Reflecting on worship January 13, 2013
(Taking the message with you…)
At our baptism, promises were made. When they begin to come true, when we begin to really experiences these gifts and see the reality of our baptisms coming to life in our hearts and relationships and in our lives, then we
too have little epiphanies (manifestations of the promises and presence of God).
How has your baptism been welling up in your life? Do you hear voices from God? Are there blessings that persist in your life, even in difficult times? Do you sometimes feel far away from these blessings and promises? Where might the epiphany of these gifts be in these kinds of times?
What would it be like to hear the voice of God inside of you saying; “You are my own, my beloved, with you I am well pleased”? Would we discount it, set it aside as unimportant? Perhaps
we are not used to receiving such messages from God so as to receive them well.
Where might the promises and evidence of our baptism have a real impact in our lives in the next while? How might we watch and hope for those moments so as to receive them well? May the living water of God’s activity, come and give us the promised life of God among us.
Preparing for Worship January 13, 2013
What kind of art paintings really impress you? Is it that which bears the clearest resemblance to how the world really looks? (I think they call this “Realism”) Perhaps you really enjoy art that catches a mood or an impression which is beyond or outside of a clear reproduction of its look (impressionism). What we look for and enjoy in art says something about how we see and what we look for in the world.
Now let me ask you an epiphany question; “Where have you seen God at work lately?” Even as I ask the question, I’m wondering to myself, “Is this a question that is more about where God is or about our seeing?” It is certainly about both. This is also an epiphany question, because where you see God at work is at some level an expression of God’s presence. It is a manifestation of God.
I like to engage in this spiritual question discipline (Where have you seen God at work lately), because it helps us engage in the art of looking to see God at work.
This art comes to expression in us in our baptisms, where God’s working in our lives begins to take root and plants itself in promise and community and faithfulness.
Maybe art and spirituality have more in common than we often realize. Perhaps coming to see God alive and at work in our lives and in the world around us is an artistic appreciation that comes with time and grace and our learning to see as well.
Thanks be to God who makes light and gives us sight, to God whose artistic expression fills the world around us and even seeks to shape the world we perceive.
Reflecting on Worship January 6th
(Taking the message with you)
Have any strangers come through your life recently? Have any brought news of hope and encouragement that surprised you? In this day and age, we do need to be alert and wary of those who would harm or steal. But sometimes God comes through our lives in the form of a stranger. The Magi came through Bethlehem with a perspective and a view to what had happened that surprised those who were with the child. These travelers journeyed long with a persistent eye toward a light in the heavens. They brought gifts but also made many wonder about the significance of this child. Sometimes God comes to us through those who are new to us.
Lives of faith will always engage in the struggle of the encounter with the stranger. It was the Good Samaritan who stopped to help the stranger beaten in the ditch (Luke 10). It was the three visitors who brought God’s presence to Abraham by the trees of Mamre (Gen 18). Perhaps in an occasional stranger passing through our lives, God will reach out and come near to us. This manifestation of God often comes to us new, unexpected and as though from afar or through a stranger.
To really engage God’s full presence in our lives, let us prepare ourselves to see and welcome those whom we have yet to meet, who show interest in knowing the light of Christ. Perhaps they are messengers of God. AMEN
I arose in darkness this morning. This time of year the dark of night flows into the working day. Huddled around the growing warmth of the wood stove, I sipped my coffee and watched the glimmer of day gathering in the East. In the black of the moonless sky the stars were strong in their shimmering contrast. I love these morning moments. They seem to speak of what God is doing. Just as the light persistently dawns, and the stars stand out in contrast to the night sky, so the coming of God, lightens and warms into our lives with promises that are persistent and reliable. This is the truth of Epiphany. Every moment we have is a good moment to keep an eye to the emerging grace and mercy of God. Slowly the light of God begins to illuminate the day ahead.
The Story of the Magi comes late in the story of Jesus’ birth. So far, only a few have heard tidings of the great wonder. Then enter the Magi, following the inviting movement of the star, traveling long to come and worship the one born King among the Jews. Now the story begins to spread even further. Herod tries to end it, but the action continues. Now it works its way down history into our lives as well.
This spreading of God’s coming isn’t always clear and bright – right in front of us. But more and more do come, the hope and illumination of God’s word continues. It is as through it comes to us as from afar, working and journeying to be made manifest to us. It grows bright as a sign of God’s presence with us. Even in the darkness of these winter mornings, there are signs of God’s presence, persistently bringing light and hope into our lives. I pray that this kindling warmth and dawning brightness will continue to show forth the grace of God alive among us, even now. Happy Epiphany!