Monthly Archives: November 2011

Advent – Psalm 79 Let your compassion come speedily…

Psalm 79

1 O God, the nations have come into your inheritance; they have defiled your holy temple; they have laid Jerusalem in ruins. 2 They have given the bodies of your servants to the birds of the air for food, the flesh of your faithful to the wild animals of the earth. 3 They have poured out their blood like water all around Jerusalem, and there was no one to bury them. 4 We have become a taunt to our neighbors, mocked and derided by those around us. 5 How long, O Lord? Will you be angry forever? Will your jealous wrath burn like fire? 6 Pour out your anger on the nations that do not know you, and on the kingdoms that do not call on your name. 7 For they have devoured Jacob and laid waste his habitation. 8 Do not remember against us the iniquities of our ancestors; let your compassion come speedily to meet us, for we are brought very low. 9 Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of your name; deliver us, and forgive our sins, for your name’s sake. 10 Why should the nations say, “Where is their God?” Let the avenging of the outpoured blood of your servants be known among the nations before our eyes. 11 Let the groans of the prisoners come before you; according to your great power preserve those doomed to die. 12 Return sevenfold into the bosom of our neighbors the taunts with which they taunted you, O Lord! 13 Then we your people, the flock of your pasture, will give thanks to you forever; from generation to generation we will recount your praise.

Hope is born in the anguish of God’s people.  And hope is most prevalent when we NEED hope.  I remember a time growing up when I never NEEDED God.  And I suspect some of you reading today have been through a few bumps here and there knowing God is around when you NEED God. But, perhaps, your life has never depended upon God.

I remember a time when my life depended upon God.  I no longer had control of anything, and the only thing I could do was to reach out to God.  Our son was in ICU at Children’s Medical Center and we were playing the waiting game, waiting to see if his tiny, infant body would be strong enough to fight the illness.  While we were lucky, others were not.  Despite the outcome or the particular illness, we found commonality in our NEED for God.  The opportunity for the cure of illness had been injected.  All we had was hope.

Our son lived, and we walked out of the hospital with hope.

The child next to us died, and his parents walked out of the hospital with hope for a cure so another family would not have to go through the pain they experienced.

Hope is God.  For Hope does not leave us and God does not leave us.  Hope is what we have left when all else fails.  God is what we have left when all other controls have been abandoned.

During this time in Advent, I pray that we will consider true Hope in the world.  I pray that this new realization of Hope will inspire us to action on behalf of our neighbor and our world.

Thanks be to God for Hope and for the Psalmist who never loses hope.

Shalom,

Lil

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Advent: Mark 13:24-27 – Be Prepared

Advent Reflections

Mark 13:24-27

24 “But in those days, after that suffering, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, 25 and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. 26 Then they will see “the Son of Man coming in clouds’ with great power and glory. 27 Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven. 28 “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. 29 So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 30 Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. 31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. 32 “But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. 34 It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. 35 Therefore, keep awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, 36 or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. 37 And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.”

The girl scout in me is smiling.  I feel prepared.  I have my flashlight, my water, extra food, my blanket.  I have all the things I need should a need arise.

But, how prepared am I spiritually to adapt to something new?  Am I awake enough to let go of the things of this world and answer God’s call.   Am I awake enough to hear God’s call.

I pray in this Advent time, a time of hope, my heart will be restored as we wait once again for a new birth.  I pray that my ears will be opened and I may hear God’s call.  Thanks be to God for the new creation that is just now being formed.

With a grateful heart,

Lil

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Sins of Omission

Which way do I go?

I have been reflecting deeply on the news that has surfaced this past week coming from Penn State.  My emotions are on overload.  My sense of compassion is full throttle.  I am past anger.  I want to move forward, to learning, to help the healing begin.

What strikes me most about this situation are the sins of omission.  The act of complacency, the act of NOT doing something that should be done is a choice and has great consequences.  Perhaps with the busy-ness of the Western world today, these decisions are made more and more.  The thinking goes like this: no one will notice the mistake; it will get covered up and hidden; it is not as important as these others things we are dealing with; it will cause less pain if I leave it be;  and on, and on.  We are constantly trying to rationalize away the consequences.

This situation at Penn State is one of obvious consequence.  Yet, how many times during the day do we encounter the same issue and choose not to act.  Not to help the homeless on the street.  Not to help the elderly in line in front of us.  Not to let the car in front of us….  We have a tendency to cry foul when the issue is blatantly wrong.  What about the daily opportunities?

