Re-Patterned

RoundaboutScripture Passage:  Romans 4: 1-5, 13-17 (Lent 2A)

What then are we to say was gained by Abraham, our ancestor according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.” Now to one who works, wages are not reckoned as a gift but as something due. But to one who without works trusts him who justifies the ungodly, such faith is reckoned as righteousness…For the promise that he would inherit the world did not come to Abraham or to his descendants through the law but through the righteousness of faith. If it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. For the law brings wrath; but where there is no law, neither is there violation. For this reason it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his descendants, not only to the adherents of the law but also to those who share the faith of Abraham (for he is the father of all of us, as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”) —in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.

We are creatures of habit.  We cling to our patterns of life sometimes for our very identity.  And it is no different with our faith.  Our ways of believing, our ways of worship, our ways of practicing our faith are, for most of us, virtually untouchable.  (If any of you have ever tried to make any changes in a worship service, you know EXACTLY what I’m talking about!)  We are open to change as long as WE don’t have to be the ones that change.  We are open to doing things differently as long as it doesn’t affect us.  Does that sound a little bit uncomfortably familiar?

The audience to whom Paul was probably writing were really no different.  They had grown up with norms of what was “right” and “righteous”, what made them acceptable before God and as people of faith.  For them, their revered patriarch Abraham was blessed because he followed God and did the right things (which also happened to of course be the things that they were doing or at least thought they were doing).  And now here is Paul daring to write that that’s not what it meant at all, that it had nothing to do with what Abraham did or whether he lived and practiced his faith in the right way but that he had faith in a God that freely offered relationship, in a God that freely and maybe even a little haphazardly offered this relationship to everyone (whether or not it’s actually deserved–go figure!).  Faith is not something that you define or check of your list of “to do’s”; faith is something that you live.

In this Season of Lent, we talk a lot about giving up old ways and taking on new patterns in life.  Lent is a season of re-patterning who we are and how we live.  Maybe it’s a time to let go of the things that we assume, those habits that are so ingrained in us that we don’t even realize that they are there, things that have somehow become so much a part of our lives that they have by their nature changed who we are.  Think of Lent as the season that asks us to drive on the other side of the road.  I remember the first time I did that.  It was in New Zealand.  Now if you’ve been to New Zealand, you understand that the miles and miles of rolling hills patterned only by sheep farms is a good place to learn to drive on the other side.  There is lots of room for “correction”, shall we say.  That wasn’t the problem.  The problem was the more heavily populated areas where we had to deal with other people’s habits and ways of being.  (As in when you had to worry about other people on the road, all of whom were driving on the “wrong” side of the road!)  And in the middle of every town was what they call a “round-about”.  It was sort of fun to get on but getting off was a completely different story.  My brain did not work that way.  I couldn’t make myself turn the right way (or the wrong way) while I was driving on what was to me the “wrong” side of the road.  (So, needless to say, we would just drive around that circle several times until I just took a breath and sort of went for it!)  It was one of the scariest things I’ve ever done.

Paul was trying to get people to look at things differently, to think differently, perhaps even to drive on the other side of the road.  “Leave the old patterns and the old rules and the old ways of thinking behind,” he was saying, and get on.  It’s a little scary and you might have to drive around it a few times just to re-pattern your brain.  But just do it.  Open your eyes and look at things differently.  Open your lives to faith.  Oh, don’t get me wrong, our rules and our patterns can help us at times.  They give us foundations, sort of a tangible guide to support us on this journey.  They are necessary.  They are a means of grace.  But the passage reminds us that these rules and foundation are just that.  They are not an end unto themselves.  It takes faith to breathe life into them, to make them come alive.  It takes faith to give us the ability to back away from ourselves sometimes and figure out in what ways our life needs to be re-patterned.  (Otherwise, we just keep driving around in circles!)  Lent calls us to look at all of our life with a critical eye, to discern what is purely habit and what is truly a way of living out our faith.  Lent calls us to look at things differently, to really see rather than just assume.  Lent calls us to have enough faith to drive on the other side of the road.  So, just take a breath and go for it!

In faith there is enough light for those who want to believe and enough shadows to blind those who don’t. (Blaise Pascal)

As we continue on this Lenten journey, take a look at your habits, at those things that you just take for granted.  Which ones are life-giving?  Which ones hinder faith and openness?

