Sunday, December 31, 2006

Saturday, December 30, 2006

2006 in Review

Good grief.

Who knows what to say today?

Why do we keep killing people to teach them not to kill people?

Does the violence never end?

In our words, our works, and our choices every day
we do violence to ourselves and to others.

In one spot on our planet today they hung a despot - Saddam.
Soldiers and civilians died on the streets in the same country.

On the other side of the world, a nation mourns a past president - Gerald Ford.
Yet, some ask why lower the flag for a guy who was president so long ago?
Why not lower it every day that a US soldier or civilian is killed by violent action?
Hm. Would it ever fly high?

In another place an elderly woman folds laundry to get things in order
for the coming year. All clean and fresh.

Somewhere else a teenager contemplates suicide. Another gets drunk.
Another gets high. Yet another gets pregnant.

A child is abused, a wife is beaten. A store is robbed.
A grandmother weeps over her ailing grandchild.
And the news goes on and on.

A black preacher enlivens a group of white teenagers in a rural southern town. And a dozen or more young people step forward for prayer or conversion. And the band plays on.

WAIT. This is different. A welcome change in the midst of all the bad news.
An act of peace. An act of worship. An act of praise.
A protest against violence against each other and ourselves.
A call to be the best we have been called to be.
Thank you Brandon and Marcie for sharing God's gifts with us tonight.

Perhaps in some way this is a balance in our universe.
One by one barriers are broken.
This probably could not have happened 30 years ago in Alabama.
So we are blessed by this little ripple of faith exposed and hearts stretched tonight.

"If today you hear God's voice, harden not your heart."

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Make Joyful Noise

Make a Joyful Noise.

I know the favorite song for Christmas is Silent Night.

But I think the angels were winging and singing loud enough for all to hear.

So. Make a joyful Noise.
Go tell it on the mountain.

Let Peace begin with us- - - each of us- - -

this year

Let Christmas-time be the jumpstart to change our hateful and negative attitudes.

Choose to make a difference for ONE person today.

When you see how good THAT feels, do it again tomorrow for TWO.

Friday, December 22, 2006

What Kids Think

What kids think

Reading Santa letters is a sobering and humorous adventure.

Sobering because it illustrates the intensity of consumerism at the earliest of ages. The number and complexity of the gift requests is staggering.

Yet, it is amusing to see these charmers telling their tales as they wrestle with belief and disbelief.

One that I treasure today is the question about:

How DOES Santa get all the way around the world in one night to every house?

Well, answers ranged from magic to fast raindear to good weather to Christmas spirit and then there was one that stood out.

A Touch of Science.

The child said.

He doesn't. It is night on our side of the world when it is day on the other side, so he only does half of the world in one night.

Now why didn't I think of that?

Prepare the way for Christmas Day.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Winter Solstice Time

As we approach the Winter Solstice, we welcome snowy nights and warm fireside chats and hot cocoa.

Understanding Solstice is central to understanding seasons on our planet.

The proximity to Christmas makes it even more interesting.

Essentially the Winter Solstice is the shortest day and the longest night of the year. It happens during December 20-21. LIKE now.

I like to light some candles, since I have no fireplace here. And sit quietly in the night, if it is warm enough, I will be outside enjoying the moon and reflecting on people who have been doing this for ages and ages.

Sometimes, when the weather is nice, I will sing or dance in the yard as a celebration of the winter season.

For me, this is a ritual that feels more important than the calendar New Year. Why? Because the Solstice is directly connected to our planet's relationship to others in the galaxy and the New Year is simply a calendar issue.

For more information about what a Solstice is, use the title to link to another site packed with good information.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Who Started Christmas?

Who Started Christmas?
(if you do not know the story, click on the title and read it.)

A woman was Christmas shopping with her two children.

After many hours of walking down row after row of toys
and after hours of hearing both her children asking for
everything they saw on those many shelves,
she finally made it to the store elevator
with her two children in hand.

She was feeling what so many of us feel during the holiday season:
getting that perfect gift for every single person,
overwhelming pressure to go to every party,
every housewarming,
taste all the holiday food and treats,
making sure we don't forget anyone.

Finally the elevator doors opened revealing a crowd in the car.

She pushed her way in and dragged her two kids
and all her bags of stuff in with her .

As the doors closed she couldn't take it anymore and blurted out,
"Whoever started this whole Christmas thing should be found, strung up, and shot."
From the back of the car, a quiet calm voice responded,

"Don't worry, we've already crucified Him."

The rest of the trip down was so quiet you could have heard a pin drop.

Remember to keep Christmas in perspective.
Keep the One who started this whole Christmas thing in your every
thought, deed, purchase, and word.

If we all would, just think how much better this world would be.

Jesus is the HEART of the season.

Wise men still seek Him.

Wise women do too.
Peace on Earth and Good Will to All People.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

On Time

The Christmas Crunch
On time.
On time.
In a hurry.
No patience.
Long lines.
Buy Buy Buy and then go to a party and then back to buy some more.
That sure seems to be what Christmas has become for so many people.

Do we even remember to take time for the joys of the season?

Why not toss a pebble into the seasonal sea and create an alternative
peace-filled ripple?

I observed some of that ripple effect yesterday at Wally...

Everyone was restless ... so was I.. the lines were moving slow.

