I was sitting with Steve Jenks the other day and he was mentioning about how frustrating it is that Christmas stuff arrives so early. I reflected on how one year I was at a Wal-Mart and saw the stuff coming out in July! It is amazing how a simple somber celebration like Christmas turned into such a commercialized super-holiday centered on something that is so unchristian that often the message of Christ gets lost in the secular aspects.
One of the big issues with Christmas starting so early is the loss of a sense of waiting. Waiting and patience are two skills that are incredibly important for the Christian Experience. Traditionally, the Christmas season would start on Christmas Day and last until Epiphany; that is why our decorations will stay up until then. This was to obviously celebrate the birth, but Epiphany was a celebration of the witness and the power that so moved the wise men not to return to the king.
Before Christmas are four Sundays that mark Advent. Advent, like Lent, is a time of waiting. Over the weeks of Advent, we take time to reflect on ourselves, while building in excitement for the coming Christ. Both the self-reflection and preparation are incredibly important to gain the deep understanding of what happens with God.
First, and probably the more important of the two is the aspect of Advent that calls for reflection. This time of reflection is incredibly important since it is through this reflection that we come to understand our relationship and ourselves with Christ. When we look into our own souls, we learn about ourselves. When reflecting we see the areas that we need to give grace to others and ourselves and we begin to see where we might be struggling and need to ask for help, from others or God.
The second aspect of advent calls for patience. God’s time is not our time; this means that we are called to be patient. While Christmas only serves as an example, the patience it teaches is incredibly important for the patience that we need to learn in our relationship with God. Since we know the date of Christmas, we have a set goal, but when the rapture comes we will know neither day nor the hour. However, we must keep focused and have the patience to know that God has and will save us, but on His timeline, not necessarily ours.
As you can guess from what I have written, and if you pay attention to the readings that will come up through Advent, you will notice that Advent serves two Christian purposes. The first is to celebrate the birth of Christ, but the more important part is looking forward to the second coming. This makes it very apparent why the self-reflection and teaching on patience is so important, because more than anything else Christmas is about our eternal life with Christ, not a toy we play with only a few times or a sweater we will outgrow.
So what I like to do is think of Christmas as two different holidays. First, you have the secular one that is great in its own right. It helps build the community; it makes people feel nice and bears witness to Christian Joy. Secondly, we have the Christian holiday that is all about Christ. The important thing is to not lose the Christian celebration within the secular world. But that is one of the difficult parts of being a twenty-first century Christian, living in the tension of what and who God is calling us to be and a world that pulls us into a different value.
The Sermon Passage this week is the prophetic text written in Isaiah. Most Christians, even those who come twice a year, would recognize or be able to recite word for word what the passage reads. What is really interesting about this passage is that there is no doubt that this passage is about Peace, but the word Peace (Shalom) does not show up at all.
I find that very interesting because often we come to places in the Bible where the most powerful word within a given situation is often left out in lieu of letting the imagery of the other words stand. This is part of the very poetic nature that is found within much of the Bible. Some may argue that the fact that the passage does not say the word “peace” makes it all the more powerful.
The passage is fairly simple, starting with the image of the temple. This is central to much of the Hebrew texts, Both the building and destruction of the temple begins to represent faithfulness of the people. Oddly, it seems that every time that the Temple is built people tend to take it for granted, but when it is destroyed the people seem to be at odds with each other and God. Isaiah is writing at one of the times when the temple is not around. Without the rally point, people have digressed into the infighting and typical problems of the society. Mostly, people have come to blame God for their problems.
This is very interesting, especially as we look to the prophesy of this passage because there is a suggestion that while God will create the peace, it is incumbent on the people to accept that peace and go to the mountain and act on it. The promise is that if we go we will experience something more powerful than even the poetic language can catch, but we have to take the action to go; God will provide, but we need to follow through.
As we take this time in Advent to prepare ourselves for the coming of Christ, one of the central questions we have to ask is whether or not we would go. If God called us to scream from the mountains about the Glory of God, would we? If God put before us a plan and road to salvation, would we trust it? If God walked into our church, would we accept him?
This brings me back to that first interesting observance about this passage. It does not mention peace, but it is undeniable that it is peace that this passage talks about. Often we see God’s undeniable hand in our lives and community, but because of one thing or another we do not ascribe God to it. In fact, often we turn from God in the process. Just think, we know Christ came into this world, we know Christ came to save all who believe, but how many times do we see people judge others based on a perceived spirituality, faithfulness, righteousness, and so on?
