Newborn God, fill us with the light, hope and the peace that will allow us to transform the world.
On Christmas Eve, we'll go with my in-laws to their church, a place they've returned to after being members of a few other churches, a place that is my wife's childhood church.
This Fall, our family has been a part of a local church plant that has no denominational affiliation. I've been reminded that I am culturally more of a liturgical person than I realized.
But the time away has been helpful for my perspective. For me, churches have moved a bit off the high shelf I put them on - my experience is that any church is fallen, wrecked, or in decayed condition - any church is also in the act of creating, engendering the body of Christ, but never consuming the body of Christ.
Here is hope that I've found - the Jesus story is about God pitching tent with us, Incaranate in where we are now, transforming dirt and beauty. The Jesus story is that death is not the end, that reurrection comes from death (not from denial or decay). As my wise friend Gareth reminds us:
Christ emerges in our midst - not as one of us, in our exact likeness, but as a stranger and yet also as one familiar and known.
I'll sit in the pew of a church in ruins & in creation on Sunday night, among a vibrant & messed-up community of folks struggling to love Jesus and love another. A stranger and yet also as one familiar and known - that captures it. I'll joyfully say this prayer:
you have called us in the Body of your Son Jesus Christ
to continue his work of reconciliation
and reveal you to the world:
forgive us the sins which tear us apart;
give us the courage to overcome our fears
and to seek that unity which is your gift and your will;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord.
I have two reflections to share:
In thanksgiving for this & for the journey of the Holy Couple throughout our lives, here is a video meditation:
Follow the Holy Couple as they travel through the blogosphere:
Mon 4 Dec Chris Munroe aka Desert Pastor.
Tue 5 Dec Jem Clines
Wed 6 Dec Alistair
Thu 7 Dec Lydia
Fri 8 Dec Jennie Swanson
Sat 9 Dec Psalmist
Sun 10 Dec Dr Platypus
Mon 11 Dec Sally Coleman
Tue 12 Dec Jim Palmer
Wed 13 Dec Anne Gogh
Thu 14 Dec Weekend Fisher
Fri 15 Dec Dave
Sat 16 Dec John Cooper
Sun 17 Dec Sue Wallace at Abbess
Mon 18 Dec Lucas
Tue 19 Joanna at Keeping Feet
Wed 20 Adrian at Emerging Church info.
Thu 21 Ian Mobsy at Mootblog
The day will begin like any other
Another sunrise in the east
It will reach across and touch you like a lover
It will tease you from a dream
And opening your eyes you will surrender
To the light that fills the room
And the hope that you have carried since September
You will offer up to June
Maybe will be certain
You can take it as a vow
Winter’s just the curtain
Spring will take the bow
Today is Winter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere - the shortest day of the year for people north of te equator. When the early Jesus movement, having forgotten his actual date of birth, selected this time as the
date to recognize Jesus' birth, I think there was some cosmic irony involved.
This prayer from the Iona community captures my prayers on this day:
then it appears to me - a non-expert in the military, foreign policy or poker - that the Bush Regime is doubling down
I love the frequent feature on NPR called This I Believe, where Americans from all walks of life describe their core personal beliefs. Yesterday's was a joy for me, as Richard Rohr talked about being Utterly Humbled by Mystery
I believe in mystery and multiplicity. To religious believers this may sound almost pagan. But I don't think so. My very belief and experience of a loving and endlessly creative God has led me to trust in both.
We love closure, resolution and clarity, while thinking that we are people of 'faith'! How strange that the very word 'faith' has come to mean its exact opposite.
O Root of Jesse,
master of the universe and ruler of the house of Israel,
your mighty acts have rescued remnants of your people
from the midst of slavery, exile, war, and holocaust:
Raise your scepter over us, that your saving rule
may be extended to all people in all places,
for the sake of him whom we know as Lord of all,
even Jesus, the Christ. Amen
Today is the day in many Christian traditions that people remember the lineage of Jesus through a Jesse Tree. Jesse was the father of the
great King David of the Old Testament. He is often looked upon as the
first person in the genealogy of Jesus.
My dad had a life-long fascination with genealogy, the study and tracing of family pedigrees. When my sister, my brother and I packed up his apartment, we discovered a whole host of documents that deepened our understanding of the tree we come from. It was fascinating to get lost in the root structure of your kin, cris-crossing folks who walked the paths I now find myself on.
For me, this has proved to be extremely valuable. Truth be told, I've spent a lot of energy in my 20s & 30s running from where I came from, hoping to foster enough of an identity to offset what I felt like was an ill-suiting geographic, genetic & psychological set of hand-me downs.
I've got grandfathers on both sides who were brilliant - one a creative company man, the other a lawyer & musicians. Both struggled with an addiction to alcohol - one lost his life to it, the other defined his life by a force of will to not lose his life to it.
I've got grandmothers who were extraordinarily powerful - one who was a single mother living in a military setting, the other a prototypical "power behind the throne". One grandmother struggled with "spells", the other was a physical fitness nut. From these strong women I get a love of all things Southern and my Castilian heritage.
Further back in my tree, I've got the first president of Dr. Pepper, a Baptist missionary, oil barrons and a scad of kin in North Carolina.
On this day where we re-member ourselves in the lineage of Jesus, I am thankful for trees - both physical & family - and the Light that illuminates them:
I have always felt the living presence of trees
the forest that calls to me as deeply
as I breathe,
as though the woods were marrow of my bone
I myself were tree, a breathing, reaching
arc of the larger canopy
beside a brook bubbling to foam
like the one
deep in these woods,
that whispers home
The Presence of Trees by Michael S. Glaser
I am not embarrassed to admit that It's a Wonderful Life (1946) is one of my fav movies. That said, whoever G.F. Snell III actualy is, she or he nails it: After Drinking Too Many Martinis at Lunch, Old Man Potter, Unwisely Acting as His Own Attorney, Delivers His Closing Remarks to a Bedford Falls Jury