It Is Love That Will Save Us

It was love that brought God to that teenage girl in a village just outside of Jerusalem.  

It was love that pierced the darkness of that bygone age---an age that stands for all ages and all places and moments.  

It was love that brought forth that firstborn Son, the Light of Life, who was set to rest in a manger, wrapped in rough blankets. 

It was love that changed everything for everyone in every time.  

I  read this amazing quote the other day from Wendell Barry, the great author, poet and activist:  
I  take literally the statement in the Gospel of John that God loves the world.  I  believe the world was created and improved by love, that it subsists, coheres, and endures by love, and that, insofar as it is redeemable, it can be redeemed only by love. As I  was reading that quote again today, I found myself substituting the words that referred to "the world" with the words "I" and "me."  You ought to take a moment and do the same. 

Isn't that amazing? 

Maybe We're Doing This Wrong

I  was talking to a friend the other day, and we were commiserating on the miserable state of politics, world affairs and otherwise in our current culture.  

At one point we both sighed in unison.  

"I'm going to turn off cable news for the rest of the year," my friend said.  I told him that it wouldn't do any good.  I  told him that all of the crazy would find him somehow.  

"It feels like the world is falling apart sometimes," he said wearily.  

I  get it.  I feel like that at times, too.  It's easy to get overwhelmed by all of the hysteria, anxiety, political scandals, name-calling, in-fighting, violence, fear and what-not that seems to permeate everything.  

Funny.  The world of the first century wasn't all that dissimilar.  There were wars, and rumors of wars.  There was oppressive taxation from the government.  Terrorists were striking soft targets like festivals, feast days and religious observances.  

And the political and religious leaders of the…

Advent Is A Time of Longing

And I shall long for you, no matter how long it takes. - Tiffany Aurora

Longing  [ˈlôNGiNG] N. 
a yearning desire.

Advent is an expectant season.  We journey through Advent with a sense of that expectation embedded in us.  

It's the feeling that there might be something on the other side of whatever it is that we are doing---something more than just the end of the task, the check on the list.  

And there is an electricity of sorts just below the surface of all of it---a reverent kind of hum that reminds us that there is something (one) coming, new beginnings on the horizon, a new thing just on the other side of what we perceive.  

We long for this.  All of us... long for this.  

If we open our eyes wide enough, listen intently enough... we can see and hear signs and symbols of this coming newness all around us.  

We can see it on the faces of children, excitedly riding their bikes to school in the chilly December air--filled with expectation of the weeks to come... 

We can see it in the mo…

Advent Teaches Us To Give Up Control

I was feeling frustrated yesterday.  There was a glitch in our mail system and I was unable to complete the task of getting the daily devotion for today sent out in the time frame I wanted it sent. 

I was not able to fix the problem myself, which means I had to rely on others to do it.  And I had to wait, which is one of the most maddening things for me.  

I can't stand being in that space--out of control, at the mercy of other people's schedules, in charge, but not really in charge.  I even figured out a plan going forward to avoid this particular thing from happening again, trying to prepare for every contingency.  

Whom am I kidding, though?   There will be other issues, other problems and obstacles.  I can't foresee them all, and I'm sure there will be a time in the near future when I'll be back here feeling this way once more.  

It's interesting to be feeling all of this during a season that is marked by expectation.  Advent reminds us that God's arrival i…

The Divine Is In The Details

There is a feeling that comes to me when I am putting up my Christmas lights. 

It finds its way through frustration that is born out of my inability to organize my lights from year to year, resulting in tangles, blown fuses, and broken bulbs.  It finds a path past my aching back as I twist in a hundred unfamiliar ways trying to string the lights just so. 

It manages to come just underneath my errant swear words and negative self talk, as I find myself stopping and starting, making mistakes, using the wrong cord. 

The feeling that finds me is one of sweet sadness and joy.  It's a feeling that speaks to the way I realize all that has changed, all that has been lost and found, mourned and celebrated since the last time I unwound my lights. 

I remember how my mom loved all of my decorations and would smile sweetly at them... The way my littlest boy's face would glow in wonder, bathed in the rainbow colors of my work...  When my middle son helped me figure out how to run the electrical…

What Are You Waiting For?

Advent is a season of waiting.  A pregnant pause before the passing of the old and the coming of the new.  

It is in this season of waiting that we symbolically await the arrival of the Messiah as part of our ret-telling of the story of how God became one of us to rescue all of us.  

But what is it that we are really waiting for during this blessed season of Advent?  What are we expecting to find when we come to the end of it, and usher in the new year?  

We journey through this season filled with memories, marked by our traditions, and charged with the purpose of finding gifts, hosting gatherings, enduring family drama, and checking the boxes on our to-do lists and calendars.  

But we long for something more--something deeper.  We long for things to be different.  We long for the kind of connection with the Divine that so often eludes us, keeps us living in the dark.  

We long to know that God sees us... hears us... knows us.  

And this is what Advent truly teaches us, if we are willing to…

Shalom Is What Happens

Maybe it's the time of year--the Christmas lights and music playing everywhere... or it could be the familiar ornaments and decorations that we pull out of their boxes to display for only a few weeks.

But I often find myself feeling more aware of things during Advent---more alive in a way.  My senses are heightened, my ears perked up, my eyes opened a little wider than usual.  

Last night I went on a walk and caught myself taking deep breaths, breathing in the smells in the December air---wood smoke, cedar, and a hint of something else, something hidden in plain sight. 


There is the passage in the prophet Isaiah that is often read during the season of Advent.  It goes like this:  
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. (Isa. 9:2)Whenever I  have read that verse, or heard it read... it thrills me.  I feel something swell inside of my chest, and it feels like my heart might break.   
There is so much…