The Peace that we attain, is only the peace which God gives and only when we give ourselves over to God will we fully realize what that peace is all about.
As we enter Advent in the Gathering, we do so finishing up our series on the Sermon on the Mount. Chapter 7 in Matthew concludes the Sermon on the Mount with some of the most powerful and direct messages. This Sunday we will explore how we as disciples are to treat one another; next Sunday we will see how we are called to go out and make disciples.
When I was reading the passage this week I thought about a time when I was in, I think, third grade when I got in trouble for something really silly, leaving my book bag next to my desk causing a girl to trip. The teacher pulled me out of the class, I did not know why, and proceeded to scold me for my careless action. Being that I rarely got in trouble, the tears were welling up in my eyes. The teacher stopped, knelt down and said “Bryan, you need to think about others. Our classroom is small and the desks are close, if there were a fire or a tornado and we had to get out, how would you feel if you had to get around everyone’s backpacks?”
It was a simple lesson, kind of silly when you think about it, but I learned that day that my actions affected others, even when I did not mean to. This is the crux of the Golden Rule. As it says in The Message version of the Bible: “Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them.”
This is the route of courtesy and really the central teaching about how we are supposed to live as Christians. Think about it this way. A man was out in his front yard blowing leaves so that his yard looked immaculate. In doing so, he accidentally blew his leaves onto his neighbor’s yard. Instead blowing the leaves where they belonged, he sat back and admired his beautiful work. Later his neighbor came home from work, tired and beaten, to see that his once clean lawn was full of leaves once again. He knew where they came from, so after he went in to change from his work clothes he went out with every intention of blowing the leaves back to his neighbor’s lawn.
As the first leaf hit the pristine lawn, he thought of how frustrated he was when he got home and thought to himself, “what am I doing? What will this really do?” so he finished his lawn and pushed the leaves into the street for their pickup the next morning. The man realized that all retaliation would bring is more retaliation and what good is that? More than that he thought of how he wanted to be treated and demonstrated that to his neighbor using his action to teach Christian love.
Think about it; when you show love and forgiveness even when it is hard, often you see people change. When you think of others first, often you begin to see things work out much better and often you see that your life will work out better. Think of it; if you followed an eye-for-an-eye mentality, the retaliation would only lead to something worse.
Think about all the wars and death that are a result of simple acts of selfish motive. I think about it with many people that I counsel, how if someone along their path just thought to reach out and treat them kindly, their whole lives might have been different. When we treat each other with respect, even though it is hard sometimes, we embody what it means to be a Christian and a disciple.
Mentally I am preparing to go back to my parent’s house this coming Tuesday for the Thanksgiving holiday. On Sunday, as my parents were leaving their church in Washington, Illinois they heard the sirens that announced a tornado was on its way. They went back to church and took refuge in the basement of the church. Good thing, too, as much of the town of Washington was destroyed, including most of my brother’s neighbors, starting just four doors down from his house! A few members of the church many friends of my mother’s and one of my brother’s best friends lost their homes. The destruction, just from the pictures, is amazing.
Thankfully, in schools and communities, people are prepared to know what to do, which usually keeps the fatalities and injuries to a minimum. But nothing one can do can prepare themselves for the fear that comes when you see a home you think is indestructible disappear as if it were never there. Right now, in my mind and heart, I think of my two nieces, especially the older of the two who witness this and wonder what must be going through their minds as they experienced the trauma of the situation.
Growing up in the Midwest, tornados were both scary and intriguing. I remember once in college driving to my parents home seeing one form across the cornfield. I learned at that moment that my car could go 100mph to get me to a safe place to pull over. But by the time I got to that safe place the dark clouds lifted and there was no sign it ever existed, except I am sure of a few crops that were damaged. This was a very small one.
Still, it was eerie how something so uncontrollable can cause so much damage and there is nothing one can do about it. But then again it makes you think about how much of life is uncontrollable. While natural disasters make us think about the bigger picture and the awesome destruction that happens, there are a lot of life-changing moments that are part of our everyday lives when our world is so changed it can never go back to what it once was. There is so much loss when a disaster hits that the world that is left is irrevocably changed. This change creates a level of fear.
