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Advent, Dawn, Arrival, Emergence

Advent, Dawn, Arrival, Emergence

 

It is the first week of Advent for churches around the world. We use advent language regularly – the arrival of a loved one, appearance of a new star, emergence of a leader, dawn of civilization , birth of a nation, rise of capitalism, development of a vision.
Some refer to the past and some are about current experience – and Advent in our faith tradition tries to operate on both tracks. We recall the advent, arrival, appearance of Jesus in the Christmas story, while at the same time renewing and reawakening our sense of Jesus’ advent, arrival, appearance in life today.
Marshall McLuhan once posited that the average person experiences 24,000 sensate bombardments each day (and this was in the 1960’s) but that our mental and emotional systems can only handle 12,000 – we are in sensate bombardment overload.
Advent offers us a path to consider, in moments of quiet reflection, the God who comes to us in the madness and the overload. Our sensate bombardment can blind us to the coming of Christ in life, in its darkness, heaviness, lightness and joy.
A Prayer for Today
Awaken, O Lord Jesus, our hearts and minds to your presence in the world of your love’s creating. Forbid that we should stumble through this day oblivious to the wonder in the ordinary. With your grace startle us into faith’s perception of your continuing creation in our lives. Amen. Let it be. (Richard John Neuhaus in God With Usedited G Pennoyer, Paraclete Press)
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (‭Matthew‬ ‭11‬:‭28-30‬ MSG)‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬
 
© December 1, 2014 Touchstone Ministries Inc.

The Power of Silence

It was Saturday morning at a Muskoka cottage. Six of us were on the last morning of a retreat that began Thursday afternoon. I invited the group to sit in silence for as long as was comfortable and when it seemed right, someone could break the silence by reading an assigned Psalm.
We sensed one another’s breathing, quiet presence. As the silence continued for maybe ten minutes it was comfortable, safe, generous, expansive – creating space for God and one another. One of the group commented later – “I wanted to stay in the silence, I didn’t want to leave it.”
It took until the second morning for our capacity for silence to develop. In all the noise of our lives it was a remarkable gift – and God was very present in it. It seems hard for us to take ten or fifteen minutes to sit, silent and hospitable to God. The silence can be a refreshment to our souls to empower us to face the challenges of life with courage and wisdom.
A Prayer for TodayO God you revealed so much about yourself in Jesus’ life. He was as busy as any of us; he had the weight of the world on his shoulders, but he did not shy away from engaging people and their needs. Help me emulate this but also help me take his permission to take some moments of quiet, undistracted silence to connect with you, your love and your wisdom… for Jesus’ sake

As soon as the meal was finished, he insisted that the disciples get in the boat and go on ahead to the other side while he dismissed the people. With the crowd dispersed, he climbed the mountain so he could be by himself and pray. He stayed there alone, late into the night. (‭Matthew‬ ‭14‬:‭22-23‬ MSG
 
© November 24, 2014 Touchstone Ministries Inc.

Getting Untied

If you were a comedy writer, you’d be hard pressed to match some scenes from Jesus’ life for their biting irony. One Sabbath at synagogue Jesus encountered a woman hunched over with arthritis and said, “Dear woman let me free you”.
An angry synagogue leader harrumphed “There are six perfectly good days to get help, come on those days, not on Sabbath”. To which Jesus replied “Do you know how ridiculous you sound? Even you will untie your livestock and lead them out for water on the Sabbath, so why should your rules prevent me from untying this dear woman from her affliction?”
Here was a classic confrontation between principle and compassion, rules and human need – it’s obvious where Jesus’ priorities lay. Do we have the quality of “untying” in our practice of faith, knowing the loving God who would rather help a person than follow a rule.
A Prayer for TodayO God you know my deepest desire is to love you and to love those who cross my path. Help me be a person who is untied enough to help others be free from what has them hunched over. Our lives are so pressure packed it is hard to find relief. Untie me Lord to untie others … for Jesus’ sake
 
Jesus said, “The first in importance is… love the Lord God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence and energy.’ And here is the second: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ There is no other commandment that ranks with these.” (‭Mark‬ ‭12‬:‭29-31‬ MSG)
© November 17, 2014 Touchstone Ministries Inc

 

More than a Moment of Silence and a Poppy

Son Luke sent me a link to the 1941 Crash Log for Royal Air Force Davidstow Moor airfield. The entry dated 11/06/1941 at 1300hrs gave me a new and stark view of my Uncle Norman’s death;
the remains of a Bristol Blenheim IV V5933 PZ-U of 53 Squadron based at St Eval have been found scattered within ½ mile of Brown Willy Tor, 4½ miles from Five Lanes Police House. The machine apparently blew up on impact, there were 3 bodies one of which was unrecognisable. The other two were blown to pieces. The aircraft was returning from an operation to St Nazaire, France in cloud when it flew into the tor. P/O N D MacLennan J3735 RCAF, Sgt D C Taylor 754263, Sgt W M Roberts 948880 all killed.
Pilot Officer N D MacLennan was 22 that day. In the entries in this crash log for the previous 150 days of 1941 I counted at least 100 young men like him killed from that one airfield.
Tomorrow we will pause for brief moments of silence to remember something from our past that connects us to the price paid in the cause of war and peace. It is brutal and hard, liberating and joyful.
In every aspect of life I have been the beneficiary of the sacrifice and generosity of those who have gone before as well as those who walk with me. Remembering all for which we might give grateful thanks may be a good way to spend a moment with a poppy tomorrow.
A Prayer for TodayLoving God, we grieve for the broken bodies and minds that are the fruit of war. We give thanks for the freedom and peace that has been the fruit of sacrifice. Protect us from hatred, keep us vigilant for the freedom of all. Preserve us from irrational fear and caricatures of those who hate us… for Jesus’ sake
 
Jesus said, “The first in importance is… love the Lord God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence and energy.’ And here is the second: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ There is no other commandment that ranks with these.” (‭Mark‬ ‭12‬:‭29-31‬ MSG)
© November 10, 2014 Touchstone Ministries