Matthew 25: 44 Then they also will answer, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’

My prayer for the world today is that we see others before we see ourselves, that we share our lives with others instead of keeping to ourselves, and that we listen to others instead of hearing ourselves.  It is not until we put others before us that we will be serving God’s kingdom.  May we learn from the tragic circumstances at Penn State.  Not that we shall point fingers at those but that we shall each grow and learn into the knowledge that we shall love and protect one another and act on their behalf.

Peace,

Lil

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Cafe Gratitude

Cafe Gratitude in Marin County

I went to the most interesting new restaurant last winter. The whole place was overflowing with gratitude, even the menu items:

Would you rather eat “a green salad” for lunch, or “I am filled”.

How about a “baked potato” or “I am grounded”.

How about “tacos and rice” or “I am transformed”.

The concept is quite remarkable, actually. The concept made me grateful for each bite of food that went into my mouth. I encountered the service staff in a new way. The conversation at our table was filled with moments of gratitude. It was an experience that changed me.

For now when I say the blessing of thanks for the meal, my circle of experience has widened:
I encounter those in the field who have harvested the potatoes and the grain.
Those who drove trucks and packed boxes.
Those who washed and sorted.
Those who ordered and those who sold.
Those who I encountered in the store.
Those who chopped and those who cooked.
Those who served and those who cleaned.
Those who share the meal and those who listen to the blessings.

With gratitude,
Lil

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A small change can make a huge difference…

A small change can make a huge difference…

I had the great pleasure of attending a silent retreat recently. The silent retreat was structured with a lot of free time where I could explore outside. I found a flat rock in the creek which had been washed smooth by the water. It was almost a perfect circle. I was so thankful for the time to sit with the rocks, to choose the one I wanted to carry for a while, to appreciate the natural landscape while sitting there.

Later in the day I spent time in the labyrinth. It was a day filled with great discovery. I was thankful for so many new insights I had gained. So, I felt compelled to give thanks to God for the gift of the day. As I bent to place my stone as a gift in the center of the labyrinth…

  

Stones

Flower

I noticed what a huge difference

a small change can make.

With just one new stone,

the pile of stones

I encountered

was transformed into

a flower.

May you be blessed

with a small gift today

that will make

a huge difference.

Shalom,
Lil

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Pay attention to the details…

There is something about the creative beauty of this rose that has captured me today.

Perhaps because the rose is fully opening and vulnerable to the world.

Perhaps because the rose is fully experiencing the freedom from being bound.

I am in awe of the rose.

I want to be this open and free if it be God’s will today.

Loving God, take away that which binds me from being fully open and free to your will. Make me like the rose, an instrument of your peace.

Shalom,
Lil

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Comfort

When I got ready to leave for work this morning, THIS is what I encountered:  two canine companions ready for their morning nap. I must say, I

Paisley

Reesie

encountered some jealousy on this rainy, overcast day. For I, too, would like to snuggle in for a long, fall nap. But as the day progressed, I realized what I would have missed: a blessing that needed to be shared with a friend, a meal and time in silence with some amazing friends, the laughter of children playing at the school next door, the whinny of a horse, the first signs of fall color (when I was just complaining there would be none). Thank you God for your faithfulness of meeting us outside of our places of comfort. For it is in these places your glory shines through.

May you encounter God outside your places of comfort today.
Shalom,
Lil

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All the Saints Remembered

All Saints Remembrance Table Before...

All Saints Remembrance Table After...

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For all the saints…and their families

Starlings in Winter

– Mary Oliver

Chunky and noisy,
but with stars in their black feathers,
they spring from the telephone wire
and instantly

they are acrobats
in the freezing wind.
And now, in the theater of air,
they swing over buildings,

dipping and rising;
they float like one stippled star
that opens,
becomes for a moment fragmented,

then closes again;
and you watch
and you try
but you simply can’t imagine

how they do it
with no articulated instruction, no pause,
only the silent confirmation
that they are this notable thing,

this wheel of many parts, that can rise and spin
over and over again,
full of gorgeous life.

Ah, world, what lessons you prepare for us,
even in the leafless winter,
even in the ashy city.
I am thinking now
of grief, and of getting past it;

I feel my boots
trying to leave the ground,
I feel my heart
pumping hard. I want

to think again of dangerous and noble things.
I want to be light and frolicsome.
I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing,
as though I had wings.

Praying for those who have lost loved ones this year.  Hoping that on this day of remembering the saints you will find a way to be light and frolicsome.

Peace,

Lil

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