10Q10Q -- faith, life, rethinking church, following Jesus...stuff

Come join in the discussion of faith at the Koinonia Page where scripture and life intersect in conversation and exploration. Visit on Facebook, Twitter, and Dave's Web Page too! I'd welcome your company at Palmyra First United Methodist Church, where I hang out, too, come and see!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

What is Christmas?

      Christmas in September, economy, elections, family dynamics, work, bills… whew sometimes things seem a little crazy-scary! James (1:2) tells us to consider the challenges Joy! First John chapter 4 reminds us that Loving in all things is who we are. Jesus invites us to serve the poor and those on the margins. The Great Commandment tells us to love both God and Neighbor….whew, even those bible instructions can all feel like one big, impossible pile.
       Let me share a Christmas secret. Love gets into places that nobody expects or thinks is possible. That’s the whole Jesus-in-the-manger story. Love that is self-less changes us and others.
       Do you remember last year at Christmas when I challenged everyone to give as much away as they spent on their own families? We bought a boatload of mosquito nets to get rid of Malaria, and piles of stuff for the Caring Cupboard. This year I didn't make that specific challenge, although it’s a good pattern to consider, but the stuff that wears us out is the stuff that is focused on ourselves: my family, my job, my bills,… mine. Christmas is outwardly focused: God leaving heaven and coming to earth, Jesus’ mission, Jesus’ Church’s calling, Jesus’ love for the neighbor, the poor, the hungry… all outward, all my opportunity for Joy.
What’s your Christmas about? I challenge you to shape it around Jesus instead of yourself. Be creative, be faithful, and be surprised at God’s freeing love in a manger. Enjoy the warmth of family traditions, make it with love, and ground everything in Jesus’ birthday. I bet you’ll find an unexpected gift!
     Right now I'm looking  to get beyond myself/ourselves into scripture, into trying new ways to follow Jesus, into learning, … into Christmas.  How are you making Christmas this year?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

When I Pray I Feel...

     I'm feeling the blah's of a busy season and when I pray there's no magic relief!   I wish there was, but there's not.  When my Dad was dying, I prayed and the journey didn't get easy.  I wish it did, but it didn't.  When people are stressful (I call them EGR - extra grace required -- people & situations) I pray, often for them, and God's way of love and for me, and they don't suddenly get all warm and fuzzy or compliant.  I wish it were so, but it isn't.  So why pray?
      I pray to stay connected to God...something bigger than me. (Here's some info about prayer.)  It seems to me that a God big enough to love me with amazing creativity in creation, persistence in Jesus, and effectiveness over thousands of years, is someone who's got a better handle on things that I do.  (And I haven't found a better handle on life stuff.)  So I want to stay connected.  In that desire, practice and journey, I get changed for the better.  God does stuff that I couldn't see before.  And I find prayers answered in familiar and surprising ways.
      I pray to let God change me.  I need you to know I'm not an on-my-knees, head-bowed, hands-folded, kind of pray-er.  I walk and pray.  I write and pray.  I draw and pray.  I play music and pray.  I think and pray.  I cry and pray.  I sigh and  pray. And, once in a while, I bow-my-head-fold-my-hands and pray.  (Here's some back info on ways to pray.)  It's messy, sometimes mundane, often without immediate reward, frequently one step in a long journey, and always (in hindsight) powerful.
     Today I am wrestling with life on the inside of my head and soul.  I came across an article called "Why Pray?"  and was reminded to pray.  I was connected to God through a prayer: while reading the article, while writing this blog post, while waiting in my own discomfort, and while thinking about practical solutions to life's stuff.  Maybe I need to go take a walk?!  Thanks for starting my prayer time with me.
     If you want to:

  • engage about prayer, 
  • share a thought about prayer, 
  • know someone else is praying with you for a prayer request, 
  • offer a strongly or wonderingly held belief about prayer, 
  • pursue a sincere question about prayer, 
  • confront a deal-breaking or heart-breaking frustration about prayer,
... anything, then go ahead, right now, right here.  I'd love to share in that holy, prayerful conversation with you. Peace on the Journey.