In the in-between

Advent. That season in Christendom where we wait. Wonder. Yearn. Dream. Pray. And then, we live with the fact that we do not have the answers we so desperately long to hear.

It’s true in my Hospice work. Knowing that death is coming (or not). Wishing there were absolutes and clear prognostications (and being shocked or disappointed). Wondering “how much time…?” When we do not know, and can never know.

In times like this, in the in-between, God uses pictures and moments to remind me… that the Divine is intricately involved in my life. That my short life is cradled in the span of Infinite wisdom. That it’s in the waiting that God Calls and leads me.

Tonight I needed reassurance. I needed hope. I needed encouragement. I needed a reminder of my relational and caring God. And then, this song came across my desktop. It’s by Kina Grannis, and is called “In The Waiting”. I think it’s the official heart song for my Advent season this year. Take a listen… the video is as powerful as the lyrics.

May we each know peace and LIFE in the waiting…

O Come Emmanuel.

 
“I’ve been working on patience
trying to trust in the timing of my tiny existence
I come alive
I sat still in the twilight
I found peace in the quiet things
How could I wish away all the in between?


And all this time
Ive been staring at the minute hand
Oh what a crime
That I can’t seem to understand that life
Is in the waiting.”

Cross-posted: Advent Longings

This prayer is shared from the RevGals page.

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Lord,
in the quiet
in the waiting
in the promises of Old
we see You.

Our hearts are touched
Just brushed
with a promise of more…
Longing
waiting
seeking
caring
carrying
lifting us beyond
the anger of the moment
the worries for tomorrow.

Your hope renews us
with the promise of more
of life
of hope
of grace
of the Christ Child
Born
for us again.
Amen.

And Amen.

Cross-posted: Friday Prayer

Cross-posted over at RevGalBlogPals today

leaftreeyard

silently and gently
falling and failing
changing and resting
seeking you, Lord…

we watch
we wait
we dream
we pray…

for the earth to renew
for our hearts to soften
for your grace to cover us
for your justice to pour out
for time and space to listen
for courage to act

on the edge of Advent,
we sit with you…
we pause…
we hurt…
we repent…
we rage…

When will it be?

Will it ever be?

Come quickly, Lord Jesus.

Amen.

In the wild unknown of the Spirit


It’s an adventure… walking by faith and saying to the Divine, “Ok, I am willing.”

Part of me tenses up in fear. I wonder, “Is this like praying for patience, and then getting a boatload of opportunities to practice BEING patient?”

No, I know I’m on a journey. At times, it’s a wilderness wandering, full of sacrifice and drudgery. At times, it’s impossible to know if I’m right/wrong/deceived/inspired. And at times,  it is being willing to step into a role that no one else wants. It’s being willing to take on the task that is so full of the unknown that it is anxiety-producing, a place where God has tasked ME with doing the hard work of living out Love, Joy and Peace where others have failed.

Walking in the wild unknown of the Spirit is terrifying. It’s much easier to find a version of Christianity that sets me in lockstep, with black and white lines. But that’s not the contemporary culture we work, play and minister in, is it? For as I read and pray, I acknowledge that I don’t worship a demagogue. I don’t expect a “holy ZAP!” at any moment. That’s not the image of the Divine I know. That’s not the relational, covenantal God of Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah. That’s not the  One who called me to ministry and care of others, in the Church and outside it. That’s absolutely not the God who welcomes, affirms, nurtures and empowers.

The problem is, the picture of the Creator most people know is  a familiar, transactional Patriarch. The “3-strikes-and-you’re-out” expectation that is impossible to please. The Divine image that is yelled about by ultra-conservative folks who preach an inaccessible Person, One that only chastises and lists rules. The Holy One who is broken down into 3 easy steps and a book with a video teaching series for your Adult/Youth/Children’s ministries.

It feels overwhelming to walk this authentically wild and unknown road. But yet… I am called to it, in places and way that I don’t yet fully know for sure, but there is no doubt that I do not walk it alone. God is with me. And I have full confidence that nothing is out of God’s touch and God’s help.

I’m challenged by the words of Mary Oliver, longing to live out my “one wild and precious life” in that wild unknown of the Spirit. 

I heard TobyMac’s song Beyond Me this afternoon while running errands…  And it encouraged me. Perhaps it will help you, too, on your journey. You can listen to it here…
Call it a reason to retreat
I got some dreams that are bigger than me
I might be outmatched outsized the underdog in the fight of my life
Is it so crazy to believe…
That you gave me the stars put them out of my reach
Call me to waters a little too deep
Oh I’ve never been so aware of my need
You keep on making me see
It’s way beyond me…

Songwriters: David Arthur Garcia / Toby Mc Keehan
Beyond Me lyrics © Capitol Christian Music Group

Bunnies and Coloring and Hymns of the Heart

 

Last Sunday, I preached from the book of Amos, and talked about the unlikely messengers who bring us hard words from God. I reminded the congregation that if we only dwelled in the message bearer, we could miss God’s Words to us.

In a fit of honestly, I admitted I often look at the appearance of someone first… and then I decide if I will listen to them. And that if we are all honest, we all do this. I challenged my church to look for God’s unexpected messengers this week…

And this week, I heard God speak to me through knitted toy bunnies, coloring, and singing the same hymn over and over and over. It wasn’t what could or couldn’t be said to me. It was seeing the faithful, caregivers, the kind responses to the same questions, the calm words of reassurance, all to bring comfort to a patient.

That’s God talking. I pray that I listened well.

The world is not a safe place

Gun violence makes the world feel  unsafe. Gun violence in a house of worship, even more so.

But the world is not a safe place. 

That seems obvious. But we cling to this ideal of peace, love and happiness. All you need is Love. Give peace a chance. We are the world. Let there be peace on earth.

I can sorta-kinda cope with violence in random public places, on public transportation, in shopping malls. Workplace shootings are rampant. Sadly, I have an expectation that it just might happen in some corner of my little world. It boggles my mind that I have to be vigilant for my personal safety in a public place, but this is the world we live in now.

I’ll be honest… I don’t get it. My mind can’t process this kind of hate. I see what evil has done. And I am numb.

Shootings in the public square are bad enough, but what about the attacks in churches? It seems ages ago since the attack in Mother Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston. How do we ever process the seemingly random violence of a shooter, assasinating the very folk who welcomed the stranger into their midst? Then to discover that, according to investigators, he plotted this for weeks?

Then I think about the violence at other places of worship. What about the mass shootings at a Sikh temple in 2012 in Oak Creek, Wisconsin? Or the six  people shot in a mosque in Quebec?

The churches in California, Tennessee, and now, Texas?

I don’t have answers for this kind of blind hate and prejudice. Lord knows I have enough unkind thoughts for some specific politicians today… but then I realize…

I am no better than the perpetrator of a mass killing if I let hate fester in my heart. 

Let me be clear: Am I looking for justice for the Charleston 9? Absolutely! But responding with violence? May it never be!

The stories will trickle in over the next weeks from the Sutherland Springs tragedy. We will read about families and shocked townspeople. We will get the pablum of “thoughts and prayers.” And we will hear the horrible theology of God needing another angel (ugh!!) and a diversion to a diatribe about mental illness instead of finally addressing gun control.

It has happened yet again.

The rhetoric swirls yet again.

And the world will continue to be unsafe.

And I will continue to wonder why any private citizen should own an assault rifle.

Friday Prayer: Spent

Cross-posted over at RevGalBlogPals:

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Divine One,
I sing an “Alleluia!”
to the frailty
the glory
the richness of color
in a gasp of glory.
O Holy One,
in these leaves we see
your Divine creative spark,
and a reminder that we are frail and failing.

In seasons of drabness,
in moments of weakness,
in longing for warmth
and hope
and peace,
may we see you,
may we know you,
may we renew our hearts and minds
and prepare to bud forth
with an “Alleluia!”
again and again.

Amen.