Sunday, December 25, 2011

A candle and a promise

Last night, The Well's first Christmas Eve worship gathering began in a dimly lit room with only the light from our small Advent candles. These candles had been lit as we journeyed through the season of anticipating Christ's birth. Each signified a promise that hope, peace, love and joy would be realities in our lives and in our world. The room grew brighter as we listened to and entered into the Christmas narrative. A prophet's vision would be realized, a barren woman would give birth, a virgin would conceive. The Messiah would come in the form of a tiny baby and dwell with us. What began with a promise became a promise fulfilled as two boys in our church family lit the Christ candle. Light overcame darkness and the room was full and bright as we each raised candles high and worshiped the One who fulfills our longings.

This Christmas morning, I am so thankful for Light. I am thankful for the truth that love can overcome fear and doubt, that old patterns can be broken, that joy can be experienced here and now. God is with us! Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The voice of Advent

It has been a busy couple of weeks as we have gathered for monthly worship, hosted a service of comfort and partnered to provide a Christmas store and day of fun for neighborhood families. Makes me tired just writing all of that! Although we as a faith community have encouraged a resistance to the busyness of the holidays, it has been difficult not to get consumed by all of this activity. It has taken a great deal of effort to rest, to balance and to slow down enough to hear the rich sounds of Advent.

A couple of weeks ago during worship, the peace candle was lit by a participant of The Well. I had asked him to share briefly about his definition of "peace", and to share a personal example of how he had experienced peace in unexpected circumstances. His story has stayed with me. He began telling about his resistance to enter a treatment program that would help him recover from addiction. He reluctantly entered after his family staged an intervention on his behalf. He endured the program half-heartedly, but admitted to planing to return to his addictive behaviors after finishing treatment. He described how on one morning, the ongoing noise that had filled his head for as long as he could remember suddenly stopped. As he sat alone in a room, he heard a voice from the hallway saying these words of warning: "If you don't stop, you're going to die."

As we lit the peace candle, we heard peace defined as "the time when the other voices stopped and I could hear the one that mattered...God's voice." This has stayed with me. The temptation during this time of year, and in most seasons of life is to hear what's on the surface. Advent reminds us that there is a deeper voice longing to be heard. The sounds of love, hope, joy and peace are waiting to be heard and spoken in our lives and communities. These voices are longing to confront the noises of power, violence, and hopelessness that seem so dominant. This season of anticipation invites us to wait attentively, believing that at any moment, these sounds will emerge. This season also invites us to anticipate a day in the future when all the noise will stop, and only one voice will be heard. I pray we will have the courage to hear the voice of Advent that calls us beyond our busyness and into the depths of God's creative power at work among us.

Look! He is coming with the clouds; every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and on his account all the tribes of the earth will wail. So it is to be. Amen. “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.
-Revelation 1:7-8