There are many tasks I need to buckle down and work on the rest of this week. The sermon is coming but it has not come easily. The quiet in my house now that everyone has gone home is good but it is easy to procrastinate and otherwise find ways to waste time.
The computer is a great tool and also a great distraction.
I have a set of photos taken over Christmas posted at Flikr
Now back to work.
In the seasons of Advent and Lent I find myself feeling a bit at odds with the frivolity of the season. (Not that Lent is exactly filled with mirth but it is hardly about getting stocked up on chocolate for the Easter bunny to deliver either.) As a culture we seem to jump from one event to the next without savoring any part of it – like draining a bottle of wine without holding it long enough in the mouth to appreciate its flavor, becoming drunk on the quantity we consume with no enjoyment of its richness. So, immediately one holiday is done the stores quickly remove all signs that it happened and gear up for the next selling opportunity.
Maybe if these seasons were only about Santa Claus and the Easter bunny it wouldn’t matter what big business did to stimulate us to buy candy and trinkets. But because these seasons hold such significant religious meaning for me I find myself wanting to withdraw from the glittery trappings of our consumerist world into an inward space sparsely adorned with things that have become symbols of where my heart is in these waiting days of Advent. A candle glows in the light of early morning as a symbol of God’s presence with me as I invite his Spirit to fill my day. The Advent ring of candles remind me weekly of expressions of hope, peace, joy and love that we ponder during the four weeks leading up to Christmas day. Some of the mournful tunes of Advent remind me of the longing of a heart for the arrival of a loved one long waited for, of my hopes waiting to be fulfilled and of the melancholy of a waiting heart.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not sad or depressed. The period of waiting gives me time for the preparation I need to do on the inside. I need the reminders of why we wait, why Christians devote this time to preparation and waiting and why it is good for my soul to stop and reflect before I jump into the celebration and joy of Christmas.
The celebration will come. My house will be full of children and grandchildren and their voices, of smells of baking and roasting turkey, the scent of the real tree, the delight of wrapping and unwrapping gifts, and the sounds of joyful Christmas music. But if my heart is not prepared for the coming of the King, a turkey and some mistletoe will not be able to fill my days with real joy.
We had a party tonight. It was our annual Family Advent Program with the usual astonishing talent and this year it was followed by a catered finger food (ie:wings and ribs and wraps and lots of sweet stuff) meal and games night. I think Pictionary was the biggest hit. We had a good evening together simply enjoying each other’s company.
And Roger had a great time – even caught up on reading the paper. I swear this is his favorite activity!
Among the musical greats doing their stuff was Massa with an animated version of one of the latest Lingala Christmas tunes,
the Vandersluys Family Singers,
And Meself trying my best to bow some tunes out of my new bass. (You can tell I am concentrating by the serious look I have.)
There are more pictures which I will post over on Flikr.
I spoke today in church as Randall is away on vacation. My text was Romans 11:1, 2a and 29 to 32. I guess I would have to say that I also incorporated some of the verses in-between as well. My topic was on how we are grafted into the old story – the old covenant that God established with his chosen people; how important it is for us to know this history that we now have our roots in as well, how those ties with this old story of faith enrich us and nourish us as branches grafted in by our faith in Jesus. Well, there was lots more said and the details I may post over under my words section.
I have a confession to make – I like speaking. I like preparing and the way it takes me deeper into my study of the Bible. I like the way God shows up and guides me along as I delve into the scriptures.
Romans is a book pretty heavy with theology. If nothing else it stimulated my awareness that it is a subject I would like to know more about. I wonder if this interest in theology arises out of my own awareness that God is way beyond my understanding. So then, why bother trying to understand God? I am not sure why but it feels a bit as if he/she is beckoning; inviting me, if you will to discover more.
This is a bit of the sense of the “weirdness” that I alluded to in an earlier post. I find myself in a period of unsettledness, as if I am waiting for the next step to become clearer.
I am trying to take things one day at a time, being attentive to what God is moving me towards. I could jump in and start into a next project but I am still not sure if a new project is what I need – or what God wants for me. How do I respond to this itch in me, this drive to move towards something more? It is pretty much retirement time and why develop these desires now of all times in my life? And there are also all the other parts of my life that lay claim to some of my time. So, I am trying to be reasonable and patiently await a bit more clarity as to what the future might hold.
May God be merciful and bless us.
May his face smile with favor on us.
May your ways be known throughout the earth,
your saving power among people everywhere.
May the nations praise you, O God.
Yes, may all the nations praise you.
Let the whole world sing for joy,
because you govern the nations with justice
and guide the people of the whole world.
May the nations praise you, O God.
Yes, may all the nations praise you.
Then the earth will yield its harvests,
and God, our God, will richly bless us.
Yes, God will bless us,
and people all over the world will fear him.
Some events are very special. Yesterday Kimia Lanoie was dedicated to God. A big day for my littlest granddaughter. Kind of special for a Father’s Day since my son is the proud dad.
At times like this my thoughts return to the past; to Eric’s dedication and our idealism at that time as we set out to raise our first child to know God. My memories run over all the years in between then and now. Memories are both funny and serious but all those times remembered are savored and pondered over one more time.
And here we are – a new generation well on its way. Our children beginning to collect their own memories of their children’s lives.
As for Grandma – well I will remember this day. It goes in my collection bag of good times and special memories. I will remember this day as she grows and as those occasions come when she will need to be reminded that she is loved and cared for by her parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles and by her Heavenly Father.
As I pedaled to work this morning:
The steadfast love of the Lord never faileth
His mercies never come to an end
They are new every morning
New every morning
Great is Thy faithfulness, O Lord
Great is Thy faithfulness