When to Pull the Gospel Card

playing-cards46And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, 47and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; 49for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. 50His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. 51He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. 52He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; 53he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. 54He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, 55according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.” (Luke 1: 46-55)

The Magnificat…Mary’s Song of freedom and mercy.  We all know the passage.  Most of us probably have sort of a love-fear relationship with it.  Each Advent we read this passage with perhaps a little reticence.  We love the words and the promises that they bring.  But, deep down, we’re probably a little afraid of on which side of the fence we might be standing.  These lovely, merciful words have been threatening the ways of the world since their very beginning.  E. Stanley Jones called the Magnificat “the most revolutionary document in the world.”  It is God’s Revolution, God’s Manifesto for the new creation.  It is said that the Russian czars were positively terrified of these words and the changes that they could incite.

The words are poetic and thoughtful.  But when you read them, it is clear that God exalts the poor, feeds the poor, helps the poor, and remembers the poor.  God brings the poor together just as God tears down and separates the mighty and the wealthy and the powerful.  Sadly, God sends the rich, those who do not see their need for God, away.  The Divine was not birthed by a princess or a queen.  God came through a young, terrified servant girl that would be raised up to be blessed by the world.  God’s vision is an upside-down version of what we have let our world become.

But this is not some isolated poem in the middle of Mary’s story.  These words are the Gospel. Let me say that again.  These words ARE the Gospel.  If you were to put the Gospel into its Cliff Notes version, I would think you could take these words, Matthew 22: 37-39, and Matthew 28:20b and have a pretty good idea of what Jesus was trying to say.  But there are those that will pull their “Gospel card” out of their pocket when it is convenient to prove their point.  There are those will draw it when they need to be comforted.  But, here, here we are asked to pull the Gospel card that will shake the world and send us to our knees.  Here, we are asked to pull the Gospel card so that the world will begin to see things differently.  It is revolutionary.  It would be hard to over-sentimentalize these words, hard to make them into something that they are not, hard to see that they are not talking about us.  I don’t think Jesus meant “oh, eventually” or “when you get around to it” or “yeah, “they” need to get on board”.  We are asked here to lay our riches and down and walk away from them.  We are asked to feed the poor and house the homeless.  We are asked to let go of power that we have gotten by human means that we hold onto so desperately for our own protection and our own edification.  Yes, we are asked to pull the Gospel card in our homes, in our lives, in our politics, in our nation, in our world.  Truth be told, these words have one meaning:  “Game on…”

Cautious, careful people, always casting about to preserve their reputation and social standing, never can bring about a reform. Those who are really in earnest must be willing to be anything or nothing in the world’s estimation, and publicly and privately, in season and out, avow their sympathy with despised and persecuted ideas and their advocates, and bear the consequences.  (Susan B. Anthony)

FOR TODAY:  Which card will you play?

Grace and Peace,


Or Should We Wait for Another?

Reflexion of a lunar path in water.2When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples 3and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” 4Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: 5the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. 6And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.” As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to look at? A reed shaken by the wind? 8What then did you go out to see? Someone dressed in soft robes? Look, those who wear soft robes are in royal palaces. 9What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10This is the one about whom it is written, ‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’ 11Truly I tell you, among those born of women no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.  (Matthew 11: 2-11)

So, are you the one?  Because, see, we’re putting a lot into this.  We need to be sure.  We do not want to be surprised again.  So, just tell us, “are you the one or do we need to keep looking?”  We’re like that.  We want to be certain.  We don’t want to waste our time or our emotions.  We want to get the show on the road but we want to make sure that the road we’re on is the way home.

John was, of course, the forerunner, the one who was to point to the One who was pointing to God.  So, John had gotten on board quick, preaching his message of immediate repentance with all the evangelistic fervor of one of those early morning television preachers.  But then when Jesus finally comes on the scene, he starts healing and freeing and forgiving and welcoming and doing all sorts of things that were not going to move this along any faster.  Jesus was not what John had envisioned and certainly not what we wanted to see.  So, he just bluntly asks, “Are you really the one?”  In other words, are you sure you have the personality for this job?  Maybe we need to put some feelers out.  Maybe, well, you know, maybe we need someone that is a little more direct, someone who looks like what people want to see.

