Monday, December 11, 2017

Fear Not!

"Say to those whose hearts are frightened: Be strong, fear not! Here is your God..."
Isaiah 35:4

We seem to be hearing that often during Advent--Fear Not! The angel told Mary, "Do not be afraid, Mary..." (Luke 1:30) and so often Jesus told those around him, "Do not be afraid..." What is it about human creatures that we constantly need to be reassured not to fear? I was re-reading the chapter on the Annunciation in "Jesus--A Pilgrimage" yesterday. In it, Fr. James Martin says that fear is a very common and reasonable response when we experience the Divine. God knows us so well that God is constantly reassuring us not to be afraid. What are we not to fear in our little human lives this day? Do we have new challenges in our day today? Are we facing a scary doctor visit or trying to figure out how we can possibly afford the winter?  In our troubled world, in our uneasy country, how can we not fear? There's a lot of scary out there, but God tells us not to be afraid. Our lives are in God's care; we are living in God and God is living within us. God needs us to rise above our own fears and get out there and help in this world. God will strengthen our weary hands and bolster us up to do God's work. We just need to be like Mary and say, "Yes!" Love, heidi

Friday, December 8, 2017

Young and trusting...

"Mary said, 'Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.'"
Luke 1:38

And just like that, Mary's Yes, rings out through the universe and the world changes forever. One thing that lately has touched me is this...we never hear that Mary went to any trusted male relative with this news. We don't read that she talked it over with her father, or rabbi, or even her husband-to-be, Joseph. This young woman didn't seek any male advice after the angel shared the startling news. We read that Mary said Yes, then went to her cousin, Elizabeth, who had some startling news of her own. Mary, a child herself, really, didn't need to consult the men in her life because she totally trusted God. Maybe she knew on some level that the men wouldn't get it. But she also knew Elizabeth would.  On Pray-As-You-Go this morning, we were invited to picture Mary there with the angel Gabriel. What does she look like? What is the expression on her face? As I prayed and pictured her, I thought she looked so young, but also I saw a wise, trusting look on her face. She knew all would be OK and she didn't need to consult anyone to know that this was so. Today, as we go through our Advent Friday, let's pray for the trust in God and God's plan that Mary shows in her visit with Gabriel.  Love, heidi

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Help us help...

"He humbles those in high places, and the lofty city he brings down; He tumbles it to the ground, levels it with dust. It is trampled underfoot by the needy, by the footsteps of the poor."
Isaiah 26:106

This reminds me of the feeling we get when we see a movie where the good guy wins in the end--the bad guy is defeated and the good guy wins. Which is all great until we read this and recognize ourselves as among the lofty coming down.  Yikes, that! We think of the rich and powerful, the people careless with the needs of the poor, as the lofty ones, but we are all pretty comfy in our heated homes and heavily-laden dinner tables. Today, let's be especially aware of the comforts in our own lives and ask God for guidance in how to share our bounty. Gracious God of the poor, please help us help you. Help us to make good use of our resources to your service. Humble our hearts. Help us to recognize those in need--they may not just be those poor in material wealth, but they may be the lonely, disengaged, those feeling left out.  Help us to help. Love, heidi

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Snow from heaven?

"Yet just as from the heavens the rain and snow come down and do not return there till they have watered the earth, making it fertile and fruitful..."
Isaiah 55:10

And. Just like that, it's winter. Snow, ice, cold. It happened so fast: in the morning I was outside, cleaning up the yard and just a few hours later I was shoveling several inches of snow. Just like that. As I am trying to do in my life lately, I looked for God in it all. As I was slip-sliding to the gym last night I saw a huge yellow ball in the sky and realized it was the Super moon I'd read about.  So, thanks, God for that! When I think of the minor inconveniences I experience through this weather, they cannot compare with the people who are struggling to keep warm without housing or heat. Being mindful of others who suffer so much worse than I is God, present, nudging me right there. What can I do to help? I want to! Also, there was such a peacefulness outside shoveling late Sunday night. It was quiet and windless and God just invited me to think of it as a reflective time as I shoveled along.  I was grateful for the ability to get out there and do it, too, so there is God inspiring me to appreciate my physical abilities and be grateful. So, yes. God is all over the place in the winter wonderful that is east Idaho right now. Can we open our eyes and see? Love, heidi

Sunday, December 3, 2017

No room in the inn...

"There was no room in the inn but God came anyway."
James Finley, Advent Meditation (link below)

I invite you to listen and pray with this splendid meditation from Center for Action and Contemplation faculty member James Finley. It really got me thinking about a "right" time for God to come into our lives. Is there ever a time when we are ready and eager for God to wiggle us around and stir up our lives? Was there ever a good time for Jesus to be born into history? All these lovely Advent questions to be pondered as our days grow shorter and our long nights darker.  To contemplate these questions we must go into the stable...into a humble and quiet place, away from the world in it's pre-Christmas craziness. Please listen with your heart and enjoy! Love, heidi
Advent Meditation

Friday, December 1, 2017

Our God waits with us...

"The purest form of spirituality is to find God in what is right in front of you."
Fr. Richard Rohr, "Just This"

"Just This" is the little book I'm reading for Advent this year and I'm appreciating why I was drawn to it. It is simple and easy. Well, reading it is easy. Implementing it is a bit harder. We tend to complicate things spiritually, making them seem harder than they really are. Why? Maybe to make ourselves seem more righteous, virtuous, special. In fact, it is all very simple: finding God who is right in front of us. When things globally and nationally seem so dismal and difficult, all we need to do is stop and take in a moment. We need to take a deep, cleansing breath and open our heart to what is right here, right now. This morning, the first day of December, there is a blanket of fresh snow on the ground. I could get wiggy about it and dread venturing out in it, or I can look and see how God has gifted the earth with moisture and nourishment. The dark long nights of December could daunt me, or I could see them as a chance to rest; snuggle in and enjoy. The vast, bustling Christmas machine could freak me out, or I could see it as a chance to give of my resources to help others. It's all a matter of opening the heart space, the mind space, and nourishing our bodies to be aware that the God we seek is already here.  We talk of waiting in Advent, but if we open our eyes, minds and hearts, what we are waiting for is actually waiting with us.  Love, heidi