Wednesday, November 30, 2011

While We Wait (Praying through Advent)

Unburden my soul,
float it up as high
as today's blue sky;
not for the sake of
my own reprieve,
but so my praise
may ring out
unobstructed
and unfettered.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

While We Wait (Praying through Advent)

Ugh. I just can't get there today, God. So I will pray that you are waiting for me just as much as I'm waiting for you.

Monday, November 28, 2011

While We Wait (Praying through Advent)

I woke up in the house of God,
grays fading and pinks blazing
as the sun welcomed me into
a new day within God's sanctuary.
How can I be any less than satisfied
and grateful to be, and to be here?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Hope: Even When The Sun Fades

Hope means having faith in something you cannot see.

Hope means believing even when you don't have reason to believe.

Hope means waiting for a change.

Hope means holding on, even when the sun is darkened and the stars fall from heaven.

Many of us understand the kind of hope that we feel when a sliver of sunlight breaks through the clouds on a cold rainy day. We know how to have hope even when the sun doesn't peak through the rain clouds because we've learned that the sun is still up there; we know that we will feel its warmth eventually. We hope in it, even though we cannot see it.

Most of us understand the kind of hope that it takes to endure winter until spring comes. We hold onto the hope that the sycamore and maple and oak trees are just sleeping, that the daffodil and iris bulbs are simply hibernating in the frozen earth, and that they will each share their colors again next season. We remember how the days grew longer last year as winter melted into spring, and we trust that it will happen again this year. Even for those who love the snow and ice, who marvel to see frost patterns on a window pane, there is still the knowledge that the earth will again feel the sun's warmth and spring will come.

Many of us understand and have experienced that kind of hope.

But the hope of Advent is not so simple or predictable. The hope of Advent dares to claim something much more impossible.

You see, our hope that the sun will shine after the rain, our hope that spring will bloom after the cold winter, even our hopes for social and economic injustice, are based upon our trust that systems balance themselves out. We trust that the system of weather patterns and moisture and air pressure will produce sunlight after rain. We believe that the system of earth's rotation and its orbit around the sun will reliably bring our hemisphere closer to the sun again. We hope that an unseen social system of human attitudes will balance itself toward justice after it has tipped to the extreme.

We hope because we recognize the patterns within familiar systems.

But the hope of Advent does not rely on patterns or predictability or the balancing of systems.

The hope of Advent holds onto God, believes in God's goodness, not just through rain or winter or injustice, but even when the rain never ends, even if spring never comes, even when the balance of justice doesn't return. Advent hope holds onto God even when the systems and familiar patterns that we rely on, that we so often place our hope in, fail.

So even when the sun fades and the moon fails to rise, Advent says "Have hope." Even when Orion's Belt falls from the heavens and the Pleiades -- the Seven Sisters of the sky -- part ways from one another. Even when the familiar balances between day and night, winter and spring, cease to exist because the planetary beings themselves fall out of orbit and die away. Even when the systems that we trust to keep power in check -- laws and ethics and reason and human decency -- fade like the sun and injustice seems to have no counterbalance to offer a glimmer of light.

Even then, Advent says "Have hope."

Even then Jesus says, "The truth and goodness of God will not fail."

Advent hope believes that God can make a new day dawn, not just in the morning hours when we expect it, but even in the middle of the night: like a sunrise suddenly, unexpectedly, bursting onto the eastern horizon at 1:00am just as the raccoons are scouring for food, just as the owl is rushing down upon its unsuspecting prey, just as an infant is crying out for a middle-of-the-night feeding, just as the world has settled into its nighttime patterns.

Advent hope holds on to God making the most unexpected, possible -- like a sunrise in the dead of night -- breaking the norms and patterns and systems in which we otherwise place our hope. Advent hope claims that it is precisely when the world is falling apart, precisely the moment when we cry out "All hope is lost!" that our hopes are fulfilled because then the way has been cleared for God to do a new thing.

