Sunday, November 29, 2015

hunting

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. (Matthew 13:44)


Finally.  The season of Advent has officially begun.  It feels like it has taken forever as we have trudged through the longest season of the church year, the season of ordinary time, and have finally arrived at the season of Watching and Waiting once againIt is the beginning of yet another liturgical year.  Advent is finally here. 

And it is key for us to remember, as we begin this new season, that there is an active part to this watching and waiting; which sounds as though it is anything but active.  And the active part has to do with the fact that often the treasure we are looking for, and hoping for and longing for, is hidden.  So our activity during Advent has nothing to do with filling our lives and our schedules to the brim with all sorts of activities and obligations, but has everything to do with making space and time to be aware and attentive.  It has everything to do with looking for the treasure hidden in all things.  It has everything to do with looking and seeking and searching and digging to the depths of our very souls, that we might find the treasure hidden both within and around us.  It has everything to do with having the right eyes to seek and to see that treasure in whatever circumstance or conversation or task or duty (like Zechariah) or event or festivity we find ourselves in the middle of--particularly those that seem the least likely to contain that treasure.  For if there is one thing this season shows us, it is that the Treasure is likely to be found in the least likely places.  Happy hunting.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

do you truly love me?

Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.  I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.”  Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!” (John 21:18-19)


Feed my sheep.  Stretch out your hands.  Follow me.  That is what our lives are to be about: minister, surrender, and follow.  That's it.  It's not very complicated.  But obviously we do complicate it.  Maybe that's because our regular default mode is not to minister, surrender, and follow, but to feed ourselves, desperately try to control our world, and set our own agenda.  We are not much for that whole led to where you do not want to go thing.  But I guess that's where we have to be reminded that this life is not about us, but about him.  It was a lesson the disciples had to learn over and over.  And it is the simple truth that Jesus was trying to teach Simon Peter at this very moment, "You only truly love me when this is what your life looks like.  Otherwise, you are just loving yourself in a clever disguise. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

seeing

The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! (Matthew 6:22-23)


How we see things is so incredibly important.  It determines so much about our lives and our attitudes and our outlook.  If our eyes are clear, if we are looking through the lenses of Scripture, seeing ourselves and our world through the eyes of Jesus, our whole body will be full of light.  But if our eyes are bad, if our vision is clouded and distorted by fear, or insecurity, or depression, or apathy, or greed, or the thousand-and-one other things that can keep us from seeing accurately, then our whole body will be filled with darkness.  And O how great the darkness!  So the call each day is to look at everything--no matter what the circumstance--through the proper lenses, for only then will we have the perspective to see things and people and events as they truly are.  And only then will we be able to defeat the darkness that tries to overwhelm and overcome us, and live in the light and the love--and truth--of Christ.


O Lord, give me good eyes today, that my soul may be filled with light rather than darkness, love rather than need.  Do not let my vision get clouded and distorted by the darkness that is around me or within me, but help my eyes to stay pure and clear, seeing as you see, that I might love as you love.  Amen.


"Your eyes are windows into your body.  If you open your eyes wide in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light.  If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dank cellar.  If you pull the blinds on your windows, what a dark life you will have!" (Matthew 6:22-23, The Message)

Saturday, November 21, 2015

harmony and disharmony

when i come to that quiet place,
back into the harmony
from which and for which i was made,
i am able to breathe again
with the divine breath.
i am able to become one again with all that is,
to join the true voice of my soul
with that of the heavenly chorus.
i join the breeze in the trees
and the rippling waters
and the rolling hills
in being what we were all made to be.
o the beauty. o the freedom. o the delight.
and it is not until i rejoin this eternal harmony
that i am able to recognize how disharmonious
my life has been in the past days and weeks.
i have not even resembled the me
i was made to be,
but have been some distorted
and desperate version of my true self.
but now, as i return to this silent space,
return to this tranquility and this peace,
i can become myself once again.
i can find my divinely given voice
and sing.

Monday, November 16, 2015

doing and being

For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.”  But you were unwilling...(Isaiah 30:15)


Years ago a good friend of mine—seeing the busyness and chaos of my life—asked me if I was a human doing or a human being.  “Because I have a suspicion,” he said, “that you were created to be a human being.”  And of course he was right.  Why is it so easy to lose our way in this world, and begin to think that our value and our worth are determined by what we do, rather than by who we are—or rather whose we are?  It is such an easy trap to fall into, which is probably why God felt it necessary to remind us—in these verses in Isaiah—that our salvation and our worth is not dependent on what we do, or on how well we do it.  It is not dependent on how well we perform, what we achieve, or who thinks we’re wonderful.  It is dependent solely on God’s great love and mercy.  Once we remember that truth, and really believe it, then, and only then, do we have a real possibility of moving from human doing to human being.



Thursday, November 12, 2015

free

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1)


When it comes to the subject of freedom, it seems like we spend a lot of time thinking about what we have been--or desire to be--set free from, but I wonder if it might be more fruitful for us also to consider what we have been set free for.  Here in Galatians, Paul reminds us that we have not only been set free from something, but we have been set free for something.  And what we have been set free for is freedom.  What an interesting thought.  And what does that even mean?  Maybe what he's saying is that we have been set free from our slavery to fear and anxiety and insecurity--from being self-consumed, in other words--in order that we might be set free for love.  Because until we are free, we will never be able to genuinely love anyone; we will be too busy trying to manipulate and extort love out of them instead.  Therefore, in order to truly care for and minster to people, without demanding that they meet our needs in some sadly warped way, we must first experience freedom in Christ.  Freedom for something much larger than us.  Freedom for his kingdom and his purposes.  Freedom to be who and what he created us to be.  Maybe that's why Paul goes on to say: "For you were called to freedom, brothers.  Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another." (Galatians 5:13, ESV)  Food for thought I suppose.


Plant your feet firmly therefore within the freedom that Christ has won for us, and do not let yourselves be caught again in the shackles of slavery. (Galatians 5:1, JBP)