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.


AdventPhotos2016 – Listen

30 11 2016

I took this photo last month when we spent a couple of weeks visiting the kids down on Florida’s gulf coast; we brought Bill’s parents down with us this time. I couldn’t tell you which day this was, mainly because at some point every day Bill & Dad were sitting in conversation. I don’t think I know of any two people on this planet who enjoy conversing more than these two.  In this pic, they’re out on the balcony. They usually start in the main area with everyone else – the on, there are lots of voices, dishes are clattering – but at some point they’ll get up and go into another room; just the two of them. It’s too hard to listen to just the one voice with all the other voices, noises, and activity. If and when I want to get Bill’s attention when he is with his dad, I don’t usually get a response from him on my first call, it’s at least two (sometimes more); “Honey” “Honey” “Bill” before his head pivots around to respond. In those times he’s listening for only one voice, his dad’s.

Advent is my balcony. A space separated from the normal clatter and chatter of everyday life. A place for me to listen, really listen, for His voice.


AdventPhotos2016 – Renew

29 11 2016

This was in my mailbox; an invitation to renew my magazine subscription. My subscription hasn’t expired yet; I’m still receiving a copy every month, but the point of the renewal notice is to ensure that my subscription will continue on without any interruption. That’s the ideal, but life can be hectic, the notice gets tucked back in the stack and tossed out. Or I open it, fill it out, seal it up, but can’t find a stamp so it eventually disappears to wherever all unstamped correspondence goes. Or I open it, think I’m gonna do that online right now, pick up my iPad and wow – 12 Facebook notifications… Three months later I walk past a newsstand; I see the current cover of “my” magazine and think, “I don’t remember getting that this month…ohhh.” Magazine companies are seemingly impervious to rejection, and undeterred by my neglect, forgetfulness, or disaffection. I can count on another renewal offer showing up in the mail letting me know that they want to begin my subscription again; there is no penalty, I just need to let them know that I want to renew.

Renew: to make effective for an additional period.

Renew: to begin again.
Psalm 51:10 “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.


Voice – AdventPhotos (2015#10)

8 12 2015

I’m not really sure where Jylian got her voice, but she’s got the pipes. We’ll be heading up to Cleveland on Saturday to hear her sing with the Cleveland Orchestra and Chorus at Severance Hall. Pretty cool, huh? But here’s the thing, she didn’t just call them up and say, “Hey, write me in for the soprano solo on the 12th.” She’s been working on improving, growing, perfecting her voice for nearly her whole life, and the past four years of undergrad work probably has a thousand hours of time dedicated to the field of music. It’s been a singular focus; worthy of a priority investment of time, energy, and money. She’ll be heard by a sold out crowd this weekend, because she did the work, she earned the right to be heard. Sometimes, we think that the world, our community, our neighborhood, our workplace owes us a listen just because we decide to start talking. We get offended if they have the audacity to ignore our voice. I wonder how differently the message of grace and peace would be heard if we spent time in preparation; preparing our hearts, being careful to understand the context into which we want to speak, recognizing that we are stewards of this gift of grace and it is worthy of our singular focus, our best energy, and all of the resources at our disposal. If we worked to earn the right to be heard and then, spoke the truth, would our voice rise above the hopeless chatter and droning noise of this world? If we loved, really loved those who we want to listen to us, would the message of grace and peace finally be heard? “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or tinkling symbol.”

Speak – AdventPhotos (2015#8)

6 12 2015