Saturday, November 28, 2009

a new year begins...

A new church year, that is. I'm so excited! Advent is here!

I know, it's odd that I have had such anticipation for THE liturgical season of anticipation. But I love Advent. I love how well the early church glommed on to the winter solstice traditions already in place. (Yes, friends, December 25 isn't actually Jesus' birthday.) How they used the darkest time of the year (in the Northern Hemisphere) and made it into a metaphor for light and how the darkness did not overcome it.

I can embrace the themes of hope, joy, love, and peace. I get that.

Advent has never been embraced by the general public, mercifully, like Christmas has. We don't want to wait. Our preparations are for our homes, our shopping lists, our greeting cards... but when was the last time you prepared your heart for Christmas?

Annually, the old argument comes to life from those who adamantly state that we should say of course say"Merry Christmas" instead of "Happy Holidays." This is His Season, isn't it? I would suggest that with all the shopping and buying and Santa and reindeer, simply saying, "Merry Christmas" does not automatically bring Jesus into the picture. I have probably agreed with WalMart management only once, and that's when they said they would focus on Christmas as a winter holiday. Shopping has zero to do with Christmas.

Maybe that's why I enjoy Advent. One cannot go out and buy it. It must be experienced. And that's a daunting thing. That means we really do have to open our hearts to realize that Jesus was born to teenagers who were unwed and homeless. This means that we really do need to think about God's unconditional love there for every one, people we love, people we agree with, people who get under our skin, people we cannot stand...even each of us. Some of us don't want to even open ourselves to let God love us. Advent and Christmas push us to do just that.

I know. Holiday cocktail parties and putting a little extra into the Salvation Army Kettle feels much better than opening my heart to God. What if God doesn't like me?

This week, it's about hope. What is your heart hoping for? My guess is that your heart is hoping for something you can't buy.

"Love floods us with hope." ~ Jareb Teague

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Look up and see what you are missing...

I was recently challenged to note something daily on my Facebook update that I am thankful for and to encourage others to think about the abundance in their lives when it is so easy to think about what is not enough.

My spiritual director sent me a link to Terry Hershey's website and I love it. Terry encourages us all to experience the sacred present, something I have to work diligently to do. This week's post includes a prayer taken from the Jewish tradition.

Days pass and the years vanish, and we walk sightless among miracles. Lord, fill our eyes with seeing and our minds with knowing. Let there be moments when your Presence, like lightning, illuminates the darkness in which we walk. Help us to see, wherever we gaze, that the bush burns, unconsumed. And we, clay touched by God, will reach out for holiness and exclaim in wonder, "How filled with awe is this place and we did not know it."

How true this is for me! How easy it is in our over-scheduled lives to feel successful when we simply get through the day. And how sad. I see so many who are crippling themselves with despair who seem to be walking through life just watching one foot go in front of the other. Doing just what they need to get by. And the next thing they know, years have gone by and all they've done is walked sightless among miracles.

The miracle of watching children grow. The miracles of deep friendships. The miracle of simply enjoying a sunrise or having one's health. November is our "official" time of giving thanks, but this is something to do everyday. Reframe your view. You may be very surprised to see the miracles happening before your eyes every day.


Yes, I know. It's the last few weeks of Pentecost, not Eastertide. But it's been forever since I did ANYTHING here. I guess I thought that my View from the Pew was pretty separate from my view from the porch. Nope. If anything, my views are sort of like a stereo-opticon. Maybe your grandparents had one of those things that had two identical photos on a postcard that you put into a viewer that looked a little like open binoculars. It's called a stereo-opticon. (Aren't you impressed I know that? I am.)

The views from the porch and the pew are looking rather similar these days because since I started the blogs, my work life has changed. I'm now in the pew, as a member of church staff. That's right, I'm on God's payroll (thanks Liturgy Geek for the reference!)

So here's to breathing new life into something that needed to be resurrected. Back on the path!