Thursday, December 31, 2020

New Year’s Hallelujahs!

Despite this year’s difficulties, myriad as they are, God is still worthy of our praise! Spend some time finding the good in 2020, the unexpected revenue of 2020 (and I am not talking about money!). Seek the fragrance of Christ in this year; pause when you remember grace, the purpose of His suffering. Instead of only sitting beside the hardships and sacrifices, the losses and isolation, stand up and look around at all the giving hands and serving hearts, recall the gestures of goodness and light that people have been sharing with each other. So much good has happened! Remember the renewed value of time spent together. Remember the random acts of kindness and repeated gifts of generosity. Remember Immanuel, God with us! All good gifts come from God, and His Presence remains with us. Read Psalm 111 (The Message) and name your own 2020 ‘hallelujahs’! What a great way to celebrate the beginning of a NEW YEAR! His Hallelujah lasts forever! dho 

                                                                                                               

Hallelujah!

I give thanks to GOD with everything I've got—

Wherever good people gather, and in the congregation.

GOD's works are so great, worth

A lifetime of study—endless enjoyment!

Splendor and beauty mark his craft;

His generosity never gives out.

His miracles are his memorial—

This GOD of Grace, this GOD of Love.

He gave food to those who fear him,

He remembered to keep his ancient promise.

He proved to his people that he could do what he said:

Hand them the nations on a platter—a gift!

He manufactures truth and justice;

All his products are guaranteed to last—

Never out-of-date, never obsolete, rust-proof.

All that he makes and does is honest and true:

He paid the ransom for his people,

He ordered his Covenant kept forever.

He's so personal and holy, worthy of our respect.

The good life begins in the fear of GOD—

Do that and you'll know the blessing of GOD.

His Hallelujah lasts forever! 

- Psalm 111/The Message

Friday, December 25, 2020

Christmas Greetings 2020

Merry Christmas 2020...



Traditions can change over time, replaced or revised for another time, a new beginning. While it’s often hard to let go of our cherished customs, we must not stop having traditions. These special moments build foundations for our future generations. Even if their celebrations look different, they will remember packing Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes, seeing the outside lights flooding the trees, smelling fresh cut Frasier Fir Christmas trees, eating decorated cookies and marinated shrimp, loving Christmas Eve Open House after church, and feeling Christmas morning joy. Over time, we may gather in different places, coming and going as life demands, but we will always unwrap laugher, treasure time together, and celebrate Christ! A Hallmark quote from the Christmas season echoes, “Traditions are the stories that families write together.” We must keep writing those stories because they will remember the joy! - dho

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Fourth Sunday of Advent - Holy Light! Perfect Love!

the 4th Sunday of Advent leads us into Christmas...

“…and they hall call his name Immanuel,” which means 

GOD WITH US!  Matthew 1:23



FrederickBuechner, American writer and theologian writes, “…Bethlehem is not the end of our journey but only the beginning…” The Season of Light captures our attention with its hurried and increased activities. Choirs and candles, decorations and details capture us. Words and wonder fill us to nearly overflowing. The Virgin Mary with Joseph traveling to Bethlehem, angels singing to shepherds, a star and Magi, all coming to celebrate this newborn baby called Immanuel. Advent candles retell the familiar story with hope and peace and joy and love. Buechner continues, “The birth of Jesus made possible not just a new way of understanding life but a new way of living it.



