“Come out,” to those who are in darkness, “Show yourselves.”
We live in a mixed reality. Perfect people or perfect institutions don’t exist. Expecting perfectionism, in ourselves or others, may leave us resentful, judgmental, or dissatisfied. Jesus’ life was an example of non-judgmental inclusion. Paradoxically, the only people He seemed to exclude were those who judged and excluded others. Our task may include a patient attempt to find the true, the good, and the beautiful part that exists in all, even the most problematic people or institutions…even ourselves.
Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; The calf and the young lion shall browse together, with a little child to guide them. The cow and the bear shall be neighbors, together their young shall rest; the lion shall eat hay like the ox. The baby shall play by the cobra’s den, and the child lay his hand on the adder’s lair. There shall be no harm or ruin on all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the LORD, as water covers the sea.
Sadly, these verses do not reflect the world in which we live. In this season of hope, let us pray for an end to violence, hatred, greed, and poverty, and for a stronger outpouring of love, kindness, gentleness, and peace. May Christ be our light!
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17 You will be hated by all because of my name. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish. Luke 21: 17-18
I can’t remember a time when the coming of Advent has been so welcome. Hope for a world in chaos. Hope that God is creating something new in the midst of hatred, despair and judgment. Hope that our pointing fingers at one another will be replaced with open arms to embrace a new peace that we have never known before. Hope that those with ears to hear and eyes to see will not be deceived and will hear your voice and see your face in the stranger. Hope that we choose real life.
O Holy One of hope, we pray that this time of waiting will prepare us for the new creation you have for the world. We pray that we are wide awake to recognize you in the midst of the chaos around us. In the name of the Coming One we pray. AMEN
28 One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, “Which commandment is the first of all?”29 Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; 30 you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” – Mark 12:12-31
Fifteen years ago at the end of a retreat I was invited to write a note to myself. My note said simply, “Let love be.”I had no idea what it meant. I recently reflected on the picture and Scripture shown above.I wondered, how does a commandment of the law to love God, self and neighbor go from head to heart; from lofty ideal to humble flesh? And then I remembered recently sitting face to face with my 11 month old granddaughter.Delighted at her sweet, searching gaze, part of me was thinking, “Don’t you see what time, gravity, and being human has done to this face – – doesn’t it make you want to look away?” Gratefully, in an instant I was lost in an eternal moment; defenses down; captured by surprising, irresistible innocent love. And then I remembered that note to myself so long ago, “Let love be.”
My children go to camp in the summer for three to four weeks. I love that they have time away from the city to connect with God in nature. One of the most important things I have come to realize is the benefit of being “unplugged” for at least three weeks. No phone, no internet, no texts, no emails, no noise competing for their time.
No noise competing for their time.
Instead they heard the rain, they saw the stars, they laughed with friends from all over the country, they let go of the pretense of the media vying for their time, and they reconnected with their authentic selves.
No noise competing for their time.
Yesterday I took a fast, just one day, from the world competing for my time. Today I must work to get a few things done. But tomorrow I will do it again. I will water the flowers, I will dig in the dirt, I will walk in the woods, I will listen for God’s voice in His creation.
On a recent Sunday afternoon I took my young grandson to a neighborhood pool. What was meant to be a fun-filled way to cool off became a sacred moment when I felt a momentary rush of something that could only be described as the Holy Spirit sweep over me. We are all basking in sunlight that feels like divine light in this moment; the water a powerful symbol of life and cleansing. We are many faiths and cultures together in one place that is full of light and laughter and life. We are community as we encourage our own children and feel a connection with those we don’t know. Life guards are patrolling the water watching over us and reminding us of ways to remain safe while enjoying the water. We rest as required and those moments of rest are Sabbath moments in a Sabbath day.
We are all one in the time we are there. We are delighting in each other without speaking. There are giggles and peals of laughter, the din of joy supported by the underlying sprays of water. The moment is holy as I felt all of this wash over me like a healing and refreshing stream on a hot and dusty hike. Just for a moment my being was touched by all of this as an experience of oneness with everyone in that pool. Just for a moment – one joyous moment – when the divine made Itself known, I realized I was living – we were all living and playing – in the divine. Oh, how God must have been smiling with joy and satisfaction watching us and infusing us with the beauty of that oneness.
Sunlight and shadows dance on the deck.They are formed by wind-blown branches on the large oak tree. It is a cool, windy May day. My feelings alternate between the sunlight and the shadows. I want to live in the sun and not deal with the shadows, but life gives me both. Why do I resist letting go of my fear of the shadows, limitations, disappointment? Walking through the shadow, allows me to embrace it and integrate it into my live. Integration neutralizes the fear and the power to control my life. It’s taken a lifetime for me to recognize this process and work through it over and over again. It’s not an easy process, but it is well worth the time and effort. I call it dancing with the shadows into the sunlight.
Prayer and scripture are the foundation to moving through the shadows into the sunlight. Prayer takes many forms. Sometimes it is deep, centering prayer. Other times prayer is writing, drawing, walking, yoga, talking to a friend, or being alone. The scripture that has held my attention today is Lamentations 3:22 “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning great is your faithfulness.”