Advent and why Bette Midler is full of @#$%

bette

Sing it with me now:  (insert corny 80’s Casio synthesizer melody here)

God is watching us . . . God is watching us . . . God is watching us . . . from a distance”

Bull-pucky Betty!  This is in fact the entire point of Christmas, it was not a distant event. It was in fact historically and geographically here.  The great conspiracy of Christmas is that God is in reality no longer distant but IMMANUEL . . . God with us.  He didn’t leave us to our darkness in the silent night, he didn’t leave us without peace on earth, he didn’t leave us and the 3 kings to figure it out amongst ourselves.  The entire point of Advent is waiting for an arrival, He is not distant, He is present.  Hope is here.

The Incarnation of Jesus is an invasion on a Kingdom scale.  It was not to coo in a manger and soil his swaddling clothes, the baby came to take over completely and without rival.  For unto us the child was born for this reason:  Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.” (Isaiah 9:7)   From that time on, the Incarnation started an invasion of the Divine and He has never left.  He is not distant, He is not watching from a distance, He is here and Now ready to enter in the chaos of your silent night and infect it with blinding light. 

Sorry Bette, the chords and words sound flowery and soothing, but in fact leave us with no hope in the now.  The idea that the power and point of Christianity is for a place far away and a time far off in the future where we get to go to someday after we die is a lie of travesty proportions.  This robs Christmas of a throne-taking baby.  He didn’t come to be cute, He didn’t come to point to a future time, He came to take over now!

Aaaaaaaannndd . . . wait for it . . . we get to be a part of it!  This is the ‘love your neighbor’ part.  When we participate in the kind of life He designed, one filled with hope, unwavering love and service to our neighbors, we are enacting this ‘Kingdom come on earth as it IS in heaven’.  Heaven came to earth in the form of a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and left with us all the keys to the Kingdom and access to the portals of heavenly power and freedom.  We don’t have to wait anymore, Heaven is not a far off place we go to after we die, it’s a life we can live now.   God is not watching us from a distance, He is indwelling within us NOW.

We have access now through the Son . . . don’t settle for anything less than fullness.  Christmas is Kingdom Come, Hope is Kingdom Come all year long.  

Today the heart of God is an open wound of love. He aches over our distance and preoccupation. He longs for our presence. And he is inviting you and me to come home, to come home to where we belong, to come home to that for which we were created.” – Richard Foster

Advent 2017: I was lied to growing up in church

sad_love-heartbreak“Today the heart of God is an open wound of love. He aches over our distance and preoccupation. He longs for our presence. And he is inviting you and me to come home, to come home to where we belong, to come home to that for which we were created.” – Richard Foster

I was lied to growing up in the church.  Can you relate?  Most of the sermons and teaching I remember hearing agreed with the same themes I heard  in side conversations around the pews and the whispers in the hallways.  The theme that dominated my early construct of who this mysterious God was and what he was like was that he was mad at me.  He was disappointed in my lack of ‘having it together’, he was ashamed of my worldly ways, he condemned my thoughts and my questions as rebellion against his holiness.  If and when I got my act together, then I could have a seat at the table if I behaved.  God was the judge and he wasn’t pleased with me.

This was a God who was distant, far away, untouchable by the untouchables.  Religion is a box of shame.

This construct simply was a lie meant to control and keep God at a distance. This is not at all the God I have come to know and be known by.  The reality of Christmas, the theme of Advent, is an aching of God to overcome all barriers and connect with His creation again.   Here is the Gospel of Advent . . . Here is the good news of Christmas . . . Here is the Truth . . . God is not mad at us, He just misses us!  He literally does not want to live without us.  THIS is the theme of Immanuel, ‘God with us’ because he doesn’t want to be without us.

He aches over our distance and HE closed the distance.  He’s not asking us to meet him halfway, He went the whole way.  He’s asking us to stop running, to stop and turn into His love.  His love is like the warmth of a crackling fire with your stocking on his mantle with YOUR name on it.  You are welcome at His table, You quite simply belong to Him and He can’t and won’t live without you, THAT is why He came.

He’s not mad, He just misses you.  He aches for you.  Stop and notice Him today.  Be embraced, stop running, find your home there.  This is not religion, this is Kingdom Come.

I’m going to be writing on this theme for the season of Advent this 2017, come along for the journey.

 

 

Hurry Back to Me, My Wild Callin’ . . . (Flogging Molly)

callingFor years I have preached and taught this idea . . . “dreams are something you have, ‘callings’ are something that have you.”  

