This was just too interesting to pass up especially when the outside temperature is well below freezing and I am yawning and longing for a nap. Evidently the primary purpose of yawning is to cool your brain. Read more
I am sitting here at our dining room table looking out on a cold crisp Seattle morning. The Olympics are covered with snow, the sun ois shining and I have a pot of soup cooking on the stove. What more could one ask for on a beautiful winter’s day like this.
For some reason the beautiful morning reminded me of the Christmas carol It Came Upon the Midnight Clear
It came upon the midnight clear,
That glorious song of old,
From angels bending near the earth,
To touch their harps of gold;
“Peace on the earth, good will to men,
From Heaven’s all gracious King.”
The world in solemn stillness lay,
To hear the angels sing.
Here are a couple of You Tube renditions of the carol that give very different but equally moving images –
one of ancient images from the life of Christ,played by Leigh Nash and Sixpence None Richer
the other with modern images taken from Grey’s Anatomy.
To be honest, maybe because I am a doctor by training, I found the images from Grey’s anatomy far more compelling. Anyway both of these videos really gave me a sense of the Advent of Christ this morning
Is bailing out the automobile industry really the right thing to do? I know there are thousands if not millions of people whose livelihoods are tied to the industry but are we just setting ourselves up for a worse mess in a few years time? Here is a thought provoking article by the New York Times foreign affairs columnist and Pulitzer Prize winner, Thomas Friedman
someone in the mobility business in Denmark and Tel Aviv is already developing a real-world alternative to Detroit’s business model. I don’t know if this alternative to gasoline-powered cars will work, but I do know that it can be done — and Detroit isn’t doing it. And therefore it will be done, and eventually, I bet, it will be done profitably. And when it is, our bailout of Detroit will be remembered as the equivalent of pouring billions of dollars of taxpayer money into the mail-order-catalogue business on the eve of the birth of eBay.
Here at the Mustard Seed House we do morning and evening prayers together 8:30 am and 9 pm each day except Saturday. I thought that some of you might be interested in joining us. We change these prayers with each season of the year. You can download the prayers here for Advent. We use them in conjunction with the daily scripture readings from the book of Common Prayer. Download here
Some of you may have noticed that I have been rather silent over the last few days. That is because Tom and I along with our golden retriever Bonnie have been away on retreat. This is something that we try to do each year during Advent. We book into a doggie friendly motel up at Anacortes and spend 2 days reflecting, listening to God and refocusing. We look back over our journals for the last few months, read scripture and spend time in quiet reflection and contemplation interspersed with times of sharing and listening to each other.
This has been a very good retreat for both of us and I personally have returned with a renewed sense of commitment to God’s call on my life and renewed zeal to live into God’s kingdom ways. Particularly during these turbulent times in which we live, I find that this discipline more than anything renews my trust in God and confidence in God’s love and compassion.
As I spent time in peace and quiet I realized how easy it is for me to become inwardly focused and disconnect from the insecurities and fears of those around me. This is a time for me to engage the world not ignore it. It is a time to live into God’s love and not allow the fears of this world to overcome me. It is a time to encourage others to live out of God’s generosity not out of the world’s scarsity.
As I read back over my journals I was reminded of NT Wright’s assertion that the language of God’s new world is the language of love and as Jean Vanier explains
“To love is a way of looking, of touching, of listening to all.” (Jean Vanier: Essential Writings, p44).
And that of course brings me to John 13:35
By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Surely this is what our faith should be about. Maybe then those outside the faith would sit up and take notice.
My plan for the rest of Advent is to continue reflecting on practical ways in which I can be God’s compassionate response in this challenging time and then get out and get involved. What are the practical ways in which you are being God’s compassionate response to others at this time?
This last week I have continued my reading discipline dipping into not just Jean Vanier the founder of the L’Arche communities, but also Mother Theresa from the Sisters of Charity and Richard Twiss, a leader in the First Nation’s movement in North America. At the same time I continue to grapple with what it means to live as a Christ follower in God’s global community and how we experience the coming of Christ at this season.
What do all these authors have in common you may well ask? They all express powerfully our need to not just listen to voices from the margins but also to recognize that it is through people who are disabled, destitute and excluded that God often speaks most powerfully.
In this season of Advent how does Christ come to us through the voices of those who are displaced, despised and abused? In the midst of our busyness and stress are we even open to hearing such voices and recongnizing our need to listen and learn from them?
“To love is a way of looking, of touching of listening to all” Jean Vanier reminds us. If we really long for the coming of Christ and the eternal kingdom of mutual love, abundance and wholeness that his return will bring into being in all its fullness how do we wait at this season and how do we live into this world today? How do we live by what what NT Wright calls the language of the kingdom and what James calls the royal law – love for God and love of neighbour.
I think that to live in true anticipation of the coming of Christ we must commit ourselves afresh to live according to this language of love. We must all open our eyes to see and respond to the face of God in every stranger. We must open our eyes to hear the voice of God in every outcast and must open our lives to be the love of God to every person we encounter who has been cast bu the wayside because of race, class, education, disabilities, illness, gender or any other disfigurement that excludes them from our lives and our society. It is not an easy task that God challenges us with but it is essential if we really want to see the light of Christ shine in the many dark places of our world.
Maybe as part of your Advent reflections this week you would like to listen to this short video that expresses Mother Theresa’s view of the importance of the poor and the destitute