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Posts Tagged ‘Prayer’

I have been quiet for a few weeks. Sometimes when I prepare to preach, God’s Spirit moves in a profound way. So it was after sharing my guiding principles with my faith community. While I have a number of projects to tend to, God drew me to a place of quiet reflection.  These periods of relative silence are fundamental to my discipline of discernment. Out of the silence, I emerge more focused and intentional. My work is more fruitful and my voice a little bolder.  

A friend’s blog directed me to Raven’s Bread Ministries, a ministry for men and women who seek a solitary life. I then read “Consider the Ravens,” a summation of posts by others seeking to live in the simplest way in order to direct the majority of their time and energy to prayer. At first look, it may seem impossible to live a solitary life in the 21st century. The reality is that more and more individuals not only seek a simple, set apart life but are able to find a way to live into a ‘hermit’s way.’

This may strike you as personally irrelevant, living as you do in a Post-Christian world, but even a cursory survey of Scripture reveals our need to have time apart for prayer and reflection; time to hear God’s voice; time to choose a life in concert with our brothers, our sisters, and creation.

In Sunday’s reading from Isaiah 49:8-16a, God meets the needs of God’s servant: “I have answered you. I have helped you.  I have kept you.” Sheldon Sorge writes in his essay in Feasting on the Word, “Flush with a personal encounter with God’s redemptive work, the minister is equipped to go public with God’s good news.” He continues, “Those who would minister in Christ’s name must first tend to their own souls, availing themselves of God’s help before offering it to others.”

Very soon, we will enter the season of Lent. There is no better time to consider our life choices, our life styles, our personal consumer practices in light of a world where economic injustice prevails, our earth suffers, and our children trust us with their futures.

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This morning I lingered over one more cup of coffee and found myself gazing at the sunlight, filtering through my Christmas tree.  I know lots of folks who are in a hurry to ‘light the lights and trim the tree’ only to take everything down before the New Year. But I am one that likes to take my time before, during and after Christmas day. All my expired  coupons for 2010 have already been tossed into the paper recycle bag. Left overs have long since been remade into soups and casseroles, overeaten and sometimes simply tossed out in the compost pile. Gone are the crumpled foil remnants of wrapped, unwrapped, and re-wrapped cookies and brownies (I do miss those).

Is it really time to pack up and put away Christmas? I don’t mean removing bows from the banister or winding up strings of lights. I’m not thinking, really, about dissembling the artificial tree or reflecting one more time on when or from whom a certain ornament or stocking or card was received. Rather, has the advent journey really come and gone? Have I wrapped myself in all the richness and revelation that comes to us through the gospel story? Have I seen enough light this season? Have I finished counting the many times of when or from whom Christ’s light was received. Did I do my part to offer the true light of Christ to others?

It probably is time to pack up the physical remnants of Christmas 2010, but put it away? I don’t think so. The journey is simply this, one step at a time, until the coming of Christ again; in a look, an action, a Word, a prayer, an offer of love. There is no box that can contain Christmas.

Blessings,

Deacon Gates

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Last year my church choir sang an anthem that stayed with me for weeks.  When the season of Advent returned this year, I quickly recollected the song. I was excited when it was, once again, selected as one of the choir anthems for Christmas.  “Mary, Did You Know?” was written by Mark Lowry and Buddy Green and has been recorded by numerous artists since 1992.

The music is memorable to sing but the lyrics are what keep coming back to me. I share them here as a spiritual reflection. Read the verses through, slowly and out loud.  Pause if you speak a word that engages your imagination or invites a question. Revisit these lyrics over the next weeks and permit yourself to live into the mystery of Christ’s coming into the world; what I will call the ‘lingering gifts waiting to be opened.”  Let me know what you think. Grace and peace from my home to yours.

Mary, Did You Know?

Mary, did you know that your baby boy would one day walk on water? Mary, did you know that your baby boy would save our sons and daughters? Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new? This child that you delivered will soon deliver you.

Mary, did you know that your baby boy will give sight to the blind man? Mary, did you know that your baby boy would calm a storm with His hand? Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod? And when you kiss your little baby, you’ve kissed the face of God?

Did you know the blind will see, the deaf will hear, the dead will live again! The lame will leap, the dumb will speak the praises of the Lamb!

Mary, did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation? Mary, did you know that your baby boy will one day rule the nations? Mary, did you know that your baby boy was heaven’s perfect Lamb? And the sleeping child your’re holding, He is the great I AM!

Did you know? Did you know? Did you know His name is JESUS.

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