So, are we any different?  We all probably have a certain image of what Jesus should be.  We have an image of the way we should act, the way we should dress, the way we should worship to give God the glory in the way that we have figured out God wants to be glorified.  And we have shut out the ways and those that do not fit that mold.  Advent is a season that teaches us a different way of seeing.  Advent shakes loose the cobwebs that have begun to grow around our hardened and finished ideas of who God is and who God wants us to be.  Advent opens us to the possibility that God will come anew into places that we thought we had already figured out.  Advent prepares us not to know the old, old story again but rather read its rewritten version that God is already writing on our hearts.  Advent tears down the fences and the walls and the borders that we have built and calls us to a faraway place where we will find God.

So, should we wait for another?  Well, I supposed you could.  Or you could just open your eyes and your hearts to the One that has come and that will come again given the chance.

Whoever you are, in whatever faith you were born, whatever creed you profess; if you come to this house to find God you are welcome here.   (John Wesley)

FOR TODAY:  About what are you so certain that you have quit searching?


Grace and Peace,



Patiently Waiting

edge-of-the-cliff-608x400Be patient, therefore, beloved, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious crop from the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. Beloved, do not grumble against one another, so that you may not be judged. See, the Judge is standing at the doors! As an example of suffering and patience, beloved, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. (James 5: 7-10)

OK, so we’re thinking we’re supposed to be reading stories of angels coming to Mary and Joseph or maybe more about that vision that God holds for us.  And some guy named James or, in that century, someone that wrote in the name of some guy named James, tells us to “be patient”.  Who is this?  He obviously did not have Christmas shopping to do.  He obviously did not have to worry about putting his decorations up.  He obviously did not have to crank out bulletins and sermons for the next four weeks.  He obviously did not understand our situation.  I mean, we need to get this show on the road.  Isn’t that the way we do things?

Truthfully, we Western Christians struggle with the whole idea of Holy Patience.  In fact, it is probable that for most of us, that phrase is an oxymoron.  We live in a permanent state of hurrying, trying to get to the “next thing.”  So we struggle with our faith journey which is always an exercise in the practice if patience, the practice of simply being, of honoring the sacredness of the moment.  Perhaps that’s the whole point.  We are not told to be patient because God doesn’t have time to deal with us right now or because God in some passive-aggressive act is holding back on the promise that we’ve been given and dangling it out there like some sort of temptress.  We are told to be patient because where we are is the place that we are called to be.  The “next thing” is not yet.

This season of Advent teaches us patience if we will only pay attention.  But we are in such a hurry to get to the “next thing”, to get to the big day, that we are missing out on the now.  Being patience does not mean ignoring what is to come.  Being patient is about understanding that this moment, this one, never-again-to-come-again moment is the place to prepare you for the next thing. Jumping to the “next thing” does not get you down the road faster; it takes you to a place that you are not prepared to be.  Be patient.  God will come when God will come.  God will come when the moment is the right one.  God will come and those who have patiently and actively waited will be the first to know.

I discovered that in the spiritual life, the long way round is the saving way.  It isn’t the quick and easy religion we’re accustomed to.  It’s deep and difficult–a way that leads into the vortex of the soul where we touch God’s transformative powers.  But we have to be patient.  We have to let go and tap our creative stillness.  Most of all, we have to trust that our scarred hearts really do have wings. (Sue Monk Kidd)

FOR TODAY:  Be patient.

