A Pastor's Ponderings and Such

Trusting God For Peace

Luke 3:1 – 6 In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was ruler of Galilee, and his brother Philip ruler of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias ruler of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, 4 as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah,  “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’”

Scripture: Isaiah 40: 1-3 Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that she has served her term, that her penalty is paid, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins. A voice cries out: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.”

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 Isaiah and John the Baptist both prophesy that a way is to be prepared for God. The preparation is the removal of obstacles. That can be seen as being a kind of peace. I think that we see peace that way most of the time – as the removal of obstacles which makes life easier.

But peace is more complicated than that. And also it is more simple. Peace is so simple that for us it is complicated.

As we know, Advent means to wait. When we wait, especially if it is to be for a long time, it is helpful to have something to think about … to meditate on. Last week we meditated on Hope. This week we are meditating on Peace. We have a whole week to ponder the complicated simplicity of Peace.

In a nutshell, peace is not the absence of conflict. It is the absence of violence. Conflict is not the problem. How we deal with conflict is the problem.

We live in a violent world. Lately I think it is fair to say that we live in a violent country. I wish I could say with confidence that everyone who hears about violent actions are heartbroken and deeply grieved. But I know this is not the case. Some people believe that violence is the only way to show whatever group of people they hate that they need to sit down, shut up, go away, and be very afraid.

Violence comes in many forms – physical, verbal, emotional, and spiritual. It can be manipulative or head on aggression. People perpetrate violence (and by that I mean that they start it) because they are afraid and they don’t have the skills to express their fear or to figure out why they have it.

As Christians we are called to follow Jesus, our Prince of Peace. What does that mean in our day to day lives? How do we wait while meditating on peace? Jesus himself was a little difficult to understand when it came to peace. At one point he told people that he wasn’t here to bring peace. At another time he said “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.“

Jesus also says that we are to take up our cross and follow him. That is not exactly a recipe for no conflict. What it speaks to is our intentional way of living – facing conflict with a heart that is stayed on the peace of God.

We may not have the ability to give the world a worldly kind of peace. But as Christians we do have something unique to offer. We have access to Spirit peace. This is a way of life – it is a choice and a difficult one at that.

When we live in Spirit Peace we know that it is going to look odd to those who don’t. It might even increase the aggravation of those who don’t have it. Jesus experienced this all the time. The more he lived in the peace of his soul the more people wanted to throw him off a cliff or to crucify him. So the trick is to not get discouraged when your soul’s peace is aggravating others and they try to get you riled up.

I believe that the best response to violence is beauty and love. What if we perpetrated acts of beauty in the face of anger, intolerance, hatred, and all those other toxic ways of being? What if we refused to participate in violence even during conflict? What if we blessed instead of sending a curse?

This is not the world’s peace. It is God’s peace. This is how we prepare the way for the Lord. This is how we prepare our hearts for the incarnation of God in the baby Jesus. We live in peace and offer peace to a world which may not know it evens wants it. We bring beauty in us and with us. Even in the hard times we do our best to perpetrate beauty.

Will we fail sometimes. Oh yes. Will we find ourselves in the momentum of anger, rage, and possibly violence? Possibly. Can we then stop and shower our own souls with beauty? I believe we must. In the words of Isaiah, “Comfort, Comfort oh my people.” Speak tenderly to yourselves and each other. Prepare yourselves with beauty. Not as the world sees beauty, but in the beauty of unconditional love. Prepare yourselves with this beauty because God is coming near.

Heartbroken about violence

At least 14 people dead and another 14 injured in a shooting today in San Bernardino, California. Please take a moment and say a prayer for the families of those involved in this. Send a blessing for wholeness on the wing of an angel. Call forth the power of God to end this senseless evil of violence that is happening. This Sunday we celebrate trusting in the God of Peace. Please pray with me that God’s peaceful kingdom come and God’s peaceful will be done here on earth as it is in Heaven. Let us keen and wail together so that we are not alone.prayer-candles

I LOVE Kid President!! Below is one of his great pep talk videos.

Once a month at First and Grace we have what we call Dinner and Discussion. After we have a meal we watch a video and talk about how it intersects with our lives as people who are of faith and that live in the world. I am thinking this video might be a good topic. What do you think?

http://youtu.be/u1zNHoYmhUI

Beauty

Today in Northern Indiana it is beautiful. I have the blessing of sometimes being able to leave the office to work. I took advantage of that today. I took a little walk and sat down outside with my laptop. What a joy!! 