Fear is a natural human reaction to a changing world. It is one of the primal senses that keeps us safe. Fear keeps us from getting into situations that might hurt or kill us. But when fear takes over our lives, that fear can keep us from living even the most simple of lives. Which makes me think of the tornado that, on one hand, has a level of destruction that is to be feared, but on the other is an awesome force of nature that people study and some actually believe can teach us about our world.
Often in disasters we turn to God and ask why. It is a hard question to answer. Talk to an environmentalist and they will give you the answer that these storms are becoming worse because we are not being good stewards of our world, or a possibly some far-right religious person saying that it is God’s wrath for this or that. Interestingly, neither of those sides are too far off. Think about it: both point back to a collective question to humanity, are we really living right? Are we really living for building each other up, or are we living for our own needs disregarding a good stewardship of the gifts God has given us? Interesting, hmm?
It is easy to blame God, just as it is easy to blame others, but it is hard to sit back and look inward to ourselves and see that often we do not live as God has called us, we do not live for one another, we do not live to build up the body, we do not live as good stewards of God’s gift. And we are then left to wonder why.
The thing is that while destruction will happen and the world will end at some point, what God is calling us to do is be good stewards and thankful for the gifts and life that we have in him. We have to trust and understand that when bad things happen, we are not to stop and sit in fear; rather we are called to rebuild and move on. To look to the great gifts God has given them and us for His Glory. Moreover, we are called to be good stewards in community together.
This Sunday we come to the culmination of the liturgical year, as well as the end of our fall season looking at faithfulness and reconciliation. The liturgical name for this Sunday is Christ the King and the story that we have this cycle is a familiar story, but almost seems out of place, being that next week we start the advent season. The story is one of the most powerful stories in the Bible. Every time I read it I get a little emotional.
This is the story of Jesus on the cross. But that is really not the main point of the story. The most important part of this pericope is what is going on with the two criminals that are on either side of Christ.
While there is a lot we do not know about the two, even the crimes they committed, we do know some very important facts. First, they were guilty, and second, they were facing the same death as Christ. On the one side there is a man who is deriding Christ, joining in on the mockery that the crowd and soldiers are engaged. There is a lot of speculation as to why this criminal would do this, but we will get to that later. On the other side is a man who is looking at his life and while we do not know if he is a true believer or not, we know that in the end of his life he asks a very pertinent question: do you fear God?
The two men that are hanging on the cross represent two ways in which we approach one another. The criminal that is deriding Christ, even in his pain, chooses to join with the crowd. When he does this in a literary sense he represents our human nature to reject God. Just like we reject one another when we choose to belittle or tear one another apart with words or deeds. Think how even when we are at our weakest it is often still easier for some to reject than accept.
Interestingly, while also looking at his eminent demise the other criminal asks of the other man if he fears God. This is not only unexpected, but not sought after. This is recognition of certain strength not to save himself but to show compassion. In fact, this represents a sign that he chooses to walk alongside Christ. This criminal shows strength to overcome the crowd and show compassion, just as we are called not to join in with the crowd causing derision and descent but to lift one another up as Christ lifts us up.
This is very important, since both of the criminals represent two different sides of our humanity, compassion on one side and contempt on the other. At the end, the judgment comes from Christ, and it is the compassion side that he chooses.
I often think that Christ the King Sunday is lost in modern culture because we lose the understanding of King being the head and final arbitrator for our lives. Because of this loss, we often do not take seriously the grace and promise that Jesus gives to the criminal that shows compassion and the disregard he gives to the other criminal.
When we look to our heart and think of how we reconcile our lives with Christ, we have to ask if we err on the side of compassion or contempt, if we err on the side of love or saving ourselves, if we err on the side of human nature or overcome that to be the people Christ calls us to be.
I was a worrier as a child. I don’t know if it had to do with being the youngest or something else, but I worried about a lot of things. I worried about real things and I worried about things that I made up in my head. I also worried a lot about things that I did not understand. Like when I heard on the news that they were sending arms overseas and would not let anyone go around without sleeves being afraid that they would send their arms overseas.
I look back on that and think how utterly silly that thought was, but for a five year old it makes a lot of sense. I would like to say that it was the only time in my life that I had unfounded worry, but I would not be telling the truth. As someone that worries often, my mind jumps to the most awful place. This happens a lot with people who think like me. The more creative the mind, the more wild and illogical the story becomes.
