God as insecurity throws me off my game. My game is the safe one - it is the one that does not disturb how I want things to turn out - it is quite under my control - it is only going to go so far - it will be well within the bounds of the limits I have set. God as insecurity gets a kick out of watching me play my game. For in the final analysis, my game is not secure at all because I cannot make things work out just as I want them to work out. God as insecurity doesn't work according to the rules I have set up for my game. God as insecurity changes the path right when I think I am in control of every step. And then, when I stumble and fall, I think I have lost everything. Rather, when I stumble and fall - when I am not feeling secure in my own view of life - I am then able to see new ways of entering the day. When this God as insecurity bids me to come and follow, it never seems safe and secure - like walking on into Jerusalem when the religious folks are not pleased with how things are going. And then, comes new life out of what I thought would be the end of me. Amazing.
O God of love and new life, continue to amaze us with your call to follow even as we seem to be trembling. Amen.
I think we usually want to hear just the opposite - God as security. I don't disagree with that. We read and sing things like 'God is our refuge and our strength..." - all of which is meant to calm our hearts in the middle of the turmoil and uncertainty of our lives. And yet, this week I want to make sure we hear the part about how God's invitation to walk within God's Reign may throw a wretch into our fine plans as to how we will be secure. God as insecurity is the God who breaks into our world as we want it and expect it. God as insecurity shakes us up so that we do not simply lean on the kind of security that we want for ourselves right now and right here. God as insecurity is taking us for a ride and we may not think that this ride is the most secure journey of the day. God as insecurity challenges our vision of how our lives will be held together and what will be the foundation of our lives. We all have this notion of how our world and life should go and what we need to do to secure that notion or vision. Well, God as insecurity does not settle for what we want to create - for there is only one Creator and this God has a vision for life that will not match up with our visions.
O God of love and new life, yes we want things our way - and yet, we know that beyond the security we envision for ourselves - which is rarely secure at all - comes the life in which you continue to shape us and bring us into the rest only you can provide. Amen.
By the end of the week, it can appear as though the Glory of God is just a bunch of words meant for someone else. The weeks can seem long - endless - and without any good news to bring light among us. And yet, we are not the ones left to determine if or when the Glory of God will break open and bring us life. God as Glory in time and space leaves us open to be surprised by birth when we do not expect it - life when we think we are all worn out - death that is still full of promise and surprise. As we move away from Christmas Day and move into whatever will come next for us, God as Glory in time and space will be with us. As we remember this gospel truth, who knows what the days will hold for us - we are simply told there will be Glory breaking in all the time.
O God of love and new life, bring on the Glory of your Reign. Amen.
In a world in which so much of our lives seem to be confronted with everything but the glory of God it is difficult to see it or even hear it. God as Glory in time in space is not a reality other than the one we know so well. God as Glory in time and space makes room for the Glory of God to grab hold of us even when we are being pulled under by all the powers of the day that are so often able to confound us and confuse us. God as Glory in time and space is not a distant God - not the God 'up there.' This God of ours take what we see and takes what we hear and opens our eyes and ears so that we do not miss God's glorious presence in, with, and under all the stuff that usually appears only as garbage. God as Glory in time and space changes us - not the world around us. We as we see this Glory begin to change and rearrange the world around us to make room for the unfolding Glory of God that can fulfill promises.
O God of love and new life, open up our hearts and deliver us into the arms of your Glorious Reign. Amen.
Well, today is Christmas Eve. If you are feeling like a shepherd left on the hillside in the dark waiting for morning to come so that you can simply go home and sleep - watch out. For unto you comes God as Glory in time and space. That is - God into the time and space of your life - wham! Most of the time we cannot see it - most of the time we definitely don't feel it - and yet, the Glory of God comes as a promise to fill up the time and spaces of our ordinary lives. Look at it this way, the shepherds could have said, "forget about it - we're staying here - we're always left out - nothing ever comes to bring anything new to us - our lives are just like sheep droppings on a hillside, in fact, that how other people see us." God as Glory in time and space does not take our views into consideration. God as Glory in time and space will invade the world as we see it and have come to know it. God as Glory in time and space claims everything around us and invites us to do the same. Maybe this 'Christmas story" is one way to look up and take notice of the Glory of God around us - even when we are cynical - skeptical - bitter - bitten - feel brushed off and forgotten. And yet, how does God as Glory in time and space come forth to us? Well, in the time and space around us that is filled with smelly shepherds, people we would like to dismiss, infants who have yet to actually nurse from their mother's breasts. Yes - Glory is all that is around us. That is often so hard to imagine.
O God of love and new life, open our hearts to take in your Glory however it appears around us. Amen.
On Christmas Eve I thinking of spending some time with the Shepherds. In the middle of the Advent of our God - in the middle of all that was promised - in the middle of words of the Messiah - in the middle of the voices of the prophets sharing their vision of the transformation of all things, we get shepherds on a hillside. God as Glory in time and space includes the hillsides on which the poor were just getting by making sure that every sheep was counted and none had been lost - making sure that the owners of the sheep would not dismiss them if they messed up and cost the owners money. As I just wrote that, I thought of fast food workers tending the grill by night. More and more they are tending well into the night in order that life is more convenient for others. Their pay - never enough even if it is their second job. God as Glory in time and space is the God who does not forget those on the hillsides - in the dark of night - outside the towns and villages - out of sight. God as Glory in time and space introduces us to just how full the fullness of the Lord God really is. It is enough to amaze and confuse and open up the hearts of those who seem to be ignored and those who may feel as though they are ignored as the world passes them by.
