Like most towns and cities, Brampton has an annual tree lighting ceremony to kick off the Christmas season. The tree is housed in the courtyard at The Rose – a local live theatre.
This year, the tree looks an awful lot (to this geeky soul) like the White Tree of Gondor in The Lord of the Rings movies. One of my favorite moments in the third film is that moment when all seems dark and horrible, but then the camera pans onto the (supposedly dead) tree of Gondor and you see one white blossom…and you know it is all gong to be ok in the end – the good guys are gonna win!
It’s such a powerful little detail.
The prophet Isaiah wrote:
The people who walk in darkness
will see a great light.
For those who live
in a land of deep darkness,
a light will shine.
Isaiah 9:2 NLT
This verse is like that lone white blossom on an otherwise dead tree. It is part of a passage of hope in the midst of dark days in the history of God’s people.
Jesus is that light. He is our hope. He is our peace.
And like that one line blossom, he is the detail that tells us it will all be ok in the end. God’s gonna win!
One of my regular readers mentioned to me the other day that she has been missing my posts. I really appreciated that, because it’s nice to know that this little project has an impact on others and that when I don’t get around to writing, that also has an impact.
For the last week or so I’ve been taking some time to myself. I have ideas for blogs, but many nights I have gone to bed without writing them. Not because I didn’t want to, but because I just needed a few more days to think.
Sometimes it’s good to go quiet for a bit. For the most part, I love my blogging time. I love the fact that it settles a centres me. I love the practice of writing each day and I find my brain has been working even when I wasn’t in front of my laptop writing up a blog. But sometimes, you just need a break. Sometimes silence is a good thing.
Sometimes we just need to be still. We live in a world that rushes past, and stillness can be a deep spiritual discipline. A whole new kind of worship.
Having said all that, I believe my time of stillness has come to an end and I plan on blogging regularly for the forseeable future.
Some days I go to bed at night wondering if I have actually accomplished anything during the day that was. Today is not one of those day. I woke up early this morning. I got the shopping done for myself for the week, and also for the snacks for our contemporary service at church tomorrow. I went and shared tea with a group of ladies who are over 80 and are members at St. Andrews. They deserve to be honored for their long years on this earth and in this community of faith, and I was honored to be among them.
When I got home from that event, I spent time making some cupcakes and a chicken chilli. I got 4 loads of laundry done and I cleaned up the kitchen. I reviewed my sermon for the contemporary service and printed the ‘final’ version of it. I even snuck a nap into this afternoon.
It feels good to have checked a number of things off of my “to do” list.
A life in the ministry is one where you spend some days doing nothing more than talking and thinking. It’s hard to judge how much is accomplished on those days. Sometimes my ‘work’ is one of listening – simply being able to hear what another is going through, and perhaps pass on some encouragement to them. In these cases, it is really hard to judge how much time and energy is expended in the work of ministry. That’s the nature of the beast. Sometimes one conversation – which took no more than 20 minutes – can feel like a full day’s hard labour.
Perhaps that is why a day like today, one in which I can check off a number of ‘tasks’ (though, admittedly, not all of them had to do with ministry), feels so good. It’s nice to have something tangible in the midst of a life that is committed to the intangible, the ethereal, the transcendent.
Today I feel accomplished. And blessed. And ready for tomorrow.
This is something I am meditating on tonite. I am not sure that I can articulate my thoughts on it yet…so I will leave it mostly without comment and just say this: I believe this is true, but that doesn’t mean I always understand HOW it is true.
Still, I pray that I can be at peace in the midst of trying circumstances by practicing the presence of Christ. I pray that for you, too!
Right now I am curled up in bed without any blankets on because it is so warm and Springish out. I am about to read a bit and then go to sleep. I almost didn’t blog tonite because I was tired and just not feeling up to it. But as I lay here, it kind of hit me that I had something I wanted to write. Something I wanted to remember.
And that is this feeling of peace that I have right now.
Koski is back in her crate for the first night in a week (Seriously, as much as I love my puppy, I don’t get how people let their animals sleep in bed with them. Koski got to sleep in my bed for about a week because it was less disturbance to my sleep than having her tremble and pant in her crate all night while wearing the cone of shame. We are SO done with that now. No more paws digging into my back in the middle of the night, or waking up because she’s having some wicked dream that causes her to twitch and growl or waking up drenched in sweat because she’s a freakin’ blast furnace of a dog! Ok. Enough of that rant.)
Today is finished and tomorrow is on the horizon. But between the two is this time for rest. I don’t always feel at peace when I lie down to sleep, and I guess that is why I want to remember this.
Sometimes the day has been filled with too many cares which I find hard to let go of. Sometimes tomorrow’s problems loom larger than its promise. Sometimes I just worry bout too many things. But not tonite. Tonite my heart is quiet and I am thankful for it.
When the apostle Paul wrote to the church in Philipi, he wished them the peace of God which transcends all understanding. I wish the same to you, and to myself.
Tonite during the video part of our weekly study, The Divine Conspiracy, John Ortberg told a story about his daughter. When she was upset he or his wife would say to her “Honey, honey, honey, I know, I know, I know.” When she grew up enough to start speaking, they would hear on the baby monitor that she would self-comfort. She’d wake up from a scary dream and say to herself, “Honey, honey, honey, I know, I know, I know.” These had become words of comfort and of love for her.
So one of our discussion questions had to do with what sort of words from God would be the equivalent to our own “Honey, honey, honey, I know, I know, I know.”
When I was a kid, my Dad would say to me, when I was afraid, “It’s ok, it’s going to be fine. I wouldn’t tell you that if it wasn’t true.” My Dad’s voice saying “I wouldn’t tell you that if it wasn’t true,” is one of the most comforting sounds in the entire world to me. And I think the equivalent would be all the times in the Bible that God says “Do not fear, I am with you.”
There is something so comforting in just knowing that our Heavenly Father is with us. He does not leave us, he does not forsake us. I wish I could share the peace I find in that that thought with everyone I meet. I wish I could go around handing out that certainty and comfort to all those in need of it.
I had more than one conversation with more than one colleague today about various transitions we are going through.
For me, my body is in transition as I work toward my goal weight (I am trying not to grumble about the current plateau). My church is in transition as we welcome the Rev. Dr. Bob Spencer as an interim minister and as we continue to search for a new lead minister. My finances are in transition as I work toward a savings goal and a debt reduction goal.
Even the weather is in transition – this winter it has been almost a daily transition from spring to winter to spring again. But in the past week I have noticed the sun feeling a little stronger on my skin and the daylight lasting a little longer (we are only 4 Sundays away from the Spring Forward time change, yay!).
It occurs to me that everything in our world is in a state of transition all the time. Things don’t last. Not to be too maudlin, but from the day we are born we begin to die.
And I guess that is why I love Jesus so much. Because he doesn’t change. He is outside of time, impervious to its slow decay (except, of course, for that 33 year period when he submitted himself to it). He is eternal and the relationship we have with him, if we choose to have a relationship with him, is eternal.
What he offers us – on going life in the Kingdom of God, peace, hope, redemption, love…I could go on – is eternal.
In a world that is always changing and decaying, I find soul-deep comfort in the eternal nature of Jesus.