My Privilege

Two thoughts challenged me, this morning, as I struggled to wake, built a fire, brewed coffee, and began to pray:

First, the recipient’s response to a gift is the surest sign of it’s perceived value.  We witnessed responses that ran the gamut this week: from the mildly amused, “that’s nice” to the emotional, heart-felt, “thank you!”  After preaching all Advent about the Gift to come, I’m now wondering about my response.  Am I barely interested or blown-away-grateful?

Second, worshipping Jesus is a privilege.  Sometimes I don’t feel like going to church.  Sometimes the weight of spiritual leadership feels extremely heavy.  But what I need (though I’m often slow to realize it) is to take my place in our community and to worship.  How fortunate am I?  “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to me on whom his favor rests.”*

May I respond to the Gift I’ve received by embracing the privilege of worship.

*[Luke 2:14]

Capacity for the Holy

Why are Christians failing to pass-on the Faith even to our own children?
The value of one generation sharing the story of God with the next is one of the highest in scripture.  But we don’t do this well. 
I think one of the reasons we often strike out here is that we fail to appreciate our children’s capacity for spiritual insight.   We dumb down spiritual mystery so dramatically that our stories lose their capacity to captivate. 
Of course kids are bored with the peas-and-carrots gospel we’ve spoon-fed them from cute, 4-ounce jars. 
They can handle so much more than this.  In fact, they’re starving for more.
Recently my 11-year-old daughter composed this poem.   Reading it was a wake-up call for this dad to hear the longing and recognize the capacity for the holy in children

So powerful
So strong
Set me free
To just be me
I stare at the
Blank Page
With determination
Wanting to prove
It wrong
Words flood
The page
The Emptiness
Is gone
I can tell the page
Tell God,
What I want
With no one to hold me back

Too Many Needs to Not Help

Sunday I asked our community why, even though we believe in living a life of compassion, we seldom actually engage in helping others in practical ways. 
And the one reason on which I focused was the misunderstanding that in order to help others, you, yourself, need to be all healed up. 
While I think that specific misunderstanding is common, it’s not the reason that most-often holds me back.  No, what usually keeps me from helping my neighbor is the nearly exhausting list of needs represented in my own home. 
I got lost in this daydream a few days ago: I was living in the country and my job was to care for my family.  Just my wife and three kids.  
In the daydream, this little community of 5 feels very manageable.  But then I  remember days and months and years when the needs within my own family were overwhelming. 
And then I start thinking of parents, siblings, nephews, nieces, and, of course, in-laws.  And, for me, this is a group of well-over 100 people.  That’s a whole lot of needs.  
Then, at least for me, there’s the church.  Several dozen families just like mine: full of needs. 
On one hand I think, “This is too much need.  I don’t have room for any more.  I can’t help.”
On the other hand I think, “That’s also a whole lot of support.  More than most will ever know.  How can I not help?”