Grace and Peace,


When All Creation Repents

yellowflowerfromthedust2528dt20875082529(Advent 3A) The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus 2it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the Lord, the majesty of our God. 3Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. 4Say to those who are of a fearful heart, “Be strong, do not fear! Here is your God. He will come with vengeance, with terrible recompense. He will come and save you.” 5Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; 6then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy. For waters shall break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; 7the burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water; the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp, the grass shall become reeds and rushes. 8A highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Holy Way; the unclean shall not travel on it, but it shall be for God’s people; no traveler, not even fools, shall go astray. 9No lion shall be there, nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it; they shall not be found there, but the redeemed shall walk there.10And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.   (Isaiah 35: 1-10)

So, this is probably the Scripture that conjures up that somewhat unreachable and perhaps inaccessible utopian paradise.  But it’s not inaccessible.  The whole idea is that it WILL come to be.  And Advent reminds us to look for that day, to imagine it into being.  It is a tension in which we live every day of our lives.  We want it, we imagine it, and, on a good day, we believe it will happen.  And then we turn on the TV.  But it is a holy tension, a liminality, if you will, betwixt and between the turmoil and grit of our lives and the promise that we believe.

This is Creation’s repentance.  It is Creation turning around and going a different direction.  We’re familiar with that.  When we talk of our own, it is uncomfortable to launch off into another direction, to begin to travel where GPS is not available and to a place with a story that we are writing as we go.  But here we are told that the desert will bloom.  The desert—that mass of dry sand that blows in our eyes and clouds our views, the place where we cannot map where we go, the land where water is scarce and sustenance is hard to find—will bloom!  The desert will turn and become something new.  Blindness will become sight; deafness will become music; the lame will leap and the mute will sing.  The waters will flow with thirst-quenching sound and the lost way will become a clear path.  Creation will become something new.

So, if Creation can do that, why can’t we?  Why can’t we let go of our fears and our preconceptions?  Why can’t we become something new?  Why can’t we rejoice and bloom?  No more excuses.  No more delay.  This is not some far-removed vision of a pile of sand with a flower.  This is what we have been given. And Advent calls us to begin to see its potential.  Advent calls us to begin to see our own potential. Have you ever thought that perhaps our faith journey is not about finding God at all but rather finding ourselves?  God is here.  Whether we feel God or not, God is here.  But us?  How much faith do you have in yourself?  God has faith in you.  God created you to do this, to turn, to change, to repent, to bloom.  So for what are you waiting?  After all, the desert is beginning to bloom.

Here is the God I want to believe in: a Father who, from the beginning of Creation, has stretched out his arms in merciful blessing, never forcing himself on anyone, but always waiting; never letting his arms drop down in despair, but always hoping that his children will return so that he can speak words of love to them and let his tired arms rest on their shoulders. His only desire is to bless. (Henri J.M. Nouwen)

FOR TODAY:  How are you being called to bloom?


Grace and Peace,



Advent 4A: A Little Bit of Water and a Ritz Cracker

Ritz CrackersLectionary Epistle for Reflection:  Romans 1: 1-7

Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures, the gospel concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be Son of God with power according to the spirit of holiness by resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for the sake of his name, including yourselves who are called to belong to Jesus Christ, To all God’s beloved in Rome, who are called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

First of all, this has to be the king of run-on sentences.  Perhaps Paul was not one for taking lots of breaths.  Or was he almost in a panic-state trying to get the words out?  It was as if his audience was somehow drifting away, heading down a road that he did not think was good, leaving Paul behind in a sense.  So, Paul, with more words than a sentence could hold, went chasing after them.  Whatever it is, Paul is reminding his hearers to whom they belong.  Maybe it was his way of trying to call them away from the lure of the world, from what Paul saw as an almost competing society, a competing way of living and being.  See, these people probably had no problem seeing themselves as belonging to Christ, as part of Christ’s kingdom.  I mean, they were new believers.  They were excited.  They were still pumped up from that first evangelical moment that they had experienced.  And yet, there was the Roman Empire looming large around them.  It was hard to refuse.  Who are we kidding?  It was dangerous to refuse.  One could quickly lose everything.

