The Next Moment

presence-of-god(Advent 1A) But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father…Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.  (Matthew 24: 36, 44)

It’s probably tempting to read this passage (and the verses that come between these) and imagine that we are parties to some sort of game of Divine hide and seek.  Our story tells us over and over again that Jesus is returning.  It has been augmented (that’s a nice word) by those who claim that they really DO know the day and the hour, despite the Biblical references to the contrary.  So, somewhere along the way, most of us have surmised that we just need to live our lives on our best behavior in case it happens in the next moment. (Or maybe the next…or the next…or the next.)

So, what if the surprise turns out to be that Jesus has been here all along, that ahead of time itself, he has been calling and gathering and enlightening and sanctifying all along?  What if Jesus’ glorious return already happened?  What if that whole Pentecost thing when the Spirit came and rained down onto us all was the return?  What if we’re not called to stay awake but rather to awaken to who we are supposed to be as the Children of Light?  What if God isn’t playing hide and seek at all but is instead desperately hoping against hope that when God comes over and over and over again we will finally notice?  What if the next moment IS the moment not because God finally comes but because you finally wake up and notice that God is here?

Jesus does comes at an unexpected hour and to unexpected places in unexpected ways.  Jesus is not all that good at doing things according to our plans (or perhaps our plans are not exactly the vision that God holds for us.)  In this Advent season of watching and waiting and trying our best to stay awake to it all, God comes again and again reaching and straining in the hope that we might open ourselves to it all.  So, yes, get ready, because in the next moment, God comes (and the next…and the next…and the next.)


We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aid, but by an infinite expectation of the dawn. (Henry David Thoreau)


FOR TODAY:  What if in the next moment God came (ok, the next…or the next…or the next)?


Advent Peace,



Almost Daybreak

2016-11-29-daybreak(Advent 1A) 11Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; 12the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; 13let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. 14Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. (Romans 13: 11-14)

As Paul wrote these words in his letter to the Romans, he knew, just KNEW, that the Reign of God was about to be ushered into being.  The dawn had begun with Christ’s Resurrection but the daybreak of the fullness of God’s Kingdom was about to happen.  So, for Paul, it was imperative that people understand this.  He urges his readers to move and move quickly away from the life that they know into a new with Christ.  This was about to happen quickly.  Quick…come now…change now…this is about to happen.

OK, so it didn’t exactly happen like Paul thought it would.  Paul understood Kairos, “God’s time”, probably better than anyone.  But chronologically, he might have been a little off.  Or maybe not.  It is sad that today we have lost that sense of urgency, that sense of needing, or, even better, desiring to change, desiring to come closer and closer to God’s Kingdom, desiring to being a part of it.  But instead, most of us probably sit back and wait for it to happen.  After all, it’s been nearly 2,000 years since Paul wrote those words.  What’s another couple of days or weeks or months or whatever?  (We’ll get it together when there’s time, when we get all this other stuff done—when the presents are wrapped and the house is decorated and we can finally have a moment to ourselves.)

How would your life change if you felt that urgency that they felt in the first century?  What would be different if rather than preparing for whatever you plan to do Christmas Eve or Christmas, you were instead preparing for the coming of God into your life?  Now I’m not talking about the usual lighting a candle and sitting in the midst of the twinkling lights and singing “Silent Night” and feeling the warm embrace of God’s Spirit in that magical Christmas Eve moment.  I’m talking about your life changing.  What would be different if you were getting ready for your life to change?  Yes, you…Paul wrote this letter not to the Jewish believers who were already on board.  Paul wrote this letter to a Gentile audience.  Paul wrote this letter to you.  So maybe it didn’t all happen when he thought it would.  But Paul really believed that once everyone was gathered in, once everyone was awakened to God’s coming into their lives, then the fullness of God’s Kingdom, the very vision that God had imagined all along, would come to be.

Yeah, maybe it didn’t happen when Paul thought it would.  Or maybe it did.  Maybe feeling that urgency, that deep desire for God to come into one’s life IS what Paul was writing about.  Maybe preparing for your life to change, opening your eyes to the dawn that is already coming to be, IS what your part is in the Kingdom of God coming into its fullness.  But the crux is, as I think it probably was for Paul, you are not called to change so that you will not be left behind (oh, don’t even go there); you are rather called to change because God, in God’s infinite mercy and grace, doesn’t want you to miss out on the part of it that is happening NOW.  So, what will change?  What will change when God comes into your life?  That would be now…the dawn is breaking.  Sure, you can do it later, but think what you would miss!

Not only is another world possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing. (Arundhati Roy)

FOR TODAY:  What would be different if God was coming into your life now?  (Oh yeah…God is…now!)

