A FRIDAY MEDITATION – Suddenly…

To You, Yahweh, I lift up my soul, O my God.

Yahweh, show your ways to me. Teach me your paths and
keep me in the ways of your truth for you are the God that saves me.

All day long I hope in your goodness.
Remember your love, the love that you promised long ago,
and the kindness that you gave from of old.

~ Tim Manion, 1976 (From Psalm 25)

“And, suddenly….”

Advent begins this coming Sunday.  How is that possible?  It would be nice if everything would just slow down.  Advent is a good time to do that, but why would we want to? There’s so much to do?  Well, for one, we would be able enjoy Christmas when it comes, but a major reason for me is that when I am rushing around like crazy, I might miss the “suddenlys” that happen when I am not really paying attention, and I don’t want to do that.

God shows up in the suddenlys and life changes – he suddenly does a new thing. We live life doing what we are doing, and suddenly….!

Suddenly, an angel appears to Zachariah and says, “You will have a son….”

Suddenly, and angel appears to Mary and says, “I have news for you, you lucky girl.  God has chosen you….”

Suddenly, the baby John jumps in his mother’s womb when he recognizes the Messiah in Mary’s.

Suddenly, angels appear in the heavens singing, “Glory to God in the Highest….”

Suddenly, a star appears over a manger.

Suddenly, there is a cross, where Jesus hanging says, “Father, forgive….”

Suddenly, on a Sunday, a stone blows away from the door of a tomb and….

Suddenly, a mighty wind fills a room and scared apprentices are changed….

Suddenly, life is changed never to be the same.  God is like that.

The burning bush in the Old Testament was one of those “suddenlys”, too.  You know that story but let me share a more modern one.  I was one of the spiritual directors on a weekend when a table leader came to get me.  She wanted me to hear a story.  One of the women had been wrestling with a calling she felt was from God, but she wasn’t sure.  Someone at the table asked her if she was waiting for a burning bush.  When those at the table looked out of the window, suddenly….a bush was on fire.  This bush wasn’t burning up, either.  The reflection on the window in the room, of the fire in the fireplace, made it appear that the bush outside was burning.  The really odd thing was that where ever I stood in the room, the lit bush was still visible.  Unusual!  Out of the ordinary!  Strange!  The woman answered God’s call.  Her life changed and has never been the same.

Sometimes, a “suddenly” comes to me when I am reading the Bible.  Sometimes, it comes when I read a spiritual book.  The voice of God jumps from the page.  Sometimes, while in the shower, He speaks.  Sometimes, I realize that the words a person is speaking to me have suddenly become the voice of God.  Often, creation speaks – like a burning bush.  Of course God is with us all the time, but when I am very busy, I could miss seeing him.  I might assume that what I hear or see is just an ordinary happening.  I have to choose how I will respond, because these “sudden” appearances of God have all changed my life in one way or another.  I want to notice and Advent is a good time for that. It’s good to slow down in the middle of everything as we prepare for Christmas to pay attention to those happenings around us. Who knows what we will see. I hope to do this. How about you?

Come, Jesus, we’re waiting and watching for you.

 

A FRIDAY MEDITATION – God Still Wins

Come, people of the Risen King, who delight to bring Him praise;
Come all and tune your hearts to sing to the Morning Star of grace.
From the shifting shadows of the earth we will lift our eyes to Him,
where steady arms of mercy reach to gather children in.
~ Keith & Kristyn Getty, Stuart Townend

This coming Sunday, November 22, is the Last Sunday after Pentecost. It is also known as Christ the King Sunday, and on this day we celebrate Jesus as King over all. The way the world is today, sometimes though, it hardly seems that he is King, and we wonder about that.

Exactly one week ago today, terrorists in Paris reminded us that evil is still rampantly alive in this world.  We have heard in the news of attacks in other places, too. The world seems truly dark with shootings home and abroad.  Every day or several times a day, we hear of these things. It really looks like Evil is stepping up its game. Terrorists promise fear which can immobilize us if we give into it. Where is God in all of this?  Where is our King?  I intend to ask that someday, but right now the only answer we really have is in the Bible (Matthew 24) when Jesus said this would happen, that there will be wars and rumors of wars, earthquakes, nation rising against nation, murder, persecutions, etc., but that is not the end. Yet.  These things are not new. They are repeats.

I’m not going to continue being gloomy about this, because there is nothing that the enemy would like more. So what do we do?  Well, one is that we need to continue to be grateful people.  Thanksgiving is coming this week to help remind us with this.  We are to thank God in all things and circumstances. We have been promised that the King will come again, and that, in a real way, he has already come.  The Kingdom is coming, is here, and not yet here in its fullness.

Come, those whose joy is morning sun, and those weeping through the night;
Come, those who tell of battles won, and those struggling in the fight.
For His perfect love will never change, and His mercies never cease,
But follow us through all our days with the certain hope of peace.

I love the song that I am quoting in this meditation. Actually, it is my meditation for today. It lifts my spirit into the spirit of God so that I remember that we are called to live the Kingdom life, now.  We are to bless and not curse.  We are to pray for friends and for our enemies.  We are to forgive.  When I feel overwhelmed, when I don’t have words to pray, I hold the situation – evil and all – into the light of God.  When I feel my own hate surface, I circle it in my mind and breathe this light into it.  I believe this actually does something.  At least I know it does for me. I don’t think I’m alone in this and it does give me peace. You may have your own way of praying for situations like these.

Come, young and old from every land – men and women of the faith;
Come, those with full or empty hands – find the riches of His grace.
Over all the world, His people sing – shore to shore we hear them call,
The Truth that cries through every age: “Our God is all in all”!

