Advent 25 – Light

100_0251The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it.

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.  But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.

Merry Christmas!

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Advent 23 – Neighbors

IMG_2107Sometimes you get lucky and your neighbors become friends. And when they move to another town or another state, it feels like they’re still just up the street.  Because their hearts and yours are bound.

Sometimes your neighbors are handy with tools and can help you fix stuff that goes wrong.

Sometimes your neighbors offer up wood for your smoker, cookies for your table, ice cream for your picnic,

Sometimes your neighbors stay inside, making it hard to get to know them.

Sometimes your neighbors are hard to love.

Sometimes being a neighbor is an act of faith.

Advent 22 – Sign

No man is an island…

20131226-095028.jpgTruth is, we almost never build or create or accomplish anything wholly on our own.  We all stand on the shoulders of the people who have made the world what it is today (for better or worse).   We use technology, knowledge and experience gleaned and developed by others.

I wonder sometimes, if we were to do better about acknowledging how we rely on others, we might do a better job of working for the good of the whole.

The sign of the coming Messiah was a star that lit up the whole sky.  It shone on the rich and poor alike, on young and old, on cities and villages and shepherds’ fields…  just as the Christ came for all humanity.

 

Advent 21 – Prophet

20131226-095233.jpgWhat do you expect from a prophet?

Wild eyes in the wilderness, alone, calling out until people slowly begin to hear the words and share them with friends?

A handsome face, quick with words, winsome and persuasive?

A wise woman, filled the courage that comes from fighting to be heard all her life?

A child, unaware of just how hard life will be, speaking from a heart that sees unfiltered truth?

A vision.

Advent 20 – Good News

Some of t20131220-151039.jpghe people I love are not the sort who love Jesus.  They have been hurt by churchy people.  They have been angry with God for so long they don’t know how to stop.  They have seen more compassion and love offered by the least and lost than by the ones called and commissioned to love.

Celebrating Christmas as the coming of Christ, hearing the Nativity story retold, being told once again what they must believe in order to go to heaven (or avoid hell)… none of these are particularly good news.

For them, like me, the gifts and cards that arrive in the mail are tangible reminders that they are loved.  They are not alone in the world.  That someone cares enough to seek out a gift that is sure to make them smile. In a world that seems determined to debate, dehumanize and rage, the simple act of sharing a laugh, a card or a gift can make a day more bearable, a life more livable.

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And sometimes, Bacon Candy Canes are really good news.

Advent 19 – Patience

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Patience means waiting. Waiting for a date, a person, a change in the weather.

Patience means taking your time and offering your time.

Patience means believing that things won’t always be the way they are in this moment.

Sometimes it means counting down. Sometimes counting to ten. Sometimes sleeping on it.

Love is patient. Thanks be to God.

Advent 18 – Mercy

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Mercy- as in Lord, have mercy!

I was doing my annual stocking stuffer run at the local drug store, which would be more aptly named a general store given the breadth of their offerings beyond the pharmacy, when I ran across this Chewbacca item. It’s not a bobblehead, which is what I first thought…  it’s a goblet.  A ceramic goblet, to be precise.

Lord, have mercy on our consumer-infected souls, that market research would indicate sufficient potential for profit to approve this item.

Lord, have mercy on me when I come to the day of reckoning, and you remind me of the crazy things I spent money on, when I could have been taking care of a neighbor.

Lord, have mercy.

Advent 17 – Free

I only had a couple of chances to ride horses when I was young, and I never fell in love with them like many girls do.  Heck, the only other girl in my neighborhood growing up had several horse “dolls” or maybe “action figures”.  Whatever you’d call them, they were the focus of our imaginative play when at her house.  The people that fed or rode them were secondary to the narrative.    I didn’t get it.

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But I was drawn to that iconic image of a person (didn’t matter whether a man or woman, old or young) jumping on the back of a horse and riding away at breakneck speed.   Hats flew off, clothing flapped in the wind, hair whipped around, and the horse was pointed to the horizon.  No plan, just getting out of there. If I’m honest, that’s why I liked the book Runaway Ralph.  You know, the one about the mouse that had a motorcycle?

It was about the freedom to jump on the horse or motorcycle and make that dramatic getaway.  Slamming the car door didn’t have the same appeal.  Nor did the inevitably too slow pedaling of the bicycle.

Just like learning to ride a bike or drive a car, there was a period for me when getting on my motorcycle felt like work.  There’s a lot to remember until shifting, braking and keeping eyes on everyone else becomes part of your muscle memory.  But one day it clicked.  And even though my hair is (mostly) tucked up inside the safety of a helmet, it feels like freedom to climb on the Shadow and take off.  Yes, there are rules and traffic lights, but there is still much freedom within those bounds.

The feel of the wind, the smells of orange groves and restaurants and rivers, the sounds of the engine and the birds, and the panoramic views….  they set free this heart that yearns to experience in new ways what the world has to offer.

Advent 16 – Strong

20131217-095322.jpg Strength is measured in a lot of ways… physical, mental, emotional.

There is a silent strength that amazes me, however.  The sort of strength that digs deeply into faith and hope – no matter how desperate (or easy) the surrounding circumstances.  The sort of strength that allows others to be strong around them.  The sort of strength that inspires others to stand courageously, without ever intentionally calling attention to oneself.

This kind of strength requires deep stamina in every realm and is revealed most often in those hearts where faith, hope and love abide, where the Spirit of God is at work.

 

(photo taken on the grounds of the Mount Rushmore National Monument Visitor’s Center this summer)