AdventPhotos2016 – Promise

10 12 2016

Quick; what were you doing in 1971? I was listening my way through Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory in Mrs. Dunlop’s Kindergarten class reading circle. Now, think of everything that has happened in-between then and now. Yeah, I know. I can’t remember it all either. 41 years is a pretty long time; almost 15,000 new days. So many days. So many details of life. So many changes.
Paul is part of the Life Link Community Church family. Every Sunday he’ll be sitting in the back row, on the left side of the sanctuary, quietly present week after week. Paul’s life came to a crisis moment back in 1971, and he made a promise. He promised to stay sober and for 15,000 morning he has woken up to a day where he has had to decide whether or not to keep that promise. There have been days with sickness, days with no money, days when someone he trusted violated that trust, days when unreasonable demands and expectations were heaped onto his shoulders, days when someone he loved died, days when he knew fear, days of celebration, days when it would have been easier to not keep that promise. No one makes him keep that promise – he chooses to keep his promise, every day. Making the promise wasn’t the hardest part. It undoubtedly felt huge in the moment, but the hard part has been in keeping the promise on all the days that followed. Those times when no else is there; no one is looking; one would ever even know if the promise were broken. No one but Paul. And he chooses to keep his promise.

On Thursday evenings, if you stop in to Life Link you’ll find Paul there again, but not in his usual spot in the sanctuary. On Thursdays he leads a recovery group, and he’ll be downstairs in the kitchen with a pot of coffee, waiting for others to trickle in and join him around the table where he will challenge them to make a promise. But more importantly, he will encourage them to keep their promise, sitting there with them, a gracious and gentle testimony to the powerful beauty of a promise kept.

Advent marks the beginning of a new year on the church calendar. A time when we evaluate, take stock, recognize what can and should change, and make promises about what will be true in our lives going forward. No one will make us keep those promises, but there is One who has chosen to come and sit with us; not only in the sanctuary moments of life, but in the basement moments as well. He made and keeps the promise of His Presence with us, every day.
 From Him, we can be empowered and equipped to live a life of promise; if we chose it.  

  





AdventPhotos2016 – Hope

9 12 2016

My health issues have given me a challenging couple of days and as I was pulling out a particular medication this evening I said to myself, “Oh, I hope this helps.” While I am certainly thankful for the measure of relief afforded through medical science, I am so very glad that my hope is not limited to what can be held in a box or a bottle. In this Advent season, as I wait in the mystery of the already and the not yet, my ultimate, unwavering hope is not in something, but in some One. 

Hope is a powerful thing. It is what holds our spirit steady in the place of anticipation for what is yet to be. 

Hope is what looks into the future and sees an estranged relationship brought close again; poverty being met with provision; mourning journeying through to joy; oppression humbled by justice; brokenness made whole; sickness defeated in healing, and hatred vanquished by love.

Psalm 39:7 “And now, Lord, what wait I for? My hope is in thee.”

  





AdventPhotos2016 – Commit

6 12 2016

Well, I did it again. I bought another book. I’m too embarrassed to even count the number of books in my ‘to-read’ stack(s) – to say nothing of the ones in-progress. In an attempt to control the rate of expansion of my library  I have a rule for myself; I will not buy another book without getting rid of one.  But I’ll be reading one of my books and the writer will reference another book that gives more detail or depth on the topic at hand, and it would be fantastic to have that additional material, so I buy the next book and I fudge on my rule. I’ll remove one of my digital books from one of my devices, because I still really need all of my printed books. I like my rule, in theory. I like the way it would control the sheer volume of bound matter in my tiny house. I like the way it would save me money. But when it comes right down to it, I don’t like it enough to follow through with my rule. Despite my internal dialog, and digital dodging, I won’t commit to that particular discipline in my life; my actions demonstrate an attitude of “I might” rather than “I will.”

As I walk through this Advent season, I find fresh encouragement in God’s commitment to relationship with humankind being met through the gift of His Son. He said He would send a Messiah, and He did. And as I look with anticipation toward the continued fulfillment of His promises in my life I am so very grateful to know that He is not an “I might” God.

  





AdventPhotos2016 – Touch

5 12 2016

  





AdventPhotos2016 – Play

3 12 2016

Emmanuel did not come as a person of power and position, although he certainly could have. He came to this existence the same way we all come. A baby, a toddler, a child, a teenager. He was not God junior for the first few years waiting for the “real” God part to kick in like some sort of divine puberty. No, He was always fully God. God was digging makeshift roads in the dirt, running, climbing; playing.

When I have the privilege of watching a child play I’m always inspired by how unconstrained their narrative is by time, place, or resources. If they are on a flat, sandy beach with a plastic wagon and they decide they want to play bird catcher – missing gear, lack of knowledge on birds, or even the absence of any visible birds are in no way preventive to their play.

I don’t know exactly when it begins, but it does happen. We start brushing away the pieces of our child self, eager to do whatever we must to be considered an adult rather than a child, and one of those pieces seems to be our ability to really play. The capacity to see what is not as though it were; the creative imagination, our hope, becomes subordinated to what already exists. I really don’t think that playtime is something we were ever supposed to outgrow, and there is no easier time to decide to play again than the season of Advent and Christmas. I mean, if you ask yourself “WWJD?” sometimes the legit answer is, play:-)

  





AdventPhotos2016 – Light

2 12 2016

  





AdventPhotos2016 – Proclaim

2 12 2016

Proclaim: to make known publicly.

I just got back home from the annual district Christmas Dinner for Pastors & Spouses up in Holmes county, widely known as Amish country. When you’re in that part of the state a one-on-one conversation isn’t necessary to identify the Amish. Their lifestyle, attire, and transportation choices make very clear the fact that they hold to and live out the values and beliefs of the Amish faith tradition. Of course, there are ways other than driving a horse & buggy whereby one proclaims their beliefs and values.