Grace and Peace,

Shelli

The Dwelling Place

Open HouseScripture Passage: Psalm 27:4

One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple. (KJV)

The Psalmist gives us great comfort, this idea of dwelling with God forever.  It is our hope; it is our promise; it is what our faith is all about.  So what does it mean to “dwell”?  One definition is to “stay” or to “reside in permanent residence.”  That is usually the way we think of this notion–to live with God, to stay with God forever.  For us, a “dwelling” is something permanent, a structure that protects us and gives us shelter.  It is the place where we can go when life gets to be too much and when we need rest and sustenance.  It is the place where we can hide ourselves away and heal.  It is the place that feels like home.

IMG_0033[2]But dwellings also wall us off from the rest of the world, setting up boundaries of what is “mine” and what is “yours”.   They allow us to ignore the needs and the lives of those who are not within our walls.  I used to live in an older neighborhood in Houston.  Once filled with a few older Victorian homes and lots of small 1920’s bungalows (I had one of those), it eventually became a victim of the so-called “McMansion” syndrome as bungalow after bungalow was torn down so that a sprawling three-story (or even four-story) Victorian wannabe can take over the entire lot.  Sadly, when I sold my lovely historic bungalow this past September, it was immediately torn down to make room for “more” dwelling.  It still bothers me.  Is it appropriate to grieve for a house?  See, beyond mere protection and shelter, the dwelling has creeped beyond its own boundaries and taken on an identity all its own.

Is this how we read these words now, as if we have somehow taken up residence with God and God’s sprawling house?  Is that what it means to dwell with God, to stay, to hide, take move into a permanent structure (perhaps with other like-minded children of God)?  But there is another meaning of the word “dwell”.  It is also defined as “to linger over” or “ponder”. So what, then, would it mean to spend all the days of one’s life pondering God, lingering with God?  I don’t think God calls us to stay with God but rather to be with God.  The walls of dwellings sound to me far too limiting of a limitless God. (Which is the reason that the image of Christ becomes the new Temple, the new Dwelling.)  But this dwelling that we have somehow conjured up in our minds is not where God lives but rather where we want God to be, the place where we envision pulling God into our notion of who God is.  But to be, to be with God, means to go where God is, which means we have to open one’s mind and heart and soul to being the very image of God, to being the dwelling of God.

Once again, it requires us to make room, to clear our lives of the “stuff” that we have accumulated and to perhaps open the doors and windows and let the fresh air and light in.  God IS our sustenance, our shelter, even, at times, our protector.  But God does not wall us off from the rest of the world.  We are called to go forth, to be God’s image in the world.  We are called to ponder, to linger over, to become.  Doesn’t that sound a little familiar?  Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. (Luke 2: 19, NRSV)  And then, if you remember, she became the very dwelling of the Godself, the God-bearer, the one that birthed God into the world.  We are not called to stay with God; we are called to be with God, to be a dwelling place for God with God in God.  We are called to be the God-bearers.  It is home, the place where we can truly rest our souls.

My ego is like a fortress.  I have built its walls stone by stone to hold out the invasion of the love of God.  But I have stayed here long enough.  There is light over the barriers.  O my God…I let go of the past, I withdraw my grasping hand from the future, and in the great silence of this moment, I alertly rest my soul.  (Howard Thurman)

On this Lenten journey, what does it mean for you to dwell in God, to ponder?  What does it mean to become a dwelling place for God?

Grace and Peace,

Shelli

Lent 1A: So What’s This Deal With the Garden?

garden-of-edenScripture Passage:  Genesis 2: 15-17, 3: 1-7 (Lent 1A)

The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it.  And the Lord God commanded the man, “You may freely eat of every tree of the garden;  but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.”…Now the serpent was more crafty than any other wild animal that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die.’“ But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not die; for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”  So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves.

So at the beginning of this year’s Lenten season, the Lectionary propels us back into our somewhat sketchy past.  St. Augustine and myriads of theologians to follow would have called it the “original sin”, as if it is the cause of all other sins that follow.  Now, admittedly, I don’t like to get stuck on that idea of original sin.  In fact, I think the notion compels us to sin again by refusing to admit that we just messed up!  And I’m pretty sure that if the first humans had not messed up, someone soon after would have.  But this is the story we have.

