Advent: We Nurture hope in Waiting

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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

Good Friday

ImageThe word enmity means: the state of feeling or being actively opposed or hostile to someone or something. The writer and surgeon Bernie Siegel tells the story of Wild Bill, an inmate of a concentration camp, who after six years of serving the enemy as an interpreter, was still full of energy and physical health and a gentle positive spirit. To the other prisoners, he was a beacon of hope, an agent of reconciliation, one who was constantly urging them to forgive each other and the enemy. This man’s positive spirit was all the more amazing because of the horror which he himself had experienced at the beginning of the war – watching his own family: his wife, his two daughters, his three little boys, shot before his very eyes by Nazi soldiers in Warsaw.  When asked to explain his lack of bitterness, Wild Bill responded, “I had to decide right then whether to let myself hate the soldiers who had done this. It was an easy decision, really. I was a lawyer. In my practice I had seen too often what hate could do to people’s minds and bodies. Hate had just killed the six people who matter most to me in the world. I decided then that I would spend the rest of my life – whether it was a few days or many years – loving every person I came in contact with.”1 Wild Bill refused to sacrifice Love in exchange for enmity.

Enmity was the driving force that led Jesus through betrayal, abandonment, mockery beating, scourging, crowned with thorns, a torture walk and nailed to the cross.  Jesus never knew enmity even after all he suffered we are told ] he spoke these words to all who accused him, tortured him, and abandoned him saying, “Father forgive them they know not what they do.” He sacrificed his life but could not deny himself sacrificing Love. This is why we call the day of Christ’s death good.  For God so loved the world that he gave his only son that who so ever believes shall have eternal life. John 3:16