Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Take Time...

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

you created time,
You created light and darkness:
the light you called day;
the darkness you called night.
You put the sun and the moon 
and the stars in the heavens 
to mark the times and the seasons.

You give us time.
Often I find myself saying
"I need to make time to do... such-and-so."
But I can't MAKE time that's what you do.
No, instead I need to TAKE time -- 
take the time you have given me 
and do something significant, like...

marvel at the wondrous of your creation,
listen deeply to the voice of another,
laugh and play like a child,
examine the small details around me,
grieve the death of a loved one,
be angry about an injustice,
dance with my beloved,
be at peace in your love,
pray -- share my concerns and listen to yours,
reflect on my life: Who am I really?
dream your dreams: Who is God drawing me to be?
evaluate my goals: How am I responding to God's desires for me?
make a difference in one other person's life,
speak about one good thing you have done for me recently.

There is time.
Time for every purpose.
Remind me, Lord, to
Take Time.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Promises fulfilled...

LUKE 2:22-35

When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord”), and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”
Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying,
 “Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace,
according to your word;
 for my eyes have seen your salvation,
 which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
 a light for revelation to the Gentiles
and for glory to your people Israel.”
And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed — and a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

Lord Jesus,
You were just a baby.
Your parent took you to the temple
following their faith.
They remembered the promises of God:
"Blessed are You, our Lord, Ruler of the universe,
who has sanctified us through Your commandments
and has commanded us to bring our sons
into the covenant of Abraham our father." (from modern B'rit Milah ritual)
That day you were marked in your body
with the sign of the covenant,
the covenant promise you came to fulfill.

And a man, Simeon,
whom God had promised
would see the Lord's Messiah.
Simeon took you in his arms and declared
his gratitude to God for fulfilling the promise,
for in you Simeon saw your salvation
not just for God's chosen Israel,
but for ALL nations.

You were just a baby,
but you were already changing the world
bringing hope,
bringing life,
bringing peace,
being fulfillment.

Every time a child is baptized,
I remember God's covenant.
And I make promises
to help raise this child
to know the promises you came to fulfill.

Help me fulfill my promises,
and so participate in the continuing fulfillment
of your promises to the world!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christ's gift for you

TITUS 3:4-7
But when the goodness and loving-kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy, through the water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. This Spirit he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

O Christ,
you come to us at Christmas
in humility born as a babe in Bethlehem.
You ARE the goodness and loving-kindness of God
come among us!

Your coming changes everything.
Our lives are changed, saved, redeemed, transformed
not because of any works of righteousness that we have done,
but according to YOUR mercy
through the gift of your Holy Spirit.

The gift you give is not found wrapped under a tree.
Rather the gift you give is yourself:
your life,
your laugh,
your love,
your light,
your lament,
your languish,
your liberty,
your life eternal.

Give us pause this Christmas
to hold your gift,
to enjoy your gift,
to give your gift.

So that,
having justified by YOUR grace,
all might become heirs
according to the hope
of eternal life.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014


My first grade son often confuses the words
"hopefully" and "thankfully".
He uses them interchangeably.

At first
my wife and I smiled,
thought it cute,
and corrected him.
He continues to mix them up;
now we just smile at each.

But I've been thinking
this Advent season:
Hopefully Thankfully are intertwined
and cannot be separated.

The things I hope for,
I am also thankful for.
The things that I am thankful for
give me hope.

Notice below:
At Christmas, we remember hopefully
that Jesus came among us.
Thankfully Jesus fulfilled
God's promises. 
We will live thankfully
as God's beloved children
knowing God's love in Jesus Christ.
God has made his love hopefully real and tangible to us
in the babe born in Bethlehem.
Now exchange the words "thankfully" and "hopefully":
At Christmas, we remember thankfully
that Jesus came among us.
Hopefully Jesus fulfilled
God's promises. 
We will live hopefully
as God's beloved children
knowing God's love in Jesus Christ.
God has made his love thankfully real and tangible to us
in the babe born in Bethlehem.
Seems the meaning is the same in both.

So this Christmas,
I am thankful/hopeful for each of you.
May God fill your lives with
thankful/hopeful moments of grace.

I am hopeful/thankful for my son
who taught me to be hopeful/thankful!
Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Testing, Holding fast, Abstaining

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise the words of prophets, but test everything; hold fast to what is good; abstain from every form of evil.
May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this.

I was surprised
when I read this from Paul.
Sounded just like Philippians 4:4-9.

During this Advent season,
we often turn to the prophets
to hear again your promises
and wonder at their fulfillment in Jesus Christ.

Then I wonder why Paul wrote to the church:
"Do not despise the words of the prophets,
but test everything."
Is this what students of the Bible
would later call a hermeneutic of suspicion?