So we have images of humans walking in a beautiful garden hand in hand without a care in the world.  We can imagine babbling brooks and peacocks and calla lilies and llamas (I’ve just always liked llamas.) And then we have some sort of talking (and at that point walking snake) that pulls them away from who they are and who they are meant to be.  You can hear it…”oh, come on, it’s not going to hurt you.  There is no way that you’ll die.  In fact, your life will be better.  Your life will be grand.  Your life will be perfect if you just do this one thing.  God won’t mind.  God really didn’t mean what God said.” (And for only $19.99, you can have TWO pieces of fruit if you do it RIGHT NOW!  It sort of does sound like an infomercial when you think about it!)

And they give in.  They give in to the first temptation to be someone they are not.  Or perhaps they are just trying to pad themselves a bit against fears and insecurities to come. Then they realize their mistake much too late to change the course of their action.  They are left hurt, vulnerable, and alone.  Well, we know the story.  (Oh, who are we kidding? We’re LIVING the story!)  They are no longer innocent and the beauty of the garden is lost forever.

This has always been an odd story to me.  Now, admittedly, I’m sure it is of no surprise to most of you that I tend to assume that this is fable rather than a literal historical account. But just because it probably isn’t “true” does not mean that it is not full of “Truth”.  In some respects, this is the rawest, most profound, most human Truth that there is.  After all, we all wander down the wrong road every now and again and some of us do it daily without even intending it.  And we all live with consequences of trying to overreach, trying to be someone we’re not, trying to assume things that are not ours to assume.  We all live with consequences of, essentially, overstepping and overreaching and trying to be the god of our own life.  And we all lose that innocence that we once had.

But, really, does God want a bunch of mindless innocents walking around in this world?  If that were the case, then God would never have shared the part of the Godself with us that is known as free will.  You see, God in God’s infinite wisdom gave up omnipotence for relationship.  God doesn’t want a bunch of robotic beings (innocent and well-behaved though they may be) following the Great Divine because they know nothing else. (I mean, that would get downright annoying!)  God created us to desire, to choose, to follow God of our own volition.  Innocence is way overrated.  You see, if God wanted us to stay in some sort of garden, fenced off from the rest of the world, I guess God would have left us there, protected from the world and, mostly, from ourselves.  I really don’t think that this journey we’re on returns us to the Garden, whatever that was.  That was our beginning.  The journey returns us to God, to who God envisions that we can be.  Think of the Garden as our womb, the place that protected and shielded us until we were ready for the journey, until we found that part of ourselves that chose to follow, that chose God.

So what do we do after the garden?  We follow where God leads us; we follow that innate sense that all of us have to return to God and to whom we are called to be.  You see, we have no more excuses.  Read the end of the passage.  Our eyes have been opened.  We know where we fall short; we know that we cannot do this by ourselves; we know that God is God and we are not.  And in that is our beginning.  Thanks be to God!

Sin is our only hope, because the recognition that something is wrong is the first step toward setting it right again.  (Barbara Brown Taylor, Speaking of Sin:  The Lost Language of Salvation)

So on this Lenten journey, open your eyes.  Open your eyes and take a good hard look at yourself.  What do you need to choose to leave behind?  Where do you choose to go? What does your beginning, your escape from innocence, look like?

Grace and Peace,

Shelli

 

What is Left

flower_ashes_by_dennisallendorfScripture Passage: Joel 2: 1-3

Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming, it is near— a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness! Like blackness spread upon the mountains a great and powerful army comes; their like has never been from of old, nor will be again after them in ages to come. Fire devours in front of them, and behind them a flame burns. Before them the land is like the garden of Eden, but after them a desolate wilderness, and nothing escapes them.

I know.  What a way to begin the season–darkness and gloom, devouring fire and flame, and desolate wilderness!  I know what you’re thinking.  Can we go back to that manger scene now?  Can we go back to being bathed in light with the hope of the world nestled in our arms?  Well, the problem, is that somewhere on this journey between seasons, we forgot.  We forgot who and whose we were.  Somewhere along the way we became self-sufficient and sure of ourselves.  Somewhere along the way, we thought we had figured it out, thought we were so right.  Somewhere along the way the trumpet announcing the birth of our Savior became our own horn.  Somewhere along the way we forgot that we were blessed not by what God has given us but by what God has called us to do.  You know–scattering the proud and bringing down the powerful, filling the hungry and sending the rich away.  (Hmmm, that sounds distantly and vaguely familiar.) And now we sit in ashes wondering what to do next.