So, to calm myself I thought.

"I knew there would be lines.
I KNEW there would be lines.
Lines mean wait.
So Wait.
No one else needs to be on time except Santa and the Train Engineer."

Except, I said the last line outloud.


For three lines around it seemed like TIME stopped and everyone was looking at me
with either bemused or amused or annoyed fexpressions.

The lady in front of me said: Now There's and Attitude for ya!


I smiled with some surprise that I said it out loud and repeated it.

You know it really is true:

No one else REALLY needs to be on time except Santa and the Train Engineer,You
know the engineer on the Polar Express-- The one whose watch says ON Time/ Late/ Almost or Early.

She smiled. Yes, I saw that movie. No I did not remember the watch. Cute.

But by then the atmosphere had changed, the energy was no longer gloomy and impatient.

It was almost as if folks shifted focus and were trying to think of something else besides the lines... Maybe they were thinking of my absurd statement.

Maybe not. I will not ever know. But it certainly had a transforming effect.

I felt a lot more relaxed and calm for the duration of my wait.

Almost buoyant.

Try doing something like that this week.

Disrupt the CRUNCH of the commercial corners in our lives.

Spread some peace and good will.


Even good humor

Sunday, December 10, 2006

The By-products (BUY) of Christmas

Thanks to Dr. Robert Schuller at the Hour of Power tonight,
I am inspired to shift my focus and share my recent reflections.
Enough of the prelude.

Santa Claus Is a BY- Product of Christmas and
has in recent years become a BUY Product of the Holiday Season.
Sometimes this transformation has been at the expense of
the REAL reason we celebrate Christmas.

Is it easier to believe in Santa than it is to believe in God? Maybe.
Is it easier to BE Santa than to BE God? Sure it is.
Santa is only responsible for your " happiness" for one night or day every year.
HE can prepare for it for another 364 days before he gets another chance to "get it right".
God, on the other hand, is responsible for EVERYTHING.
So weather and health and all the other gifts of our lives
every day of our lives are NOT from Santa? Right.
God has more to do than Santa and all of his elves.
That is such a cool perspective.
How amazing it is that we are even able to put
them in the same sentence without censure.
So, the story of the trees and evergreens
and Advent candles and Rudolph all get jumbled together
in a commercial morass which is often deplorable and sometimes worse.
If we are true to the genuine Christmas,
we can shine light even into these crowded days
and bring a measure of peace into our corner of the world.
There is nothing WRONG with Santa.

We simply need to remember it is NOT Santa we worship.
And if we have THAT wrong, it is time to re-group.
The way I look at it,
we are blessed with an ever-present and all-knowing
God of Eternal Mystery, Creator of All.
THAT is worth worship and service.
Santa who has these mysterious "knows if you are bad or good" qualities
is a part of our world of PLAY.
And yes, God is there in the PLAY whether we realize it or not.
So... I play with Santa.... but do not worship him.
I save that kind of oblation for our Creator, Redeemer, Sanctifier.
Do I believe in God? Yes.
Do I believe in Santa Claus? Yes.
Are they equal ? Not at all.
God may smile when we play with Santa
and keep the real meaning of Christmas in our hearts and lives.
At a cosmic level the ripples of goodwill rise to the surface from the secular celebration.
Who said?... All things in moderation....
Go ahead and buy a letter from Santa and have some fun.
Just remember what Advent is really about beneath the commercial collage.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Peaceful Living

Peace is a way of living.
We cannot Buy peace. We cannot sell peace.
We can choose peace or live in peace.
But we often wrestle with the how to do it part in our every day lives.
We need to find creative ways to share peaceful alternatives with more people.

Like the twin brothers fighting in the classroom, beating each other up over some dumb thing.

Yet, they were so violent they hurt each other. What did they do at home?
What Will they do later? How do they learn to choose another alternative?
Who will show them? What did you do when you saw it happen?
How did I respond?

I recall saying something like. . . good grief. . . if you two boys cannot learn to get along what hope is there for peace in this world?

As I pulled them apart that day I thought, even the preventive measures had to be hands on and physical.

Did they stop fighting? Yes, that day. Yes, in my presence.

But it remains hard to tell if they learned anything really about HOW not to fight with each other.

Their personal wounds ran deep.
I disregarded them as I focused on maintaining peace in THAT room at THAT time.
I was really young then.

How might I handle it today? I really am not sure. I think my initial response would be physical intervention again. And anger that boys are still fighting for no reason at all. (in my mind.)

I hope I have learned more about making peace by now and could be more effective.

Wars are simply boys fighting boys on a bigger scale.
Yes, even with women in the military and in combat, that image is strong.
So, let us work together to prevent more wars.
To live with a sense of justice and value the lives around us.

Peace is a choice. And we need to work on it. It "ain't" easy.
It takes persistence and commitment over the long haul.
I think that is a part of what Advent is about.
Waiting and listening and learning as we await the arrival of the
"Prince of Peace'.

Friday, December 01, 2006

peace and global warming

Peace and Global Warming seem so far apart in the mind s of most people.


Unless we Live Peaceably we cannot claim to be at Peace.

Unless we curtail Global Warming we cannot expect a world without conflict over environmental resources.

Make the connection.

Live with justice.

Live sustainably.

Share Peace.