Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Time Memorials, Part 2

Making Time speak to you of God's goodness. This is at the heart of why we mark any day above another. Though all days might speak to us of all God's works in us and for us (Ps 19), as finite creatures, we need to focus on a few things at a time in order to appreciate them properly.

Because Christmas Eve falls on Sunday this year, Advent begins this coming Sunday. So we still have time to consider what we will do to give this season its true voice.

Advent is celebrated for the four Sundays before Christmas Day. It is a time to look back, remembering how Jesus actually entered Time and Space and flesh before. And it is a time to look forward, longing for His final return. In between, we look for His fresh visitation in our own hearts.
(There is an excellent summary of Advent's purpose and celebration at The Voice.)

Christian tradition has set forth a two-year cycle of readings to help Christians to focus on various aspects of Christ's work in the Incarnation. This year's readings can be found at
Daily Readings, Advent 2006.

This year they begin with Jesus' parable of the wise and foolish bridesmaids (Mt. 25:1-13). Remember that story? Ten bridesmaids all dressed up and ready for to escort the bridal party into the feast. Five brought extra oil for their lamps; five showed up with just what was in their lamps. It was a longer wait than anyone anticipated. The ladies drowsed and the lamps burned out before the midnight cry, "Here He comes!" roused them. Five were ready in a heartbeat, refilling their lamps from the extra they had brought. Five were unprepared, and finding that they couldn't mooch off of others, went on a wild hunt for a late-night oil merchant. Not only did they miss the procession; they missed the whole wedding. Jesus gives us the moral of the story: "Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh."

Here is your mission
(should you choose to accept it). Meditate on this Scripture and consider these questions:
  1. Into what dark place in your life do you long to see Christ come with His joy and His healing?
  2. How will you keep your 'lamp' alight with the Spirit's presence until Christ comes to you with power?
  3. How will you encourage your family and those around you not to lose heart waiting in the dark? How will you draw others into the drama of waiting on the Lord?
Then come back on Friday for my new meme: Redeeming the Time. I will be using Mr Linky to help you (You can try it out today for fun!). Post on your own blog or in my comments section whatever meditations you can share with us, and your ideas for inviting others to "prepare the way of the Lord" in their own lives.

Be creative! Some of your ideas will be purely contemplative. Some should be concrete (Like deciding to read the Advent Scriptures together each day by the gathering light of Advent wreath candles, or learning to sing the parable as the hymn: "Soul, Adorn Thyself with Gladness"). We will all have time on Saturday to incorporate some of these new ideas into our own celebrations on Sunday and in the week following.

See you on Friday!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Recovering the Bard

We have forgotten how to read. We have even forgotten how to tell stories. We sit in front of a blue plasma screen, mezmerized by the latest string of inanities. But nothing touches us. Nothing there heals or challenges or strengthens.

The shocking thing is that we begin to approach every story, every event in our own lives in the same passive way that we approach television. Life is just the latest string of inanities. Entertaining but empty.

But the reality is:
"God has delivered us, He has parted waters for us, He has made water gush forth from rocks and sent us our own manna from heaven. He has brought us into our own Promised Land. Will I miss the opportunity to tell the story to our children?"
~ Ann Voskamp, Holy Experience ~

We are working to recover the Bard at our house. We read the Scriptures and look for the ways that God has translated those stories into our own lives. When we learn to tell our own stories in those terms, we understand what those events mean, and how to proceed from here. We learn how to 'read' the events in others' lives too, when they tell us of the droughts and deserts and homelessness in their experience.

Our family is also looking for ways to make our everyday routines tell the stories of God's work on our behalf. That is why we love the Church calendar. It disciplines us to remember to tell the stories of the seasons and to give ordinary things like weather and time their true voices - the voices that speak to us of their Creator.

We are approaching Advent, the season when we prepare our hearts for a fresh Visitation of the Lord in a very personal sense, and look forward to His final coming when He will write us into the end of all Creation's stories, and like Scheherezade, will weave us into the next, more glorious tale of Eternity.

Come back tomorrow if you would like to join me in preparing Him room in your heart and entering into the world's joy at the coming of her King. I will be beginning a weekly meme on Advent.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Faith & Insanity

"Faith is deliberate confidence in the character of God whose ways you may not understand at the time." ~ Oswald Chambers~

What is it that persuades someone to hope beyond the evidence of their experience? When everything around you tells you that the world is nothing more than a place of cruel torments and that God, if He exists, loves to mock His creatures, what gives you the audacity to declare that God is good? Or that life's horrors are the path to glory?

Your shrink will tell you that it's insanity (what color would you like your straightjacket?). Your pastor will tell you that it's faith.

But don't worry, you're in good company.
  • Noah, that old fool, was a-building a huge boat for probably upwards of a century on a land-locked bit of ground while raving about escaping judgement by means of this mercy of God.
  • Joseph continued in patient and excellent service, on the hope of a dream (literally!), after being betrayed by his own brothers, sold as a slave, falsely accused by his master's wife, and forgotten in prison by those he had helped.
  • Mary maintained that God was her good and merciful savior even after He exposed her to the dangerous accusation of "unwed mother". She even heard voices and saw things that no one else saw.
I think I'll take my place among these raving lunatics. And there is a reason - even while the rest of it looks crazy. If God is not who He says He is; if life is not a training ground for something more; then nothing matters at all. There really is no difference between cruelty and non-cruelty, between good and evil, between "making a difference" and living for "all the gusto you can get".

So get the straighjacket ready, if you like. I'll just go on singing.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Holiday reading recommendations

For some leisure-time relaxation, try the blogs at Christian Women Online. My favorites include And I Shall Yet Praise Him, Deo Volente, Holy Experience, Whippoorwill Chronicles...

