It’s Monday December 15

This Christmas season is so…. 2014.  What will 2015 look like for you?

Since I will be taking a few weeks off at the end of the year from my It’s Monday reflections, I am using this week to invite you to something new in the new year. Actually, you are invited to something old.

In contrast to a culture that worships the latest products, the trendiest fads, and the most novel ideas about what we should think, we are reaching back to the simplest expressions of who we are and what we have been called to be and do. We have been called to Love: our God, our neighbor and ourselves. Nothing new about that.

God created this world in love and for love that we can be loved and show love.

So in 2015, we will be launching a Start Something Old-30 Day Challenge. Sounds gimmicky you say? Maybe. But, this challenge is simply a way to re-connect you with what is the core of a following Jesus life. In Jesus’ words, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, and with all your mind… You must love your neighbor as you love yourself.” (Mt. 22:37-39)

We love God by learning God’s story and being around God’s people. We love our neighbor by paying attention to them, listening to their story, and offering ourselves in ordinary way to both friends and strangers. We love ourselves by first receiving God’s gift of love and then creating space and time to do those things that make us most alive.

We will provide you with a simple guide for the challenge on Christmas Eve. It will also be available on our website and in subsequent worship services.

It’s Monday. 2015 will soon be upon us. Get ready to Start Something Old. Peace. Kai

It’s Monday December 8

I thought and thought about how to articulate the spiritual concept of waiting that is so central to the Advent season.  In the end, these words from Father Theilhard de Chardin wouldn’t let me go.  So, for this day, this season, I offer them to you.

Trust in the Slow Work of God

Above all, trust in the slow work of God.

We are quite naturally impatient in everything

to reach the end without delay.

We should like to skip the intermediate stages.

We are impatient of being on the way to something

unknown, something new.

And yet it is the law of all progress

that it is made by passing through

some stages of instability—

and that it may take a very long time.

And so I think it is with you;

your ideas mature gradually—let them grow,

let them shape themselves, without undue haste.

Don’t try to force them on,

as though you could be today what time

(that is to say, grace and circumstances

acting on your own good will)

will make of you tomorrow.

Only God could say what this new spirit

gradually forming within you will be.

Give Our Lord the benefit of believing

that his hand is leading you,

and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself

in suspense and incomplete.

It’s Monday.  What is God forming within you this season?  Peace.  Kai

It’s Monday on Tuesday, December 2

I used the image of an “empty chair” to launch our Advent series, Do Not Be Afraid, this past Sunday. The empty chair is emblematic of both what is missing and who is missing. Throughout the holiday season, with its plethora of potential parties and its multitude of magnificent meals, the empty chair is often hidden away, pulled back from our physical and emotional tables, as a way to deny or distract us from the thing that is missing in our lives, from the one who is missing in our lives.

It’s often easier to distract ourselves from life than to deal with life.

Yet, however it is rearranged during the season or hidden away, the empty chair remains an empty chair. There are gaps in our lives and relationships. We have known loss. We experience seasons of emptiness.

As I was reflecting on those empty chairs, an alternate image came to mind. In the Jewish tradition during the holiday celebration of Passover, an empty chair is intentionally placed at the table in anticipation that the upcoming year will be the time when the prophet Elijah (whom tradition tells us never died) will return and usher in the kingdom of God. The empty chair represents hopeful expectation, acknowledging both the world that is and the world that can be!

Holding both of those empty chair images together, we enter the season of Advent. The empty chair of what is missing and the empty chair of promise take their place around a common table. Our present loss and God’s ever present love dance together. What is and what will be extend a hand of greeting to one another. What has already been fulfilled in the coming of Jesus and what we eagerly anticipate as he comes again in our lives form a seamless bond of love.

And throughout…

Throughout the glorious moments…

Throughout the grinding minutes…

Throughout this season…

The voices of angels echo the assurance of God, “Do not be afraid.”

Do not be afraid. I am with you.

Do not be afraid. Nothing will separate you or your loved ones from my love.

Do not be afraid. You have found favor with God.

With that assurance, we can also be free to imagine this season differently. Our Advent brochure gives you a number of simple ways to free yourself from numbing expectations and focus yourself on life-giving activities. Here is a sample:

Do not be afraid to…buy less and spend more time together.

Do not be afraid to… ask for help if you need it.

Do not be afraid to… reduce the list of things you “always” do.

Do not be afraid to… give something away for everything you buy.

Do not be afraid to… encourage the seasonal workers in the store.

Do no be afraid to. someone who has an empty chair at their table this year.

None of these suggestions is to be received as a command. They are simply invitations to re-imagine the season and re-focus our energies on loving God and loving our neighbor as ourselves.

It’s Tuesday. Do not be afraid to_____________________.   You fill in the blank. Peace. Kai