Sunday, November 27, 2016

Climbing the Mountain of the Lord

In Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, Ebenezer Scrooge meets the ghosts of Christmas past, Christmas present, and Christmas future. Christmas (and Advent) is a journey for us too as we recall Christ who was, Christ who is, and Christ who will be.  With Christmas we mark the historical birth of Christ. But we are also called to prepare to take Christ into our hearts and lives so that he is present today. Doing so then prepares us for the end times when we will see Christ at God’s right hand.

Today’s Gospel reminds us to be vigilant. We don’t know when the end time will come. We must change our ways now to welcome Christ so that we’re ready for those end times.  The second reading reminds us to put on Christ and to conduct ourselves properly.

But it is the first reading that really strikes me.  One doesn’t just turn a sword into a plowshare or a spear into pruning hooks.  It takes active involvement of parties coming together, laying differences aside. As for climbing the mountain of the Lord, mountain climbing isn’t easy. One is usually dependent on others. If we want the same thing as others - to reach the other side - we must do it together or at least acknowledge that there might be more than one path, and that neither is wrong. In doing so, we can realize the Kindom of God on the other side, but here on earth as well.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Random Acts of Kindness

With Thanksgiving having just passed, we start preparing for Christmas. A popular tradition in anticipation of Christmas is the Advent calendar, which is really a December calendar since Advent begins before December 1.While December is next week, I thought I'd put this out there now for those who like to think and plan ahead. 

Many people mark each day of November by sharing something for which they were thankful. Let's use December to do something nice for others (besides gift giving for Christmas). Let's practice some random acts of kindness!

For a pdf, click here.

If I remember, I'll tweet the daily suggestion.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Be the Change

The world, and all that dwells in it, is in our hands.

Love One Another

Much of my prayer lately has been focused on the proverbial and very real question, “why can’t we all get along?”

While tensions are at an all-time high, we’ve seen for years that fear and religion are used to put other people down and oppress them. Politics, ego, and personal agendas do also.

In April of this year I participated in a retreat on compassion. We focused on the fact that we are all one with each other. We focused on seeing the world through the eyes of the other. We recognized and honored the diversity of faith traditions. And we celebrated that even amid diversity we have more in common with others than one might think. We were comforted and hopeful because all major religions, diverse as they are, pronounce some variation of the Golden Rule.

As I reflect on the Golden Rule, I am reminded that all people are made in the image and likeness of God. That’s not always easy to believe or comprehend. And I struggle when I can see it and want to believe it but am lost when the “other” doesn’t want to acknowledge it, believe it, or accept it, and we don’t know how to encounter each other in a way that honors the sacred in each of us.

The best that I can do is check my ego at the door. There is no room for ego when I open my mind and heart to understand the differences between myself and others. But I’m open to it. And it hurts when others need to be right and can’t recognize the hurt and rejection they cause by not having open minds and hearts.

In preparation for the retreat, and subsequent to it, we learned about and reflected on the Charter for Compassion. It’s an international movement that calls upon all people, regardless of religion, ethnicity, etc. to treat others the way we wish to be treated. In addition to the website there is a great TED Talk that more eloquently describes its background and purpose.

 The Charter is a real thing. I’ve “signed” it online and encourage you to do the same. Even if you don't sign it, read it and be inspired by the fact that people all over the world believe in what it stands for.

More importantly, let us find our voices. Let us open our hearts and minds. Let us reach out, welcome the stranger, feed the poor, tend to those in need and in the margins, speak for those without a voice, and see Christ in all people, including those with whom we disagree. Let our prayers and actions not just be about us/them. May they be about all of us. We can't always change others but we can be models. To quote Gandhi, let us "be the change you wish to see in the world."