My Christmas Wish

There’s a lot that we can say about the Christmas season, and this year is shaping up to be no exception. We’re no strangers to the blessings and trials of the holidays, and by now, we’ve all certainly heard the popular yearly reminder as to who is really the reason for our season.

Needing a Respite

I covet those silent wintery moments that come unbidden, bringing about that beautiful, quiet hopefulness that is prevalent yet often unspoken. In that still, quiet, dark winter night, where your breath hangs in the air and you can almost hear the snow touching the ground; that is the place where I feel the powerful reassurance of the Holy Spirit move right through me, where peacefulness wins, and hope rides in victoriously on a white horse.

A Reminder of the unexpected

Once again I’ve been reminded to take another look at some things that we maybe have forgotten in our busyness. There is a reminder here that we can catch in the Christmas season: our God is the God of Deliberate Action, and His deliberate action rarely takes the form we expect. How often do we stop to recognize the subtle acts of our Savior? Like this song suggests, the coming of Christ was a deliberate action that took a very specific form.

He is a God of process, presence and relationship that was delivered in a very small, small package, with ten fingers and ten toes.

Cutting through Chaos

We’ll hear much over the next several days about everything that can possibly be related to Christmas, from Santa, to sales, from Season’s Greetings to “Jesus is the Reason” and we are tempted to find the whole thing overwhelming. But, like the song says, God came quiet, soft, and slow, and in the midst of everything that we are told to believe is a part of Christmas, God offers us an invitation to share His quiet, His soft, and His slow in our own lives. He is after all, the Prince of Peace, and his Peace–the one that surpasses all understanding–can also surpass supermarket lines, traffic jams, parties, plans, and busyness. It overcomes the unwelcome circumstances that impose their presence on an already frantic season.

His peace is portable, and inexhaustible.

May we all find that Holy Peace we can carry with us through our Christmas season, and beyond.

  • What has been your experience of the Christmas season so far this year?
  • What do you love the most about celebrating the birth of Christ?
  • What does it mean that Jesus is the Prince of Peace?
  • What little or big thing can you do to invite Jesus’ Peace into your season?

There is a reminder here that we can catch in the Christmas season: our God is the God of Deliberate Action, and His deliberate action rarely takes the form we expect.

original image by Gareth Harper

Agnes and the Big Void

It occurred to me a few years ago that as our faith deepens, so can our capacity for melancholy–it seems the two can be quite attached. I remember reading that Mother Theresa had struggled more with her faith in the last few years of her life than ever before.  The idea occurred to me that the longer we press into God, the more we discover Him, the more we discover how much we don’t know and can’t understand about him.  And, truth be told, we simply don’t like that.  The more we invest in God, the more we learn about him, the closer we want to be to having a handle on who and what He is.  We really do want him to be small enough to understand, to comprehend, and perhaps even, to control. It’s unsettling when we discover that that doesn’t happen.  We just get more and more capable of understanding how infinitely big God is, and more and more aware of how incapable we are of understanding him.   Our concept of Big gets even bigger. And sometimes that realization is depressing.  Perhaps we need to accept that a hallmark of a maturing faith, is that the sunshine and lollypops of the Santa-God who grants three wishes dissappears.  Replaced by a mysterious and wild God whom we can neither predict nor control.
And all the while, God can hold onto us, even when he seems so alien to us, we don’t even know  how or  where to hold on to him.

Enter the Slave Garden

photo by Tulay Palaz
photo by Tulay Palaz

Living Hope Community Church meets at Ironwood Elementary School, and to enter, you must pass through a small gated courtyard before you reach the doors to the worship space.
Every Sunday we are able to come to our church space, pass through the gates, enter through the door, and participate in the worship service. There are no requirements, no check points, no guards at the door who require you to prove your worthiness to enter. You are not restricted by your age, your gender, your education, your finances or your past. You aren’t stopped because of who your parents are or were. You don’t have to present papers, or pay to enter. You are welcomed in freely.
But what if that weren’t the case? What if you showed up and there were chains on the gate? What if, suddenly, you were made to enter though a side door, and wait for the chance that you might (or might not) be allowed to enter? What if someone or something owned you, and you weren’t free to worship how or where or when you wanted, because the one who owned you had forbidden it?