Christmas reminds us of new beginnings. We sing Christ the Savior is born but must remember that Christ is also the Redeemer, bringing salvation to a dying world, establishing a new relationship with us. Immanuel, GOD WITH US, is still with us and holds us with grace and goodness. Jesus came that we might be His Light to others, to help the lost and have compassion on the broken, to feed the hungry and hold the hurting, to tell the Good News of His Grace, to forgive, to listen, to love. We must continue to live a new way after the Christmas celebrations end and the decorations are put away, long after we forget about sheep and shepherds. As we find our old routines, let the greatest Christmas Gift, Jesus, renew our journeys. Let’s find the new beginning and new ways of living for Christ in the coming year! ~ dho 

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Third Sunday of Advent - Shepherds See the Glory

"Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields keeping watch over their flock by night... and the glory of The Lord shone around them... For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ The Lord... You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger..." Luke 2:8-20




The shekinah Glory of God fills the house of The Lord (1Kings 8:11) when the Ark of the Covenant is placed into the Holy of Holies in the temple Solomon built. Centuries later high above a Bethlehem field the Glory of The Lord again appears breaking the silence of the night, revealing to shepherds where to find Christ the Lord! This stands in stark contrast between appearing to the priests in the Temple in the Most Holy Place and common shepherds in an open field. Considered the least in society, shepherds, believed to be unclean, could not even worship in the Temple; yet, God chooses these with simple faith to go and find the baby Jesus. The least, the simple, the willing shepherds.

Some scholars suggest that sheep to be used for sacrifices in the Temple in Jerusalem were frequently kept in the fields around Bethlehem, and that perhaps the very shepherds the angel appeared to were keeping watch over these sheep. While the shepherds could not even be witnesses in legal situations, perhaps it is irony that they become the first people to bear witness and testify to the birth of Jesus. The New Testament uses the Greek word poimen for 'shepherd' meaning a person who tends to a flock. According to Mounce's Expository Dictionary, the most frequent use of poimen refers to Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd. These shepherds who society deems some of its most unworthy receive the first invitation to see the Lamb of God. The unclean, the unworthy, the invited shepherds.

This Advent season reconsider these God-chosen ones. In the Christmas Story, shepherds of simple faith and willing to respond are key figures, but society calls them unworthy and unreliable. The shepherds came with haste and found Mary and Joseph and the Babe lying in a manger. Now when [the shepherds] had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. Do we see others through God's eyes or accept society's view? Are we willing to recognize Jesus in the least, the simple, the broken? Aren't we ALL unclean, sinners who are unworthy? Yet, God chooses each of us ~ rich or poor, scholar or laborer, old or young, thriving or hopeless, struggling or defeated! God invites each of us to come and meet Christ The Lord ~Perfect Love, Lamb of God, Amazing Grace!  ~dho

Sunday, December 06, 2020

Second Sunday of Advent - Preparing the Way

 Ad-venta time of waiting; marked by a spirit of anticipation; an arrival of a notable person; appearance



"See, I will send My messenger, who will prepare the way before Me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to His temple, the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come," says the LORD Almighty." Malachi 3:1 NIV

Some say the four candles we light at Advent symbolize the 400 years between the prophecy of Malachi and the proclamation of John the Baptist. During those 400 years, God is silent. Historians record the lives of the people during Persian, Greek and Roman rulers, each group conquering the next. Cyrus of Persia meets defeat, and Alexander the Great claims victory. When Jerusalem comes under Greek control, idol worship desecrates the temple.
During these years the Jews participate in the Maccabean revolt which re-establishes the Jewish temple. It is cleansed and rededicated (Hanukkah celebrates this victory)Ultimately the Romans defeat the Greeks, and by the time John the Baptist spreads the message about Jesus, Herod the Great rules the Roman Empire. Four hundred years of waiting! 

These 400 years mark the completion of the Old Testament writings
 giving the Jews an authoritative canon, comprising the Law, the Prophets, and the Wisdom writings. The Greeks compile the Scriptures of the Old Testament and translate them into Greek calling it the Septuagint. Other writings scholars acknowledge from this period include the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Apocrypha, writings of Philo and Josephus, early rabbinical writings, and religious literature known as the Qumran. The Old Testament we know today includes the 39 canonical books that the Jews accepted during this time. Four hundred years of writing! 