O God of love and new life, catch us up into your Glory that we may see the expansiveness of your coming. Amen.
I cannot recount the number of times when I thought to myself - or said out loud - "I've never seen that like this." It usually means that I am looking at the same thing I have looked at previously - but now I'm seeing something new or seeing something that has been there but I never really 'saw' it. God as strange vision opens up our hearts so that with the lens of God's love and forgiveness the world in front of us is changed. When we begin to see the world differently - we often act differently. When the world is seen through the gracious lens of our God who forgives and loves without any boundaries, we are handed a gift that allows us to interact with the world around us with that forgiveness and love having an impact on us. God as strange vision begins to turn us into strange people - aliens. In a world of violence and vengeance people who see the world with lenses of forgiveness and love begin to re-form their lives. God as strange visions gives us the way to move ahead within a whole new perception of how life can be lived - an alien view.
O God of love and new life, though we are made into strangers in this world, we are handed a strange love and forgiveness that makes us strangers to no one. Open our eyes to see others within the embrace of your love. Amen.
God as strange vision invites us to view the day from new perspectives so that we are not locked into only 'our way' of seeing. Such an invitation is not readily accepted. We might say that it is - that we are able to see things from other perspectives - but do we really let ourselves go there? Letting go of how we see life is not as easy as it sounds. We have been raised up with the eyes we have. To give up our sight - to be blinded by the light of new life and new images and a whole new world can be a frightening experience. And yet, within the biblical stories we are often viewing the lives of people who have had just such a thing happen to them. Their vision was changed - life seen through a new lens - the familiar taking on a shape that is not the one that has always been. God as strange vision rocks the boat so that we are tossed and turned a bit - and not able to stand as we once were able. And yet, we get our 'sea legs' beneath us and continue the journey and see new lands we may have never anticipated.
O God of love and new life, rock us and roll us so that we shake off old lenses and take on the new vision of your Reign. Amen.
I am still caught up in the visions of the Prophet that we read for lessons during Advent. They are full of the unbelievable - the out of place - the shocking. God as strange visions will rattle us. We expect this - we get that and more. We expect the day to be well within our control but God as strange visions leads us off course and often befuddles us so that we are not sure how we will proceed. I find forgiveness to be like this. I think forgiveness hands us strange visions that are able to make all things new. God as strange visions is the power of forgiveness that allows all things to operate out of a very different base. We are alive within a vision that confounds the world and also us. Forgiveness sets out a vision of healing and comfort and courage and mercy that is often forgotten - or it is a vision that is just too uncomfortable for us to jump in and live. God as strange visions opens up life that is much more full and expansive than we ever thought life could be - and yet, it is.
O God of love and new life, expand us and invited beyond ourselves. Amen.
If we are trying to keep the world as we know it and as we have known it, we can be quite sure that the Advent of our God is being missed. God as strange visions takes us away from the things that are comfortable for us and those things that have been abusive to us. God as strange visions continues to place before us a bit of life that we do not know or have not yet experienced. It is in those visions that we may come to see how the day can be transformed. The transformation is often an action in life that does not fit into the way we have been seeing things previously. God as strange visions is not the God that we usually want to encounter. It is the God who put the Apostle Philip in Samaria after the persecutions of the Church by Paul - and then had him meet up with that Eunuch from Ethiopia. It all led to strange visions of strangers coming in close to be the rest of the church.
O God of love and new life, take us beyond ourselves and inspire us to see thee visions of your Reign that will change all things. Amen.
The season of Advent is full of strange visions - things that do not reflect the things that we know as being 'the way things are.' God as strange visions attempts to stretch our hold on reality as we claim to know it. It is stretched so that we will have a glimpse of the reality of God's Reign that is promised. God as strange visions is like a cartoon I saw this week in which a lion and a lamb are sitting at a bar having a beer - as though there was nothing odd about that. We all have our ways of wanting our day to unfold. We have a vision of our own in mind when we come out of the shower or drive to work or enter into the next event of the day. God as strange visions simply disrupts us. We are handed something else. We are offered another way to see the opportunities for life that come to people who trust that God really does inspire us to live within God's peaceable Reign even when it looks so odd - wild - strange - down right ridiculous.
O God of love and new life, help us to see through the lens of your Reign and begin to step into its life. Amen.
I ended yesterday's devotion with a prayer that pictured God reaching in from God's glorious Reign. God as an encouraging hand is already the God whose Reign is endless and forever - already and not yet. From there - from that place and time and timelessness, God disturbs us with a hand of hopefulness and encouragement. For so often it is not easy to be hopeful or to be encouraged. The world around us - and even our part in it - can be quite contrary to the Reign of God into which we are invited by our God. God as an encouraging hand will not be halted because of the shape of the world. God will keep reaching in and being the courage we all need to take the next step within the life that is the living Reign of God becoming today.
O God of love and new life, reach in from your place in your glorious Reign and take us along for a ride into an eternally new life. Amen.
God as an encouraging hand is the hand that is always extended. This is the case even if I am the one who has forgotten who this God is - even when I claim to be able to have life go as I want it and seem to have the power to make it jut so. God as an encouraging hand is the God who does not pay attention to who I think I am or what I can do or how I want the day to unfold. God as an encouraging hand may just be the hand that taps me on the shoulder so that I turn around. Then again, God as an encouraging hand may be the hand that reaches in and causes me to stumble. Falling down may be the help and encouragement needed to re-adjust my walk and talk and attitude so that I am willing to face the day with a new face that I do not control.
O God of love and new life, reach in from your place in your glorious Reign and take us along for a ride into an eternally new life. Amen.