I had a conversion-like experience at the age of 17, it was both spiritual and existential.  I felt alone, abandoned, abused and discarded.  But I had a personal-like experience with an unseen God.  It was like in a moment, He satisfied all of the questions my active mind was asking and then He showed up and quenched the thirst of my parched soul.  I may have felt true love for the first time that night.  I was suicidal, wrapped up in pain.  I put the pills down and chose to enter into relationship with this unseen God.

The moment I chose to receive this mysterious love, I received a “calling” that gripped my life and embedded a conviction to action that has defined me.   I chose to embody the life I always wished someone else had shown me.  I wanted to be the leader I never had.  This ‘calling’ has not made me famous or made me a fortune, in fact it has invited me into the world of anonymity and not fitting in within a world of competing values than that of the Kingdom of God.  But I’m mostly grateful because the things I have done and the things I have attempted, I did with a clear conscience and a desire to bring the world more of the goodness of the One who created us all.

I am now in a space of questioning my original ‘calling’.  Perhaps not so much in leaving it, but allowing it to grow out of it’s original cocoon and transform into something new.  Things are not as I suppose they would be but in their own way, they are quite beautiful.  I have no regrets and no complaints, but my heart desires to be free.  I want to see the future as a purposeful and heartfelt intention towards meaning and soulful work.  My life is at least more than half over, I want it all to count.  The darkness in this world needs light.

So ‘hurry back to me, my wild callin’, but not my old calling, a new one that I don’t have capacity to grab onto but rather one that is untamed and wants to grab a hold of me.  Life is a mystery, I don’t want a box of known outcomes, I want the adventure of discovery and deep learnings.  God cannot be tamed, He is wild, but I’ve learned He is good.  Hurry Back . . .

 

When Abuse is all the News . . . I believe you

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To the victims of abuse, I believe you.

From Roy Moore, to Harvey Weinstein, to Louis C.K., to President Trump, to Kevin Spacey to US Gymnasts  . . . . .  the news of sexual assault, sexual abuse and the misuse of power and influence is all the rage.  The human stories have become rhetoric in a mass of information culture wars and political ideologies.   To protect wealth, power, prestige and status, the accused double down in their darkness through the denials and shaming of victims.  There is not a perfect judge on earth, one day there will be reckoning for us all.   We get to choose what side we want to be on for that day of righteousness.

Thy hype, the rhetoric, the 24 hr news stories do something quite different for the survivors of abuse.  They are not news stories, they are auto-biographies.  The stories act as a trigger to latent memories when no one believed them.  The fresh written descriptors online about someone else’s horrific night cease being about the other and become a reliving of their own trauma.  PTSD and Secondary Trauma are unintentional consequences for the survivors when Abuse is all the news.   

They don’t see someone else’s story, they see their own again.  It’s memories of a face, of a room, of a time, of a smell, of a feeling, of a touch, of a boundary crossed, of powerlessness, of shame, of denial, of secrecy, of protection, of physical pain, of emotional confusion, of psychological hell, of cover-ups and perhaps most insidious of all the evil, the reliving that no one believed them.

If this is you, I am sorry.  I believe you.  You deserved more.  It wasn’t your fault.  The shame isn’t yours.  You can love again.  You are not alone.  You survived for a reason.  You are so much more than a survivor.  There is hope.

When Abuse is ALL THE NEWS . . . I believe you.  #metoo

The Sound and Value of Silence

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Celtic Daily Prayer – Today’s Meditation

“If I chose to hide you away, it is for a reason.
I have brought you to this place.
Drink in the silence. Seek solitude.

Listen to the silence.

It will teach you. It will build strength
Let others share it with you.
It is little to be found elsewhere.

Silence will speak more to you in a day than the world of voices can teach you in a lifetime.
Find silence. Find solitude – and having discovered her riches, bind her to your heart.”  –Frances J. Roberts

When you are in a great period of waiting as I am, there is a lot of time for silence.  I like to be active, the silence frankly scares me.  But silence is about growing up still I think.  Embrace what the silence has to say.  Go to battle with the thoughts and messages that are buried deep inside you that don’t call you the ‘beloved’.   The lies thrive in activity, silence has the power to tell you the truth.  Embrace the silence, wear it like a cloak, be immersed in deep truths.

The sound of silence is beauty, love, truth, peace and abounding contentment.  It is the way of the monk, try some ‘monking in the real world’.  Amidst the noise, embrace the silence.