Most of the time

October 25, 2016 — 1 Comment

Sometimes [like most of the time], I want to have everything wrapped up. I want to get an answer from God in a neat little package, instead of having an ongoing conversation with Him.

However, sometimes, [like most of the time], following Jesus means living with the unanswered and the unfinished. The ‘answer’ is not to figure life out. It is looking to Jesus, and listening to Him. It is following His lead and not the often warped and distorted movement of my broken heart. However I am feeling, Jesus wants me stay with Him.

Sometimes [like most of the time], it will be messy. But Jesus invites me to draw closer to Him–and not listen to the accuser. Because although there are lots of good, honest questions to ask God, the accuser’s questions are designed to get me to turn away, such as:
“Where is your God?”
“Did God really say…?”
“How long will He make you suffer?”
“Aren’t you tired of trusting?”

So when I can’t put it all together, and when I can’t find that neat answer I want, I’ll remember this:
Sometimes [like most of the time], the question isn’t something to be figured out. It is something to be lived. Because really it’s not an answer I seek. It’s a person, Jesus.

And He invites me to come.

Speaking of trusting God

October 18, 2016 — 1 Comment

In our Instagram, instant-Facebook, instant-Twitter world, it is helpful for me to remember that growth cannot be hurried. It takes three years, not three days for a grape vine to begin bearing fruit. It takes 180 days, not 180 minutes for the grapes to mature.
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“Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything
to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way
to something unknown, something new.

Yet it is the law of all progress that is made
by passing through some stages of instability
and that may take a very long time…

Give our Lord the benefit of believing
that His hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.
Above all, trust in the slow work of God,
our loving vine-dresser. Amen. ”
Pierre de Chardin


“My Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following Your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.

But I believe that the desire to please You does in fact please You. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that, if I do this, You will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore I will trust You always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for You are ever with me, and You will never leave me to face my perils alone.”
Thomas Merton

A wonderful hymn about the triune Lord

Wonderful, merciful Savior
Precious Redeemer and Friend
Who would have thought that a Lamb
Could rescue the souls of men
Oh You rescue the souls of men

Counselor, Comforter, Keeper
Spirit we long to embrace
You offer hope when our hearts have
Hopelessly lost the way
Oh, we’ve hopelessly lost the way

You are the One that we praise
You are the One we adore
You give the healing and grace
Our hearts always hunger for
Oh, our hearts always hunger for

Almighty, infinite Father
Faithfully loving Your own
Here in our weakness You find us
Falling before Your throne
Oh, we’re falling before Your throne

[perhaps I should retitled this series ‘songs from Sunday’–this is another song we sung at church]

When we sang this old hymn on Sunday, I didn’t remember that it had so many verses. It’s a spritely melody–a waltz actually–and whenever I sing this I picture a huge crowd of people waltzing in through the heavenly gates.
The link to the music only has some of the verse but fortunately it’s on a repeating loop so you can sing it [or dance it] all the way to the end.

There is a Name I love to hear,
I love to sing its worth;
It sounds like music in my ear,
The sweetest Name on earth.

Oh, how I love Jesus,
Oh, how I love Jesus,
Oh, how I love Jesus,
Because He first loved me!

It tells me of a Savior’s love,
Who died to set me free;
It tells me of His precious blood,
The sinner’s perfect plea.

It tells me of a Father’s smile
Beaming upon His child;
It cheers me through this little while,
Through desert, waste, and wild.

It tells me what my Father hath
In store for every day,
And though I tread a darksome path,
Yields sunshine all the way.

It tells of One whose loving heart
Can feel my deepest woe;
Who in each sorrow bears a part
That none can bear below.

It bids my trembling heart rejoice;
It dries each rising tear;
It tells me, in a “still small voice,”
To trust and never fear.

Jesus, the Name I love so well,
The Name I love to hear:
No saint on earth its worth can tell,
No heart conceive how dear.

This Name shall shed its fragrance still
Along this thorny road,
Shall sweetly smooth the rugged hill
That leads me up to God.

And there with all the blood-bought throng,
From sin and sorrow free,
I’ll sing the new eternal song
Of Jesus’ love for me.

This song is from Enter the Worship Circle’s album, “Chair and Microphone” which gives a sense of the natural style of their music. Imagine a few musicians showing up in your living room and jamming “music for our unfinished stories” [as their website says]

Here’s the music: Orphan’s Song

“We are the orphan boys, we are forgotten girls
We are lost and far from home
We are the fatherless, born of dust and nothingness
We are lost and far from home

There is no love like

Yours in all the earth
There is no love like Yours in the universe
There is no love that heals my broken heart
There is no love like Yours at all


I’ve heard about a foreign land, about a son and His great big dad
I’m making my plans to be there
They say it’s a beautiful place, full of big wide open spaces
I’m making my plans to be there

voh 2

There roads have familiar names, this town has not changed
I’m finding my way back home
You call me daughter, you call me son, you call me back into Your arms
I’m finding my way back home

from a meditation by Carmel Mongey SSC :
“Three of the most beautiful love stories of all time are set side by side in the gospel of St Luke. Two of the stories are always being written about, marvelled at, sung, prayed through and cherished – the stories of the Lost Sheep and the Lost (Prodigal) Son. [In] the third story, the somewhat neglected one, we may come to a deeper realisation of the mother-love of God.

In Luke 15 we read about the woman who has ten coins, and loses one. She lights a lamp and sweeps the floor until she finds it. As in the other stories she, too, calls in her friends and neighbors to rejoice with her because she has found it.


…For centuries people have seen the symbolism Jesus uses in the first two stories. The father of the prodigal son is an image of God, our loving Father. The man searching for the lost sheep is Jesus, the good shepherd who will give his life for his sheep.

The woman who lost the coin – who is she an image of? She too, of course, is an image of God, of the mother-love of God.


…You see a lovely lady, lighting her lamp. She had ten coins, but she has lost one. Just now she thinks only of that coin. See the motherly concern on her face. Why are the coin so dear to her? Hasn’t she nine others?

In Jesus’ days, the mark of a married woman was a headdress made of ten silver coins, linked together by a silver chain. For years, a girl would scrape and save to get together her ten coins. The headdress was like a wedding ring with us. When she had it, it was so much part of her that it couldn’t be taken away even to pay a debt. It was her treasure.

See yourself as one of these ten precious coins, so dear to the lady. You have a value far beyond money. She could have said, ‘I’ll sweep the house in the morning to find it.’ But no, she can’t wait. In the light of her lamp she sweeps back and forth, into every corner, around every obstacle. This lady looking for her coin, is God looking for you and finding you.”

The Lord says, As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you…
Isaiah 66:13

Where do you need to experience God’s comfort? How is God searching for you?

The song, “When all Thy mercies” was written over 300 hundred years ago. Fernando Ortega sings four of the 13 verses [the ones with an asterik] The first verses, which talk about God’s care for us when we are tiny, remind me of Psalm 139. In later verses, I hear echoes of Psalm 23.

*”When all Your mercies, O my God,
my rising soul surveys,
transported with the view, I’m lost
in wonder, love and praise.

Your Providence my life sustained,
and all my wants redressed,
while in the silent womb I lay,
and hung upon the breast.

To all my weak complaints and cries
Your mercy lent an ear,
Before my feeble thoughts had learned
to form themselves in prayer.

*Unnumbered comforts to my soul
Your tender care bestowed,
before my infant heart conceived
from whom those comforts flowed.

When in the slippery paths of youth
with heedless steps I ran,
Your arm unseen conveyed me safe,
and led me by Your hand.

Through hidden dangers, toils, and deaths,
Your love gently showed the way;
and through the pleasing snares of vice,
You wooed me far away.

O how shall words with equal warmth
the gratitude declare,
that glows within my ravished heart?
but You can read it there.

Your bounteous hand with worldly bliss
has made my cup run o’er;
and, in a kind and faithful Friend,
has doubled all my store.

Ten thousand thousand precious gifts
my daily thanks employ;
nor is the last a cheerful heart
that tastes those gifts with joy.

*When worn with sickness, often have You
with health renewed my face;
and, when in sins and sorrows sunk,
revived my soul with grace.

*Through every period of my life
Your goodness I’ll pursue
and after death, in distant worlds,
the glorious theme renew.

When nature fails, and day and night
divide Your works no more,
my ever grateful heart, O Lord,
Your mercy shall adore.

Through all eternity to You
a joyful song I’ll raise;
for, oh, eternity’s too short
to utter all Your praise!”

Modernized from Joseph Addison, 1712

“Acceptance frees us from bondage to the law. God isn’t mad at
When we live under the law, we are forever trying to appease
God so he won’t be mad at us. We can’t do this for very long
without getting angry at ourselves, either toward God for being
so strict or toward ourselves for failing. When we finally
understand that God isn’t mad at us anymore, we become free
to concentrate on love and growth instead of trying to appease
Henry Cloud and John Townsend in “How People Grow”


“Grace overcomes shame, not by uncovering an overlooked cache
of excellence in ourselves but simply by accepting us, the whole of us,
with no regard to our beauty or our ugliness, our virtue or our vices.
We are accepted wholesale. Accepted with no possibility of being re-
jected. Accepted once and accepted forever. Accepted at the ultimate
depth of our being. We are given what we have longed for in every
nook and nuance of every relationship.

We are ready for grace when we are bone tired of our struggle to
be worthy and acceptable. After we have tried too long to earn the
approval of everyone important to us, we are ready for grace. When
we are tired of trying to be the person somebody sometime convinced
us we had to be, we are ready for grace. When we have given up all
hope of ever being an acceptable human being, we may hear in our
hearts the ultimate reassurance: we are accepted, accepted by grace.”
Lewis Smedes in “Shame and Grace”


“Self-acceptance begins to take over
self-hate as we accept our emptiness before God and see
how he loves us in spite of our pride, vanity and petti-
ness. His love does not let us be overwhelmed, but rather
we begin to know we are truly accepted in him.
The giving out of love to God and receiving his love
in return is the most needed and most healing experience we can have.
Margaret Therkelsen “The Love Exchange”


“Acceptance creates safety to be and experience ourselves.
Many people are stuck in their spiritual growth because they
can’t be completely themselves. They may be able to be real
about their opinions, humor, or care for others. But they think
that their depression, sad times, addictions, or neediness are
unacceptable to God or people so they live their lives as though
these parts didn’t exist. We need to experience all of our soul,
whether good, bad, or broken. Otherwise what is not brought
into the light of God’s love and relationship cannot be matured,
healed, and integrated into the rest of our character.
Henry Cloud and John Townsend in “How People Grow”

“All who are thirsty” by Brenton Brown from the Vineyard album “Surrender”

“All who are thirsty
All who are weak
Just come to the fountain
Dip your heart in the stream of life
Let the pain and the sorrow
Be washed away
In the waves of His mercy
As the deep cries out to deep, we sing…

Come, Lord Jesus come
Holy Spirit, come
Won’t you come?”

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As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, my God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?

…Deep calls to deep
in the roar of Your waterfalls”

Psalm 42 1-2, 7

“Graceless religion tells us that, to be acceptable, we must live up to
the customs and shun the taboos of its tradition. It shames us when
we do what it forbids and do not do what it requires.

Our religion-shaped self easily becomes a self of hypocrisy and appearances; we feel compelled to make up for what we lack inside by obeying all its prescriptions on the outside. Graceless religion creates the illusion that if we only follow the letter of the rules, we will be acceptable, and that if we fail we will be rejected and despised.”
Lewis Smedes in “Shame and Grace”


Where, except in uncreated light, can the darkness be drowned?”

C.S. Lewis, “Letters to Malcolm”
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“If people know they are loved, they are not afraid of their ‘badness.’ They feel accepted and safe, and they do not have to feel ‘good’ about themselves to be safe. Love does that. Love is everything. In the Bible the opposite of ‘bad’ is not ‘good’, it is love.”
Henry Cloud in “How People Grow”

This week’s song, “When I think of You” is sung by the African Children’s Choir from Uganda.

[Alert: if you prefer a particular style of music, just wait. There’s a good chance my highly eclectic listening habits will eventually come around to it. If not, let me know. And as always, I’d love to hear your suggestions. What songs are singing in your head these days?]

“There is no one like and there is no one like
My Yahweh, my Yahweh
There is no one like and there is no one like
My Yahweh, my Yahweh

There is no one like and there is no one like
My Yahweh, my Yahweh
There is no one like and there is no one like
My Yahweh, my Yahweh

When I think of You
I see You dancing, You’re dancing
When I think of You
I hear You singing to me

When I think of You
I see You praying, You’re praying
When I think of You
I hear You calling for me

Yahweh, there is no one like You, Lord
Yahweh, Hallelujah, we sing
Yahweh, there is no one like You, Lord
Yahweh, Your banner for me
Your banner for me is love”

[on Michael W. Smith’s album “A New Hallelujah”]

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“The arms of God be around my shoulders,
The touch of the Holy Spirit upon my head,
The sign of Christ’s cross upon my forehead,
The sound of the Holy Spirit in my ears,
The fragrance of the Holy Spirit in my nostrils,
The vision of heaven’s company in my eyes,
The conversation of heaven’s company on my lips,
The work of God’s Church in my hands,
The service of God and the neighbor in my feet,
A home for God in my heart,
And to God, the Father of all, my entire being.

Saint Fursa’s breastplate prayer, circa 630 AD


“Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be thou my breastplate, sword for the fight;
thou my whole armor, thou my true might;
thou my soul’s shelter, my strong tower:
raise thou me heavenward, great Power of my power.”

Based on the 6th centurty Old Irish text, “Rop tú mo Baile” usually attributed to Saint Dallán Forgaill


“Satan tries to confuse us. “Look at how messed up the world is. How can you believe in a loving God?”
The only answer is the breastplate of righteousness. You cannot understand particular happenings; you cannot give any explanation. But you do know that the God who clothed you with His righteousness and saved you from a lost eternity must have your highest interest and those of His universe at heart.
When you hold on to that, your heart is protected from despair, even if your mind struggles to comprehend what is happening. You can live in peace even though you do not know all the answers.”
Selwyn Hughes


You know when I sit down or stand up.
You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
You see me when I travel
and when I rest at home.
You know everything I do.
You know what I am going to say
even before I say it, Lord.
You go before me and follow me.
You place your hand of blessing on my head
Psalm 139:2-5

St. Brendan sculpture, Cahirciveen, Ring of Kerry, Ireland

St. Brendan sculpture, Cahirciveen, Ring of Kerry, Ireland

Time for a new feature–a song for Saturday from my week’s playlist.
Up first is ‘Lorica’ by Steve Bell on his album “Devotion”

The Lorica – Music and Lyric by Gayle Salmond

“I bind unto myself today
The gift to call on the Trinity
The saving faith where I can say
Come three in one, oh one in three

Be above me, as high as the noonday sun
Be below me, the rock I set my feet upon
Be beside me, the wind on my left and right
Be behind me, oh circle me with Your truth and light

I bind unto myself today
The love of Angels and Seraphim
The prayers and prophesies of Saints
The words and deeds of righteous men

God’s ear to hear me
God’s hand to guide me
God’s might to uphold me
God’s shield to hide me
Against all powers deceiving
Against my own unbelieving
Whether near or far

I bind unto myself today
The hope to rise from the dust of earth
The songs of nature giving praise
To Father, Spirit, Living Word”

During the eighth and ninth centuries in the British Isles, followers of Jesus often composed prayers to declare the encompassing presence of God in the world. Some of these were loricas, or breastplate prayers for protection [the breastplate being the piece of armor that covers your torso and protects your heart in battle, and lorica being Latin for breastplate]. Perhaps they had in mind Paul’s description of spiritual armor: Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place. [Ephesians 6:14]

This song is based on the lorica of St. Patrick. Another lorica, “Rob tu mo bhoile, a Comdi cride” is the basis for the hymn, “Be Thou My Vision”.

[more about God’s protection in my next post]

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“Jesus calls people not to a new religion but to life.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer


“When it comes to the mystery of death, like the mystery of life, how can any of us know anything? If there is a realm of being beyond where we now are that has to do somehow with who Jesus is, and is for us, and is for all the world, then how can we know the way that will take us there?

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life,” is how he answers. He does not say the church is the way. He does not say his teachings are the way, or what people for centuries have taught about him. He does not say religion is the way, not even the religion that bears his name. He says he himself is the way. And he says that the truth is not words, neither his words nor anyone else’s words. It is the truth of being truly human as he was truly human and thus at the same time truly God’s. And the life we are dazzled by in him, haunted by in him, nourished by in him is a life so full of aliveness and light that not even the darkness of death could prevail against it.”

Frederick Beuchner


“Spiritual growth is not only about coming back into a relationship with God and other people and pursuing a pure life, but it is also coming back to life – the life that God created for people to live. This life–of deep relationship, fulfilling work, celebration, and more–gives us the life we desire…”
Henry Cloud and John Townsend in “How People Grow”


I have come in order that you might have life—life in all its fullness
John 10:10

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Easter in August

August 24, 2016 — Leave a comment

Lately, I’ve been pondering what the cross means. So after Christmas in July, perhaps it is time for Easter in August.

What has particularly drawn me to the cross has not been God’s forgiveness for me but my struggle to forgive those who have wronged and hurt me.

In the midst of these reflections, I ‘happened’ to attend a worship concert where we were invited to write down the name of someone we were finding it hard to forgive. Then we went forward and nailed the slip of paper to a large wooden cross. It was a powerful moment for me as I realized the sins Jesus took on Himself included sins done against me.

“We are invited to put our pain and any senseless suffering of the world into the wounds of Jesus. Jesus went to the cross so our sin and pain wouldn’t just stick to us. It has somewhere to go, somewhere it can be transformed rather than just transmitted. There are no tears and sorrow too deep for God to transform. Put your pain into the wounded hands and feet of Jesus. Watch him turn an act of unjust violence into hope and life.”
Adele Ahlberg Calhoun in “Invitations from God”


“The Cross is the word through which God has responded to evil in the world. Sometimes it may seem as though God does not react to evil, as if he is silent. And yet, God has spoken, he has replied, and his answer is the Cross of Christ: a word that is love, mercy, forgiveness.”
Pope Francis

Murreagh, Ireland

Murreagh, Ireland

“At the cross the world sinned its sins into Jesus Christ.
And what happens? Jesus forgives.
Why? Because God is like that.
In the defining moment of the cross Jesus defines what God is really like.
God is love—co-suffering, all-forgiving, sin-absorbing, never-ending love.
God is not like Caiaphas sacrificing a scapegoat.
God is not like Pilate enacting justice by violence.
God is Jesus, absorbing and forgiving sin.
At the cross a world of sin is absorbed by the love of God and recycled into grace and mercy.”
Brian Zahnd in “Water to Wine”

jesus on cross arms up

“The image of God is the image of Christ crucified.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer in “The Cost of Discipleship”

“Faith is transferring your trust from your own efforts to the efforts of Christ.  You were relying on other things to make you acceptable, but now you consciously begin relying on what Jesus did for your acceptance with God. All you need is nothing.”
Tim Keller


“The Christian life is not about the weak becoming strong; it is about the self-sufficient assenting to their own weakness. How horrible! How freeing…

Conventional wisdom tells us that suffering can either make us better or bitter. I don’t think it’s that simple. I think suffering makes us more. More of all the feelings; more of who we’re meant to be; more aware of our own weakness and, hopefully, the source of real strength, who doesn’t leave us to our own devices but carries us.
Stephanie Phillips


“When we despair of gaining inner transformation through human powers of will and determination, we are open to a wonderful new realization: inner righteousness is a gift from God to be graciously received. The needed change within us is God’s work, not ours. The demand is for an inside job, and only God can work from the inside. We cannot attain or earn this righteousness of the kingdom of God; it is a grace that is given.” Richard Foster in Celebration of Discipline


“We think of Jesus as a hero who dug deep down in himself to find the strength to push through.
But Jesus did not rely on willpower…willpower was not the source of His faithfulness. It was His deep, abiding relationship with the Father by the Holy Spirit.

We fall into the trap of thinking the Christian life is based on self-generated willpower…[that we need to] just try a little harder, come up with the right formula.

Jesus has called us to something deeper than self-help and personal resolve.. He has called us to more than trying our best to mimic his behavior. He has called us to abide in Him.” Jamin Goggin and Kyle Strobel in Beloved Dust

I often think of faith as something active, something that energizes. It propels me forward to walk on water, to bring a paralyzed friend to Jesus, to shout out to Jesus as He passes by. I want to ‘get more’ faith, ‘have more’ faith, ‘exercise’ more faith–for myself and for other people. I rue my lack of faith, because I view faith as a simple equation that reveals the poverty of my soul. Weak faith= on the verge of God’s wrath and judgment. Or at least self-condemnation.

And then I read about Hudson Taylor’s failure with faith and what he learned that revolutionized his spiritual life and ministry, fifteen years {!} after starting his work in China.

“I felt I was a child of God. His Spirit in my heart would cry, in spite of all, “Abba, Father.” But to rise to my privileges as a child, I was utterly powerless….All the time I felt assured that there was in Christ all I needed, but the practical question was–how to get it out?

He was rich truly, but I was poor; He was strong, but I weak. I knew full well that there was in the root, the stem, abundant fatness, but how to get it into my puny little branch was the question… I saw that faith was the only requisite–was the hand to lay hold on His fullness and make it mine. But I had not this faith. I strove for faith, but it would not come; I tried to exercise it, but in vain.”

Then a sentence in a letter changed Taylor’s life. The sentence read:

“How to get faith strengthened? Not by striving after faith, but by resting on the Faithful One.”

“As I read, I saw it all!.. Ah, there is rest!” I thought. “I have striven in vain to rest in Him. I’ll strive no more. For has not He promised to abide with me–never to leave me, never to fail me?” And He never will.

As I thought of the Vine and the branches, what light the blessed Spirit poured direct into my soul! How great seemed my mistake in wishing to get the sap, the fullness out of Him! I saw not only that Jesus will never leave me, but that I am a member of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. The vine is not the root merely, but all–root, stem, branches, twigs, leaves, flowers, fruit…

It is a wonderful thing to be really one with a risen and exalted Savior, to be a member of Christ! Think what it involves.
Can Christ be rich and you poor?
Can your right hand be rich and your left poor?
Or your head be well fed while your body starves?

I am no longer anxious about anything, as I realize this; for He, I know, is able to carry out His will, and His will is mine. It makes no matter where He places me, or how…His resources are mine, for He is mine, and is with me and dwells in me. ”
Hudson Taylor

This is how I ‘get more’ faith: Not by working at it but by resting on the Faithful One. Not by feats of great personal sacrifice but by remaining attached to the Vine and trusting that streams of living water will flow through me.John-reclines-on-Jesus-chest

What a fellowship, what a joy divine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
What a blessedness, what a peace is mine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.
Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms;
Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.

“The literal translation of the words ‘pray always’ is ‘come to rest’…This rest, however, has little to do with the absence of conflict or pain. It is a rest in God in the midst of a very intense daily struggle.”
Henri Nouwen in The Way of the Heart


“Evangelicals have a very wordy, heady and busy faith tradition. We emphasize theology and word, knowledge and service. And yet we are starved… for rest, to know God beyond what we can do for him. We are starved for quiet, to hear the sound of sheer silence that is the presence of God himself.”
Ruth Haley Barton in Invitation to Silence


“For the Rushed, Hurried and Afraid of Missing Out“
For I am convinced that neither
traffic, nor long lines;
nor needy children or demanding bosses;
nor crowded calendars, nor unfinished projects;
nor deadlines;
nor impossible expectations of others,
nor unnoticed accomplishments;
nor any other “hurry-up” thing
will be able to separate us from the
{timeless, eternal, enduring, patient, steadfast}
love of God
which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Paraphrase of Romans 8:38-39 by a recovering hurrier


“God has landed on this enemy-occupied world in human form…The perfect surrender and humiliation was undergone by Christ: perfect because He was God, surrender and humiliation because He was man.”


“That man should be made in God’s image is a wonder,
but that God should be made in man’s image is a greater wonder.
That the Ancient of Days would be born.
That He who thunders in the heavens should cry in the cradle?”
Thomas Watson


The Singing of Angels
by Howard Thurman
“There must be always
remaining in every life,
some place for the singing of angels.
Some place for that
which in itself
is breathless and
Old burdens become lighter
deep and ancient wounds
lose much of their old hurting.
Despite all the crassness of life,
all the hardness and
harsh discords,
life is saved by
the singing of angels.”

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Maybe it is a greed on my part, this desire I have to celebrate Christmas again, six months after December 25th. Or maybe it reveals a desire to live outside the constraints of time, to deny that I live in a time-bound world. Or maybe it’s because I remember what fun it was to celebrate Christmas in July every summer at camp.

But truly, I want to celebrate Christmas today because once every twelve months is not enough to marvel at the wonder of the incarnation, of God taking on flesh.

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A few years ago day I spoke with a man about this, after he commented that Islam and Protestantism had a lot in common.
“Yes, ” I replied, “except for Jesus.”
“Jesus ate and drank,” he answered. “God doesn’t do that.”

We chatted a little longer about the mystery of God becoming man, me from the position of belief, him from the position of unbelief.

Finally he asked me a question, almost with disdain, to prove that Jesus was just a man. “What has Jesus ever created?”

My response was a paraphrase of Colossians 1.
“He is the image of the invisible God.
by Him all things were created:
things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible,
 whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities;
all things were created by Him and for Him.”

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No, once a year is not enough. So today, I’d suggest you put on your favorite Christmas hymns and spend a little time reading these two ancient meditations on this great miracle.

Bethlehem has opened Eden:
Come, let us see!
We have found joy hidden!
Come, let us take possession of the paradise within the cave.

There the unwatered stem has appeared,
from which forgiveness blossoms forth!
There the undug well is found
from which David longed to drink of old!

There the Virgin has borne a child,
and at once the thirst of Adam and David is made to cease.
Therefore let us hasten to this place
where for our sake the eternal God was born as a little child!

Ikos of the Nativity of the Lord

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Your mercy reaches from the heavens
through the clouds to the earth below.
You have come to us as a small child,
but you have brought us the greatest of all gifts,
the gift of eternal love.

Caress us with Your tiny hands,
embrace us with Your tiny arms
and pierce our hearts with Your soft, sweet cries.
Bernard of Clairvaux

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