The problem with worry is that if you’re living in fear of something that has yet to happen, how can you live for today? The text we are working with this week in the Gathering looks explores worry and calls those who follow Christ not to let the possibilities of the future debilitate one’s current life. To have faith is to give us over to believing that God will provide.
I would love to say that this is easy, but it is not. To live in the moment requires us to have a faith that is deep and profound, trusting that even when people might get in our way, God will make the most of it. To this end I think of Paul.
When still Saul, he went through the countryside taking every chance he could to persecute and harm Christians. For the disciples and followers had a great and understandable fear of Saul, but in time God took care of that helping to change Saul’s heart and watch as he made this incredible change from a persecutor of Christ to an advocate and devoted Father of the faith. The change in Paul was something spontaneous that came from God. For Saul there was no logic, no argument that was going to change him; only God could do that, as God did.
For us there is often a great deal of doubt that fills our hearts. In this generation, as is true in many generations before, belief in God is something that is hard since there is so much that seems to contradict God’s message for us today. So often instead of letting faith be our guide, trusting that God will make things good for us in the future, we begin to try and safeguard our future, making choices that often keep us from living in the moment.
I have to admit, I still worry, but that is part of my nature. What keeps me going is having the faith in my depths to say that God is going to provide and when I look back on the things I worry about today I will laugh, just as I do when I look back on the worry I had over sending arms oversees.
One night, about five weeks into my chaplaincy program, I was called in to the hospital to sit with a woman the nurses said, “knew she was going to die that night.” When I walk into the room I saw a woman who was sitting up in her bed. Her hair was impeccable and she was just finishing putting on her make-up. She looked very proper, and very much alive. As I started to say excuse me, being sure that I had entered the wrong room, she jumped in to ask me to sit. So I did.
After the introductions she told me that she was going to die that night, but needed to talk to someone before she did. It was hard to hold my judgment, but I was neither a doctor nor that patient, so I went along and listened. She grabbed my hand and told me her life story, she had out lived everyone in her life, including her children. While she looked like a healthy woman in her early seventies, she was actually in her mid nineties.
As she spoke, I learned that she had quite the life! But as she spoke I also learned that she experienced some horrid tragedies and sadness, she lost one child to sickness early in his life, another to war, and the last recently to cancer. But in spite of the tragedies, she was determined to live and not die. She said, “When my second son died in the war, I died a little that day, but I looked to the other mothers whose sons died who had given up on life and I realized that I still had something to live for I had my husband and my daughter.” She looked at me and said “There is more, I had once a dream that God would tell me when it was my time and that my job in this world was to keep going until I had finished what God wanted from me, and he would take me home, God told me this morning, would you pray with me, but not a sad prayer, I want a happy celebration prayer.”
So I prayed, when I walked out of the room I went over to the nurse that called me. “Strange, right?” The nurse said.
I nodded, “There is nothing to indicate that she is going to die tonight, but she insisted, sorry for calling you in but . . .” she continued
I told her it was ok. The next morning I had been called early before the day shift started for another person. After meeting with them I went to check on my new friend and found that she had passed and had died very shortly after I left.
I was amazed, and I was really sad. In that very short time I really got to like this woman, I wanted to hear more of her stories, I wanted to spend time with her I liked her. I ran this by my supervisor and he said.
“Did you hear what you said?” My supervisor said,
I realized that I wanted her to live for me. When he continued, “She has run her race, and it sounds like quite the journey, now she is at peace and knows God’s Glory. Ours in not to judge when and where but to keep going until God calls us home.”
When I though back to the woman’s story, I though about the sadness in her life but then I recognized the witness she must have given and the courage she taught others. I was amazed how at every adversity she adjusted and moved on and while her life was far from perfect, she made it the best it could have been.
While I only knew the woman for a couple hours, her witness and faith have influenced me greatly. She had so many times in her life when she could have given up, but she kept going, and she more then that, she made the best that she could out of everything. She had the endurance when many would have given up and because of her many people’s lives were made better.
Life is full of choices. We can choose to give up or we can choose to continue. When we know that God is with us we can continue and grow despite what might come our way. When we have the trust in God we can find endurance to oone day be reconciled with him.
Discipleship is always difficult for us not only because in many ways it is countercultural, it is also counterintuitive. To be a disciple means that we have to risk and we have to suffer, but in our suffering we must be aware that our suffering is not used to further our own benefit. That is hard, but there is a lot to it.
