Saturday, December 24, 2016
whom I serve with
when I was an associate pastor,
preached and emphasized "kindness"
at the heart of the Christian life.
I remember squirming
in my chair, thinking:
"The Christian life is so much more...
the call to justice,
the life of compassion...
What about Micah 6:8?
What about morality and holy living?
You can't possibly boil Jesus'
sermon on the mount to simply
I am beginning to realize...
would be a good place to start.
So this Christmas I pray for
the kindness of a stable to welcome a baby,
the kindness of Joseph to care for Mary,
the kindness of a mother's embrace,
the kindness of an angel to sing to shepherds,
the kindness of the wise to seek counsel,
give gifts, and to leave quietly protecting the child,
the kindness of God to become flesh and blood
to demonstrate the depth of God's love.
the Christmas story
so quickly turns to violence
with King Herod.
Our world's story and news
is so full of violence;
give us the gift of
And teach us
to give it to others.
Thursday, December 22, 2016
The band was hot that night, he recalls, and Davis was in the middle of a solo in the song “So What.” Out of nowhere, Hancock played the wrong chord—it wasn’t just slightly off, it was horrifyingly wrong.
But to Hancock’s amazement, “Miles didn’t hear it as a mistake. He heard it as… something that happened. Just an event. …[It] was part of the reality of what was happening at that moment. And he dealt with it.” Davis reproduced Hancock’s chord and somehow incorporated it into the solo itself: “Since he didn’t hear it as a mistake, he felt it was his responsibility to find something that fit,” Hancock says.
“That taught me a very big lesson about not only music but about life.”God,
That is what your redeeming work is...
You hear the wrong chords of our lives --
the hatred, the harsh words, the violence,
the abuse, the addiction, the neglect,
the dissonance, the discord, the horrifyingly wrong...
and like Miles Davis,
you play just right notes in Jesus Christ--
love, forgiveness, grace,
peace, healing, recovery,
accountability, compassion, resurrection...
and you redeem our worst
making beautiful music again --
community, unity, peace,
well-being, wholeness, generosity,
rest, Easter-people, hope...
the great musician,
the band leader,
take up your horn and do it again
in my life and the life of the world.
Redeem this mess and make it sing!
Redeem this chaos and make it swing!
"Joy to the World" as played by Presby Bop
Thank you to MaryAnn McKibben Dana for sharing the video that inspired my writing. See her blog post here: http://theblueroomblog.org/something-that-happened-a-spiritual-micro-practice/
Tuesday, December 20, 2016
"The Risk of Birth"
by Madeleine L'Engle (1973)
This is no time for a child to be born,
With the earth betrayed by war & hate
And a comet slashing the sky to warn
That time runs out & the sun burns late.
That was no time for a child to be born,
In a land in the crushing grip of Rome;
Honour & truth were trampled by scorn-
Yet here did the Saviour make his home.
When is the time for love to be born?
The inn is full on the planet earth,
And by a comet the sky is torn-
Yet Love still takes the risk of birth.
Saturday, December 17, 2016
Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet:Lord Jesus,
“Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel,”
which means, “God is with us.”
When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife, but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus.
I am so grateful
for your earthly father, Joseph.
He didn't have to,
but he chose to.
He could see the hard road ahead,
but he stood by your mother.
Perhaps he helped you understand
what it means to be a son of a loving father.
Maybe the voice from the heavens
with the dove at your baptism
wasn't the first time you'd heard the words:
"This is my beloved son;
with you I am well pleased."
Maybe you heard it in from Joseph first
when he introduced you to the others at synagogue,
when he took you to work with him,
when he tussled your hair,
when he held the nail for you to hammer it,
when he guided your hands on the saw.
We need more men like Joseph
willing to take risks,
willing to care,
willing to mentor boys (and girls),
willing to listen to God's call,
willing to dream, and
willing to live out God's dreams.
thank you for father's
Help us men
be good fathers and mentors
not because we have to,
but because we chose to.
Thursday, December 15, 2016
you come in unexpected ways...
We expected a warrior.
You came a peacemaker.
We expected power and strength!
You came a helpless baby.
We expected royalty.
You came a humble poor peasant.
We expected political power.
You came preaching "love your enemy."
We expected the Messiah to be properly born.
You came born in an animal feeding trough.
Wow! We really don't understand your ways.
So give us new eyes to see;
new ears to hear;
reset our expectations
and open us to the unusual ways you are working already in the world.
This prayer is inspired by the below linked video about how God does things in unexpected ways.
Monday, December 12, 2016
O LORD God of hosts,
how long will you be angry with your people’s prayers?
You have fed them with the bread of tears,
and given them tears to drink in full measure.
