Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Been thinking about Light

Today is Epiphany ... a celebration of the Light of Christ made know to the Gentiles, the Magi from the East ... most likely Persia. On Christmas Eve I commented that I could smell the Light. The examples I gave were almost all an aspect of worship or an act of worship in praise and thanksgiving to God. Yes, in that sense we smell the Light of Christ in us and among us.

But, what about when we step outside the doors of our church?
How do we sense the Light of Christ in the world around us?

During Epiphany, the season of the Light of God revealed among us, I want to challenge myself (and maybe you too) to sense and find the Light of Christ
in the hungry,

the destitute,
More than 550,000 Americans are homeless on any given night.

the poor and needy,
Over 146 million people in the United States are poor or low income.

and the forgotten.

It's easy to sense the Light of Christ in the beauty of worship. But, this Epiphany season, may He open our eyes to see His Light in unexpected places ... in places and in people where He waits for us to share a cup of water ... or coffee, to offer a word of comfort or encouragement, to give a coat because we have two. The Light is in those places ... and people ... too. What Light do we miss when we pass them by?

Perhaps, as we practice these things we will experience a renewed sense God's Unfathomable Light (thank you Janet George!) and breathe in its scent of grace ... as John said in his gospel "grace upon grace" ... and peace and goodness and kindness. What blessings await us as we take in the scent of Christ's Light among us. Yes, what blessings. Thanks be to God.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Merry Christmas!

St. James' Episcopal Church, Lake George  New York
This is the interior of St. James' ready for our Christmas Eve celebration. I stood for a long time at the crossing taking in the beauty and wonder of the place and its promise for our evening together. It brought to memory a comment made to me by a little girl who had been taken by the wonder of worship. She said, "I can smell the Light." That is exactly right. On Christmas Eve, I could smell the Light. Evergreen. Frankincense. Myrrh. Tulips. ... I wish I could say snow, but it was an uncommon 52 degrees! Regardless, I could smell the Light. There was something in it ... something it brought to the space ... something you could breathe in and know it was from the light itself. Jesus is come ... God with us.

I don't know how it works that God became a human baby. Even more, I don't know how it works that God came and made His home among us, that He lives in us. Immanuel - God's presence with us and in us and among us and around us ... in Jesus. Maybe the only way to know the answer is to stop and stand and look and listen and ask Him to show you ... to breathe in the scent of His Light. 

The scent of His Light is in the beauty of worship. It's in the wonder of prayer. It's in the voices lifted in praise. It's in sharing the bread and drinking from the cup. It's in the hearing of ancient Scriptures ... come to fulfillment. It's in the passing of peace ... the Peace of the Lord be with you. ... Peace on earth, God's goodness to all people.

When I walked outside after our Christmas Eve services, although all the lights inside the church were turned off ... I could still smell the Light. The sky was filled with stars and an almost full moon. Astonishing.

May the Light of Christ be with you this Christmas!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Celebrate Michaelmas!

St. Michael the Archangel, Kiev Square, Ukraine

... or the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels! Wikipedia says this about the Archangel Michael, "He is one of the principal angelic warriors, seen as a protector against the dark of night, and the administrator of cosmic intelligence."* Um... understatement.

In Revelation 12 Michael and the angels of the Lord fight the dragon (Satan) and his angel followers ... in the final defeat. The deceiver is thrown out of heaven and then a loud voice cries out, "Now the salvation and the power and kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come for the accuser ... has been thrown down ... ! ... And, they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony ...." (12:10-11) If you could have anyone fight by your side in addition to Jesus (of course) St. Michael is a good choice.

A couple of years ago I took an iconography class where we painted an icon of St. Michael. Since then I have painted him over and over, wanting to listen to his voice and learn it. For the one he protects, his is a voice of hope and en-couragement and confidence. For the one against him, Michael's is a war cry that sounds his defeat. He has become an important player in my awareness of all that goes on in the heavenlies ... the protector against the dark of night and the one who sends messengers and warriors into the battle.

In the book of Daniel it is Michael who comes to the aid of Gabriel. It is because of Michael that Gabriel makes it through the war to Daniel delivering his message of hope and deliverance.

I find it an amazing thing to look back on the history of the Ukraine and see that above the city of Kiev stands this Archangel ... protecting, keeping ,fighting for its people. He stands above it on both ends of the square.

St. Michael the Archangel, Kiev Square, Ukraine

Do you see him on the other end, standing victorious upon the pillar? And, the people below ... under his protection, angel warriors sent by the Almighty to keep them.

Dr. Allen Ross says that one angel lifting one finger could defeat the enemies of God. That's an angel. What about an Archangel? We have the hosts of heaven keeping us under the protection of the blood of the Lamb. Praise be to God! Yes, praise be to God!

Lord, send your mighty angels to do battle for us and keep us in the powerful care of your hand.
In the Name ... Jesus ... Hashem ... AMEN.


Saturday, August 15, 2015

On the road again ...

... but this time the destination is a more permanent one: Lake George, New York. Four weeks ago, the Vestry and Search Committee of St. James Episcopal Church called me to be their next Rector and I accepted.

St. James Episcopal Church, Lake George NY

This is the culmination of 2 years and 8 months of prayer ... not only my prayers but the many who walked this journey with me. And, it answers the prayers of the St. James' Family who have asked God to grant them discernment and wisdom during their search for their next Rector.

What amazes me is God's incredible weaving of all the various strands of prayer. Every thread of warp and woof (or is it weft?) of this tapestry was woven so that at the perfect time we would come together in agreement that this was indeed God's plan. Over the past years it took great courage for all of us ... those who prayed with us and for us as well as for the Vestry, Search Committee, and me ... to say "no" when our hearts wanted to say "yes", and to wait when we wanted to act. One of the greatest lessons in all of this has been learning to listen to the heart of God for what He wanted to do ... in us and through us.

The lectionary for this coming Sunday talks about Solomon asking God for wisdom to lead the people of God. "Understanding mind" can be translated "listening heart". We all need to ask God for "listening hearts" – hearts that are tuned to His frequency, listening for His voice, His transmission of what he desires for us, His blessing for us. There are so many times we want to jump ahead, get going, step on the gas ... but He asks us to wait, say "no", be still. Ugh! Please can't we get going?

No. Wait. Listen. And, Understand.

Solomon asked for a heart that listened to the heart of God in order to govern and lead His people. Don't we need that same listening in order to live this life with{IN} Christ? It's not necessarily something that comes naturally BUT we can learn to do. I know we can, because I have learned to do this over the last few years. (And, I continue to learn!) I testify that it reveals the wonderful and amazing ways of our Master. I witnessed how he marvelously provided for me over the last few years and now, I get to go to St. James, Lake George. What a blessing!

Ask with me. Ask for the LORD God to grant us listening hearts that will understand and discern the ways of God that we may live life wisely ... full of His grace and peace.

Abundant and scandalous blessings of God our Father to you as you listen for Him. +++