Light

Light nestles in the crevices of my mind.
I did not invite it, but it refuses not to
come in.
I turn my back on it, not ready for its message
of hope. Sometimes its too much too feel hopeful.
The pain of so many young lives
robbed still rings in the air all around
me. I try to imagine the tears that fall from
the eyes of so many–the families, the community,
the world–I imagine them falling into my hands.
I wish I could catch them all, but I can’t.
My hands are too small. My hands are just too small.
And yet I know there is one whose hands are capable of catching
these tears, of holding them sacred for us all.
So I turn to the light, I allow it to bathe
my face, sing softly to my spirit, and lead me by
the hand from the precipice of  this darkness,                                                                                                                                                     moment by moment to                                                                                                                                                                                                          the awaiting beams of God’s radiant light….

Written for the victims of the Sandy Hook Shooting, Conneticut

Grace

There are moments in your life that are such a gift they become captured in time returning to the forefront of your memory to bless you again and again. This advent, I have been turning over one of my favorite memories like a cherished gem till the shine of it has filled my spirit with a renewed sense of Faith, Hope, and Love.

Years ago, while I was in seminary, I was invited to join a team of advocates in the Holy Land to be trained to teach on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Part of the experience was to be immersed in different areas so that we might hear the stories of the people. We stayed in a refugee camp, spent time with Israeli’s whose family members had been killed by suicide bombers, and with Christians who shared their disappointment at how many Christians around the world visit the Holy Land while never visiting the “living stones”–the people of the land.

After our immersion experience was through, we were scheduled to visit with people involved with peace initiatives. Though the light of hope was scheduled for the next day, we the people of God were sitting in the darkness of the stories we held and we wondered how the light would pierce through the darkness of them.

A woman in the group began to sing. We looked at her like she was crazy and she said, in the darkest of nights, light was born into the world–a light so bright even death could not hold it back. She continued to sing the words of an ancient hymn called, “alleluia!” One by one we began to sing this song of good news with her. Our spirits began to turn towards the hope of what the new day would bring, for light is indeed promised to the people who walk in the good news the reign of Jesus brings.

As we were wrestling as a group of how to find our way to the light, there was an internal wrestle I was managing as well.  I had been praying about whether I would seek ordination as a Deacon or an Elder in the United Methodist Church. I could not find a place of rest in my spirit and the wrestle grew during my journey.  In the midst of learning about this deep conflict in the Holy Land, I experienced a sense of peace in the midst of our receiving Holy Communion.  It was the gift that I wanted to be able to give to a broken world–the good news of the God that does not leave us in our broken mess. I learned in one of the most conflicted parts of the world the gift God called me to give to the world in my ministry–the Word of God, Presiding over the gift of the Sacraments, Ordering the life of the Church, and Serving in the best of times and the worst of times…..

…..I ran into the woman who led us in song on that trip recently at a conference. I looked at her and she looked at me and we fell into a warm embrace. I shared with her my story of finding my way to my calling in the Holy Land and she smiled, revealing she had not known the deep inner journey I was on in the midst of our training.  The stories between us fell back and forth naturally and eventually we parted ways, but the chance meeting at the conference drew forth from me the memory of this story that remains a precious gem–it is a gift to remember our calling.

My calling might have started out like a whisper, but it lives in me now like a flame. Where once before I could not imagine myself ever being able to preach, now I don’t know what to do if I am not. Where I never felt holy enough to preside over the sacraments, I now worry for those who feel unworthy to receive God’s mercy and grace in their lives. Where I once wondered if I could ever lead a church, I now long for a church full of those seeking actually to be led.

The journey of our lives is one that leads us through valleys, with the promise of mountains in between. The air on the mountain is clear and good, but we are called to the journey–the step by step Kingdom building journey of making the love of God real in the lives of those who live in darkness.  The gift of this journey is the Joy of witnessing people come alive and witnessing the gift of coming alive ourselves.  I was glad to run into the woman who led me to sing “alleluia” during a dark night. She is a tiny Philippino woman, who wears cowboy boots, and whose name just happens to be….GRACE!  I give thanks this advent season for all those who spoke God’s calling into my life and for the moments when God’s grace has met me in the place of my deepest need.  I celebrate this season of LIGHT and the gift of good news we remember in it–Emmanuel–God is with us!

Deep Peace be with you this advent season my friends….

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