Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Everything is beautiful in its own way...

Some of you are old enough to remember Ray Stevens singing the song, "Everything is beautiful in its own way." In fact I can hear his voice singing those words in my head as I type!

It's true, you know. I especially think that when I see the absolutely beautiful fall color. I took the pictures you see here a couple of days ago in our yard. There were so many intense, saturated colors, it was difficult to stop taking shots. It seems as though every angle gave me an even better view.

Why is it that each season, for one reason or another, is "the best"? If you're like me, you find wonderful things about Fall, Winter, Spring, and Summer. They all have highlights. So is it with life. It doesn't make any difference if you're young or old, in the sunrise or sunset of your life, God has wonderful things for you if you will simply stop and enjoy them. Like we read in Ecclesiastes, "To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under the sun."

Why do we miss the beauty of a season, or the good things God has for us where we are right now? Usually it's because we're consumed by the wrong thing. We allow ourselves to be held hostage by a past that is long gone, or become anxious about a future that is at best a fantasy, and in the process miss the moment we have with God right now. Could that be why God tells us in so many different ways, "Be still and know that I am God"?

There's something strong to be said about slowing down, centering down on what God is doing right now, and enjoying what he has for us. "This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it!"

May the Lord give you eyes to see the beauty of the season, whether it be in your yard or your life.



Friday, October 10, 2008

A quiet place...

These are troubled times. It seems like we have reasons to be anxious on all sides, be it political, economic, or social. That is one of many reasons why now is the best time of all to draw deeply on the resources of the Christian faith.

As I have been saying, my journey these days has been taking me deeper into prayer and meditation, truly quiet places where you can experience peace and stability, even when the world is shaking. Recently I have been reading a wonderful book taken from talks given by Dietrich Bonhoeffer in the 1930's. Ultimately Bonhoeffer led the confessing church in Germany which stood against Hitler and the killing of the Jews, losing his life fighting that fight. For Bonhoeffer, prayer and meditation were at the core of his life. May these words be helpful for you, too, taken from his book, "Meditating on the Word."

"Each morning is a new beginning of our life. Each day is a finished whole. The present day marks the boundary of our care and concerns. It is long enough to find God or to lose him, to keep faith or fall into disgrace. God created day and night for us so we need not wander without boundaries, but may be able to see every morning the goal of the evening ahead. Just as the ancient sun rises anew every day, so the eternal mercy of God is new every morning. Every morning God gives us the gift of comprehending anew his faithfulness of old; thus, in the midst of our life with God, we may daily begin a new life with him.

In Holy Scripture, morning is a time full of wonder. It is the time of God's help for his church, the time of joy after a night of weeping, the time of the proclamation of the diving Word, the daily distribution of the sacred manna. Before daybreak Jesus went away to pray, in the early hours the women go to the tomb, and the disciples find the risen Jesus on the shore of the Lake of Tiberius. The people of faith wake early because of their expectations of God's marvelous acts. Sleep no longer holds them. They rush to greet the early grace of God.

When we awake, we drive away the dark shapes and confused dreams of the night as we speak the morning blessing and commend ourselves for the this day to the triune God. The evil moods, uncontrollable emotions, and desires that we cannot get rid of during the day are often enough simply ghosts of the night that were not driven off in the morning and now want to spoil the day for us. The first moments of the new day are not the time for our own plans and worries, not even for our zeal to accomplish our own work, but for God's liberating grace, God's sanctifying presence. To anyone who is wakened early by care, Scripture says: 'It is vain that you rise so early and go to bed so late; vain, too, to eat the bread of toil.' (Ps. 127.3) it is not my anxiety about the coming day, not the burden of my work that I have before me, but it is the Lord who wakes me every morning; 'he wakens my ear to hear as those who are taught.' (Is. 50.4) Before the heart unlocks itself for the world, God wants to open it for himself; before the ear takes in the countless voices of the day, it should hear in the early hours the voice of the Creator and Redeemer. God prepared the stillness of the first morning for himself. It should remain his."