Continue reading “Enter the Slave Garden”

The battle lines have been drawn

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photo by Matt Cockbain

Do you feel that you are a woman of strength? Are you powerful? Strong? Equipped? Do you feel prepared to face the battles that may come your way? Are you angry? Hurt? Burdened? At war?

Do you know what “Victory in Christ” is?  I wonder if any of us truly do, because it seems clear that very few of us are living victoriously. The saving work of Jesus and his Gospel is an ongoing event in your life.  It predates the moment when you accepted Christ and submitted to him—because he was working toward this goal before you knew it—and continues every day after.  Salvation in Christ is MORE than simply acknowledging him as God and your Savior.  The work that Jesus does in the life of every believer is a continual process that includes saving, healing, equipping, instructing, and sanctification. Continue reading “The battle lines have been drawn”

Letting Go of Holding On

I’ve been all but paralyzed all day. There is plenty to do, and I’ve been so stuck that by this time I am not confident that I can pull off the few pressing things that really need to be done right away.

The thing is, that I’ve been putting more hope than I’ve realized into things that are beyond my control.

No, not quite faith exactly.  Just that I suddenly realize that I have been counting on assumptions that I’ve made, and that others have made around me and my family.  And those assumptions have been boiling to the surface lately to bite us.   Continue reading “Letting Go of Holding On”

Dublin and proper

The trip is off to a wonderful start. After our first full day in Ireland, we got to sit down to a proper Irish supper, complete with cabbage and Guinness for those who wanted it. The next morning it was off to the city Of Dublin to see the Book of Kells and St Patrick’s cathedral. Liam was rarin’ to go, and almost climbed the fence to get in. And, at the same time, one of our professors, sculptor Chris Slatoff, can be seen giving one of his nearly continuous talks. He has us wrapped around his finger. When we are in public, we tend to gain a few extra members to our group, as tourists find his thoughts as enthralling as we do.

Tonight we will begin Praying the Hours, which is an ancient monastic tradition. While I normally would not relish the idea of getting up several times in the night, I am looking forward to it–and I believe that my classmates are as well. Tomorrow we are on the road again. It is my hope that at some point during the trip I will have a chance to post more for you, in the meantime, I will make a point to continue offering you glimpses.

Have a blessed day!

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Glencree

Greetings from Ireland! For the first half of our trip we will be staying at the Glencree center for peace and reconciliation. Here are some photos. More are surely to come!

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Saint Patrick’s Breastplate

Today’s Monday Inspiration comes in honor of the country I arrived in this morning. This is an Irish blessing attributed to St. Patrick. (It may look long, but its a quick read)Be blessed today!

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the threeness,
Through confession in the oneness
Of the Creator of Creation.

I arise today
Through the strength of Christ’s birth with his baptism,
Through the strength of his crucifixion with his burial,
Through the strength of his resurrection with his ascension,
Through the strength of his descent for the judgment of Doom.

I arise today
Through the strength of the love of Cherubim,
In obedience of angels,
In the service of archangels,
In the hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In prayers of patriarch,
In prediction of prophets,
In preaching of apostles,
In faith of confessors,
In innocence of holy virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven:
Light of sun,
Radiance of moon,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightening,
Swiftness of wind,
Depth of sea,
Stability of earth,
Firmness of rock.

I arise today
Though God’s strength to pilot me:
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s way to lie before me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s host to save me
From snares of devils,
From temptations of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill,
Afar and anear,
Alone and in multitude.

I summon today all these powers between me and those evils,
Against every cruel and merciless power that may oppose my body and soul
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom,
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of witches and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man’s body and soul.

Christ to shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that there may come to me abundance of reward.
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lay down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me,

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through the belief in the threeness,
Through the confession of the oneness,
Of the Creator of Creation.