Advent 2: Of The Roses Singing

Isaiah 40:1-11The Second Sunday of Advent – for Sunday, December 7, 2014

“A voice is crying out: Clear the Lord’s way in the desert! Make a level highway in the wilderness for our God!” (Isaiah 40:3)

two+candlesA voice is crying out:
Clear the Lord’s way in the desert!
Make a level highway in the wilderness for our God!
 

Some say, fervent and sure in their beliefs, that Isaiah predicted a voice in the future: a John the baptizer that would cry aloud in the literal wilderness, a harbinger for Jesus’ ministry.

Some say, fervent and sure in their beliefs, that Isaiah was not predicting a some-day future of John and Jesus, but shouting an every-day truth in the metaphoric wilderness: a longing for God to transform a wounded world.

Either way, when modern hearts and minds read Isaiah’s ancient cries, there is a belief that from the wild, from beyond our safe homes and familiar streets, a change will come.

American poet, Mary Oliver penned,

Ordinarily, I go to the woods alone, with not a single friend, for they are all smilers and talkers and therefore unsuitable.

I don’t really want to be witnessed talking to the catbirds or hugging the old black oak tree. I have my way of praying, as you no doubt have yours.

Besides, when I am alone I can become invisible. I can sit on the top of a dune as motionless as an uprise of weeds, until the foxes run by unconcerned. I can hear the almost unhearable sound of the roses singing.

If you have ever gone to the woods with me, I must love you very much.

The second Sunday of Advent has arrived. Come walk with me into the woods, in the wilderness of yesterday’s Isaiah and today’s faith . . . but only if you are not one of the “smilers and talkers and therefore unsuitable.” Continue reading →

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Trust Dad

Genesis 22:1-14 – The 3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time – for Sunday, June 29, 2014

“After these things God tested Abraham…” (Genesis 22:1)

Caravaggio's "Abraham and Isaac."
Caravaggio’s “Abraham and Isaac.”

Isaac’s name, the son of Abraham and Sarah, meant “laughter.”

I’m glad the name didn’t translate into talkative or verbose.

Maybe Isaac was a smiling, giggling child and oft justified his name’s promise. Certainly Isaac’s name came from his mother Sarah, who’d laughed at (not with) the messengers from God when promised she’d soon become pregnant in her, er, “golden years.”

Laugh Isaac might have, but based on the Biblical witness, the kid wasn’t a talker. Between Isaac’s birth to his elderly parents and his twin sons’ births when he was 60 years of age, Isaac spoke once in Genesis’ verses. Of note, the second time this revered patriarch of the Hebrew people opened his mouth had to do with muttering a deceit. In Genesis 26:7, well after his twins Jacob and Esau were born, Isaac lied about his wife Rebekah to people he feared: “She is my sister.”

Maybe he was better off when he kept his mouth shut? Continue reading →

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On The Uneven Steps

John 3:1-17  – The 2nd Sunday of Lent – for Sunday, March 16, 2014

“He came to Jesus by night and said to him, ‘Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God . . .’” (John 3:2)

I scurried from Jesus’ hovel, grateful for the night . . .
I scurried from Jesus’ hovel, grateful for the night . . .

I scurried from Jesus’ hovel, grateful for the night that still hid my actions. Call me a coward, if you will. Yes, I had avoided the indoor lamps casting slivers of light across the dusty avenues on the way over. Yes, I had ducked into a few corners—like the one near the bakery—as I searched for the address. The only prayers I prayed before meeting him were about . . . not being seen. Deliver me from spying eyes! With Passover in Jerusalem, everyone went to bed late and woke early. Everyone wanted to earn an extra denarius. Thousands begged. Thousands more pretended how pious they were. Deliver me from Jerusalem at its commercial, crass worst.

I slowed by the bakery, far enough away from Jesus’ doorstep. Now no one could link me to the Nazarene. Instead of continuing, I slumped on the apothecary shop’s steps beside the bakery. A brew of yesterday’s perfumes and herbs irritated my nose. I was exhausted, but not from the walk. I could stride the breadth of Jerusalem and outpace men half my age.

It wasn’t the walk to Jesus, but the talk with him. Continue reading →

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