Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year

In the Christmas rush I never got around to adding a post for our fourth week of advent, Love. So as we think of the New Year, may love abound. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke of using the weapon of love. I don't like the idea of love being a weapon, but I don't think that Dr. King meant the use of love in a manipulative or abusive manner. In fact, I don't think that true love is capable of manipulation or abuse; it is by nature pure and right. By the weapon of love, I think that Dr. King hit on an eternal truth of God; a Judo truth, you don't meet force with force. Evil doesn't stop evil, lies don't stop lies, wars don't stop wars, and death doesn't stop death. You may be thinking "wait! Jesus died so that we may have life" but it wasn't just an ordinary death, it was a death with resurrection. So whatever we face in 2007, whatever troubles, whatever joys-- may we face them with love. Happy New Year!

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.
1 John 4:16

Monday, December 18, 2006


I'm sure that in the midst of an exam week for most of our youth, joy is not an expression that comes to mind very easily. But remember the feeling when that last answer comes and the test is turned in-- relief, delight, JOY! I think of it kind of like going to the beach. I really love our annual vacation week at the beach, but in the mind of our children they never want to leave. Think of how many people love the beach, find joy in spending their time there, but how many people actually live at the beach. Something about it just wouldn't be so special if you were there 365. I know there are exceptions here, plenty of people who love their home at the beach summer, fall, winter, and spring. But for me, I love it one week a year. We find joy at different moments in our life, and one day we will be able to experience eternal joy, a joy that doesn't go stale or get old. But for now, we only see it for moments, but those moments can define our life. Our family loves our pictures from the beach, time in the ocean, bonding with family-- but we also take a different pleasure in going to work every day, having dinner together, and all of that non-beach stuff. So remember the Joy of life-- it's not there on the surface all the time, but if we remember the joy and let it define our lives, and look for it in unexpected places we'll know it is there, even if we are sad. May the Joy of Christmas pervade your week.

Monday, December 11, 2006


“When Jesus told his disciples they were the light of the world, where did he want them to shine? As more beams of light that make the light shine blindingly bright on itself, or as strobes of illumination flashing radical alternative lifestyles across the darkness? Do you blame the dark for being dark, or the light for not shining?” (from "Walk On: The Spiritual Journey of U2" by Steve Stockman, Relevant Media 2005, p.11)
That is a powerful sentence, do you blame the dark for being dark or the light for not shining. We cannot bring light into the world by eliminating the darkness, but only through bringing the light. “Peace is not just the absence of conflict.” As we hope for peace on earth, let us be reminded that it doesn’t just occur because the fighting has stopped. Darkness and evil are the absence of anything good, it’s like subtracting zero from zero. When you take nothing from nothing you don’t get something, the only way to get something from nothing is to add. And this is how God began the work of bringing Peace on Earth:

The Word was first,
the Word present to God,
God present to the Word.
The Word was God,
in readiness for God from day one.
Everything was created through him;
nothing—not one thing!—came into being without him.

What came into existence was Life,
and the Life was Light to live by.
The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness;
the darkness couldn't put it out.

He was in the world, the world was there through him, and yet the world didn't even notice.
He came to his own people, but they didn't want him.
But whoever did want him, who believed he was who he claimed and would do what he said,
He made to be their true selves, their child-of-God selves.

The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.
We saw the glory with our own eyes,
the one-of-a-kind glory,
like Father, like Son, Generous inside and out, true from start to finish. (from John1 The Message)

May we continue the work which God has begun in us, bringing light to a world in darkness adding goodness to squeeze out the evil. Bringing Peace, through love, grace, and mercy. May He guide our feet into the path of Peace.

Monday, December 04, 2006


It is no wonder that Hope is such an important element of our faith. Hope is a waiting and watching and, well, hoping. What gives up hope rather than despair is the knowledge that there is a reason for us to hope. That something great is coming. That is why Christmas can be so much more than a holiday, but an exercise in our faith as we experience on the earthly level something close to what God has in store for us. We hope for Christmas and we know that it will come. For most of us that means joy and contentment at least for a moment. Of course for some, the holidays also bring the blues, and I would hate to think that words such as these would leave them feeling like something must be wrong with them. I have experienced times in my life also when Christmas did not bring anything close to joy for me. But we can see the power that it has on our world. I don't know if you will be familar with the story of the soccer game that broke out on the World War I battlefield during the Christmas truce of 1914. Read about it here if you're interested. I doubt that on the cold front of the war those soldiers were in a state of joy, but kicking a soccer ball around for a few hours in the cold where hours later volleys of gunfire would ring out must have let them know that somehow there must be hope. In Christ there is Hope. Welcome to the first week of Advent, may your week be filled with hope.
Let me hear of your steadfast love in the morning,
for in you I put my trust.
Teach me the way I should go,
for to you I lift up my soul.
Psalm 143:8