Monday, December 19, 2011
That night we were moved more deeply into the Christmas soul mood by the inspiring music of Randy Edwards and his Woodland Baptist Church choir, members of the San Antonio symphony performing the classics of Handel and others.
As the week progresses the celebration of a true Christmas becomes increasingly alive. So bring on Santa Claus with his bag of toys, fun, family togetherness and temporary highs. His commercialism can't detract from an exciting celebration of the coming of the King. It is now much more than a great Bethlehem event in history. Santa's bag cannot compare with Jesus' bag of love, joy, peace, light, truth, justice, compassion, forgiveness, healing, wholeness, hospitality, eternal life and, in short, heaven on earth. Have a blessed Christmas and all these gifts that come with it.
Saturday, December 17, 2011
Funny how something comes to you in the wee hours before the dawn. Today it was a quote from Shakespeare's "Tragedies of Julius Caesar." Into my head popped, "Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look; such men are dangerous." Caesar is speaking. Cassius is the instigator in the conspiracy against Caesar. The plot consists of a combination of political ideology and personal envy. Cassius does indeed have the skill of reading other people accurately. In this instance, however, his better judgement is overwhelmed by Brutus and others emotionally driven to destroy Caesar. (At this point I was almost detoured into thoughts about the current political scene, but that is not where my early wonderings went.) We are all blessed with the gift of thought, but I was aware this morning of how dangerous too much thinking can be to our own peace of mind. Even Shakespeare's Caesar went on to say, Such men as Cassius are "never at heart's ease." Instead of taking whatever God sends my way today, I will probably wind up over-thinking it. Instead of accepting what is, I will be inclined to analyze it, name it, compare it to somebody else's experience, wish it were different and wind up afraid of what might happen. I will let my mind project some imaginary future instead of taking one day at a time. That will only lead to confusion and the feeling of being overwhelmed. And where will all this thinking get me anyway? Does not God say, through Isaiah, "My thoughts are not your thoughts."
Friday, December 9, 2011
I'm guilty of disturbing the peace--my own peace. I repeatedly do that by overvaluing my own opinons. When I cling to a certain viewpoint as if my life depended on it and fail to see that such an opinion is no more than something I thought up, I am easily disturbed when someone challenges it. I get into that trap by wanting something desperately or when I am afraid something bad might happen. On the other hand, when I trust God to supply my every need, I am calm. Isaiah understood, "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee." This is what Thomas a Kempis suggested to his fellow monks in the middle ages, by advising them to stop paying so much attention to each other and focus on their own inner self and on God. I get out of the trap by refusing to give all my attention to things going on in my world and get very still. There I experience the difference in the temporary and the eternal. Let there be peace on earth and let it begin in me.
Saturday, December 3, 2011
Its before dawn and I am a singing bird in the perfect storm. I am in a loving space in a tsunami tossed world. Even my own beloved country can't right itself. Other countries are either sinking or trying to adjust to new leadership roles. Long-held values are playing fruit basket upside down. Soon I will be confronted by all the mental noise of this world. My hope for maintaining my inner peaceful space is to surrender to what is. Don't fight it and don't deny what is happening. For me the opposite of denial is to be more spiritually conscious. There I become more fully aware of a loving God in the control tower moving us along through the storms with divine directions. The most important directions according Jesus is to be more involved in loving God and all others while I am in this loving space myself. In this three-way relationship I discover that the cosmos is not out of control after all. In this storm I don't just sing, as cool as that is. Today I may have the opportunity to resume my God-given role of co-creator with God. In this space I no longer fret about what the future will hold. Maybe I will see what the New Testament writers were saying when they talked about the end of the world. From their viewpoint the end of the world as they saw it was the ushering in of a new age. As Paul said, "The present form of this world will pass away." The new era of love and grace involves the fuller presence of Jesus. And it requires my fuller presence, living with gratitude and kindness in the here and now as the sun comes up.