Not only are there some truly gifted writers there, but until tomorrow, you will have the opportunity to nominate your favorite reads for awards in several categories:

Best Friend Award
Someone that you deem as friendly--reaching out to those around her.

Most Joyful Among Us Award
Illuminates joy through her posts. Has a "glass-half-full" attitude.

Best Home Maker Award
Exhibits above average homemaking skills, with a love for the work she does in her home.

The Better Half Award
Shows a reverent respect for her husband, and delights in her marriage.

Most Humorous Award
Has a knack for wit, and the ability to find humor in her everyday life.

Best Group Blog
Has the best team of bloggers who inspire us with their words

Best Mommy Award
A mommy who joys in the job of raising little ones for the Lord.

Best Home School Award
Makes homeschooling something to be desired.

Best Scrapbooker Award
Designs and exhibits beautiful scrapbooking lo's.

Artistic Blog Skin Award
Has a blog design that stands out as unique from the rest.

And, our most favored award will be:

The Unified Heart Award
One who strives to unify the body of Christ through love, encouragement, and an always open heart. She is unto God a sweet savor of Christ.

There are 650 of us on the blog roll, but you can find the CWO blog roll by clicking here

Please send your nominations to:

Friday, November 17, 2006

Scapegoats & Whipping Boys

The pundits have been chewing on the lessons of this election for a week now, and they don’t seem to have gotten the point yet. They have moved from analyzing rejected policies to blaming voting blocks. It appears that the Christian conservatives are traitors to the Republican Party.

Well, they are partly right. Christians have lost their faith in a party that will not stick to its principles. And that party has lost their votes.

In Colorado, you would have thought they could see it coming. In the last election cycle, the Republican Party dumped conservative workhorse Senate candidate, Bob Schaeffer, in favor of RINO millionaire Pete Coors. Disgruntled Colorado Republicans refused the bait. And in an election which saw massive Republican gains across the country, Colorado lost not only the US Senate seat, but lost control of the state house as well.

The Colorado Republican Party responded by fielding a whole slate of candidates more like Coors than like a real Republican, and now they’ve lost the whole enchilada. And if the national party had been paying attention, they might have taken a lesson from Colorado. We voted conservatively on the ballot issues, even though we refused to elect Republicans who only wore the button and not the values.

It might be profitable to the Republican Party to look at how Coloradoans voted on the issues, if they really want to learn the lessons of the election. Did Colorado actually vote for a liberal Democratic sea-change?

Well, we voted[1]
1) against giving homosexuals all the economic privileges of marriage
2) against requiring pre-school
3) for a traditional Christian definition of marriage
4) against educational spending targets that would likely result in increased taxation
5) against legalizing marijuana
6) for enforcing existing immigration laws
7) against usurping representative government with excessively lax petiton regulation
8) against politicizing the judiciary by limiting judges’ terms

On the issues, Colorado voted solidly conservative. It’s almost sky-writing huge. There are more registered Republicans in Colorado than Unaffiliated voters, and more Unaffilateds than registered Democrats, according to CBS news analysis on election night. The key to winning Colorado voters is putting up candidates who actually support the values the Party purports to champion.

As Capitol Hill FreedomWorks Chairman Dick Armey put it, "the toughest thing to realize is we did it to ourselves." Armey told a crowd of sixty congressional staffers at a post-election discussion, that Republicans lost because they have lost their way, and they need to return to their principles of limited government.

Do we really need a whipping boy? Look no further than the RINO next door.

[1] According to the Denver Post.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Perfect Gift

"No gift unrecognized as coming from God is at its own best... when in all gifts we find Him, then in Him we shall find all things."

~ George MacDonald~

"So tell us about your walk with God." The elders leaned into the membership interview. The organist was practicing in some far gallery, and the library shelves embraced them all with the wisdom of the ages.

"Well," she began, "I can't ever remember a time when I didn't know about God." (And how did that ever save you sorrow? she wondered. ) "But when I was three I had a problem with guilt…"

The afternoon sun dusted into the room where the tiny girl squirmed on her rose-crusted quilt, tears dry on her hot cheek. "It's not fair. I can't do it. I have to be perfect. I can't ever do it. They’ll never believe I'm really sorry. How will they ever forgive me?" She looked around desperately, raking long scratches down her arms, trying to shed the loathsome skin.

“My parents would discipline me – appropriately – and send me to my room to think about what I had done. But it never seemed enough to me.” (Why? What would drive a three-year-old to self-mutilation? A three-year-old who had never heard of such a thing?)

A dusky early morning. Her father with a suitcase and a business suit bending down, down to catch her as she danced to the fizzy hi-fi and to kiss her good-bye. “I’m going on a business trip. Don’t know when I’ll be back.” He paused, “Who do you love best, Mommy or me?” Suddenly, all the dance drained out of her. Hardly breathing, she remembered the shouting, the weeping in the night, something in a bad dream…but no. Surely what she said now would either bring her Daddy home again or never again. She would have to hold them together. All of them. Now there was a baby sister, too.

A perfect answer. It would have to be a perfect answer. No second chances.

“So in the interval for thinking, I would…hurt myself. Biting, bruising, scratching. It was best if I could bleed. My mother was beside herself with worry. She consulted with older women, who taught her to tell me the Gospel very simply. I remember asking Jesus to pay for my sins with His blood. And I never needed to hurt myself again.” (The abuses continued. Dad was …the pressure never let up, she realized. I would never be perfect enough to make life OK for Dad. But someone else had bled. Someone else had died, as I would have died. It was the perfect gift.)


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