Advent Peace,


A Listening Season


(Advent 1A) The word that Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. 2In days to come the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised above the hills; all the nations shall stream to it. 3Many peoples shall come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. 4He shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. 5O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord! (Isaiah 2: 1-5)

We like this vision of peace and tranquility, the days when wars will end and Shalom will finally be.  This was probably written to a people that wanted that desperately.  King after king after king had come with promises that life would be better, that they would somehow reclaim whatever had been lost.  Each one came with promises of prosperity and security.  After all, who doesn’t want that?  Who wouldn’t want a life of ease and plenty?  Who wouldn’t want a life of being “it”, being the people, being the ones to whom everyone looked for the way to life?  But king after king had fallen short.

The truth is, this is not a shallow promise of reclaiming what was lost.  This is an invitation to something new.  This is the vision of the Great Gathering, the Great Awakening.  Imagine it…a metaphorical (or maybe a real) streaming of all peoples and all nations to the mountain of the Lord.  It is the Great Listening too, the pathway when we stop proclaiming our ways over others voices and begin to hear what each other is saying.  The passage says nothing about elevating one people over another.  The passage is not a calling for us to separate according to our perceived tribal loyalties.  The passage doesn’t speak of making us into what we once were, as comfortable and non-threatening as that might have been.  The passage instead envisions us all walking in the light of the Lord–together.

Advent is time to remember not who we were, not who we wish we would be again, but whose we are and who we are called to be.  You know, throughout the Biblical story, God has torn down walls we have built and sent us forth—sent us on ahead to prepare the way.  We do fine for a while.  We journey as pilgrims to a new place and then we get somewhere that feels comfortable and we build a home.  And then we build a wall and claim that the home is ours.  And God tears it down and sends us forth.  And we go and we journey and we stop and we build.  And God tears it down and sends us forth.  God could leave us where we think we should be, where we feel comfortable and safe.  But we’d miss it.  We’d miss that light of the Lord that is streaming up ahead.  Let this Advent be our Great Gathering.  Let this Advent be our Great Awakening.  Let this Advent be our Great Listening.

 If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other. (St. Teresa of Calcutta)

FOR TODAY:  To what or to whom do you need to begin listening to prepare the Way toward the Light?

Advent Peace,


While We Were Sleeping


first-light-16-11-27Awake, awake, put on your strength, O Zion!  Put on your beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city; for the uncircumcised and the unclean shall enter you no more.  Shake yourself from the dust, rise up, O captive Jerusalem; loose the bonds from your neck, O captive daughter Zion!.  (Isaiah 52: 1-2)

Wakefulness comes slowly.  It is hard to let go of the darkness.  It is painful to let the first light in.  It stings our eyes and disturbs our comfortable slumber.  It would be so much easier to pull back and dive down into the warmth and comfort of what we know.  But the light is peeking through the window as it ascends from the distant horizon.  It is time to awake.  It is time to get up, put on your beautiful garments, and begin to walk.

This season does that.  It peeks into our lives that we’ve so carefully constructed and it expects us to awake to the first light.  And that light begins to show us what happened while we were sleeping.  Oh, maybe not sleeping REALLY.  Most of us probably haven’t been in bed these last months.  But maybe we’ve forgotten, forgotten that we are called to stay awake, that we are called not to wallow in our own comfort and familiarity, but to move forward toward the horizon and let the light in.  But the light is often too much.  It shines into the corners where we haven’t really cleaned and points to the colors of the world that have faded from our view. The truth is, we dozed off and instead of moving toward the light, we let the ugliness back in.  We opted for preserving our way of life instead of being who God calls us to be.  We chose to wall ourselves off from each other rather than listening to where we should go next.  We allowed ourselves to be swayed by fear and lies and language that we used to not use.  And now waking up is hard.

But while we were sleeping, God did not stop creating newness.  Advent reminds us of that.  This is the season when we remember what God has done before, the season when we look toward the horizon that holds the unknown, and the season when we awaken to the dawn.  This is the season when we start walking through the timelessness that we cannot claim but that claims us.  This is the season when we shake off whatever is sticking to us that does not belong.  This is the season when we let go of whatever it is we clutch out of fear—fear of losing what we have, fear of each other, fear of ourselves if we dare to allow each other to be who we are called to be.  This is the season when we loose whatever it is that holds us back.  This is the season when we awake.

On this first day of Advent, WAKE UP…and begin walking toward the dawn.  Who knows what God will do next or where God will lead us or who we will be?  But we have to wake up first and realize what happened while we were sleeping and realize where we should have been heading.

The day of my spiritual awakening was the day I saw—and knew I saw—all things in God and God in all things. (Mechtild of Magdeburg)

FOR TODAY:  What did you miss while you were sleeping?

Welcome to Advent!

Advent Peace,