is, even though we all know the story of Christmas, we forget the feeling of Christmas. Somewhere in the shopping, the hurrying, the traditions… we lose sight God’s call to us.

We are not called, at this time of the year, to point to the manger and say, “Hey, that’s what this is really all about.” We’re called to stop at the manger and linger. Think of the shepherds, trembling at the presence of a holy being among them. Think of Mary, carrying the person of God within her. Consider Joseph, walking in faith despite what people must have said about his fiancĂ©e. Remember the wise men, who believed the signs they saw and sought out the new King.

We live in a stressed and anxious time. People are afraid, not only people “out there”, but people in our own faith family. We are people of Hope… living with the hope of what God promises through Jesus and living with the faith of what God has delivered in Him as well.

People are watching us, you and me, to see if we retain our joy, if our steps reflect the hope we say we have. So consider the words of Isaiah and offer comfort to those around you- through your actions and your words.

For many people, this is one of the few times a year that they come to church or they think about faith. They look to people they know who are “faithful people” for examples and for leadership. That’s us. When we look to the manger, the world looks to us.

So, in this season of busy-ness, take a moment. Look at the manger. Look at it, ponder it in your heart, until you can look away and reflect the light of love that lies there to those around you. The baby that lies in the straw holds the hope and promise of God’s love and mercy for the whole world.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Waiting (Sermon- Advent 1)

Advent is certainly a season of waiting. Waiting in lines, waiting online, waiting on hold, waiting to go to the airport, waiting at the airport, waiting to start eating, waiting to see if someone else will volunteer, waiting to really sing Christmas carols (instead of humming them under your breath because you know it’s really Advent and we have 23 days before Christmas carols are appropriate).

All this anticipation, build-up and then… Easter has a nice big finish, an empty cross, an echoing tomb and Jesus in the garden, speaking to Mary Magdalene. Advent winds us up and then drops us, gently, but drops us… into the soft light of the manger, where we crowd in with shepherds, animals and everyone else who wants to see what the fuss is about.

We wait. We wait. We wait.

When people ask me what it is like to be a pastor, I usually figure out some way to relate it to work they understand- it’s teaching, public speaking, counseling, things like that. I was ordained to the ministry of Word and Sacrament, to preaching, teaching, pastoral care, and all the other things that just happen as part of this job. But in truth, I’m a professional waiter.

All the other tasks I do are placeholders, important tasks, but not as important as the waiting I do with you. When you call in the night, when you are grieving, when you are waiting for good news, when you anticipate bad news, when you go through life and wonder, “How did God allow this to happen? Why doesn’t God make that happen?” I wait with you.

I wait with you. For I have my own questions I long to have answered, my own life events that I worry about, my own desires I would like to see fulfilled.

But when I read, “Comfort, o comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to my people that their penalty is paid. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level and the rough places a plain.” When I read those words, I get a kind of holy heart burn. And I long to bring comfort to you, notes of grace and hope in our time of stress and anxiety.

And when you read them, you too may feel that kind of burn, the push from the Spirit. For just like I think of you when I hear these words, you are called to be a pastor to the people around you- to offer them comfort- a message of hope.

What comfort can we offer? Waiting is our most human condition. We wait always, constantly, without ceasing. And it grinds on us, wearing us down, until we enter the numb monotony of constant motion and busy-ness. We even grow tired of waiting. So, how can we explain to others why faith matters when year after year passes without the return of the Christ?

Here is where the manger answers the longing of Advent with a boom. In the manger lies an infant who is fully human and fully divine. A baby who grow to be a man who will wait for his disciples to get the point, who will wait for his friend Lazarus to breath again, who will wait for children to come to him, who will wait for everyone to be fed, who will wait, in fear, to die for sins he did not commit.

God waited, through the time of the patriarchs and the time of the prophets, and then realized we could not wait any longer. So Jesus the Christ came to show us the face of God, the love of God, the nature of God and the patience of God.

When we wait in Advent during the church year, we’re actually speaking about the waiting that is our life. We bring the waiting and its attendant anxiety to the surface, our frustration with the delay, our fear of the day of the Lord, our gratitude for grace, our desperate inability to accept that grace.

We come to the manger and we breathe a sigh of relief. The celebration of Christmas stirs up the feel of liberation that can only come from knowing God’s sheer gift in His Son. The gift of light, love, peace, and mercy. The grace of the manger is the only thing that makes the grace of the cross possible. That’s what we hold too. That’s why our faith matters. We believe that God’s grace is sometimes all that helps us put one foot in front of the other as we wait.

And that grace is the comfort that we can offer the world. We are waiting for Christ to return, but in the meantime… we haven’t finished celebrating the first time he came. Come celebrate. Come celebrate with joy and anticipation. Celebrate with the whole church. Be comforted by faith in presence of the risen Christ in the world. Christ is with us. And we will continue to wait and celebrate, with Him through the Holy Spirit, until He comes again. Amen.

Monday, Monday....

My spirit, apparently, was so excited about my sabbath day today that it woke me up at 4:30 am. I tried my usual middle of the night routine, praying for people I know and trying to relax tight muscles. While it was good to pray for people, I've now been awake for nearly 3.5 hours.

So now I'm sitting in a coffee shop. I have six letters to write, a journal to write in, this book and this book to start reading and thousand of blog ideas in my mind. It IS my day off... so I try to diminish the level of work-related things I deal with or think about, but sometimes it's unavoidable. Mondays, in general, tend to be a day of active prayer and contemplation for me.

So, I have some hot apple cider now and a toasted bagel. Monday, Monday... here I go...!