Thursday, April 20, 2017

God's Rain


God's Spirit falls upon the earth
  like rain in Spring
Saturating all creation
  Covering all
Upon the dry and lifeless soul,
  bound by cold space
Penetrating numb resistance
  Softening stone
Running across vast location
  No direction
Ending and returning without
  Within unknown
Washing away filth and decay
  Leaving exposed
Left behind as the day of birth,
  fresh and open
Peering out at what lies ahead
  Forgotten self
Breathing in as new life springs forth
  God like the rain
quenches a thirsty creation
  longing for more.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Advent Reflections: December 14

Joy 

“An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

 Luke 2:9-12

Reflection

Fear of the unknown is a very common emotion these days. As our world continues to change, unknown factors of life increase as well. Our lives are filled with many uncertainties, all of which contain a litany of various unfamiliar aspects and results. When faced with the unfamiliar, many of us find ourselves reacting with every emotion from uneasiness to shear panic. Basically, most us just don’t like to face the unknown.

But with every unknown situation, there is the opportunity for joy to transcend our fears. Unfortunately, fear is one of the greatest factors that hold many of us back from accomplishing extraordinary things. Think about this for a moment. Is it not usually true that when we take a critical step of faith, trusting God even while consumed with fear, that the overwhelming joy we experience overshadows previous fears? Is it not usually worth the risk?  

As the Angel of the Lord appeared to the Shepherds, and the manifestation of the glory of God surrounded them, they were afraid. Who wouldn't be? In the presence of the unknown, fear overshadowed the joy that God was about to proclaim. By the angel’s words, “Do not be afraid”, the Good News of Jesus Christ was proclaimed, and the unknown became known. Fear became joy. Truth transcended uncertainty.          
                      
Prayer

God, we face many uncertainties in this world and confess that the unknown causes great fear. But in your declaration of truth, through your son, all fears are transcended to joy. Allow the essential truth that was declared to the shepherds to be the same joy that finds us today. 

Amen 

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Advent Reflections: December 13


Joy

“This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered 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 home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
Matthew 1:18-21


Reflection

There are times in life when occasions that usually should bring joy do anything but. Two people are married for the wrong reasons. A promotion is accepted, but requires too much time away from home. A new home is purchased, but the debt is overwhelming. A child is born when the pregnancy was unplanned and unexpected. 


Most of us do our best to make good choices in life, but we all make mistakes, don't we? When those mistakes become realities, we hope and pray with all of our heart that God will transform our circumstances and forgive us in our failures. And sometimes we see that our circumstances, although not anticipated or planned for, turn out to be unexpected blessings from a loving God.

Joseph certainly did not anticipate Mary becoming pregnant before they were married. The Bible tells us that he was a righteous man, most likely making good decisions for most of his young life. But yet here he was, facing the possible ending of his relationship with Mary and the ramifications that would affect both of them for the rest of their lives. 

But being a man of God and knowing and knowing that something unusual was going on, Joseph made the best decision that his human mind could comprehend: he would divorce Mary with as much dignity possible. After all, from his perspective, she had been unfaithful.

It was only then that God stepped in to reveal to Joseph that this blessed occasion would not be a burden after all, but an event that would change the world. Joseph made the wrong decision based on his limited knowledge. God revealed that this was not his choice to make, and regardless of the unexpected circumstances, joy would rise from the birth of this unexpected child.

Prayer

God, in the midst of our mistakes, bad decisions, our failures and unexpected situations in life, help us to see the joy in all that you do through us. Help us to see that while our circumstances may be unexpected, joy can always come through our trust in you.

Amen

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Advent Reflections - December 10


Peace 

“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”
 
1 John 4:10




Reflection
 
There is no greater emotion than love. Love can envelop an eclectic collection of emotions that often contradict each other and leave us either elated or completely confused. Love can conjure up a range of feelings from happiness, laughter and contentment, to thoughts of anger, hatred and jealousy. Love can lift us up, and love can bring us crashing to the ground. Love unites cultures and love can also divide communities. Love can conquer all obstacles of life and love can leave us utterly defeated. Love can find us included among close friends and family or leave us feeling abandoned and lonely. Love can be all, or it can be nothing.

Love also generates peace, a peace and joyful contentment that transforms the very essence of who we are. It can catapult us from the often mundane pace of life to an exciting journey that leaves us confident of accomplishing anything that we face. Love can consume us with peace, and most often that peace comes from being loved, rather than loving. Being loved by others is a confirming indication that we matter. That we are worthy of love. That the make-up of who we are, has caused another human being to be moved to this radical and all encompassing emotion: Love.

As we read these words today’s passage, we discover a very simple and yet complex and perplexing truth: God loves us. He loves me. He loves you. And all that God has done through Christ, has nothing to do with how much, or how little we love God, but how much he loves us. His love for each one of us is an overwhelming and transforming mystery; the same mystery that revolves around the incarnation. A love so massive and without limit, and yet it was contained and confined in the limited vessel of a small child. A love that compelled the God of all that is, all that has been and all that will be, to descend into the darkness of this chaotic world and live among us. This is love: Emmanuel, God with us!

Prayer
God, your love for us is without limit, without understanding and without end. In our feeble attempts to love you, God, let us receive your love through the blessings of this Advent Season. Let us rest, feel your peace and be loved by you.


Amen

Friday, December 9, 2016

Advent Reflections - December 9


Peace

“All this took place to fulfill
what the Lord had said
through the prophet: “The
virgin will conceive and give
birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.”

Matthew 1:22-24


Reflection

Peace is somewhat of a priceless commodity these days.  Let’s face it. We live in chaotic and uncertain times with most of the circumstances that surround us inducing anything but peace. From continuing threats of terrorism and war to blatant injustice, singing “peace on earth” can seem to be empty words. Especially during the Christmas Season, peace is something that can easily elude us. Images of joyful family Christmas dinners, warm fireplaces and happy children around a Christmas tree can seem to resemble more of a Norman Rockwell painting rather than reality.

One of the greatest misconceptions in today’s culture is the misinterpretation peace. Most often, we confuse “peace” with the haphazard emotion of “happiness”. Happiness is an emotion that stems from the circumstances around us; peace is an emotion that rises above them. Peace transcends the circumstances of life and determines how we react. In fact, one could say that peace is more of a state of mind rather than a feeling or sentiment. Peace comes when we relinquish control of that which cannot be controlled. 

In the words of Matthew 1:22-24, we read of a situation that may have seemed overwhelming, confusing and filled with fear and uncertainty. Joseph could have awoken from his dream in sheer panic, argued with God and run from the circumstances that were thrust upon him. He could have legally divorced Mary and would have been completely justified by culture and faith. After all, from all earthly perspectives, she had cheated on him and was pregnant with another man’s child. Who would blame him for bailing out? 

This reveals much about how Joseph reacted to his circumstances. From our point of view, Joseph didn’t argue, question or choose to panic over the news God gave him. He didn’t run, get angry or blame anyone for what was going on. Instead he chose not to react to his circumstances, but submitted to that which could not be controlled. He accepted how his life was about to radically change, and as far as we can tell, he had peace.

 Let it be our prayer today that we react in the same manner to the sometimes uncontrollable circumstances of life.
        

Prayer

God, we confess that sometimes we react to our circumstances with fear, anger or panic. It is in these times that we lose hold of the peace that you want for each and every one of us. May we take hold of your peace and let it overwhelm us, rather than the troubles of life.

Amen