"It is written in Isaiah the prophet:

"I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way - a voice of one calling in the desert, 'Prepare the way for the Lord, and make straight paths for him.'" 
And so John came, baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him...And this was his message: "After me will come one more powerful than I, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."
Mark 1:2-8

In Luke 4:14-21 we can read the account of Jesus going to the synagogue, standing to read from the scroll given Him. "Unrolling it, He found the place where it is written: "The Spirit of the Lord is one Me because He has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."  Everyone watches Jesus as He returns to sit. Jesus looks at them and says, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing." Four hundred years of silence broken!

The Old Testament tells of obedient prophets who share the messages God reveals, but all pass from life without the appearance of the 'Wonderful Counselor'. A faithful remnant living in a world more impressed with power and possessions and waiting for the 'Everlasting Father' to end their struggles pass their hope from generation to generation to generation. Desperate and defeated people longing for the one called 'Mighty God' anticipate His coming. Then the 'Prince of Peace' walks into the synagogue and announces God's promise is fulfilled, but nobody recognizes Him. 

This week contemplate God's promise of the Messiah. Think of the years of faithful waiting. Imagine yourself in the synagogue that day, listening to Jesus read the Holy Scriptures from ancient times. Are you listening? Do you recognize Jesus? Do you hear Him calling? God is calling to you, preparing you for His purposes. Listen! ~ dho
 

Sunday, November 29, 2020

First Sunday of Advent - The Light is Coming!

 Ad-ventimportant arrivalLatin - adventus - 'arrival'; coming of the Savior


Arise, Shine;
For your light has come!
And the glory of the LORD is risen upon you.
For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth,
And deep darkness the people;
But the LORD will arise over you,
And His glory will be seen upon you.
Isaiah 60:1-2 NASB

Advent brings a message of an 'important arrival' as we wait expectantly! This first week of Advent focuses on the prophecy of the Messiah. The Old Testament uses the Hebrew word kabod to describe the glory of the LORD, to define His Presence with us. God's Glory comes to us full of wonder and mystery, full of wordless splendor, breathtaking and awesome. His glory comes with abundance, divine and righteous, a light that defeats darkness, a holiness that overcomes despair. 

Isaiah the prophet often refers to the glory of the LORD, revealing God's power and holiness. God promises His Presence and Glory to shine on all people, uniting humanity and truth. Hundreds of years later John writes, "The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it." [John 1:5] From centuries long ago until time to come, some will choose The Light while some will not. Whether kabod in the Hebrew or doxa in the Greek or shekinah in Aramaic or glory in English, God's Holy Light comes to us, comes for us, before and now and again! 

Christians are called people of the Light, and our lives should give voice to the glory of the LORD ~ praising and honoring His goodness and grace. We are to be His light shining in the world's darkness, both a "recipient and a reflector" of Light! Waiting expectantly requires action. Get out of bed...wake up...GOD's bright glory has risen for you. [The Message, Is.60:1-2] Are you waiting expectantly? The Light is coming! ~ dho

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Everyday Thanksgiving!


These many months of 2020 we have become experts at identifying the side-effects of Covid-19: dry cough, fever, fatigue, shortness of breath. Covid test results, both negative and positive, fill our prayers. Wear a mask, wash our hands, and socially distance have become the external side-effects of covid. 

My thoughts wander to the ‘side-effects’ of "Thanksgiving". There are at least three side-effects that came to mind: gathering - abundance - gratitude. Often we find ourselves making arrangements to gather together to share time during Thanksgiving. It is a holiday shared by all Americans and not specific to religion. Families gather, sometimes traveling great distances to spend time with each other. Food is gathered and prepared, and special meals are shared. In this, I find abundance ~ of provision and of time shared to reflect upon the blessings of life. While focusing on our blessings, it is easier to be thankful. But are these really the side effects of Thanksgiving?

Our plans often get in the way, often draw our attention away from God. Gathering together with God, spending time being nourished by His carefully prepared Word feeds the soul. In these times, we find the abundance of God's goodness and grace; we find blessings beyond need. Surrounded by such provision, the heart must acknowledge Our Sustainer, and with gratitude - whisper and shout - Baruch Hashem Adonai! Blessed be the Name of the Lord!