Let us abandon our hope in this world's systems and settle into a wild Advent hope, so that God is released to do the unexpected among us!

Come, O Savior Jesus. Come and be among us, because your people are crying out that they have lost hope. The usual systems that we trust, the familiar gods that we worship, have failed us. Let your face shine like the bright sun rising unexpected in the middle of a dark night, and save us. You have shaken us loose from our comforts. Now restore our hope in the unexpected. Amen.

11/27/11 sermon based on Psalm 80:1-4, 17-19 and Mark 13:24-33; preached at Grace UCC.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Psalm 23 Remix

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
he reminds me that the piles of smelly crap
are a natural part of the rolling fields.
He teaches me to satisfy my thirst in
flowing streams, not stagnant puddles.

The LORD is my BlackBerry, I have everything I need.
It guides me through my days and provides focus;
it connects me to others even when I am alone.

The LORD is my soccer mom, I am content.
Even when I am exhausted and injured,
even though my opponent boasts and jeers,
my soccer mom treats me to ice cream.
She reminds me that I am good
and that I am loved.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life; and
I will dwell in the house
of the LORD forever.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Blessed

"Blessed" is my statement of faith
and "Blessed" is my thanksgiving.

Blessed by the mystery when God is hidden
and blessed to be ever within God's sight.

Blessed to walk this twisting path
and blessed to fall upon the Rock.

Blessed to wait for the Spirit
and blessed in the seeking.

Blessed to be hungry for God
and blessed to be sustained.

Blessed for the 2am fear and longing,
and blessed in the morn's dawning.

Ah, holy God, bless my wrestling and my resting;
multiply my faith and my thanksgiving
so that you too are blessed.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Growth

If and when we ourselves can ever cease to consume every moment, every person, every event, every experience for ourselves, God can prevail in us.

(from Illuminated Life: Monastic Wisdom for Seekers of Light by Joan Chittister)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Full

Usually I ask you to fill me up,
to pour over me,
to satisfy my thirst
and
saturate my spirit,
to infiltrate and permeate my life,
to top off my cup
and run over.
But these days I'm already full.
Way too full.
Maxed out,
loaded,
gorged even,
topped off
with so much
of my own stuff that
-- even when I come to you --
there isn't room.
Help.
Drain me.
Empty me.
Break the dams.
Clear me out of myself.
Rend wide open a holy void
(and while you're working
on emptying me,
probably add
a good scolding
for how I keep
holding onto crap
that isn't you
and isn't really me either).
I sooo need you, but
there hasn't been room.
Clear out the fullness.
Make room
for you.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Across The Water

Let the storm be stilled of all its raging
so my praise might echo clearly across the water.

For God has guided me thus far;
God's love and grace have been unfailing.
When the waves mounted impossibly,
the LORD of Life did not let me drown.
Every time the wind drove me in new directions,
the God of the sparrow did not lose track of me.

Let the storm be stilled of all its raging
so my praise might echo clearly across the water.

For God commanded the chaos to yield a harvest
and called the depths to reveal their hidden beauty.
No matter the tempest's threats of violence,
no matter the wild spinning of the compass,
God's Spirit whispered -- "Peace, peace" --
and there was my haven, right there.

Let the storm be stilled of all its raging
so my praise might echo clearly across the water.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

All Saints Day

I give Thee thanks
for saints and souls.
Let my tears be accompanied
by a chorus of Hallelujahs.

For saints and souls
like the man with white hair, a farm,
and a joyful banjo
who left a legacy of faith;

for saints and souls
like the woman with healing hands
and a gentle mothering spirit
who showed extravagant caring;

for saints and souls
like the wisecracking salesman
and his hardworking love
whose heart overflowed to each generation;

for saints and souls
like the blues man of God
and his brilliance
who demonstrated holy wrestling.

I give Thee thanks
for saints and souls.
Let my tears be accompanied
by a chorus of Hallelujahs.