Tuesday, December 31, 2013

What a difference a day makes...?

For some of the countdown has already begun - in just over 12 hours (or less, depending on when you are reading this), a New Year will have begun.  Resolutions will have been made (and some already broken, perhaps?)  We will put up new calendars and try to remember to write/type "2014" instead of "2013".

What a difference a day makes.  In one sense, it is just the setting and rising of the sun once again.  There will not be some magical change in the air that makes tomorrow any different than today (other than having the day off, lots of football games and of course, the Rose Bowl parade).  We are the ones who have placed the emphasis on this changing of the year from one to another.  (There is interesting information available about the development of each cultures calendars).

Other than the ordinariness of one year passing into another, we use this time to reflect on the past 12 months and lift up our hopes for the upcoming months.  It is an opportunity to step back and ponder our lives, especially when every other day seems to be a blur.

It is a time to set goals, to reevaluate our  lives and even our purpose.  We treat this new day and new year as a clean slate, as a time to start (or re-start) again.  It is fresh.  It is new.  It is full of possibilities.

"This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." (Psalm 118:24)

By the grace of God, each day is new and full of possibilities.  Each day is a gift given and entrusted into our care.  We are invited to be stewards of each day.  We are blessed by God with these days and months to lie ahead of us.

In viewing our days this day, what difference might this make on not just today or tomorrow but on a day four and half months from now or in 238 days?  (someone do the math for me and let me know what those days will be).

I invite you to place this Bible verse someplace where you will see it to remind you of the new days that dawn every morning and how God provides a difference for our days and our lives.  (Note: you may chose to move this reminder around so that it doesn't become just a part of the scenery).

Monday, December 2, 2013

Advent awareness

Advent is one of those seasons in the Church year that gets lost more than others.  Only four  weeks long, it falls in the frenzied days that lead up to Christmas.  Sure, we get the preparatory part of Advent right as we decorate our homes, plan parties, family gatherings and the like.  Children are great at the heightened sense of anticipation as they count down the days until they can see what is under the tree.  And with the days continuing to get shorter, we understand the need for light to shine into our darkness.

We *get* Advent without really *getting* it.  We prepare and anticipate.  We even look for the light.  But are these more about the circumstances of the season or about the coming of Christ?

I'm not even really talking about the birth of Jesus.  Remembering the babe in the manger is presented as a kind of history lesson that gets told every year on the same day.

I am talking about the longing and the anticipated birth of Christ into the midst of our world and our lives now, not long ago.  We need that light right here where we are now, not some time in the past, but now.  We are called to watch and wait, to keep an eye open for signs of God's presence in our midst.

This is often difficult to do when we are looking for the best sale on that gift for dad or searching for the best idea for what to get Aunt Mary.  Certainly there are still these kind of preparations to be done, but  we are called to a different awareness and preparedness.

There are numerous devotional books that help to focus our lives around Advent preparations.  You can pick up a copy of "Living the Gospel Life" devotional that we are using this year at Trinity or just send me a note if you'd like a copy sent to you.

The other *new* thing that has cropped up on the internet is a Photo A Day for the Advent season.  I have posted 4 different versions that I have come across on Trinity's Facebook page (if you want a paper or email copy, let me know).

The purpose of this exercise is both awareness and seeking.  Each day has a designated word and  you are invited to take a picture of something that exhibits that word to you.  You could also draw a picture or even write down images that come to mind for you when you hear that word.  Or maybe there is a song that speaks to you in relationship to the word.  For instance, yesterday's word was "anticipation" and the image that came to mind for me was our dogs as they stare at us when they anticipate receiving their dinner or being let out (a daily occurrence).

This activity along with others like devotional guides invite us to a different kind of awareness of the world around us (one of the versions has scripture verses along with it).  It calls us to prepare with Christ in mind.  It helps us to experience how Christ is already born into our midst as we see beyond wrapping gifts and baking cookies.

To get you started. the different suggested words for today include:
Darkness and Light

Where do you see this revealed?  What image from your own life comes to mind?