Thursday, December 31, 2009

This Far By Faith

This year has been sparse in my blog. I stopped my posts about the 50 most essential Biblical passages, I hardly acknowledged any saint's days and I never really commented on what was going on in my life.

In the past 12 months, I spent 8 full months pregnant, my husband left for Iraq on Good Friday, I had a C-section, a very close friend left me right after my son was born (and hasn't spoken to me since) and my husband missed the first four months of our son's life.

When I am really having difficulty dealing with situations, I can't even write about them. It takes almost all my energy to actually deal with what's happening and so I can't bring myself to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard).

Many people offered to help me and many people did help. There are several people without whose support- I might have pulled the covers over my head and refused to get out of bed.

Recently, someone suggested to me that I was trying to be perfect or that I might be depressed. I looked at the person carefully and said neither of those were the case. I recounted the tale of "The Canoe Trip of Near- Death", in which my husband was swept out of the canoe, the dog nearly drowned, we got growled at by bears and I had to paddle on my own to save us all. My commentary how that related to the current situation was this, "I'm almost to shore. Please don't push me out of the canoe now."

And so, I've made it to shore. Not really by my own power, but by the grace of God and the support of lots of caring people. But sometimes there is nothing else to do, but keep paddling and hope the stream is clear around the next bend.

My husband is home safely. My son has made it through the most dangerous of the SIDS windows and is a fat, happy baby. My dog has survived the introduction of a new family member, being kicked off the bed and relegated to floor sleeping and reduced attention. And I have survived all of this. Some of the events hurt more than others (I'm not sure when I'll be over my friend's betrayal). Some of this will fade in time. And some of this will always be just what happened then.

In church, we lost some faces that I'm going to miss dearly. That adds to the pile.

However, I have survived to write again. No matter what I wanted in these situations, I couldn't control much of them. So I just kept paddling.

And I'll keep paddling right into 2010, which has no promises to be an easier year. And maybe there's no such thing. They are what they are.

The main point is that, regardless of what a year brings or doesn't, God remains. With us, far and near. Carrying us. Steering us. Captaining our boat- even if we're sure we're doing the navigating. Always.

Happy New Year.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Poem

After Psalm 137

by Anne Porter

We're still in Babylon but
We do not weep
Why should we weep?
We have forgotten
How to weep

We've sold our harps
And bought ourselves machines
That do our singing for us
And who remembers now
The songs we sang in Zion?

We have got used to exile
We hardly notice
Our captivity
For some of us
There are such comforts here
Such luxuries

Even a guard
To keep the beggars
From annoying us

We have forgotten you.

"After Psalm 137" by Anne Porter, from Living Things Collected Poems. © Zoland Books, 2006.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Pastor, Talk to me about...the Second Sunday in Advent

Malachi 3:1-4

1 See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight—indeed, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. 2 But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears?

For he is like a refiner's fire and like fullers' soap; 3 he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the descendants of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, until they present offerings to the Lord in righteousness. F13 4 Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years.

Luke 1:68-79

68 "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has looked favorably on his people and redeemed them. 69 He has raised up a mighty savior for us in the house of his servant David, 70 as he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, 71 that we would be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us. 72 Thus he has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors, and has remembered his holy covenant, 73 the oath that he swore to our ancestor Abraham, to grant us 74 that we, being rescued from the hands of our enemies, might serve him without fear, 75 in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. 76 And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, 77 to give knowledge of salvation to his people by the forgiveness of their sins. 78 By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, 79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace."

Philippians 1:3-11

3 I thank my God every time I remember you, 4 constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, 5 because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now. 6 I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ.

7 It is right for me to think this way about all of you, because you hold me in your heart, for all of you share in God's grace with me, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. 8 For God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the compassion of Christ Jesus.

9 And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight 10 to help you to determine what is best, so that in the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless, 11 having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.

Luke 3:1-6

1 In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was ruler of Galilee, and his brother Philip ruler of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias ruler of Abilene, 2 during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. 3 He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, 4 as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah, "The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: "Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. 5 Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth; 6 and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.' "

1. One of these things is not like the others. What's up with the Philippians reading?

2. A psalm does not have to be a Psalm. Discuss.

3. What does John the Baptist mean to you?

Stranger! Stranger!

In Anchorage, there is a gentleman who visits churches and writes up his experiences for the Anchorage Daily News.

He recently visited our sister church, Central Lutheran. You can read his warm and positive review here.

When he visits churches, he looks for warmth and friendliness to visitors as well as an organized service, Bible-based preaching and meaningful music.

Do we offer these things? What kind of review would he give us? What kind of review would Jesus give us?