Now I don’t think Paul really wanted them to leave it all behind.  After all, his own identity as a Jew in the Roman Empire was important to him.  He just wanted them to see something different.  He wanted them to see something bigger.  He wanted them to realize that it was not that the Roman Empire was where they belonged now and the Kingdom of God was where they were going; rather, the two existed together.  He wanted people to understand that the Kingdom of God was not the “other way”, not the veritable opposite of the way they were living but rather the “Thing” that encompassed the “thing”.  And maybe they belonged to both things.  (I mean, in our own context, patriotism is not anti-God; it just has the possibility of developing into sort of a misplaced devotion that competes with our spiritual selves.)  All that we are and all that we have and all to which we belong belongs to God.  It is the way God lays claim on us, bursting into our lives as we know them, pouring the very Godself into each and every crevice of our lives until all (yes, ALL) is recreated in the Name of Christ.  We are called not to choose between Christ and the world but to bring Christ to the world.

The other day I baptized a young child that was eating a Ritz cracker through the whole thing. Now, we don’t usually pass out hor’dourves with the Sacraments, but, really, did that change God’s Presence in that moment?  For that matter, who’s to say that it didn’t make that Presence more real?  (OK, so maybe I’m not as much of a sacramental purist as you thought!)  God’s presence and God’s promise comes wherever one is.  Our calling is to respond to that presence in the midst of the lives we lead.  But that entails learning to see and listen in a way that many of us do not.  We need to appreciate how God calls others into being so that we might be able to better discern our own unique way that God is entering our lives.  And the Ritz?  Well, who hasn’t eaten a Ritz? (And, for me, a little peanut butter)  It is not part of the “other” way of living.  All that we have and all that we are belongs to God.  And, you know, that little bit of water that I sprinkled onto that child’s head does not exist in a vacuum.  The choice is not to choose the water or the Ritz.  The choice is not to choose God or empire.  The choice is to follow God through all that is and all that we encounter, to open oneself to becoming new not instead of the old but as even it is made new.

In this Advent season, we have walked in the wilderness.  We have encountered darkness.  We have waited and waited for God to make the Godself known to us.  Maybe that for which we’ve waited was here all along–in the wilderness, in the darkness, in the Empire.  Maybe God’s Presence is found in all of it when we learn to see, when we learn to open ourselves to possibilities.  Maybe God’s Presence is not some big, flashy extravaganza like we’ve been expecting.  Maybe it’s been there all along, sort of like a little bit of water and a Ritz cracker, or maybe more like a baby born into a world that was not ready, that was never ready, a world that couldn’t move over and make room.  Advent is not about welcoming a King; Advent is about making room for a God who comes into our ordinary lives as an ordinary person into an ordinary place and makes it all extraordinary.  Advent is a lot like eating a Ritz cracker through a Holy Sacrament.

Reflection:  What are you expecting God’s Presence to be?  What is the most ordinary thing that you see right now?  Where might God’s Presence in it?

Grace and Peace,


A Pondering Faith


Church of the Annunciation, Nazareth, Israel
Church of the Annunciation, Nazareth, Israel

Scripture Passage for Reflection:  Luke 1: 26-35

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, ‘Greetings, favoured one! The Lord is with you.’* But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.’ Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I am a virgin?’* The angel said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born* will be holy; he will be called Son of God.

So, what does it mean to ponder?  If you read this Scripture, it does not mean thinking something through until you understand it or until you “get it”.   Nowhere does it say that Mary was ever completely sure about what was going to happen.  Nowhere does it say that she ever stopped asking questions, that she ever stopped pondering what this would mean for her life.  Nowhere does it say that she expected this turn of events.  When you think about it, Mary was probably just like the rest of us.  She probably pretty well had her life figured out.  She was just trying to live it.  And then this angel shows up.  “Excuse me Mary, I know that this might be a little out of the box for you but I need you to stop everything that you’re doing and listen.  God has something special just for you.  See, if it’s not too much trouble, we’d like you to birth the Savior, the Son of God and the Son of Humanity, Emmanual, the Messiah, the very Godself into being.  And, we’d really like to get this show on the road now.”

What if Mary had said no?  What if her fear or her plans had gotten the best of her?  What if she was just too busy planning for whatever was going to happen next in her life?  What if she really didn’t have time to do any pondering today? Now, as much as we’d like to think that we have the whole story of God neatly constructed between the covers of our Bible or on that nifty little Bible app that you have on your iPhone, you and I both know that there is lots of God’s work that is missing.  We really just sort of get the highlights.  Who knows?  Maybe Mary wasn’t the  first that God asked to do this.  Maybe she was the second, or the tenth, or the 386th.  After all, this is a pretty big deal.  I mean, this pretty much shoots that long-term life plan out of the water.  But, you see, this story is not about Mary; it’s about God.  And through her willingness to ponder, her willingness to let go of the life that she had planned, her willingness to open herself to God’s entrance into her life and, indeed, into her womb, this young, dark-haired, dark-skinned girl from the wrong side of the tracks in a sleepy little suburb of Jerusalem called Bethlehem, was suddenly thrust into God’s redemption of the world.  It is in this moment that all those years of envisioning what would be, all those visions that we’ve talked about, it is here, in this moment, that they begin to be.

Annunciation literally means “the announcement”.  The word by itself probably holds no real mystery.  But it is the beginning of the central tenet of our entire Christian faith—The Annunciation, Incarnation, Transfiguration, Resurrection.  For us, it begins the mystery of Christ Jesus.  For us, the fog lifts and there before us is the bridge between the human and the Divine.  Now we Protestants really don’t tend to give it much credence.  We sort of speed through this passage we read as some sort of precursor to “In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus…” so we can light our Christmas candle.  This, for us, is the typical beginning of the birth story. But think back.  Something happened nine months before.  This human Jesus, like all of us, had to be grown and nurtured in the womb before the miracles and the ministry started.  The Feast of the Annunciation is the turning point of human history.  It is in this moment, this very moment, that God steps through the fog into humanity and, just like every human that came before, must wait to be fully birthed into this world.

What about us?  When do you let yourself ponder?  When do you expect to encounter the unexpected?  What is your answer when the angel or some other God-sent character comes bursting into your life:  “Excuse me [You], I know that this might be a little out of the box for you but I need you to stop everything that you’re doing and listen.  God has something special just for you.  See, if it’s not too much trouble, we’d like you to birth the Savior, the Son of God and the Son of Humanity, Emmanual, the Messiah, the very Godself into being.  And, we’d really like to get this show on the road now.”  Again, what if Mary had said no?  So, why are we so different from that scared little girl.  So, maybe it’s time for us to get busy pondering!

Annunciation 2Mary pondered these things in her heart, and countless generations have pondered them with her.  Mary’s head is bowed, and she looks up at the angel through her lashes.  There is possibly the faintest trace of a frown on her brow.  “How shall this be, seeing that I know not a man?” she asks, and the angel, the whole of Creation, even God himself, all hold their  breath as they wait for what she will say next.

“Be it unto me according to thy word,” she says, and jewels blossom like morning glories on the arch above them.  Everything has turned to gold.  A golden angel.  A golden girl.  They are caught up together in a stately golden dance.  Their faces are grave.  From a golden cloud between them and above, the Leader of the dance looks on.

The announcement has been made and heard.  The world is with child.

Frederick Buechner, The Faces of Jesus:   A Life Story, p. 8-9

Reflection:  What is God asking you to do with your life?  What part of the story is yours to play, or yours to write, or yours to live?  When have you taken time to ponder?

Grace and Peace,



Advent 3A: We the People

Upside Down WorldLectionary Passage for Reflection:  Luke 1:47-55
“My soul magnifies the Lord, 47and 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. His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”

We love this passage.  It is Mary’s Song, the poetic rendering of her realization that she has truly been blessed, that she has been called to do what no one else has done, what no one else will do.  She has been called to give birth to God in this world, to deliver the promise that her people have always known.  But, lest we overly-domesticate the young girl that we know as Mary, these words attributed to her are downright radical.  This is a strong and faithful young woman who is responding to her call not just to birth a baby into the world, but to also open the doors to the eternal as it comes flooding in.  She is the forerunner, the one who opens the door that so many have tried desperately to nail shut then and even now.  She has brought God’s Presence into something that we can see, that we can fathom.  But it comes with a price.  No longer can we continue to live our lives as we have.

E. Stanley Jones called The Magnificat “the most revolutionary document in the world”.  It is said that The Magnificat terrified the Russian Czars so much that they tried to dispel its reading.  It is an out and out call to revolution.  Less subversive language has started wars.  Edward F. Marquart depicts it as God’s “magna carta”.  It is the beginning of a new society, the preamble to a Constitution that most of us are not ready to embrace.  We’d rather chalk it up to the poetry of an innocent young woman.  But this…

God will scatter the proud, those who think they have it figured out, those who are so sure of their rightness and their righteousness.  In other words, those of us who think that we have it all nailed down will be shaken to our core.  The powerful–those with money, those with status, those with some false sense of who they are above others–will be brought down from their high places.  The poor and the disenfranchised, those who we think are not good enough or righteous enough, will be raised up. They will become the leaders, the powerful, the ones that we follow.  The hungry will feel pangs no more and those who have everything–the hoarders, the affluent, those are the ones whose coffers will be emptied to feed and house the world.  God is about to turn the world upside-down.  Look around you.  This is not it; this is not what God had in mind.  And God started it all not by choosing a religious leader or a political dynamo or even a charismatic young preacher but a girl, a poor underage girl from a third-world country with dark skin and dark eyes whose family was apparently so questionable that they are not mentioned and whose marital status seemed to teeter on the edge of acceptable society.  God picked the lowliest of the lowly to turn the world upside down.

We try so hard to do things right, to do what we can to fill the needs of the world.  But the Magnificat does not call us to fix things.  It does not call us to share what think we can with the less fortunate.  It calls us to change, to turn our lives upside down.  So, who is supposed to make this happen?  We are.  You know…”We the People”.  What does this mean?  Well, you know that vision that we keep talking about?  This is it.  This is the beginning.  This is the cracking open of the locked door so it can flood into our lives and into our being.  And if we just listen, just let it be, think what it would like:

There will be no more days like today when we remember the first anniversary of the worst mass school killing in our history.   Never again will we remember 20 children and 6 adults who did not have to die before their lives were filled.  The woman who came through my neighborhood Wednesday night looking through the trash cans for food will have more than the meager pasta and sauce and peanut butter and apples and bananas and crackers that I hastily threw in a bag for her.  No more soldiers and no more children that were just in the wrong place at the wrong time will die in needless violence as we fight for control of this world or attempt to insure that weapons of mass destruction will not be used against us.  There will be no more illness or death because someone could not afford medical care or because they live in a place that does not provide it.  There will be no young people who cannot get a good and solid education with the best resources and technical support that our world and our brains now offer.  Our earth will no longer cry in pain as we consume resources beyond what we need and throw the rest away.  And each of God’s creatures–human and others–will have what they need and the relationships that they need to become what God calls them to be.  In other words, everyone will know, finally, that they have a home.

Aren’t we supposed to be looking toward Christmas?  Isn’t this supposed to be a joyous time?  Why in the world, you ask, am I depressing everyone?  Because, you see, God did not wait to come into the world until everything was right.  God chose instead to come and show us how to be who we were created to be.  And that, that is pure joy beyond anything that we can imagine.  That is our blessing.  Now it’s our turn…“We had the option to do nothing, or to do something.  And then when you think of it like that, we didn’t have any options.” (Mark Barden, whose 7-year old son, Daniel, was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary one year ago today.)

We the People…in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution…

Blessed be the God of Israel, who comes to set us free;
he visits and redeems us, he grants us liberty.
The prophets spoke of mercy, of freedom and release;
God shall fulfill his promise and bring his people peace.

(Michael A. Parry)

Reflection:  What part of God’s vision are you called to bring?  What in your life do you need to turn upside down?  In other words, what do you plan to do with this life you’ve been given?

Grace and Peace,