Against them.

“And when evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and he was alone on the land.  And he saw that they were making headway painfully, for the wind was against them . . .” Mark 6: 47-48a

I have a deep respect for storms.

Living in the Midwest, I have nurtured a wariness for weather’s fury: the power of sudden, golf-ball sized hail in a summer thunderstorm, the screaming wind that announces the arrival of an F-4 tornado overhead, the smothering white-out of a winter blizzard rolling over the the frozen prairie land of Illinois . . . mountains of powdery, dry snow . . . and the deafening silence after.

Storms have a way of commanding our attention. Sometimes, too much.

Read the story of Jesus walking on water in the middle of a huge storm, and see this picture: the night’s blackness, the pitching waves in the Sea of Galilee, the growing unease with what may be coming, the small group of men in an open fishing boat terrified of it all.

But focus too much on the storm, and we can miss one of those, ” wait a minute. . . ” moments that signal something . . . astonishing.

Continue reading “Against them.”

Gift exchange

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” John 14:27

This Christmas, how will you be involved in the giving and getting of gifts? From ancient times, gift-giving has been associated with many holidays at the turn of the year, and the wise men who visited Jesus at his birth were leaders for us in the practice.

For the most part, gift-giving is a happy and joyful experience. But, have you ever had a less-than-joyful experience with gifts?

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Good Gifts

O, Child of Peace, across this night,
Within our hearts is all made right.
The pow’r of sin is crumbling fast,
As we are freed from prisons past.
In darkness, cold, our hearts knew pain,
Forever deep, the crimson stain.
But kingdoms fall, our fears release.
For, You have come, O Child of Peace.

O, Newborn Gift, the Father’s Son,
Your presence here enfolds us, one.
Together, bound, we share the joy
You bring to earth as one, small boy.
For, since in love you’ll grow to be
Your Father’s Lamb because of me,
Your mercy rich will make me new:
A son of God because of You.

From star to star in heaven’s space
A song rings out: a song of grace.
Your music starts where sin begins.
It wakes the dead and never ends.
Our silent lives have never heard
Until tonight this healing Word.
O, may this music never cease!
Sing on, O Son, my Prince of Peace.