This has been an odd couple of months for me.  It seems that I have turned many times and have run smack-dab into loss of some sort—some have been real honest-to-goodness losses and others have been, well, maybe just sort of grandiose pity-parties because things have not gone as I had planned.  Either way, loss is a time that invites us to move, to pick up the pieces, and hand them back to God.  And as we begin walking, God takes what is left and once again breathes life into it.

Lent is our chance to begin again.  Because, think about it, those ashes that you are going to spread on your forehead today are what is left.  They are what has survived.  After all of the devouring fires scorching the gardens, they are left.  They are the remnant.  They are the hope for what will come next.  So we begin our Lenten journey in ashes because we repent for what we have done.  But that is not the end.  God does not leave us on the ash heap alone.  God picks us up and recreates us, walking us through the wilderness, through the valley of the shadow of death, through the Cross, to Life.  The ashes, the “what is left”, are the beginning.

So what will you do with what is left?  What will you do with your share of ashes?  Repent and turning–that is what this day is about.  No longer do we wallow in morbid shame and guilt; no longer do we pound ourselves down for our past mistakes; no longer do we sit on the ash heap sullen and morose.  This is the day when we begin to begin again.  Pick yourself up!  Dust yourself off!  And start.  This is the day when we begin the journey to life.  But we are called to travel light.  God has given what we need.

My soul magnifies the Lord, and my Spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.  Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.  (Luke 1: 46b-49)

As you begin this Lenten journey, what things do you need to leave behind? What things do you need to take with you?  Remember, we are traveling light.  The wilderness journey is long and difficult.  But we are traveling with the one who created us and calls us to live life freely and blessed.

And for a program note…I’m going to try to post every day again during this Holy Season, but sometimes it gets away from me (or I get away from it–I don’t know which).  So, true confessions…I may do some “rehashing” of past blog posts (this one was–with some new tweeking).  I mean, I guess it’s OK to plagiarize yourself, right?  Either way, I hope that it makes for a meaningful season for you.  So, give something up or take something on or just go a little bit deeper than you usually do.  Have a wonderfully profound Lent!

Grace and Peace,

Shelli

On This Night

nativity-scene12 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. 

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

 15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. 16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. 17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. 18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.  (Luke 2: 1-20, KJV)

This is the time for which we have waited.  This is the time that makes the world stop, if only for a moment, and say a prayer for peace and light our candle and gather around our Savior.  This is the night that we keep and ponder.

Mary and Joseph did not know that first Christmas what their lives would hold.  They knew the child that lay in that manger was special, even holy.  But it would take time for them to understand and grasp that this tiny child that lay there was God coming into the world.  And those Shepherds, out, minding their own business, tending to their flock—what would you have thought when the very glory of the Lord came around?  Fear not..ugh oh, we’ve heard that before.  That can’t be good.  That means that the floor of your life will give way until you can no longer stand where you are.  That means that you have to leave the place where you are and begin to journey far.  That means that nothing, nothing will ever be the same again.

We cannot live in this manger.  Jesus will not be there.  So, yes, we have to ponder for a bit.  After all, changing life courses is not something to be taken lightly.  But soon the child will grow and become what God intends.  We must do the same, following Christ into the darkness by the light of a star that will remain with us always—as long as we don’t go back and leave it behind.  The people who have walked in darkness have, yes, finally seen a great light.  And as we walk, we open our hands to receive what God has in store.  The journey ahead will not be easy.  It is not for the faint of heart or those that think they can do it by themselves.  It is for those that hunger and thirst in the deepest part of their being for the very presence of God.  Eat this bread!  Drink this cup!  Jesus Christ is born today!

Christ is born!  God is come!  And nothing will ever be the same.  Thanks be to God!

  Christmas did not come after a great mass of people had completed something good, or because of the successful result of any human effort. No, it came as a miracle, as the child that comes when his time is fulfilled, as a gift of God which is laid into those arms that are stretched out in longing. In this way did Christmas come; in this way it always comes anew, both to individuals and to the whole world. (Eberhard Arnold)

FOR TODAY:  Let us go and see this thing that has happened.

Merry Christmas on this Holiest of Nights,

Shelli

The Time to Make Room

 

traveling-to-bethlehem2In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3All went to their own towns to be registered. 4Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. 5He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. (Luke 2: 1-5)

And I remember that long journey to Bethlehem.  It was uncomfortable.  It was scary.  It was lonely.  We were traveling with others but it seemed to be just Joseph and me.  Perhaps it was because we were the only ones there that knew.  And, yet, we didn’t know.  We thought we would find appropriate lodging.  We thought that perhaps there would be a lovely older woman there that could talk me through the birth.  We imagined that we would have a place that was warm and comfortable.  But that was not to be.  The city had filled to capacity.  There was just no room.

