Leave a comment

Eating Church

It has been a heck of a summer.  So many things going on, emotional highs, emotional lows,  a metaphorical roller coaster of feelings both physical and mental.  All while a the United States does its best to rend itself to pieces.  The depression caused by the news used to be kind of a joke, but now, its not funny at all.  Moreover, there is a steady dilution of Christianity all for the sake of making someone feel like they belong.

In a recent article on Relevant Magazine, I got the distinct feeling that the entire point of church was being missed entirely.  The premise of the article was about the need for churches to reach single millenials and the changes in structure and understanding that need to be made.  It was all about how the church needed to start serving that specific generation better.

Before I go any further in this let me explain my point of view a bit more.  I was born in 1980, I can remember the 80’s with fondness, and I can definitely remember the 90’s with even more.  My attitude has been shaped by the changes that took place in those two decades.  Quite frankly, they weren’t easy.  The world suddenly became a lot faster all around me with the improvement of technology.  The music changed vastly in the first 20 years of my life.  Not only that, but in the 90’s fashion and music and language changed so fast it was head spinning.  Church also changed, because there was suddenly a generation that was coming up in a different type of post 60’s understanding.  We had witnessed major figures in evangelism fall to the detriment of many.  Suddenly it was okay to begin to question what it was we were believing. This was not in an act of rebellion, but in a quest for truth.  For me it formed a hardened attitude against what society had created.  My generation is the generation squished in between.  We are generation of chameleons who have been forced to change and make do in order to keep up.  And yes, that does make a difference when it comes to how we view Christianity and how we view church ( or at least it does or me).

The problem that we have come to in modern church is the idea that the church is supposed to serve us.  We can access goods instantly in the world as consumers, why shouldn’t our church experience be the same.  Well, because, quite simply, it shouldn’t.  The church does not exist to serve you.  Does the church serve you, yes, yes it does.  However, that is more a by product of the fruits of the spirit, of worship, of the word of God.  But when I read the New Testament, I don’t see people looking for the church to serve them, I see people looking to serve the church.  It is the gathering of believers, ecclesia, where we all get together and lift each other up, and grow in our faithIt is where we worship as a corporate body.  The hardest thing for us to understand in this country of free people is that we are incredibly spoiled as Christians.  You don’t like the preaching, you can go to another church.  You don’t like the music, you can go to another church or even another service.  This was unheard of in the New Testament.  They were more concerned with, I don’t know, spreading the gospel and not being killed while doing it.

Nowadays we are more concerned about whether or not we can where ugly hats in worship, or drink coffee in the sanctuary.  We are attempting to eat church.  We are trying to consume God in some way or another, yet always the wrong way.  God wants to fill us with His word, and His spirit.  Yet when we do things like “church shop” and walk away from other believers because we can’t have the kind of mixer that we want to have, we are not getting God, we are getting ourselves, every time.  Selfishness is a box in which live and expect everyone else to conform.  That is not what the church is.  The church is a body, and everyone in the body has role to perform, a job to do.  A consumerist generation will only leave a stripped and dead entity because it doesn’t understand that our job as Christians is to share the love of Jesus with everyone, to depend on God to provide, and to walk by faith.  That doesn’t mean we go in on a Sunday, or Saturday ( I guess it depends on how hip your current church is) and then take our designer, recycled, 100% gluten free faith home and leave it there. I guess in short, to quote my 11th grade Sunday School teacher, “It ain’t about you”.  Its about The Kingdom of God.

Advertisements
Leave a comment

A Sky So Big

What was it that caused creation? IMG_1652

No not the technical scientific act.  Not the cold mathematical interpretation of the movement of subatomic particles to get together and make something bigger.  Not the mechanism, but the motivation.  What made God, the Creator, decide to create?  Was it a sense of loneliness?  A divine nature that simply cannot be explained?  Boredom?  Perhaps a sense that He wished to see just how vast and wonderful He really was spelled out in a way that His creation could see and enjoy.  I honestly have no clue what it was, I only know that it happened.  Once there was nothing, just God, in the void, in the dark, and then there was…well, everything.  The absolute grandeur of creation abounds the imagination of the soul.

