Let ev’ry heart prepare…

What do pastors do to prepare for Christmas, you ask?

We vacuum. We untangle Christmas lights. We find missing hymnals and restock the pews. We set up an ironing board so that the choir can “freshen” up their robes.

We resuscitate poinsettias that someone forgot to water. (And compost the ones that don’t make it.)

We refresh the greens in the sanctuary and figure out where the tapers are for the candlelight service.

And we pray for our congregants and our visitors, that the Light of the world will shine through in new ways.

And then, we go home and put our feet up for just a minute… before finishing that next round of baking, wrapping, and cleaning. ‘Cause Christmas is coming!!

Merry Christmas!!

Winter Solstice Blessing

Winter Solstice Blessing

From Karen Clark’s blog and book A Path of She

Nature remembers what we humans have forgotten – that every cycle must return to stillness, and to the dark.

Every out-breath requires an in-breath

Every outer endeavor turns back inward to its origins, its center, in order to begin again.

From death comes new life, and from darkest night, the new dawn is born.

May the darkness of winter bring new appreciation of the Light.

Doing. Nothing. (Learning about Joy)

Doing. Nothing.

In case you wondered, I’m not very good at that. My first idea for this evening was to work at finishing a project which was meant to be a present (which will be done by Christmas NEXT year). Then I was going to bake cookies. My heartfelt response? MEH! 

The only thing that really appealed to me was… nothing.

I sat with my emotions for a while, trying to understand my inner processes. My brain is tired. And my heart is hurting for some of my flock. And I’m praying in anticipation for an answer… that hasn’t been revealed yet. In short, I’m out of sorts. Grumpy. A little preoccupied. Life is in “freeze-frame” and I don’t particularly like it.

This third week of Advent is supposed to be about Joy… and while I understand intellectually and personally what “joy” means, I’m having trouble “feeling” it. There’s enough sucky stuff in the world that is weighing me down. (Yes. I know “Joy is a choice, not a feeling.” And “Joy is a spiritual gift, not a state of mind.” I’ve preached the sermons and done the Greek. I’m being real, here.)

On my walk through the outdoor labyrinth at Dayspring last week, I looked down to see this:

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THIS is Joy. Not fireworks or helium balloons or a blast of trumpets (or whatever image that is your vision of Joy.)

Joy is this time of waiting and watching… believing and praying… trusting. And waiting some more.

Joy for me is often a whisper, a hint. It’s a gnat that you can’t quite catch. It’s a lightning bug that rises on a summer night and fades away. It’s the spark in the fireplace, popping and vanishing up the chimney.

Joy is wrapped in the Divine… but it is also trapped in our humanity. And that’s where I am struggling in Advent this year.

27 Notice how the lilies grow. They don’t wear themselves out with work, and they don’t spin cloth. But I say to you that even Solomon in all his splendor wasn’t dressed like one of these.28 If God dresses grass in the field so beautifully, even though it’s alive today and tomorrow it’s thrown into the furnace, how much more will God do for you, you people of weak faith!29 Don’t chase after what you will eat and what you will drink. Stop worrying.30 All the nations of the world long for these things. Your Father knows that you need them.31 Instead, desire his kingdom and these things will be given to you as well.   Luke 12: 27-31 CEB

Cross-posted: In the Quiet

Posted over at RevGalBlogPals:

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Lord,
in this waiting,
we stand in the silence,
surrounded by the faithful of today.
And the saints of old,
who watched and waited,
praised and prayed,
had visions and discouragements,
yet believed,
whisper to us on the winds of the Spirit,
“Wait… wait…”

May we put down deep roots
in this quiet witness
of time and place and holiness,
and hear Your call
to journeying
and waiting,
even now,
with hearts of hope and faith.

For we know, Divine One,
You shall build Your tabernacle among us
and You will be our God
and we will be Your people.
And yes,
we wait…
for You,
Holy One,
for You.

Amen.

 

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.

Blue Christmas


Diana Butler Bass writes in a recent article in the Washington Post about the emotional stress that has filled the days and weeks since the Presidential election. Not just stress from who won or lost, but the increase of uncivil behavior towards one another. 

It’s wearying to the mind and the Spirit. 

(I’m not immune to the fits of snarkyness on Twitter. But I have not threatened anyone’s personal safety or denigrated their faith.)

Diana writes: 

“Advent recognizes a profound spiritual truth — that we need not fear the dark. Instead, wait there. Under that blue cope of heaven, alert for the signs of dawn. Watch. For you cannot rush the night. But you can light some candles. Sing some songs. Recite poetry. Say prayers.”

So for Advent this year I am going to Watch for the Light. I will be posting photos on Instagram (@HolySpoons) and will occasionally write here on my blog about the places and scenes which give me glimpses of God in this Advent season.

You can join me in this exercise. The liturgical season of Advent begins tomorrow, November 27th. Let’s find those points where God breaks through and use them to encourage one another.

Pax vobiscum.