Early on in my ministry, about twenty years ago, when I was working as a youth pastor, the church that I worked for had a tradition of the thirty-hour famine. As someone keen to issues of hunger I went along with the event. I did my research, studied the issues and had a great retreat planned. We had water and emergency rations, but the kids were to refrain from food.
I watched as the event unfolded and I started to become a little frustrated. Growing up with hunger, granted from medical issues, not a lack of food, I know the effects of hunger on the body. For the thirty-hour famine, one of the greatest aspects of hunger they engage in is knowing that you are not eating and cannot eat. You know where there is food, but you restrain yourself. After the first few hours or so people begin to have a pain in the stomach. By the time the event ended there was the dramatic “Food, now we can eat!” I could describe the drama, but your imagination probably would do a better job.
The unfortunate thing is that Hunger has very little to do with pain. What hunger does to the body and brain is more sinister than any temporary pain in the stomach. When one is deprived of food for long periods of time, their cognitive ability is slowed. Physically, even the most menial of tasks are difficult. Hunger is more than the pain felt, but unfortunately what I witnessed was that the kids who participated focused on that part, since that is what they were experiencing.
The first of the four passages that we are going to look at this week concerns fasting. Fasting is a ritual that was integral to the faithful life. The fast would start with the sunrise and end at sundown. But going 12 hours without food would take a certain toll on the individual and the pain and suffering would start.
A choice would come in the late day, as the hunger pains set in; do you show your pain, or do you just keep going? Interestingly, what Christ states is that no matter what the pain or struggle might be, not only do you not show it, but you do your best to make it seem as if nothing at all was different.
Within that lesson there are a couple things that translate to the remaining lesson this week. The first is a definition of strength. In order for one to have the strength to overcome, they must have the ability to continue on their path, no matter what deficit they may be dealing with, joyfully moving along with their lives.
The second lesson that we learn is not as obvious, but can be seen in the subtext, is something that we struggle with often and is the intersection of our pain and the pain of others. Fasting is a luxury. I say that because one can only fast if they have something to fast from. If you fast and make a spectacle of yourself you act the fool, especially when you come to find that there are others who are more hungry than you who take it in stride.
It was interesting when we finished the Famine that year and the kids mobbed the dinner their parents put out. One young boy just politely sat filling his plate. Looking back to the event, I realized that he did not make one complaint or say one thing. As he finished he went back and ate more than anyone else. As we waited for his mom to pick him up, I asked him how he like the event. He went through everything, he liked the games we played, the talks, but most of all he like the meal we had at the end; it was the first real meal he had in a week. No one knew; I almost cried. In my mind I listened to the complaints from all the teens, except for the one that probably had the most to complain about, and I thought, “the problem when we boast of our suffering is that we forget that there is always someone who suffers more.”
For the record, the boy and his family did get help from the church once we knew they needed it.
This Sunday we are continuing with the theme of reconciliation and take up an aspect of reconciliation that centers on endurance. To be reconciled to Christ takes an understanding that things don’t happen instantaneously. This is a hard concept to grasp within a society that, thanks to modern technology, with the right factors, you could attain almost anything you want within a very short time.
It is a great thing in many ways, but at the same time it makes me wonder. How are we ever going to develop the skill of endurance when we never have to practice? The problem is that endurance is not just waiting, but it is waiting with perseverance and hope. As I understand endurance in the context of the passage we are looking at this week is that endurance is the perseverance to keep going despite any interference that may come in the way, and hope that God will provide in the end.
In Christendom this is important. The passage this week is one of the many apocalyptic passages that are found within the Bible. Unlike many of the apocalyptic writings, this one is fairly straightforward. Before the end comes, everything is going to turn to, well, . . . you know. The key that Christ says is that we have to have the endurance to wait it out come to the other side and see the glory.
The problem is that there is no instant gratification nor is there a defined way to cope. With faith, God will provide for our need and if we listen, God will guide us. If we prepare, or follow some prescription for survival, the warning that the passage gives is that we most likely will be lead astray.
It reminds me of a time when a former member of one of my congregations came to visit me. He left the church soon after choosing to go to a bible college. After studying things like dispensationalism and the fundamentals, he was sure that he had all the answers and no longer needed to ask good questions.
