Wednesday, November 30, 2016


Sign seekers seldom see,
     always hurrying,
     nowhere, but fast,
     eyes set out yonder
     instead of here.
Looking past the unfolding,
     not for buds on trees,
     but for ripened fruit.
     And so they miss
The signs that are abounding.

Sign searchers seldom find,
      never big enough,
      too mundane,
      talking more
      than listening.
Filled with ego seeking,
       always asking,
       "What's in it for me?"
        And so they go past
The signs that are abounding.

Sign see-ers seldom forget,
       not just about me,
       but mostly about Him,
       focused on the now
       always with thanksgiving.
Captivated by wonder,
       seeing the unseen,
       hearing things not spoken.
       And so they see
The signs that are abounding.

(Mark 13:28-29)

Tuesday, November 29, 2016


After You, the angels.
    What a sight it will be.
    Like those shepherds,
    we will surely be afraid.
But, like those men of old,
    we will surely rise,
    to offer shouts of praise,
    to declare undying adoration.

After the angels, the gathering.
    Not a gathering of the robed,
    the rich and well-to-do,
    but folks like me and you.
Folks from heaven and earth,
    though gone, now present,
    voices joining ours
    in joyous unbounded celebration.

After the gathering, the fulfillment.
    All the prayers not answered,
    will surely come to pass,
    even "on earth as it is in heaven."
 And all the promises ever made,
    those hoped for in the heart,
    now seen and known so clearly.

(Mark 13:27)

Monday, November 28, 2016

To Come Again

They looked up
   long, long ago,
   amazed, perplexed,
   wanting Him to stay.
Still He went up,
   lost in the clouds,
   leaving a promise
   to come again.

Others joined them,
   not as long ago,
   sure they knew
   it was time.
Still He delayed
   remaining away
   waiting for the time
   to come again.

And so do we
   watch and wait,
   but only with hope,
   longing for His face.
In the clouds He said,
   upward our face,
   because He promised
   to come again.

(Mark 13:26)

Sunday, November 27, 2016

As in the Beginning

Not just dark,
    but real darkness.
The "can't see your face "
    kind of darkness,
    darkness that is deep,
    darkness that is thick.
Impenetrateable darkness.

Not just cloudy,
     or overly hazy.
The "never seen anything like it"
      kind of day,
      or is it night,
      maybe just chaos.
Catastrophic chaos.

Not just chaos,
      but absolute and total.
The "not going to make it"
       kind of chaos,
       no hopeful stars,
       no smiling moon.
Complete nothingness.

Not just now,
        but as in the beginning.
The "never been before"
        kind of beginning,
        out of darkness,
        out of chaos.
Jesus comes again.

(Mark 13:24-25)

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Advent 2016

Tomorrow begins the Advent season.   Though it will be an unnoticed transition, Advent marks the beginning of the new year on the Christian calendar.   Advent goes unnoticed because everyone has their eyes on Christmas, but also because it is a season which centers around preparation for the Christ-event of Bethlehem instead of the Christ-event itself.  The secular community around us has no time for a season of getting ready.  It is always about the now, about not having to wait for anything, and about keeping everyone from any discomfort.  Thus, Advent is counter culture for those who observe it find themselves being taken in a different direction.

The Advent scripture lessons are not about Mary and Joseph, shepherds in the fields, and men from the East coming to worship the babe in the manger.  Instead, the lessons of Advent remind us that the One who has come will come again.  The next coming of Jesus is spoken of as a historical fact not yet realized.  The lessons remind us to live as if that day is today, or tomorrow.  The lessons of Advent also put on center stage John the Baptist, a wild-eyed preacher from the Jordan River, who preaches a single minded message of getting ready for Jesus who is coming.  Repentance is the response for which he calls and repentance means acknowledging something is fundamentally wrong within the heart.   It is no wonder that today's secular culture has no room for Advent and is impatient with a church community that seeks to observe it.

One of the ways I seek to stand in the stream of this Advent tradition is to offer a daily blog posting centering around some of the Advent lessons from the Word.  Tomorrow I will begin again offering a daily Advent reflection.  Anyone who would like to read more is invited to look back at other Advent meditations from the last several years.  Those who have been readers in other years will find this year's offerings to be a bit different.  Though different this time around, my desire is to once again offer a word based on the scripture that might speak to hearts and minds of those who share this journey of faith. 