I have always thought of that night and wondered if it was the way God intended.  Did God mean to come in virtually unnoticed through a back door of the world in the darkest of alleys?  What was the point if no one noticed?  Or was this God’s way of testing us to see if the world was open enough to receive the Christ?  I’m not usually in to believing that God tests us.  I think God came into the world just like we all do—as an innocent baby who needed to be held and loved and welcomed into the world.  But the world was moving much too fast as it often does.  The world was not prepared.  The world was not ready to change.

I now understand that God did not come because the world was ready.  God came because the world needed God.  God came because it was time.  The world needed to be saved not just from the evils surrounding it but from itself.  The world needed to be awakened.  The world needed to be reminded who it was.  So, into the darkest and most foreboding part of the world, God came.  And the baby that I held was indeed the very Saving Grace of the world.  The baby that I held that day was not the One who would make our lives easier or clean up our world.  He would not stop wars or stamp out poverty.  He would not bring us together as one world.  The baby that I held that night was the One that would show us the way to God and that on that journey, we would be called to bring Light into the darkness over and over again.

Lift up your heads, ye mighty gates; behold, the King of glory waits; the King of Kings is drawing near; the Savior of the world is here!

Fling wide the portals of your heart; make it a temple, set apart from earthly use for heaven’s employ, adorned with prayer and love and joy.

Redeemer come, with us abide; our hearts to thee we open wide; let us thy inner presence feel; thy grace and love in us reveal.

Thy Holy Spirit lead us on until our glorious goal is won; eternal praise, eternal fame be offered, Savior, to thy name! (George Weissel, 17th century; trans. By Catherine Winkworth, 1855)

___________________

And not that [this] story is told, what does it mean?  How can I tell?  What does life mean?  If the meaning could be put into a sentence there would be no need of telling the story. (Henry Van Dyke)

FOR TODAY:  What do you need to change or re-arrange to make room for God coming into your life? (And given the hour, this is an EXCELLENT time to figure that out!)

Peace to you as we begin to see the Light coming into the world,

Shelli

The Journey Beyond Ourselves

Water13Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. 14John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. 16And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 17: 1-9)

I remember when John baptized him.  Jesus, dressed in white, got into the water and John pushed his head under.  As he emerged, the heavens seemed to open as if God was pleased.  It was special, sort of an affirmation of who he was, who I had known he was all along.  In that moment, I began to understand that his role was bigger than our family, bigger than my son, even bigger than these that he had gathered around him.  I knew that but in that moment I began to understand it.  I was here to walk with him as he prepared not only to be a rabbi, a teacher, but to take on the ministry to which God called him.  And in that moment in the waters of re-creation, his ministry began.  This is the moment when God claims this child of God as the One who God calls.  This was the becoming and the beginning that he needed.  I had to begin to let go of what I knew.

I thought back to that time in Jerusalem when we found him in the temple with the rabbis.  My first reaction was relief that he was found.  I wanted to take him and hold him and never let him loose again.  My next reaction was anger that he had worried us so.  But the scene of him sitting there listening to the rabbis, understanding more than most adults will ever understand, made up for it all.  I knew then that he was beyond me, that I was here only for a time to help lead him to what he was called to do.  I knew that he was meant to be something more even than what I had thought.

So many of us get so wrapped up in those things that we can control or those that make us at least feel in control.  We want to be safe and comfortable.  So in this Christmas season, we often tend to wrap ourselves in our shopping, our plans for meals, and our family gatherings, our traditions of the way we do things and the expectations that they will be like they’ve been before.  These memories remind us all that we are continuously called beyond ourselves.  God calls us to newness, even in the midst of the familiar traditions that are so much a part of us.  That is the way God transforms us.  That is the way God moves us beyond ourselves.  That is the way God loves us.

God travels wonderful paths with human beings; God does not arrange matters to suit our opinions and views, does not follow the path that humans would like to prescribe for God.  God’s path is free and original beyond all our ability to understand or to prove.   (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

FOR TODAY:  How is God moving you beyond yourself?  How is God bringing newness even to the traditions that you hold so closely?

Peace to you as we come closer to that holiest of nights,

Shelli