Monthly Archives: December 2013

Things to Carry into the New Year

2013 turned out to be a great year in so many ways…

  • My wife was sought out by a former co-worker who offered her the best job, in the best company, and with the best people with whom she has ever worked
  • I rediscovered and reconnected with some important parts of my life that I had been neglecting
  • My daughters and son had great years restarting life after a move in mid-2012
  • I found new life and new enthusiasm in a new setting that re-energized my ministry
  • My faith was restored and renewed after a three-year time of testing and loss that ended in mid-2012

These things (among others)  were for me an experience of the power of resurrection. Resurrection is a power and not just a moment in the past. It is a present reality as much as future hope. Resurrection is a process (Jesus was in the tomb three days wasn’t he?) as much as it is an event.

“May the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ be blessed!
On account of his vast mercy, he has given us new birth.
You have been born anew into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”
1 Peter 1:3 CEB

The other revelation that 2013 brought and that I plan to carry into 2014 comes from this post by author Donald Miller –

http://storylineblog.com/2013/11/11/the-story-youre-believing-is-a-lie/

So many of the narratives I construct in my head are really lies. Fiction and fantasy are marvelous when we read them as such. Not when the narratives in our head about the world, our lives, other people are lies. How many negative stories in my mind are untrue – but still controlling what I do? How many stories that I use to understand how other people live and act and respond are completely false? And therefore poisoning relationships and perpetuating brokenness? How many of the histories I have crafted are, in truth, alternative histories to reality?

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
John 8:32 CEB

Here’s  to a New Year marked by the power of the Resurrection and an unfolding of the true narrative of my life – and yours!

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Dona Nobis Pacem

“Grant us peace”

Last Sunday we sang this traditional Latin hymn in worship. I had never heard (nor sung) it before. The congregation were good sports about learning it and at the end of worship we sang it again in a round. I thought it was beautiful and moving… even if we don’t speak or sing Latin!

Peace may be as alien to us as the language in which we prayed for it on Sunday. Certainly we do not live in a world where peace reigns at any level… world, country, community.  Nor, frankly, has it ever! Peace has always been a dream, a hope, a wish. And elusive.

My sense at this stage of my life is that it will always be so. That only God can bring about peace in a world marked from its beginning by violence (who can forget the first siblings, Cain and Abel?). I applaud those who work for it in our world and especially those who do so out of their faith. But I confess that I don’t have much hope that human efforts will bring any lasting peace. They never have and I suspect they never will.

BUT this is not a note of despair – far from it. I sing and long that God would “dona nobis pacem.” In my life and relationships. In the wonderful church where I worship and live and serve. In my community. Most of all in me  –  in my heart and mind and interactions.

How different the world in which I live would be if this were so.

Dona nobis pacem… even so Lord, make it be.

 

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Spes Mea In Deo Est

For those not conversant in Latin, the title of this post means “My hope is in God.” Many churches celebrating Advent focused on hope this Sunday as they begin the journey to celebrating Jesus’ birth. We did at my church as well.

This motto (from one of the Masonic groups to which I belong) came to mind this morning. It came as a conviction, an indictment, a confession.  To say “my hope is in God” is a very different thing than actually hoping in God.  I recognize how little I really do so.

The realization comes from recognizing this morning where my hope lies. Some of it lies in other people – hoping that others will behave differently, hoping for others to make decisions over which I have no control and in which I have no say, hoping for people to see and believe what I cannot make them see or believe. Not surprisingly this often ends in disappointment.

Some of my hope is in institutions, in organizations. While they are composed of people, they also have forces and lives of their own. And if people will disappoint us institutions even more so. Truthfully most organized groups don’t have the ability to respond to the hopes of individuals. Nor, probably, should they.

This thought process leads me to the place where most of my hope really lies – in myself. My hopes for other people are mostly about what I want for them (even when what I want is really for their good, darn it) rather than in what they can or will do. My hopes in institutions are hopes that they will do for me what they may not be designed to do. Or able to do even when they are.

Perhaps worst of all, my hopes in myself have to do with an inflated sense of my abilities and intelligence. I think I can do more than I can in and by myself. I am convinced far too often of my discerning mind and infinite capacity. If I am disappointed in other people and groups, how much more are my self-hopes proven false!

God alone can bear the weight of my hopes. God alone can nurture my hope.  God alone can shape my hopes to mirror the divine hope for me, for other people, for institutions, and for the world.  As Advent begins, may our hope be in God alone. May Paul’s words about hope prove true in each of us:

“…and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” (Romans 5:5 NRSV)

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