Finding beauty is a hobby of mine. It helps to offset so much that isn’t beautiful. My heart is grateful for the warmth, clearness, and colours of the day.

  

The Importance of Feeling Safe

Amy Grant and Corrina Gill

Amy Grant was and is very inspirational to me. To gear up for my day I decided to listen to some of her music. There is a lot of good stuff – old and not so old. One of my favourites “Better Than A Hallelujah”. I thought about posting that song but instead decided upon this one. What captured my heart is the way that Amy looks at her daughter Corrina. The love between them is breathtaking, hopeful, and sacred. I hope you enjoy it too.

Drinking Deeply

Yesterday I spoke about Genesis 1 and 2. Both accounts of creation are inspiring and filled with images of God’s love for us. From the creation of light and time to the surgery that God performed on the earth-person – making 2 out of 1 – the story of our Divine Beloved creating both through word and action can fill us with hope and wonder.

When I took the pictures of the gull at the beach I didn’t realize I had gotten one where it’s beak was fully immersed in the water, drinking deeply. That’s what I long for all of our lives to be like … our beaks fully immersed in the River of Life … and we are drinking deeply.

drinking gull

“Spirit Break Out”

Dance – it is my worship method of choice. I don’t get to do it much any more for a number of reasons.

Lighting – I have done a little lighting design for dance and much more lighting set-up. But it was years and years ago. Still, it captures my heart and spirit.

Music – And essential aspect of my isness.

Here is a phenomenal video which brings these three together. I fall in love with God over and over when I see the testimony of God’s creation. I hope you enjoy this beautiful testimony.

Midweek Struggles

Many years ago I attended church on Sunday morning and Wednesday evening. Sunday service lasted at least two hours. There was a half hour of prayer time which a few of us attended. The official start to the service began with an hour of singing. Then there was the preaching which lasted about an hour. The service on Wednesday was more informal and had more of a prayer service feel. It was a great way to reinvigorate my spirit midweek.

A few days out from Sunday might be all it takes for some to feel a midweek struggle as we take our faith into the world. If that’s the case … maybe this song will help. I know that it inspires and encourages me.

My meditation today.

What do you and I hold on to that we should give away? Material things? Stuff? Emotional pain? Memories that haunt us? When we give it away who should we give it to? That pain and trauma we hold on to should be given to the ultimate transformer. I call this transformer Love and follow the path of Jesus to be in connection. The good things we have too much of should be given to those who don’t have enough.

Here is the song that prompted this meditation.

Red Hot Chili Peppers – Give It Away

What I’ve got you’ve got to give it to your mama
What I’ve got you’ve got to give it to your pappa
What I’ve got you’ve got to give it to your daughter
You do a little dance and then you drink a little water

What I’ve got you’ve got to get it put it in you
What I’ve got you’ve got to get it put it in you
What I’ve got you’ve got to get it put it in you
Reeling with the feeling don’t stop continue

Realize I don’t want to be a miser
Confide with sly you’ll be the wiser
Young blood is the lovin’ upriser
How come everybody want to keep it like the kaiser

[Chorus]

Give it away give it away give it away now
Give it away give it away give it away now
Give it away give it away give it away now

I can’t tell if I’m a kingpin or a pauper
Greedy little people in a sea of distress
Keep your more to receive your less
Unimpressed by material excess
Love is free love me say hell yes

I’m a low brow but I rock a little know how
No time for the piggies or the hoosegow
Get smart get down with the pow wow
Never been a better time than right now

Bob Marley poet and a prophet
Bob Marley taught me how to off it
Bob Marley walkin’ like he talk it
Goodness me can’t you see I’m gonna cough it

[Chorus]

Lucky me swimmin’ in my ability
Dancin’ down on life with agility
Come and drink it up from my fertility
Blessed with a bucket of lucky mobility

My mom I love her ’cause she love me
Long gone are the times when she scrub me
Feelin’ good my brother gonna hug me
Drink my juice young love chug-a-lug me

There’s a river born to be a giver
Keep you warm won’t let you shiver
His heart is never gonna wither
Come on everybody time to deliver

[Chorus]

What I’ve got you’ve got to give it to your mama
What I’ve got you’ve got to give it to your pappa
What I’ve got you’ve got to give it to your daughter
You do a little dance and then you drink a little water