About ten years later, now the father of two active boys, he found himself in a situation where there were tragic deaths in his wife’s family, he lost his Job, and had an illness that he was dealing with. He came to me because he could not find the answers anywhere. His greatest frustration was that, as he saw it, he and his family had done everything right. They were faithful and good people, they had followed the teachings to the best of their abilities, but nothing seemed to fill them. Moreover, the answers they had did not seem to fit the problems they were facing.
As I sat and listened, I began to be amazed at what this man was saying. In fact, at one point he laid out that his greatest fear was that he doubted God, because what God told him to do seemed to only bring more pain. That blew me away.
We realized in our discussions that he was preparing his life one way, but in preparing for one type of life, his eyes were closed to what God was doing for him. The breaking point in our discussions was when we were talking about his boys. He said that he never saw his boys as a gift; rather, they were a reward for his faithfulness! What a different perspective, and one that was not working.
It was interesting because after he verbalized that, and heard himself say it he realized how off his thoughts were and slowly he began to, as he put it, “let go and let God.” That was not the first time I had heard that, but it worked. As he began to do that, he began to see where he could find the answers and the Joy that he felt was missing from his life.
He also began to see that instead of his life being a manufactured thing, he understood it to be a work in progress that when he came to the end would be incredible. I would love to say that his life was perfect after that, but it was not. However, moving forward he had a great deal more joy and more importantly he was able to grow in faith and adjust to whatever life threw at him. More than anything, he found the endurance to live fully and trust God.
Christ tells us over and over that there is one way that we can prepare for whatever life throws at us, and that is to have faith. When we have faith, we gain endurance because we know that whatever hardships, difficulties or whatever else life might throw at us, we will be reconciled with God in the end.
A few months ago I was working on my ministry plan. This is a personal document that I keep and use when in discussion with friends and colleagues that I note questions and concerns to discuss and get insight from. Interestingly, as I was writing I looked down and saw an Indistinguishable blur on the concrete. I did not know if my eyes were fooling me, or what was going on, so I got down on my hands and knees, getting really close, and saw that the blur was actually a moth that happened to be camouflaged to match the concrete. Surprisingly, the thing did not move, I though it might be dead but with close inspection you could see the slightest movement every now and again. I watched it for far too long and was amazed at how easily it blended in and how easy it would have been to crush it and not know the difference.
A few days ago, after another sleepless night worried about this and that I prayed, in my typical conversation with God, wondering what God was up to in my life and where the church was called to be and go. All of a sudden this image popped in my head. I dug out the picture of the moth and stared in awe as I looked in wonder at it. I started to think of it in terms of God and how God is there even when you do not see. But that seemed to miss something.
You see the moth was ugly in many ways, heck, it was the color of concrete, but when I got closer I marveled at the realization that it in fact was not the color of the concrete! It was light grey with leopard spots! It was so much more then what my eyes initially said it was.
Sitting in my conversation with God I realized that I was so busy with this and that I was having a hard time seeing God, even though I know God is here. It was interesting when I pulled out the scripture for the 10:30 service and saw that it was from Haggai about the impatience of the Hebrews had towards the rebuilding of the temple, 60 years!!! And it still had so much more work. The collective depression of that community made the community resigned and, if taking Haggai’s Sermons into account, unwilling to continue to work towards its reconstruction. So Haggai comes on the scene to give a midway pep-talk reminding the people that not only had God not abandoned them but there was an even greater glory that would come when the Temple was rebuilt!!!
Though we can be assured that even though he said that God was there and pointed to God many times, people still doubted, many still felt lost and could not see the work that God had already been up to. In fact, from the stories and other writings, we see that many people were just giving up. Can you blame them? They poured tons of effort and saw no progress; moreover, they could not see God!
But you see that is the interesting part! Why couldn’t they see God? Because they were focused not on what God was doing, but what they perceived God not to be doing. Their awareness was purely on their needs.
Often when I have problems seeing God, I recognize that I am often in a place where I am overly focused on things that are earthly: making people happy, getting everything done, getting caught up, dealing with this and that, among other things. All of this makes it easy not to take the time to look and see that God is where God has always been, all around me.
It is interesting how once I saw the moth, I could not help but see it again and again. In fact, every time I walked past that spot the first thing I looked for was that moth and in its own way it gave me great joy. The same thing is true for God. Yes, there are times that I strain to see Him or forget to look, but when I do, I am comforted knowing that I am not alone. Knowing that even in the times when it hard to see, God is there.
Rev. Dr. Bryan James Franzen