Then Paul advises
the result of "testing everything" is to
"hold fast to what is good;
abstain from every form of evil."

Advent is a time of testing.
Testing our lives.
Making a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves --
the 4th step of a 12 steps ministry.
And testing the prophets.
Making a search and fearless review of Your promises.

At the end of such a test,
Paul tells us,
"hold fast to what is good"
In other words:
Keep doing the good.
Focus on your strengths.
Do what you do well!
Believe God's promises.
Stand strong in God's grace!

And Paul says,
"abstain from every form of evil"
In other words:
Stop doing the bad.
Turn away from destructive thoughts, ways of being.
Let go of the negative.
Renounce the power of evil.
Trust that God is more powerful than evil!

O God,
sanctify me wholy!
spirit, soul, and body.
You are faithful!
And You will do this!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Blessed with enough...

Isaiah 61:8-9
For I the LORD love justice,
I hate robbery and wrongdoing;
I will faithfully give them their recompense,
and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.
Their descendants shall be known among the nations,
and their offspring among the peoples;
all who see them shall acknowledge
that they are a people whom the LORD has blessed.
often times I think in terms of two categories:
Scarcity and Abundance,
Lately, I've been adding another category:

Often times I hear talk of 
Your Abundant blessings,
I worry that such talk suggests
we ALL should have/expect Abundance,
that Abundance is what You want 
for us and all people.
And certainly, Lord, You do 
shower Abundant blessings upon us.

But I'm not so sure Your desire
is for us to have Abundance,
but rather You desire that 
us and all people have 

Isn't that what You gave Your people 
wandering in the wilderness after the exodus?
Enough manna; 
enough quail; 
enough water.
Those who tried to have Abundance,
those who gathered more than Enough, 
an Abundance of manna,
they found the Abundance spoiled.
Enough was enough for that day. (see Exodus 16:13-30)

Jesus, you taught us to pray:
"Give us this day our daily bread."
Enough bread for today.
Give us Enough.

And yet, Lord, 
many of us do have Abundance.
If Your desire is for us to have Enough,
what should we do with Abundance?
The Bible stories seem clear:
Abundance is to be shared so all have Enough.

Indeed, I've become to think
You have gifted some 
with the spiritual gift of creating Abundance
in order that it may be shared.
Too often we forget the sharing;
too often our abundance spoils
just like the manna of exodus.

Today, Lord,
during this Advent season,
I have Enough!
Thank you.
Help me share your Abundance
so that others may also have Enough.
"Give us this day our daily bread."

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Stir up your power, O Lord

ISAIAH 40:1-8,10-11
Comfort, O comfort my people,
says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and cry to her
that she has served her term,
that her penalty is paid,
that she has received from the Lord”s hand
double for all her sins.
A voice cries out:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD,
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
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.
Then the glory of the LORD shall be revealed,
and all people shall see it together,
for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”
A voice says, “Cry out!”
And I said, “What shall I cry?”
All people are grass,
their constancy is like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower fades,
when the breath of the LORD blows upon it;
surely the people are grass.

The following prayer taken from Advent worship at St. Christopher's Episcopal Church, Elizabethtown, NC.

Stir up your power, O Lord,
and with great might come among us;
and because we are sorely hindered by our sins,
let your bountiful grace and mercy
speedily help and deliver us;
through Jesus our Lord,
to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit,
be honor and glory, now and forever.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Christ is Coming!

2 PETER 3:8-15A
But 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. The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and everything that is done on it will be disclosed.
Since all these things are to be dissolved in this way, what sort of persons ought you to be in leading lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set ablaze and dissolved, and the elements will melt with fire? But, in accordance with his promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home.
Therefore, beloved, while you are waiting for these things, strive to be found by him at peace, without spot or blemish; and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation.

advent reminds us that
Christ is coming!
Christ is coming in the babe born in Bethlehem.
Christ is coming again as the glorious king to redeem and reign.

Christ is coming still!
Christ is coming still in our daily lives,
into our broken world,
in our hurting families,
into our divided communities.

2 Peter referencing Psalm 90:4
reminds us
with You
"one day is like a thousand years".

Your time is different.
Your schedule is different.
Your priorities are different.

So this Advent
help us with our watchful waiting!
Remind us that while to us it seems
like you are slow in coming!
This so called "slowness" is actually
grace working its way
into all the cracks of our broken world
to bring about healing, redemption,
indeed salvation
not just for some,
but for the whole world!
And that takes time.

Help us wait with patience!
And help us do the work of witness
while we wait.
For Christ is coming!
Christ is coming!
Christ is coming still!