 Advent begins in one more week.  It reminds us that we are a part of the Body of Christ in the world today and that we have Hope; we have a job to do, and Jesus is King! God wins! Amen? Amen.

Rejoice, Rejoice! Let every tongue rejoice! 
One heart, one voice; O Church of Christ, rejoice!

Happy Thanksgiving. Stay Blessed.

A FRIDAY MEDITATION – Does it Really Matter?

“Now thank we all our God, with heart, and hands and voices, who wondrous things hath done, in whom his world rejoices; who from our mother’s arms hath blessed us on our way with countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.” ~ Hymnbook 1982

There are so many thoughts wandering around my mind today that I can’t seem to choose one or make them fit together in order to write.  I feel like Ann Lamott, author of the book, “Help, Thanks, Wow”, when she says, “My mind is a neighborhood I try not to go into alone.” That’s a good idea.  I’m sure I could really get lost in there, today, but I think I will choose to write about gratitude since it is November.                                                             

A fragment of today’s lessons caught my attention, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven’” ~ Matthew 16: 18-19. The last part really grabbed me. Even though, I’m pretty sure this was not what Jesus meant when he spoke, I read several meditations this week stating that all things are connected in the world of spirit. All of our thoughts and words of gratitude, peace, and love, along with our prayers, can help change the world into the promised Kingdom of God on earth.  Our thoughts, words, etc. of anger, judgement and hate will be loosed into the world, also. Even our thoughts have power.  What we do, say and even think, matters. God help us. Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

So, what does this have to do with gratitude? I said that I’m having trouble fitting my thoughts together.  It’s a good thing I need to write. I read an interesting article from the field of neuroscience about what gratitude does for the person who is grateful—who looks for and finds those things each day for which they are, and who thinks on these things. It said that having gratitude makes changes in the brain chemistry that brings feelings of peace and well-being to him or her.  Also, I believe that being grateful reminds us that there is a God and it’s not us.  Moral – if you are down in the dumps, look for and find that for which you are grateful and thank God for it. See what it does for your spirit.

Today, I am grateful for God’s Grace. Love. Freedom. Family. Friends. Blue sky.  Sun.  Jesus.  Forgiveness.  Shelter.  Kingdom signs:  A policeman bought shoes for a homeless, shoeless, man. A neighborhood in Denver got together to rent a house for a panhandler and his family who were living in a motel.  They are now working on getting together enough money to pay the rent for a whole year. Those who work to feed the hungry of our town and all who help those with limited options.  Thank you, Jesus. Just writing about it helps.

For what are you grateful, today.  What did you see today that was beautiful? Remember it. Savor it.  Thank God for it.

”Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.  It turns what we have into enough, and more.  It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity.  It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.  Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” ~ Melody Beattie

A FRIDAY MEDITATION – It’s Random.

O my soul, created to enjoy such exquisite gifts, what are you doing? Where is your life going? ~ John of the Cross

I have no inspiration today, no words of wisdom to share.  As I review other writings I have done at this time of year, I notice that this is common.  Somehow I run out of words in early November, but I do have some random thoughts.

I have been meditating on the quote above by St. John of the Cross.  I don’t exactly feel at a crossroads, but maybe I’m reviewing.   Am I doing what God wants me to be doing at this time in my life or am I doing what I am for my own reasons?  I don’t know, but I hope it is the former. I asked God, “Would you ever have imagined that I would be doing the things I am doing today? You know, spiritual direction, writing, praying with others for healing, and teaching?  I didn’t.” Immediately, I had an inner sense of God with an impish grin, sparkling eyes and a good deal of inner laughter, who said, “I know, isn’t it great.” This didn’t really answer my question of where my life is going, however.

I decided, this week, to look for the Kingdom of God. Here is what I noticed:

A 9News story about a homeless man and his 10 year old daughter living in his broken down car.  He had lost his job because he couldn’t get to work.  His daughter’s school suspected this and intervened.  The Denver community helped him find a subsidized apartment, a job, furnishings for the home, clothes, food and cash until he could start getting money, again.  The Kingdom of God at work, yes?

A Facebook story about a high school student, now a football player, who earlier was so miserable he planned to kill himself.  Before he actually did, he cried out to God and asked God to show himself if he was real.  God did, and the boy’s life was changed.  When he played and made a touchdown, he would kneel down and point to God above.  He did this to remember and acknowledge all God had done for him.  The player was told that he could not continue doing this or he would not be allowed to play. Though it hurt him, he complied.  The next time he made a touchdown, he turned to walk off the field.  As he did, crowds in the stands stood and pointed up toward God.  Kingdom work?  I believe so.

Many Facebook friends are posting positive and inspiring things that counteract the negative, even evil, posts that abound.  I have done this since I joined the site several years ago.  We try to help in spreading the Kingdom of God, so it can be seen, in this way.

The miracle story of my brother who had serious injuries earlier this year.  The doctors didn’t think he would live, but if he did, he would lose both legs.  Something inside him, God, gave him the will to live and he began to get better.  He did lose one leg and is still in assisted care, but he wrote this week, that in two weeks, he will get his new manufactured leg and continue his process of healing. The Kingdom of God.  Yes. Thank you, Jesus. I am so grateful.

Hasn’t this been the most beautiful fall?  It’s been vibrantly alive with God’s glory. Thank you.

I don’t know the answers to the questions that St. John asks above, but I will continue to listen for them as I seek to spread God’s Kingdom.

In what ways have you noticed God this past week?

“I believe that home is Christ’s kingdom,
which exists both within us and among us
as we wend our prodigal ways
through the world in search of it.” ~ Frederick Buechner