Never failing to surprise, this world shows Him in so many wonderful and unique ways.  In light of the events of this week, maybe that has become difficult for us to see.  We see an act of hate and horror at a concert and a mad scramble of evil trying to take credit for it.  It’s just hate for the sake of hate.  There is no cause for these monster’s they are just angry, angry about being born.  You cannot do much with people like that.  Yet God is still there.  I learned just yesterday that a childhood friend who I explored much of God’s creation with is in his last days of cancer, only one more step left for him, and that is off into something bigger than imagination can handle.  Where is God in that?  Who likes to answer that question with anything that has actual meaning.  We always want to give the typical response of His plan and His will and the unseen movement of those things.  How does that comfort someone?  How does that bring peace into the heart of a child losing a father, a mother losing a son?  Fact is those responses tend to challenge more than affirm.  Sometimes things are just bad and don’t make sense, and that is perfectly okay.

Living in North Georgia you learn pretty quickly that the weather is not going to cooperate with really anything you want to do.  Oh sure we have good weather a lot of the time, I guess that’s really everywhere depending on the season.  Life is so often like a day’s plans changed by the weather.  Maybe you needed it to be sunny, and it rained.  Needed it to be warm, it was cold.  Needed some sun to chase the blues away, instead it is overcast and just as gloomy as yesterday.  Plans changed, and it’s okay.  Not feeling life right now, that’s okay.  It is still going to go on.  It may absolutely suck, but it will continue to go on, until it doesn’t.  That, my friends is creation.  That is life.

It is a wheel of seasons of plenty, of drought, hot, cold, warm, cool, nice, not so nice.  It is a moving never stagnant.  The ostentation of God’s design overwhelms the depths of our soul’s ability to grasp His magnitude.  It is designed down to the slightest particle.  And in all of that creation, the seasons of good and the seasons of bad He is there.  In a sky so big, though we are so small, He is there.  We want to describe control and own a theological understanding of His will and purpose, but we will never know how He truly moves.  Creation itself is an outpouring of love.  A tide of joy that bounded across the whole of design.  What craftsmen has not looked upon his work and felt happiness.

I wish I had the craft of words to truly put into perspective just how much of a mystery this world really is.  But as another author has said, “words are wind”.  Yet there is a magic in how they can bring us closer to understanding.  A wonder at how our brains jump to describe that which we experience.  We feel loss, pain, and a plethora of woe.  We feel joy, laughter in the soul, and contentment.  All words trying to get to the bigger image of what God has done in His creation and in His world.  In the end, those words just fail to give the whole picture.  A thousand words for that picture just cannot capture what it truly is.  Maybe we see it in glimpses.  In a weekend camping in the Big Hole Valley with my friend, joking and laughing in the wilderness, that was a glimpse.  Skiing full speed down the mountain at Lost Trail with that same friend, that was a glimpse.  Knowing that you had someone to trust and depend on, that is a glimpse.  That sky that is just so big, that is a glimpse.

God is in His own details, making all things new throughout life, season, and the whole of creation.  We are loved whether touched or untouched by the glimpses of His world.  In the cold, and in the rain; in the sorrow or the joy, He is there.  Seen, unseen, heard, or unheard. God is indeed there whether we choose to see Him or not.  The only challenge His presence wants to bring to us is the challenge of acceptance.  Can you accept that He is there?

Leave a comment

Sorry…Not Sorry

the problem

yep…thats the one

I saw the innocuous sign as I was walking in the door.  It was placed on the inside of the window in all of its high quality printed glory.  It made me want to puke, in fact I may have thrown up in my mouth just a little.  It was a declaration to me of the problem of American Christianity.  A Christian Cruise.  Pay your nearly one thousand dollars plus airfare and you can come hear Christians who you can hear pretty much anywhere pontificate and sing and “lead” in worship (if your paying money for a concert, its not a worship service, its a concert).  But this time they will all be doing it on a boat.  A big boat to be sure, and in the Caribbean, but a boat.

I can hear Michale Tate and Kevin Max’s high pleading vocals begging the question, “what have we become?”.  He answers a measure later, “self indulgent people”.  The song “What Have We Become,” from the paradigm shifting album Jesus Freak is speaking to this moment in my life.  There is a deep and growing problem in our country.  It is not politics, it is not social injustice, it is a ridiculous amount of apathy, indulgence, and hypocrisy in the church that Jesus died to redeem.

I love the church.  My entire career has been devoted to serving in whatever capacity I am called in the church.  Sometimes its like trying to save a crumbling building.  In American society there is this massive gap in the understanding of what Jesus truly called us to.  To see a sign at pretty much the only Christian chain bookstore advertising something like a cruise, a luxurious sail through tropical waters pitched as something that is designed to be worship style experience is sickening.  Jesus called us to reach the loss and disciple the saved, not cruise the Bahamas in luxury.  Worship comes from the realization and outpouring of the heart because God’s grace is abounding, I find it hard to believe that it can be properly accomplished in the distraction of opulence.  But really thats the least of it.  I get frustrated when people charge money for worship music or other things that should be reaching people.  The band Third Day released an album several years back and on a live track Mac Powell proudly proclaims that this wasn’t a Third Day concert, but it was a worship service.  If that’s the case then why was admission charged, if we are taking a love offering fine, if we are using that money to do mission work and other things of the like, fine.  If its a concert, its a concert.  But I digress.

In this country, in fact in many of our affluent neighborhoods we have the ability to eradicate things like hunger, homelessness, and other plagues that come with poverty. But we don’t want to, because that might be an inconvenience for us to have less.  Three weeks ago I was able to go to a yard sale in an affluent community.  I bought a pair of shoes that cost probably $100 in the stores brand new for $10.  The guy had worn them once and didn’t like the fit, so rather than take them back he basically threw them away.  That wasn’t the only thing about it.  Item after item that was not very old, was just being sold for pennies.  We have so much junk in our homes that does nothing!  It sits, it gathers dust, it is disposed of with no further thought.

Back before Christmas I saw a documentary on Minimalism.  My father scoffed at it, and my first reaction was to do the same.  But a really good point was made.  When we look around at our lives and our possessions, do we ask ourselves the question, does this have meaning in my life?  Does this item add purpose to my life?  Does this item help me to complete the purpose of my life?  I think if we looked at our homes that way then a lot of things would change.  A lot of decorators would be out of a job and so would the stores that supply the endless supply of tchotchkes at low low prices.

The church of Acts looked so vey different than what we look like today.  Are we about a body of believers now, or are we about a looking good?  Christianity is not the clean white cottony religion that we was it to be.  It is dirty, it is difficult, it requires sacrifice for the sake of others.  I’m not perfect at that, don’t mistake my outrage for a claim of perfection.  I struggle to give things away, I have a hard time sharing, I’m human, but I’m working on it.  I am not however playing it safe.  I don’t think we are supposed to play it safe.  We are supposed to talk to strangers, we are supposed to go out in the dark being a target for those who disagree.  Christianity is dangerous.  Sitting in a pew on Sunday morning is not, being on a “Christian Cruise”  is not, and it also does nothing to progress the Kingdom of God.  In fact I would argue it does the opposite.  It makes us look silly, it makes a mockery of what we are supposed to be doing.  That may make you mad, sorry…not sorry.  If you pay money to do this sort of thing, I question your relationship with God.  I question your commitment to the mission of Christ’s church.  If you want to go on a vacation, go for it, take a vacation.  But don’t delude yourself into believing that what your doing should have Jesus’ name on it.  If you want to put His name on it go serve the poor and the hungry, the lost and the dirty, the scary and the dangerous.

Leave a comment

Breaking The Water

The idea of being a sheep among wolves is a terrifying one.  Imagine standing there in a room full of people, or even animals ready to devour you.  I imagine that Danielsea-wave-storm-blue-lighthouse-sea-wave-storm-lighthouse-hd had a very good sense of what it must have felt like.  However his imprisonment in that den of lions was not intentional on his part.  The disciples were sent into the world intentionally in such a fashion.  Jesus made no secret of what He was doing when He sent them out in Matthew 10.  Moreover, that mission continues at the end of the Gospels.  The calling to all Christians is to go out into a world that will not like, appreciate, or listen to us.  And in many cases it will try to silence us by any means necessary.  For most of us that has been a very foreign concept.  It is unthinkable that someone would try to harm us for giving hope.  Yet, it is coming.  We have been spoiled in this country for a very long time.  We have been protected by a false sense of morality and goodness and a paper shield in our governmental system.

There is a growing movement, not covered by a hashtag or a college group looking for attention.  It is far more subtle than that.  It is the movement of accepting the fallen and simply moving on with life like it is a normal thing.  We drive by it on a daily basis, see it on the news, and even in our own homes.  When things break we accept them as broken and then just go on by.  The practice of shrugging our shoulders and accepting sin has become our practice.  Apathy has slowly invaded our culture.  It came in slowly through the guise of simply letting people be who they wanted to be.  To keep our noses in our own business and not judging others.  On the surface it sounds like such a great and kind way to be.  You go your way and I will go mine and neither of us will affect the other in life.  I won’t hurt your feelings and you won’t hurt mine and everything will just be okay.  It makes perfect sense.  No one wants anyone else to hold them accountable.  No one likes to be bossed about.  As a species we really do not like being told how to live…until it goes wrong.

When we look around we find that without knowing it a degradation on culture has taken hold.  All of a sudden everyone is shouting for help.  Everyone is demanding to be listened to, demanding to be given precedence over another.  The problem with apathy is that it only ends in death.  Apathy is a slow flood, a steady drip that continues and continues until everything is inundated, separated, lost.

When I look at the ministry of Jesus, I do not see one simple problem He was speaking to.  His words speak to a myriad of problems.  The apathy of society is a major one.  In Luke He gives an example of care in the face of apathy in the story of the good Samaritan.  It is a very broad stroke of genius covering several aspects of the society.  The question is whose job is it to care for people?  Whose duty is it to care for people in need?  Those questions were asked in Genesis by Cain in regards to his own brother (after he had murdered him of course).  The answer is the same.  We are responsible for one another.  Whether we like it or not, as God’s children, we are supposed to care for one another.  The same calling that Jesus gave to His followers is an echo of God’s words to Israel through various prophets, Amos being one of the loudest.

For Christians that means that we have work to do.  Not easy simple fun work either.  The world is moving so fast and in such a direction to completely reject the word of God in all forms.  That means that coming to someone in the name of Christ immediately will be offensive to the world.  Apathy cannot abide empathy.  It cannot fathom that someone would, should, or can care about more than itself.  Apathy is a self defeating system of behavior.  The slow flood that has seeped into the fibre of this culture is not slowing down.  Rather it is speeding up.  It is a tide that is rising and soon will be the surge of a storm that will wash us over and not in a good way.  We must be the breakwater in that storm for those around us.

We can not hide away in our church buildings and hope that no one will come knocking.  Changes in the world do not sound a retreat for us, rather they are a call to action.  The church is not a haven for the saints, it is a hospital for sinners.  It is a place where we get the tools we need to go out and be His hands and feet.  It is not a place to pass judgment, but a place to teach correct living, grace, justice, mercy, kindness, and love.  We cannot be worried about the world coming in, we need to be looking for the chance to break the waters and stand against the evil that would seek to harm our brothers and sisters.

Jesus spends His last several hours with the disciples telling them that things are going to change.  That the world is really not going to go along with what they have to teach.  The list is painful to those who have lived in the dark.  Yet, in the same teaching He is telling them not to be concerned with that.  It is time that we took Him at His word and went out into the wolves.  It is time we waded into the tide and stood on the solid foundation of God’s word and marveled as the waves crashed around us, broken by the bulwark that is faith, hope and love.

 

Leave a comment

Wednesday

A couple of years ago there was an insurance commercial that made me laugh so hard I almost had an accident.  Even when I thought about it it made me laugh, it still makes me chuckle.  The whole premise was a camel being excited about Wednesday, “hump day”.  It’s corny but still just…fantastic.  Wednesday is the turnaround day.  It’s the day where we stop staring at the beWednesdayginning of the week and beginning what is hopefully a quick decent into the weekend.  It is a transition day.

During what we refer to as Holy week, Jesus’ week began to transition.  Business picked up and pieces began to move from their place.  Wednesday sees an ending to the journey as it were.  Jesus is in the Jerusalem area.  He has finished the journey from which He called His disciples to pick up their cross and follow Him.  And, they missed it.  All of His closest disciples got caught up in the words and they missed the calling.  They heard the word death and drew a me
ntal line.  Sure they loved Jesus, sure they cared for Jesus, sure they believed in Jesus.  But Jesus had told them that He was going to Jerusalem to die.  That is where they stopped.

Make no mistake they continued to follow Jesus.  But somewhere inside there was a confusion as to what was actually happening.  So much so that a couple of Disciples began to ask Jesus if they could sit at His side when He came into His glory.  The grace of Jesus is astounding at this request.  He calmly explains that what is coming for Him will come for them.  Jesus’ call is indeed a revolution that will require a complete surrender to God.  Yet, though they have been told three times that Jesus is going to die, they still miss the point.

On Wednesday night, as they are eating supper, a woman brings in a jar of expensive oil and anoints Jesus.  The disciples, John names Judas in his Gospel, get mad because she has supposedly wasted good perfume.  It is such a a petty complaint veiled in concern for the poor.  Jesus knows that they have once again missed the point.  However, this woman, whoever she was, has gotten the point.  Jesus is about to go where they cannot follow.  There will not be another chance to give this kind of care to Jesus.  He is going to be arrested, tortured, and killed.  This woman is the first person to really accept the reality of this.  Even Peter will continue to get it wrong, until he finally sees it happening.  For them seeing is believing, but for this woman, she knows, she believes because there has not been one thing that Jesus has said or done to make her think that He would be wrong.  So on Wednesday she expresses her faith in a moving way.

On the other side of the coin is Judas.  A disciple that has been with Jesus, has heard Jesus teach, has seen the miracles, has followed him across the lands.  Yet doubt gnaws at him in ways deep and dark.  We cannot know the motivation of Judas to go to the pharisees and betray Jesus.  Theories exist abundantly, but since he never explains his actions, we must simply speculate.  Matthew would lead us to believe that money was a motivator.  Luke and John state that he was possessed by the devil.  Maybe it was those things, maybe a combination.  Maybe he was frustrated by this woman wasting money and Jesus’ response about the poor.  The other disciples had failed to grasp the message, Judas could have missed the point entirely.  Even further maybe he had been thinking a lot about trying to spur on the revolution, and found Jesus’ words at the Last Supper to be permission.  Really we don’t know.  Judas would kill himself after the deed was done.

We don’t like to think about Judas on a Wednesday.  But his failure to grasp the mission of Jesus, the Kingdom of God, and the call of Christ is one that echoes through the years to us.  His actions Wednesday give movement to the week, not in a good way.  Once the woman has recognized Jesus’ calling, and shown her belief in Him, Judas moves.  There are two actions on this Wednesday, one of worship, and one of betrayal.  How are our Wednesdays shaping up.  Are we making moves of worship and acceptance and faith?  Or are we moving to betray, to deny, and thus to our own demise?  It would be easy to say that we could be moving a third way, we are just being like the other disciples.  If we follow their narrative we don’t come off well either.  They all run away and scatter, Peter denies Jesus even while following Him to the temple, and the rest just not mentioned.  It seems that the middle path leads to the same point of destruction, or at least to nothingness.  How much would things have been different had they simply believed and worshipped?  How much more of a witness would that have been?  We cannot know from their perspective, though all but Judas were reinstated and set to many good works.  Only John is left unmartyred.

Wednesday, like every day is a choice.  We can choose to worship, to lay down what the world would see as valuable and concentrate on Christ.  Or we can choose to deny, to betray, to wait, to simply stay still, to become nothing.  What use is silver that cannot be spent, or empty words lacking motion?

Leave a comment

Notes In The Rests

Notes In the rests  

I remember being angry.  It is not an anger at one certain thing just anger.  Perhaps it was a build up, or maybe just empty teenage angst.  But I wasn’t even a teena4d165abc3771eb83856405991cf12ac7ger so that couldn’t have been it.  It was just anger, rage, hostility towards everything and a serious lack of understanding of the world.  It felt like a cauldron trying to bo
il over and out onto everything.  Passion begged for release of some kind.  A canvas couldn’t take it, paint just wasn’t meant for the type of emotion this was.  Colors just don’t convey concisely what this was.  Deep, deep down something wanted out, an expression was required to heal whatever wound was concealed.  Words may fail but perhaps the best way of describing it is that somewhere in the recesses of my humanity i felt abandoned, alone, separated.  That’s a better word, separated.  Separated from the biggest need of my soul and inner being.  And that separation manifested itself in anger at everything in the world.

I can vividly remember the first day I picked up a guitar.  It was not a day for good music resembling anything other than simple noise and nonsense.  An chaotic barrage of senseless notes and half tones amidst the pain of soft skin on nickel strings.  Yet, there was an electricity  that flowed between hand and instrument.  I have always been a musician.  It started with blowing on random horns laying around the house, a Yamaha “keytar” my uncle gave me.  Then it moved to Trombone, then Saxophone.  And when I was 14 for Christmas my parents gave me a guitar. It was a black electric guitar complete and an amplifier to go with it.  It had been several years since my hands had touched that first guitar (my first experience had been when I found another uncles old acoustic underneath a bed at my grandmother’s).  When I took “her” out of the case my hand and arm felt complete.  yes its sounds stupid, or corny or made up, but it seriously felt that way.  As I learned to play, suddenly that rage that had been down low became something else.  It became longing, it became passion, expression, and desire.  It wasn’t until I had “Jolene” that I truly understood music on a deep level, and I’m still learning what it is(yes my guitar has a name, they all have names).

Music manifests itself in a myriad of styles and methods.  And while it is so easy to dismiss one as less than another, what I have come to learn is that each one has it’s own voice, personality and means of communicating emotion, meaning, and passion.  Why did music heal me?  Well, for starters music alone did not heal me.  It was the medicine by which God healed me.  It was a melding of sounds, words, and emotion into one medium that spoke with the voice I was speaking.  What I realized was that the voice inside me that was crying out was one that was lost and alone and separated from what would make it whole.  So blues, power chords, and a growling voice combined to cry out.  Yet so often when we cry out we don’t actually hear anything calling back.  We don’t listen enough in the rests.  We try to solo constantly, but the moment I stopped and listened, let the music breath, let the rest happen, I heard a voice answering my call.  It was God singing back, doing the other part of call and response.  Rock and Roll gave me a voice to cry out what was inside of me, to question, to rage against that which I felt was wrong.  It still gives me that voice.  There are many styles of music that do the same for every other person on the planet.

Maybe your style of music is Southern Gospel music.  I know many people who I love dearly and that is their bread and butter.  It is not mine, not that I refuse to listen or play it.  I am of the belief that all music is a vessel of message, and so if that is what I need to do to reach you then I will do my best to play as best as I can.

The point of this is that music is a uncontainable commodity to humanity.  It is a call and response to that which we cannot understand or reach.  And there is an answer in it.  But we don’t listen.  There is an answer to Kurt Cobain’s cry of rage, it’s in the poetry and questions of Jon Foreman.  There is an answer to the blues of the delta, it is in the spirituals and urban gospel in the church down the street from the dive bars.  There is an answer to the empty boasting of hip hop’s riches and wealth, it’s Le’crae and Trip Lee.  There an answer to the carefree good ole’ boyish in modern country, it is the completeness in bluegrass gospel and southern gospel.  Don’t miss the message for the words and style.  Don’t throw away an opportunity to have your questions answered because you are too busy seeking in the rests.  Listen to the music, listen to the answers to your questions, be completed, made whole, calmed, reassured, encouraged, lifted up, and found.  Some music may not be for you, music is always a conversation, many are private, but we are given the open window into someone’s soul when they perform.  Let us be listen to what they are learning in their conversations.  Who know’s what we may hear in the rests.

Leave a comment

Suddenly

When I used to hunt white-tail deer in Alabama it always started off early in the morning.  Long before the sun would rise I would trudged through the cold wet forest find my stand and climb up as high as my body would allow.  Then I would sit in silence in the dark.  The forest would be still for a good hour and a half.  No sounimg_1480d but the wind in the trees or the dew falling on the leaves below.  But suddenly, just before dawn, as the sky began to turn from inky black to a grey, the world would begin to come alive.  Birds would chirp, squirrels would chatter, and crows would caw.  Life began to move.  Jon Foreman describes the sunrise from the west coast as a moment where the rest of the sky is waiting to fall in love(my paraphrase).  It is a sudden moment.  What once was black and void becomes illuminated in a wash of light that penetrates the shadows with an unknowable force.  One of the reasons I don’t hunt anymore is that I just don’t like to be cold.  I love being outside, and I love nature, but I dread being cold.  Sitting in a tree, shivering in the dark just has lost its appeal to me.  I guess also I would rather view the wildlife than kill it too.  But I digress.  I would sit and shiver waiting and longing ever so much for the sun’s rays to hit me and warm me up.  Its such an odd thing for the light to stream through the trees in beams of radiant gold that you can feel on your face, like a warm hand cupping your cheek.

We put a good deal of stock in the end of the year celebrations.  Generally we give the biggest gifts at Christmas.  We make the boldest plans at New Years.  The trick is that perhaps the focus is a bit lopsided.  If we give so much focus to the end and the beginning, where is the in between?  What are we doing in the middle?  The response might be that you simply maintain.  That you go through life and make sure that one day goes through much like the one before it.  No real change, no real movement, just a cog in the machine of what has been created around you.  That doesn’t sound very much like a life that has much going for it.  In fact it sounds very much like the very definition of stuck in a rut.  On the whole, 2016 certainly seemed to be a year of yuck.  There was a ridiculous amount of turmoil both at home and abroad.  Even more locally there has been a good deal of just upheaval.  There are at least two generations who are trying to figure out how to take over for the outgoing generation.  One is bitter, the other completely inept at handling adversity, both missed out on something in their adolescence.  So where does that leave us?  It leaves us at suddenly.

The rising sun will come to us from Heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death.  Luke 1:78-79.  We are left at suddenly when we come to the realization that there has been no movement because we have all been walking around blind and cold.  It is the same concept of slowly getting sick and then having medicine make you feel better much faster.  You never realized just how sick you were until, suddenly, you were better.  This past year we have been in a bad place as a society.  We have been cold and in the dark.  It is time that the suddenness of the dawn reaches us…rather, that it be allowed to reach us.  The reaction to sudden light is to shrink away, to even feel physical pain.  But we need to allow ourselves to be warmed and healed.

My prayer for you this New Year is that you allow suddenly into your life.  That suddenly you find healing, suddenly you find forgiveness and forgive.  Life cannot begin to move until suddenly things have changed.  No more ruts, no more merely making it through.  Rather, making it move, making it change, making it better, and making more of what has been given to us.

%d bloggers like this: