Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Promise -- Pleasure...Pain

Have you given much thought to the intiative God is taking to unleash peace in your heart...or in your household...or in your workplace ... or in your congregation?  Advent is a time of promise, but not necessarily a time without pain.  As we prepare the way for the approach of the King of Love and Light, we are invited into a naked, trusting vulnerability. 

Take a look at the Old Testament lesson from Isaiah.  Because of the eruption of God's love and righteousness, adversarial relationships are brought into intimacy.  The "one" who has the capacity to move you to fight, fear and flight sits at your side.  And you lean totally upon God's protection as the encounter unfolds...God's Wisdom and Knowledge of what is right eclipses any instinct or anticipation about what the "other" might do or how he/she might be, or how you might be in that experience. 

Clearly I am talking about a whole lot more than being together in "good cheer"!    We are looking at a dissolution of preconceived ideas about the harm or offense that "might" happen.... We are looking at a surprising, unforeseen emergence of peace, justice and comforting hope.

The wolf shall live with the lamb,

the leopard shall lie down with the kid,

the calf and the lion and the fatling together,

and a little child shall lead them.

The cow and the bear shall graze,

their young shall lie down together;

and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.

The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp,

and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den.
Ponder these images.....   

What would it be like if we looked at some of events facing us this month of Advent through the lens of God's protective and righteous love?  Who are the leopards and wolves you face? In the pasture of your self esteem, who or what is competing for a particular "blade" of status or recognition?   As you face the unknown, which may seem like a fearsome threat in the dark hole of the future, can you trustingly let your life, and your goals "hover" in that space? 

Like I said.... Advent is a time of promise, but not necessarily a time without pain. Hang in there, friends.... Christ is coming!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Tending The Tender Shoots

Sometimes the new life God promises simply unfolds, and with little or no action on our part God's magnificent peace heals our brokenness.  At other times, we must participate by courageously stepping towards the hope in our heart and do what we can to provide safe space for its birth.  When we willingly approach a situation or a relationship that is "barren", we are consenting to God's action.  One reader wrote of Advent Hope that has been born in her family, where a chasm is being bridged! 
My Response to: “Learn from the fig tree”

I truly appreciate the words that in “Advent… we acknowledge the presence of all that torments and terrifies us—and … stand in that turmoil with open, trusting hearts that will receive the seeds of hope and new life. …Even in the midst of suffering and darkness, Love and Light are approaching.”

As my children’s holiday visit came closer I began to think and feel that only some form of mediation would help us soften the hardened regions of our relationship, i.e., both accusing the other of misdeeds and consequent non-communication. It took three tries but I was able to find a qualified Christian person to meet with us during the busy time of the visit. I felt that even if I were wrong, I needed to open up the situation to God's hand.

To my surprise my children’s confrontation caught me up short. My words, when taken out of the situation in which they were spoken, seemed so unlike my own image of myself but definitely capable of being hurtful to them. My repeated suggestions and offerings to their decisions were in disregard of their adult and familial boundaries. The manner in which I requested more communication and support from them were manipulative.

On the other hand they admitted that they had become over reactive to my words and that not supporting me with regular communication had wronged me. They thanked me for arranging the mediation.

With new understandings and apologies I can now see God’s love pulsing. With the help of our mediator hope for a new loving relationship entered. Beneath our sorrows for the past, previously unforeseen possibilities do exist. New friendships, like the green tips of the fig tree branches, can develop and new joy will be found in its leaves.
         I am grateful for God’s love and look forward to our new life in Christ!

What action on your part may be necessary for new life to emerge?  How might you tend the tender shoots that are sprouting?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Learn from the fig tree

What a way to begin the day....  take a look at today's reading from Matthew.  Lightening bolts, corpses, vultures, false prophets, stars falling from the sky....  

They may fill our hearts and minds with torrential fear and dread...and we may cower under our bed covers and say, please, just let this end.  Advent readings acknowledge the presence of all that torments and terrifies-- and they invite us to stand in that turmoil with open, trusting hearts that will receive the seeds of hope and new life.  In the midst of the shouts of the alarmists, something else is happening.  Even in the midst of suffering and darkness, Love and Light are approaching.  We don't need to run hither and yon to pursue God...  Rather, we stand in readiness to attend to God's marvellous approach to us!

Learn from the fig tree...  it is woody...and winding...and not at all appealing, perhaps. 

But there are also tender places where the shoots of new green will sprout.  There is a beautiful and bountiful promise that is germinating, just as tender new shoots are embedded in the woody stems of dormant trees. 

Take a closer look at the regions of life and relationship that seem hardened or barren, even dead.  Where is God's love pulsing?  Where is hope preparing for its entrance?  It could be that just below the surface of sorrow you will discover the leaves of new joy...previously unforeseen possiblities. 

We acknowledge suffering, pain and death.  But we don't hover around a corpse of life and feed upon its decay.  In these days of Advent we look beyond all of that to the infinite display of God's Love and Life in Christ. 

Monday, November 29, 2010

Tips for waiters

Today's reading from Genesis tells the story of patient, hope-filled waiting.  

Do you remember the days before you were able to drive a car?  I do.  And I remember waiting endless hours (it seemed like hours) for either public transportation or a car pool or my parents to arrive and provide my ride.  I recall that I didn't like being dependent upon others, but there was no choice in the matter.   Needless to say, the rides always showed up (eventually) and now, in retrospect I know that the "waiting skills" I learned have served me well. 

I recall that if I stood at the bus stop, and peered down the road for the first glimpse of the bus, the time seemed to drag on.  Repeatedly looking at my watch didn't help pass the time either.  The real kiss of death, though, was when I began to doubt whether or not my "ride" would remember me.  The thought of being forgotten led to wonder of "what now?"  "what will I do?" ...  and then anger would set in... It wasn't pretty! 

On the other hand, if I settled into the waiting space I found that the time could be used to read, or work a puzzle, or sing some songs (usually silently!) or even practice a few steps from my tap dance lessons.  I learned to trust the reliability of my drivers....and that trust made all the difference. 

As we settle in to this Advent time, we know we are waiting for God's promise which has been spoken through the ages...through prophets...and finally through Christ.  We are rooted in a certainty that cuts through the fleeting and empty promises of the world.  We are given glimpses of all that God intends, a foretaste of the feast. 

Advent waiting provides a mysterious fullness of the heart as we practice simplification.  We pay attention to the yearning of the soul, and as we do so that yearning is directed toward God's ultimate promise. 

Let's wait ... together.