You make us the scorn of our neighbors;
our enemies laugh among themselves.
Restore us, O God of hosts;
let your face shine, that we may be saved.
written by Brother Curtis Almquist & shared from: http://adventword.org/hope-4/
Saturday, December 10, 2016
A Parent’s Prayer for Advent
I now stop what I’m doing,
what I’m thinking,
what I’m scrambling to plan,
and hustling to finish so that I can
This love that holds me fast and keeps me grounded.
What I want to be a season of joy for my children so quickly becomes a season of increased expectations for me –
not because they expect things, but because I do.
It’s the pressure I put on myself to
make things perfect,
reminding me how darkness and light are most beautiful together.
promising me that leaning into the mystery
and laying down in loving awe
composed the most beautiful response.
to look with love into their eyes.
To pause throughout the day to pray over them.
To envelop them with arms of fierce grace when I feel most frustrated or annoyed.
To sit in wonder for a moment (or many)
and marvel at all that shaped our family this year.
To give thanks
and allow tears to fall
and dreams to rise.
deep into the heart of Bethlehem shining bright within our souls.
Because you’ve made a manger in which my heart
will rest and find your heartbeat becoming mine.
Thursday, December 8, 2016
Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
then the lame shall leap like a deer,
and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy.
For waters shall break forth in the wilderness,
and streams in the desert;
the burning sand shall become a pool,
and the thirsty ground springs of water;
the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp,
the grass shall become reeds and rushes.
Savior of the Switch,
Revered of the Reversal,
Alpha of the About-face,
your kingdom of good news is about
turn-abouts, changes, and transformations --
the blind see,
the deaf hear,
the lame walk,
the speechless overflow with songs of joy,
the closed become open,
the desert becomes an overflowing fountain,
the dry lands become swamp,
the timid become bold,
the sinners become saints!
This Advent, Lord, take
my worry and make me content;
my fear and make me confident;
my sickness and make me whole;
my loneliness and make me a friend to others;
my grumpiness and make me pleasant;
my complacency and make me passionate;
my ordinary and make me extraordinary for you!
This Advent, Lord,
transform me and my world
for your sake.
Monday, December 5, 2016
The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad,
the desert shall rejoice and blossom;
like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly,
and rejoice with joy and singing.
The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it,
the majesty of Carmel and Sharon.
They shall see the glory of the Lord,
the majesty of our God.
Strengthen the weak hands,
and make firm the feeble knees.
Say to those who are of a fearful heart,
“Be strong, do not fear!
Here is your God.
He will come with vengeance,
with terrible recompense.
He will come and save you.”
the prophet's song
points to incredible JOY!
Even the desert,
the deserted place,
the barren place,
erupts abundant blossoms of beauty --
blooms of JOY.
of your coming!
you are coming into
the deserted places of my life,
the wildernesses of my world,
the barren places,
the lonely places,
the arid, rocky desert places
in my life and the life of the world.
And your presence there brings forth
Unabashed, unashamed JOY.
Abundant blossoms of JOY.
Throw my head back, belly laugh, mouth wide-open JOY!
Make firm my feeble knees.
Say to my fearful heart,
“Be strong, do not fear!
I AM YOUR GOD!"
Come, Lord Jesus!
Saturday, December 3, 2016
For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope. May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Joy and peace,
Abound in hope
needed in our world today.
These are all gifts
you give freely.
not only to hear these words,
but also to speak these words.
not only to receive these gifts,
but also to give these gifts to all others.
not only to enjoy these acts,
but also to live out these acts in the world.
not only for me
but also for the WORLD.
not only today,
but also every day.
Thursday, December 1, 2016
A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him,
the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of counsel and might,
the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.
He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
or decide by what his ears hear;
but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,
and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.
Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist,
and faithfulness the belt around his loins.
The wolf shall live with the lamb,
the leopard shall lie down with the kid,
the calf and the lion and the fatling together,
and a little child shall lead them.
The cow and the bear shall graze,
their young shall lie down together;
and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp,
and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den.
They will not hurt or destroy
on all my holy mountain;
for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
what a radical vision of peace!
Enemies - predators and prey -
find themselves at rest,
in harmony with one another.
It seems impossible.
It seems improbable.
And if world history is a good teacher,
then you ALONE
are able to bring this kind of peace --
you call us to peacemakers saying,
"Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they shall be called children of God." Matthew 5:9
And the psalmist writes,
"Depart from evil, and do good;
seek peace, and pursue it." Psalm 34:14
help me pursue peace,
true peace, Shalom
(not just an absence of open conflict or war).
This passage from Isaiah reminds me of a commercial from Travelers Insurance. It is linked below: