Month: December 2015

Risking Community

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good tidings to the afflicted; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; (Isaiah 61:1-2)

At coffee hour today, we discussed our goals for the New Years. I’ve long known to set goals for myself rather than make resolutions. Goals are what I seek to reach. Resolutions are what I expect to impose upon myself. The first contain a certain fluidity. Reaching them may take longer than I imagine. They will change if I discover they’re inappropriate. The latter seem to me more like an exam that I cannot miss and must pass with a minimum score: I must lose X amount, must learn Y, must somehow, some way do something and if I don’t, I will have failed at my New Year’s resolutions.

Discovering that others have similar perspectives on setting goals for the New Year was lovely. In surprise, I stammered out, “I want to supplement my income doing things I love and finish my book.” It’s true but I don’t usually tell the truth. Instead, I deflect the conversation or weave so many words around my answer the truth is hidden in a dense cloud. When asked what kinds of things I might do, I further surprised myself, “Sewing and teaching dance.” Then my best friend reminded me that I will be teaching him, and perhaps others, to sew. I amended my list of income enhancing activities.

Then the big surprise came. We actually discussed what I wanted and how I could accomplish it within the community. One new friend told me there’d probably be enough opportunity to do light tailoring within our parish. Another told me there was a market for teaching people to sew. Others have asked that I teach dance. I need not figure it all out on my own. This Christian community delights in encouraging each of us to be who God has created us to be. I find it baffling. They owe me nothing. They don’t even know me and might not like me very well if they did. Still, they open their arms and gather me in.

When we consider how selfish we are, any experience of community at all, particularly in the civilized West, is a miracle. Most of us can survive without each other even though we can’t thrive. With all the distractions in our lives, many of us don’t know what thriving is.

Christian community is an even greater miracle. The spontaneous gathering in of strangers who have no claim on us requires us to risk loving as Christ loves us. There are no guarantees. Love may never be returned. And we will simply not like some people; some will never like us. Still, there are those who choose to allow Christ to pour them out as He poured Himself into our world over 2000 years ago. They make miracles happen. They bind up the broken hearted, support captive making their way from cold, dark prisons into warm, blinding light. They confirm that the year of favour is indeed come. Christ is born. God is among us.

Grateful – Five Minute Friday

Today, the last Five Minute Friday post for 2015, I’m to choose my own word. Since I’ve had a sore throat since Tuesday night when I woke with a fever, and, a week before that had a sinus infection accompanied by sore throat, I think my word is grateful.

Before I moved to MD to share a house with one best friend and live across the street from my other, being sick meant being alone, struggling to the drug store or supermarket, and just making it through. Even as a child, I pretty much just made it through. Now, they actually take care of me, bring me cough drops, aspirin, and other goodies. It’s not something I’m used to yet. I’m like a deaf person who can hear for the first time: Overwhelmed and so grateful. (Except the deaf people all cry and I’m not there yet.)

Here’s the video of the deaf hearing for the first time. It’s really cool. May God break your hearts this Christmas so that you can be even more grateful (even if, like me, you don’t cry and get all gushy).

And here’s my favourite piece of Advent music. E’en So Lord Jesus Quickly Come:

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On Friday (and occasionally Saturday if Friday is filled with an excess of other activities),100s of bloggers set a timer, write for 5 minutes, and then post the results over at Kate Motaung’s blog, Heading Home. She provides the prompt on Thursday evening. We don’t edit or concern ourselves with whether our writing is flawless or worthy to be seen. We expose our incomplete, unpolished thoughts and words to each other and our readers and tweet them with the hashtag #FMFParty. Join us.

Reflect – Five Minute Friday

John 3-16 (1)Advent always causes me to reflect on Good Friday. It seems to me Heaven must have experienced both joy and something else, something that included the complete knowledge of all that was to come. Jesus gave His all. So did the Father and the Holy Spirit. My tiny, human brain cannot even begin to imagine what it must have been like when the Godhead poured one Person into the hands of human beings first as an infant and ultimately, on Good Friday. Heaven didn’t pull back even though it was apparent that we were so far lost, even the best of us did not appreciate the gift.

But I pull back. With all I have been given, I cower in fear or drag my feet. Too often, I’m not busy about my Father’s work. Which leads me to reflect, of all the gifts I can ask for this Christmas, the best might be even a soupçon of longing to spend myself doing the Father’s will. After all, Heaven spent it all for me.

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On Friday (and occasionally Saturday if Friday is filled with an excess of other activities),100s of bloggers set a timer, write for 5 minutes, and then post the results over at Kate Motaung’s blog, Heading Home. She provides the prompt on Thursday evening. We don’t edit or concern ourselves with whether our writing is flawless or worthy to be seen. We expose our incomplete, unpolished thoughts and words to each other and our readers and tweet them with the hashtag #FMFParty. Join us.

Image source.

Why: Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus

John C. Wright’s Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus is a heart wrenching, joyful tale that has little to do with the original and everything to do with God’s answers to our prayers even when they include pain. It is worth a read and worth sharing:

Why is there pain in the world? If I could bring God here, and find a judge to judge between us, and force him to answer  — then I could punish him for all this pain!”

He raised his hand. “Touch the hem of my robe. Come, and see.”

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