Thursday, December 31, 2009

How God Showed Up

This Sunday we who make up the Creekside community are gathering to celebrate How God Showed Up in 2009.

I like that. I think God likes that.

The story of God's people is replete with admonitions to remember; monuments, rituals, celebrations, all given by God to help us remember. God wants us to remember how he showed up.

How did God show up in 2009?

In many ways the question is the exercise, in many ways the question is the answer. If it takes you a while to answer, then the question has served its purpose. How did God show up? How did he not. Do we celebrate only the big things that break "our way?" Or, does God "show up" when nobody notices, or maybe do we just not notice when God shows up.

What if this year we spent each day trying to capture notes for next years celebration of How God Showed Up? I think we would have a bit more -- more stories, more joy, more peace, more satisfaction, more God.

STOP. Look around you. The Kingdom of God is near.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Hopes and Fears of all the Years

I love everything about Christmas. Everything.

Every year I intentionally try to slow down time so the season does not get behind me. I’m not kidding. I look at the calendar in early November and think, “it’s almost ‘the Christmas Season!’” From the time Thanksgiving is over until the first Monday of January (I include New Year’s and the College Football bowl games in “The Christmas Season”), it is Christmas. And, I try to soak in every moment, I always have.

Until relatively recently, I took my love of Christmas for granted. I assumed it was the same for everybody. Oh, I knew that there were a few people for whom Christmas was a dark and difficult time, people for whom the best part of the Christmas season was that it would soon be over. But I never really thought much about the struggle that Christmas was for these people; after all, Christmas is a jolly time.

Recently, I have begun to think more about those for whom Christmas is hard. I still don’t understand it, I can’t relate to a feeling I have never had. Yet, I’ve become more and more convinced that it is to those for whom the season is hard that Jesus is most naturally drawn. Like Mary, His mother; confused yet hopeful, afraid and cold, in a stable, having just given birth and then having to lay her newborn baby -- the baby that she alone knew for sure was special -- in a makeshift bed, a dirty animal feeding trough. “This cannot be how God planned it; something must have gone wrong – did I somehow mess this up?”

Hopes and fears, disappointment and regret, they often share the stage together. They mingle in a demonic dance where hope is seemly killed, done in by fear and her supporting cast.

And then Jesus enters the scene.

Yet in Thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting Light;
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in Thee tonight.

The hope that is spoken of in the Christmas songs is the hope spoken of by Jesus when He told people why He had come; to proclaim good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.

I love Christmas, I always have. Yet, so many people do not. I have never really understood how that could be, but Jesus always has. Jesus mourns with those who mourn – especially at Christmas. The words that He spoke were the Christmas promise realized.

The hopes and fears of all the years are met in Him tonight.