Monday, December 27, 2010

POEM: Why don't we listen?

Some read nothing but Daniel and Revelation
Some stick to Genesis, Exodus and maybe Matthew, Mark and Luke
There are those who hod onto the Pentateuch and Paul
Myself, I like anything by John
There are those who love the Psalms and Proverbs
Many stick with the prophets, major and minor
Some are convinced that all that matters are the morsels they're rationed
by pastors or televangelists or political ideologues
It's amazing how many mistake Ben Franklin and Bill Shakespeare for something from the good book.
I can't tell you how often I've heard people quoting the code of Hammurabi, convinced they were repeating Jesus', smugly pleased that He backed up their opinions.
I wouldn't be surprised if the same is sometimes true of Machiavelli or even Ayn Rand.
Many have never read any of it at all.
Many figure if they've heard Exodus 20 or Luke 2 once, they've heard it a million times
Many have never even heard that much, and how can they know the Author, if after all, faith comes from hearing?
Some say that if you've read John 3:16, you've heard it all
But how many have seen "John 3:16" a million times, but never actually read or heard John 3:16 at all?
May I humbly recommend reading the parts in red letters?
You might be surprised and impressed, hopefully inspired
or perhaps shocked and dismayed, maybe convicted or offended.
May I further recommend the only sermon we have recorded that Jesus preached?
If enough of us listened, it may change how we think of both Jesus and His Word,
not to mention how we think of our neighbor.
But don't take my word for it,
read it for yourself.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Prayer at family Advent devotion

"Dear Jesus,
Please help us so that nobody has bad dreams tonight
And when Santa comes, keep him safe
And thank you for all of the things that we already have
and thank you for all of the things that we don't have yet that maybe we're getting
but help us be thankful for everything you give us.
And help other people who maybe don't have much stuff.
We love you Jesus,

This was my 5 year old! And then later she was singing the Galatians 5 song, "Love, Joy, Peace and Patience, Kindness, Faithness, Goodness..." She didn't quite get all the lyrics right, but how awesome that your kid is singing about the fruit of the Spirit?

Thank You Jesus, for the faith of a child. How blessed are my wife and I?

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Advent in a Crumbling Empire, Sojourners Magazine/December 2010

Advent in a Crumbling Empire, Sojourners Magazine/December 2010:

"in Advent we dare to hope. Advent leads to Christmas. At Christmas we celebrate a baby who became a political refugee, grew up to preach God's love, and was executed as a rebel. His life was a failure, his followers scattered, his hope for a new community dust. And then it all turned around. Our Advent hope is this: All empires are under judgment. Out of death comes life. God's will is shalom. The one who loses life will save it.

The manger leads to the cross, to the empty tomb, to the upper room. And the upper room becomes an empty room when the Spirit fills us so that we too are transformed and offer our lives in love for others."

Bby Shelley Douglass, who lives and works at Mary’s House, a Catholic Worker community in Birmingham, Alabama."

Friday, December 03, 2010

Advent2010- better to light a candle
than curse the darkness

"Do everything readily and cheerfully—no bickering, no second-guessing allowed! Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society. Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God. Carry the light-giving Message into the night so I'll have good cause to be proud of you on the day that Christ returns." ~Philippians 2:14-15 (the Message)

"better to light a candle than curse the darkness" is an ancient Chinese proverb used as a motto by the Christophers, a group founded by Catholics to promote tolerance, service, political honesty, caring for the sick and poor, and dealing with substance abuse.

It is a theme dramatically illustrated in this 1935 etching by Picasso, The Minitauromachy, in which even in the very face of death, destruction and evil, a little girl holds up a candle of hope against the onslaught of fascism, imperialism, and militarism symbolized by the minotaur.

This first week of Advent, the candle in the wreath is the candle of hope, sometimes known as the Prophets' candle. True, we often look to old testament prophecies of the coming messiah (Jesus), but in Philippians 2, Paul challenges us to be prophets- people who speak God's Word into a dark world. We can hold onto and carry the light of Christ's love into our daily lives, and into even the bleakest situations.

It's easy to become negative, either angry and cynical or discouraged and depressed- but God calls us to be different, to be full of hope. People with Jesus have hope, and people with hope have a sense of security and stability that the world really needs right now.

In a world of poverty, unemployment, alcohol drug abuse and dependence, divorce, non-traditional and broken families, my students sometimes think of me as boring, conservative or an anachronism. But they also see me as safe and steady, caring and approachable and I hope as trustworthy. I'm not the world's greatest teacher or coach. But I can try to be as patient, kind, empathetic, and caring as I can. 

It sounds Pollyanna or naive', but sometimes just being a decent person can make someone's world a better place. Certainly just being friendly and smiling can make someone's day.

This Christmas season, try lighting candles instead of just cursing the darkness. Try to be a prophet of hope.

"17 Life will be brighter than noonday,
and darkness will become like morning.
18 You will be secure, because there is hope;
you will look about you and take your rest in safety.
19 You will lie down, with no one to make you afraid,
and many will court your favor." ~Job 11:17-19