Free Methodists in Haiti

•January 23, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Our denomination, the Free Methodists, have a large family of brothers and sisters in Haiti who are suffering from the devastation of the Earthquake. Our missionary presence there also allows for monetary aid to get to the people who need it right away. Here is a video from the http://www.helphaitiheal.org website. Consider making a donation to our brothers and sisters in need by going here

Help Haiti

There Is A Longing

•December 10, 2009 • Leave a Comment

This Advent hymn of longing is written by Anne Quigley.

There is a longing in our hearts, O Lord,
for you to reveal yourself to us.
There is a longing in our hearts
for love we only find in you, our God.

For justice, for freedom,
for mercy: hear our prayer.
In sorrow, in grief:
be near, hear our prayer, O God.

For wisdom, for courage,
for comfort: hear our prayer.
In weakness, in fear:
be near, hear our prayer, O God.

For healing, for wholeness,
for new life: hear our prayer.
In sickness, in death:
be near, hear our prayer, O God.

Lord save us, take pity,
light in our darkness.
We call you, we wait:
be near, hear our prayer, O God.

Christmas by Dietriech Bonhoeffer

•December 5, 2009 • Leave a Comment

No priest,
no theologian
stood at the cradle of Bethlehem.
And yet all Christian theology
finds its beginning
in the miracle of miracles,
that God became human.

The Lost Art of Anticipation

•December 5, 2009 • Leave a Comment

We live in a culture that is all about instant gratification. If we want something – almost anything – we can just go get it right now, if we have enough money or credit to buy it.  Life has not always been this way.

Consider food. Not so long ago people had no access to fresh fruit or vegetables in winter. Salad was a thing of summertime, as were berries and melons. Winter food was preserved from summer’s bounty, and by the time the first crops ripened in the late Spring, people had been anticipating their deliciousness for months. Anticipation was built into our food supply.  Now we don’t even consider it odd that we can eat mangos in Oregon in December.

The same thing has happened with clothing, entertainment, and products of all kinds – even human relationships. There are just a few rituals remaining in our culture that still give us opportunity for the gift of anticipation.  

I heard a man describe how he decided to surprise his wife with a dream vacation. He was looking at destination guides, shopping for hotels, and planning their outings, with the intention of basically kidnapping her to board a plane one morning.  But as he was planning he realized that half of the fun was in the anticipation. So he surprised her in advance and allowed her the added joy of looking forward to their special trip.

Some of the best moments are the ones just before.  Just before the roller coaster crests the peak of the track. Just before unwrapping the present. Just before the kiss. Just before biting into a piece of Sweet Life Raspberry Rhapsody chocolate cake. The “just before” moments make what follows even sweeter.

Advent is the “just before” season leading into Christmas. But sometimes we allow the trappings of the season to become a burden of busyness. We can become so focused on seasonal chores that little space is left for anticipation. Suddenly Christmas is upon us and before we can settle in to enjoy it, Christmas has passed us by.

In this Advent season, give yourself the gift of anticipation. Let the Christmas lights and holiday jingles and even the extra chores prompt hope and expectation within you. Relish this ‘just before’ moment.

Only 21 more days!

Karlene

Incarnate God

•December 3, 2009 • 1 Comment

I’ve just finished reading The Suffering of God by Terence Fretheim. He is mainly concerned with Old Testament theology, however, his writings about God’s relationship with the world seem to resound with Advent themes.

Whatever may have been the case before the creation of the heavens and the earth, since the creation God has taken up residence within that creation, and thus works from within the world, and not on the world from without.

Fretheim writes about those accounts in the Old Testament when God appears briefly in human form (called ‘theophany’). Though he isn’t talking specifically of Jesus, what he says about God in human form would apply to Jesus’ incarnation as well.

God’s appearance in human form reveals God’s vulnerability. Appearance only associated with storm phenomena could give a quite different impression. It could suggest that God is totally in control of the situation; the only possible responses before God would be fear and dread. But appearance in human form, even in the midst of such phenomena, reveals another perspective. It suggests an entering into the life of the world that is more vulnerable, where the response can be derision or incredulity. It is to put oneself concretely into the hands of the world to do with as it will.

It is revealing of the ways of God that the word is enfleshed in bodies of weakness within the framework of commonplace, everyday affairs, and not in overwhelming power. For even in those instances where the vestments of God’s appearance are threaded with lineaments of power, they clothe a vulnerable form. There is no such thing for Israel as a nonincarnate God.

Do we see God at work in our ‘commonplace, everyday affairs?’ Why would God choose to come with vulnerability, with openness to the freely chosen responses of ordinary people? How do we open ourselves to this kind of God?

For followers of Jesus, what does this kind of vulnerability mean? Do we try to help save the world by removing ourselves and standing apart from it? How far are we willing to go to ‘take up residence’ with others, making ourselves vulnerable to scorn and rejection?

Peace, Karlene

Henri Nouwen – An Advent Prayer

•December 2, 2009 • Leave a Comment

This prayer by Henri Nouwen reminds us that advent is NOT the season of Christmas, but it’s very own unique season. It is a season of waiting. A season where we anticipate the coming of our savior, who is not yet born. In contrast to our society’s view of this part of the year,  Advent is a season which begs us to slow down, and quiet our hearts in anticipation of the quiet night in which God entered history as a child to show us a different way.

The prayer:

Lord Jesus,
Master of both the light and the darkness,
send your Holy Spirit upon our preparations for Christmas.
We who have so much to do
seek quiet spaces to hear your voice each day.
We who are anxious over many things
look forward to your coming among us.
We who are blessed in so many ways
long for the complete joy of your kingdom.
We whose hearts are heavy
seek the joy of your presence.
We are your people, walking in darkness, yet seeking the light.
To you we say, “Come Lord Jesus!”

Quote for Advent

•December 1, 2009 • Leave a Comment

As we ponder the season of advent, of God breaking into Humanity, I thought that this quote from Dom Helder Camara – an Archbishop and Liberation theologian from Brazil – was particularly worth reflecting on.

“Christ came for all people of all times. But he found the best way of being present everywhere was to choose one particular spot in the world, a certain culture, a specific language. This is an important lesson for all those of us who are charged with perpetuating the living presence of Christ. We haven’t been created with to exist in a vacuum. Oh no! We’ve been created to be incarnate in some corner of the world, in which we’ve been put or to which we are led by the will of God. Here in Brazil I meet missionaries from almost every country in the world: priests, religious, members of the laity. They come to us in the spirit of incarnation. They assume our culture, they speak our language. They merge so thoroughly with our people, they become our brothers and sisters. They take on all own own problems. Not to solve them, but to encourage us to do so. Through them, through all of us together, the incarnation goes on, and so does the redemption.”