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Being Thankful

Being thankful seems easy enough, but sometimes we find ourselves in circumstances which make it more difficult.  We have often heard and we have seen it on billboards at this time of the year that there is always something for which to be thankful.  No matter how bad it seems, these seasonal words tell us to be thankful.  At times it sounds like the guy telling someone in an inescapable pit to look for the silver lining which is, of course, in every cloud.  Or, so they say.  Sometimes the people who tell us to look for the silver lining, or to be thankful in the worst of circumstances are folks who do not want to see how bad things can really be. 
The world with the clouds which always have silver linings is not the world where some folks live.  Some folks live in a world empty of silver lined clouds and the darkness seems so deep that it appears impossible to make it.  If you have never been in that world, then there is something for which to be thankful.  If you have, then you know that the hardest time to find something for which to be thankful is not after going through the darkness, but while you are caught up in it.  The view after the darkness has passed is always different than the view from inside the darkness.
The Word of God speaks of " thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."  (Ephesians 5:20)  Be patient with those who read those words and loudly say, "Oh, really?  You have to be kidding!"  The view of the world which enables us to always live with a grateful heart is not something we just fall into because we have said "yes" to Christ.  It is the world of those who have endured many bouts where gratitude was overcome by the darkness.  It is the world of those who have learned that God is not going anywhere when we are pushing Him away.  It is the world of those who do not try to deny the deep darkness in which we often find ourselves, but have learned that even in it, God is at work to bring us through.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Bearing Burdens

The Word tells us to bear one another's burdens. (Galatians 6:2)   Never an easy thing for most of us to do.  Many of us have enough of our own.  We have such heavy ones on our own shoulders, breaking our own heart, that we cannot really conceive of adding one being carried by another.  We only have so much energy and when all we have is taken in the course of managing the struggles of our own life, it often becomes too much effort to take on those belonging to a friend.  It is not that we are people who do not care, but people who are overwhelmed by the things life is throwing at us. 
But, then, those who bear heavy burdens understand the need people have for burden bearers in their lives.  More than others, they understand that a person burdened with some of the hard things of life cannot make it alone.  Thus, out of their own struggles, the heavily burdened are often given eyes to see those bearing heavy burdens around them.  Surely, we all know they are there.  Even when we do not see them, or their burdens, we know they are ever present with us.  Maybe all we can give in the moment of seeing is a kind word, or some expression of encouragement, or a quietly breathed word of prayer in their behalf. 
Too many times in our search for the grandiose act of compassion, the act that is going to be life changing and unforgettable, we let the ordinary moments pass without offering a word that would identify us as one willing to bear another's burden, even if for just a moment.  In most cases, a moment is enough.  Knowing someone is out there who acknowledges the struggle and who is willing to offer even a little can make a difference which is unthinkable to everyone except the one who bears the burden. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

"The Veil is Thin"

"Watch closely today.  The veil is thin."   It was not a cryptic, coded note, but a word I immediately recognized as a reminder that today is All Saints Day.  Is it true that there are moments when those of us on earth are given a hint or glimpses of the glories of heaven?  Is it true that there are some places so saturated with the power of prayer that God is more likely to make Himself known within these earthly confines?  Is it true that there are times when it seems like we do indeed have some kind of mysterious communion with those saints in glory even though we still abide here in this world?  Is it true that glimpses of glory are only a breath away?
There is a part of me which shouts "yes" to each of these questions.  And, more than any other day of celebration on the church calendar, All Saints Day brings me to such a conclusion.  Over the years I have come to experience worship on All Saints Sunday as one of the more powerful Sundays of the year.  Always, we would call the names of those who had departed our earthly fellowship in the past year to become a part of that great cloud of heavenly witnesses and then gather around the Table for the holy meal.  In those moments it was like we were at one end a table that was of this earth, but which also faded away at the other end where the saints gathered.  Connected is what I always experienced on those Sundays when it seemed more than ever that the veil was thin.

I first thought about heaven when I was seven.  Some men in uniform came to our home to tell my family that my father would not be coming home.  With us in the morning, he was gone to the heavenly place in the evening.  The two places are not that far away.  I love the way All Saints Day encourages me to call the names of the saints.  I love the way it causes me to remember with thanksgiving the eternal provision of God.  I love the way it gives me a hope that cannot be quenched.