In this mess of a world, it might help to remember that peace can be found in nature.
In the mess of this world, it might help to remind ourselves that we too need refreshing.
In the mess of this world, we all need to remember that God exists.
The proof of that simple fact surrounds us.
There is hope, even when we least expect it. It is here that we find respite from the incivility of the world, from the ludicrous nature of the 24/7 news cycle.
In our world which seems filled with despair, there is one certain way towards hope.
From the end of Psalm 27:
“Hope for the Lord! Let your heart be firm and bold, and hope for the Lord.”
Sound advice in an insane world.
Truly, no words required, except, thank you Holy One.
Sometimes it can feel or seem as though it is hard to get close to God.
And sometimes getting closer to God is easy.
Sometimes, we are blessed with the sense of that amazing love that is offered to us.
And sometimes, with this gift of love, comes His peace.
Perhaps, some days, we get too caught up at the distance we have to travel, and so we miss the path we are really on.
Remember that each day is a gift. So, stop. Pause. Breathe.
Savor the path you are on right now, and trust the path of the future to God.
Because the now matters more than all of the ‘wonder ifs’ we think about.
God is here, right now.
Rose bushes have this amazing capacity to delight. Especially when you have literally hacked them down to canes, cleaned them up and prayed for the best.
This hacking down and cleaning up resonates – we do it in our literal gardens, but do we tend as diligently the gardens of our souls?
Not often enough it seems. It’s even harder work than pruning in January. But, just like the rose bushes, when we tend to the interior garden of our souls, our souls begin to flourish.
And then to bloom in a riot of buds and color, unexpected and delightful.
Spend some time on yourself and tend your interior garden. Give it the same nurturing love that you might lavish on your external garden, and when you have paused, remember to give thanks to the One who creates for the wonder of it all.
There is an odd rhythm to being a priest. We teach about sabbath and self-caring as we try to model that and carve out our own sabbath as we can, finding moments of peace amidst the chaos the seasons bring.
Moments and bursts of color after thunder squalls and lightning flashes and downpours.
Finding hope and beauty in this season of Lent.
In the busyness that enfolds us, our parishioners, our families and the world in general, I find peace in pausing, as I did tonight, to read the office of Compline, courtesy of the New Zealand Prayer Book, and I share with you this closing prayer:
Lord, it is night. The night is for stillness. Let us be still in the presence of God.
It is night after a long day. What has been done has been done; what has not been done has not been done; let it be.
The night is dark. Let our fears of the darkness of the world and of our own lives rest in you.
The night is quiet. Let the quietness of your peace enfold us, all dear to us, and all who have no peace.
The night heralds the dawn. Let us look expectantly to a new day, new joys, new possibilities.
In your name we pray. Amen.
War-torn, damaged, dismayed. Yet another school shooting. And all I can say is enough.
This is not how we should live our lives – surrounded with fear and violence. Regardless of blame or cause, we need to stand up and figure out a better way forward.
Our children should not have to live in fear. Our educators should not have to live in fear.
World War I trench
These images were taken in Belgium/Flanders. For me the image above conveys the horrors of war, the horrors of violence, of people trapped, of damage done, a metal labyrinth into the depths of a man-made hell.
My point in all of this, is that the cycle of violence – war, mass shootings, whatever name you want to give to it, must stop.
This is not how we are intended to live.
Instead of violence, why not peace.
Peace Pond created out of a bomb crater.
Why not hope and love.
Maybe, just maybe, we can be the change we need. In this journey through Lent, perhaps the questions should be, Lord, how can I help?
In the midst of winter, with cold and wet, sun and clouds, there are moments of hope.
In the midst of the daily grind of work, politics, opinions and fact checking, there is indeed hope. The hope that comes from God’s love for and of us.
It is this hope that helps us to center ourselves, take stock, and give thanks.
So find the beauty that surrounds you and remember to stop, breathe and pray. Give thanks to God for all of it. For that is where hope lives.
There is a tension that we live through, when we live into Advent. To prepare ourselves – not by gift shopping, not even by holiday baking, but by sitting for a time in the silence with God.
This sitting in the silence with God, is like looking through a screened window where the picture changes because our clarity of vision changes.
We can only find real peace, real connectedness with God, real clarity, when we make the time to sit in prayer-filled silence and ask God to reveal his/her plan for us.
The greater part of the tension comes from being willing to listen and submit, listen and change, listen.
In the silence hope is born. In the silence peace is born. In the silence.
As this fourth Sunday in Advent dawns and transforms itself into Christmas Eve, remember where our hope and peace come from.
Born of that teenaged Mary into a world unwilling to transform itself, yet still our hope rings out like the birth pangs of Mary, and we sing do please come, Emmanuel, and set us free.