Advent: We Nurture hope in Waiting

images (1)

Advent is a season of expectation! In hope, through faith, love divine, Emmanuel whispers;

In hope we wait…..peace is coming!

We remember, the Christmas drama: an unplanned pregnancy, an imperial summons to Bethlehem, nowhere but a stable to give birth….

Yet… in the midst of these challenges…. a promise comes into view and is greeted with: singing angels, praise-filled shepherds, and gift giving wise men.

In hope we wait…Peace is coming!

The Prophets longed for messiah’s arrives. Not quit as expected…

Still…. the refrain has entered human history………

In hope we wait…peace is coming!

It comes in sermons…. it comes in healing’s….. it comes in emancipation great and small…………

In hope we wait…Peace is coming!

It was demonstrated with Christ’s life……. it suffered…died….was buried with him ….then resurrected………..

In hope we wait…Peace is coming!

It is imparted to all who believe……..

In hope we wait…Peace is coming!

All who are Children of God….who are created in the divine image….who understand that whatever you do to the least you do so to God.

 

In hope we are coming in….Peace 

But when it comes to you……it must also flow from you…..for in it… is life!

For the lonely, the anxious, the fearful, the troubled, the broken…..

In hope let peace come

 

This advent season, I exhort you to look beyond wars, personal and public, beyond anxieties…. beyond the uncertainties that surround us……..And raise your voice……. this advent season…in hope….through faith…..let divine love…..announce again with singing angels…. praise filled shepherds…… and gift giving wise men!

Peace is coming!

 

 

Flying Stand By

downloadI attended the National Leadership Institute Conference in Atlanta a week and a half ago sponsored by Center for Progressive Renewal.1 A friend let me use their buddy pass which means flying stand-by. There is a saying “the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” Which means, no matter how well you plan circumstances may change. I was bumped twice before I got on a flight and I was frustrated. However, before the day was over my attitude had been transformed. What if some circumstances are meant to change? What if some intentional course corrections are influenced by God?
I was bumped two more times before a seat opened up. I got to sit next to two lovely, young college students, cousins who were going to Florida for vacation. They asked me where I was heading and I told them. As we conversed one of them shared that she was a sophomore at Regis College. I responded, “Wow what a coincidence, I am Regis College Alumna!” They were both raised in a Seventh Day Adventist church in Malden. When they told me the address, I was taken aback. I had been a member of the church that sold the building to their parents, both ministers in the early 90’s. When I shared about Phoenix Rising UCC, they opened their tablets and explored the website, soon asking many questions. We parted with hugs and good wishes. Clearly, this was not a coincidence.
The conference was filled with wonderful fellowship and insightful information. It felt like being hit with a fire hose filled with grace. A highlight for me was the opportunity to share the Phoenix Rising UCC story with author Brian McLaren who was the key note speaker. His writings have had a profound effect on my ministry so meeting him was as much a stand-by moment as my fight.
On the way home I sat next to a pastor of an interdenominational church of thousand from Alexandria VA. What are the odds that I would sit next to yet another who shares my love for Jesus. When he opened his laptop There was a line highlighted: Jehoshaphat said: “Give thanks to the LORD, for his love endures forever.” I leaned over and said I love the story of Jehoshaphat. He smiled, “Are you Christian?” “Yes I am” I replied. Our conversation was very interesting; me a liberal progressive God is Still Speaking Christian and he a spirit focused Pentecostal Christian. It was a delightful harmonious conversation. I got to share Brian McLaren’s influence and Phoenix Rising UCC. He gave me his card and asked if we could chat again sometime.
Brian McLaren wrote: “…Faith was never intended to be a destination, a status, a holding tank or warehouse. Instead, it was to be a road, a path a way out of old destructive patterns into new and creative ones. As a road or way, it is always being extended into the future…To be a living tradition, a living way it must forever open itself forward and forever remain unfinished- even as it forever cherishes and learns from the growing treasury of its past.”2
My experience has opened my eyes to the profound reality that we are flying standby every day. I think it is reasonable to conclude that flying stand-by is truly living by faith. If you could grasp this concept what would change for you? I am convinced that crossing paths with the folks during my trip was not a coincidence. I can’t help wondering how many opportunities we miss when we get upset and angry when plans and expectations go awry. How could living by faith modified discouragement and frustration? Would we be less likely to see ourselves victimized by circumstances? What would be the likelihood of being more purposeful? Imagine how your life could change if you began walking by faith as though you were flying stand-by! If we are awake and aware and let ourselves seize the day intentionally what amazing experiences will we encounter or even become a part of?

 

[1] Center for Progressive Renewal: http://progressiverenewal.org/

[2] McLaren, Brian D., We Make the Road by Walking: A Year Long Quest for Spiritual Formation, Reorientation and Aticvation, Jerico Books, pg xii,© 2014

Following the Path of Jesus is a new way of living

 Image

The books in the New Testament were a radically new way of following God than from the Old Testament. In the Old Testament people lived by the law with black and white consequences.  In the New Testament people live by the great commandment: to love God with all your heart… your neighbor as yourself.   When we do this we offer grace, forgiveness and inclusion.  The Old Testament says: If your child disobeys you take them out and publically stone them to death;  or it is an abomination to eat shell fish; or mix two kinds of cloth this was the law. Today we look at these laws in the light of the Good News of Christ.  Thank God! I wouldn’t have survived my adolecent years and I do just love Shrimp!!!  Jesus not only paid the ultimate sacrifice in his death, He paved the way, towards the truth and the life so that we can come into the reality of our belonging and discover what being in relationship with God is truly all about.   The author to second Corinthians 3:6 said it this way, “ The letter of the law kills but the spirit gives life and meaning.” 

Question:  When God looks at us we are not seen as we are but as we shall be. How do you do you understand yourself in the eyes of God?