This year, in our gatherings or limited gatherings, let's be sure to set a place for the Holy One. In our abundance, let's focus on The Source of all goodness and blessings. In our gratitude, let's remember The Giver of all good things and respond with gratitude. Baruch Hashem Adonai! Blessed be the Name of the Lord. Are these your side-effects of Thanksgiving? If so, then every day will be a day to celebrate Thanksgiving. ~dho

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Jehovah Shammah

“The hope we have in Christ is an absolute certainty. We can be sure that the place Christ is preparing for us will be ready when we arrive, because with Him nothing is left to chance. Everything He promised He will deliver.”   

                                                Billy Graham



“One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD and to meditate in His temple.” 
Psalm 27:4 ESV

Just before Jesus ascends to heaven, He instructs the disciples to tell the story of Good News to all people. His final words of encouragement: And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age. In Scripture, the last days refers to the time between Christ’s return to heaven after the resurrection and His second return to earth. The last days are now! The promise remains true; Jehovah Shammah, the LORD is there, dwells with us. God’s presence with His people is certain.

Scripture tells us that in the last days Jesus is mocked and questioned. Arrogance attempts to diminish the power of God, to discredit His role in creation, and to dismiss His promise of judgment. People choose other gods to worship. With humility, His faithful followers must earnestly continue to be about the work God calls us to do. 

LORD, Creator and Promise Keeper, 
Your grace falls gently in the midst of these harsh last days. Forgive those who deny You and give them a reason to hope. I long to dwell in Your Presence all the days of my life. Here I see the beauty of Extravagant Love and know the unexplainable joy of Living Hope. As I eagerly anticipate what You will do next, help me tell Your story of Grace! Count me alive in Christ. Moment by moment, Jehovah Shammah, You are here! - dho 

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Finding Beauty in the Breaking

"I will always show you where to go. I'll give you a full life in the emptiest of places - firm muscles, strong bones. You'll be like a well-watered garden, a gurgling spring that never runs dry. You'll use the old rubble of past lives to build anew, rebuild the foundations from out of your past..." Isaiah 58:11-12 The Message

Nicole Nordeman's, "The Unmaking", reminds us that within our disappointments, failures, vain efforts, difficult decisions, and circumstances beyond our understanding God meets us. She writes, God "wanted to sit with me in the silence and the dust, after the wrecking ball, and put His arms around me for a while." Nordeman says God wasn't asking for a new plan of action; rather, "He asked for my vulnerability." 

God desires that we turn to Him, seek His Presence, and allow Him to comfort us! In the mess, the muck, the middle of the ruins of lost hope and broken dreams God is waiting. He always finds us in our need. Nordeman writes, "the rubble is where we have to start." Listen to this beautiful song of sifting through the debris, defining an ending, seeing the hope in a new beginning. Listen to the open, sincere whispers of the heart, "What happens now?...What happens next when all of you is all that's left?...This is the unmaking, beauty in the breaking...sitting in the rubble...~dho



Saturday, November 07, 2020

More Than We Understand


God by His providence brings you into circumstances that you can't understand at all, but the Spirit of God understands. God brings you to places, among people, and into certain conditions to accomplish a definite purpose through the intercession of the Spirit in you.
 Oswald Chambers from My Utmost for His Highest

Situations that we do not understand happen all the time. Disasters, poverty, crime and diseases are part of everyday life. We live in a fallen world; sin rules, and Satan is the prince of darkness. Yet, God can take each of these circumstances ~ especially the hardest ones that are beyond understanding ~ and show us how we can use them to give Him glory.

Jesus said, "You're asking the wrong question. You're looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do. We need to be energetically at work for the One who send me here... I am the world's Light. John 9:3-5 The Message 

In a crisis, the one question that usually remains unanswered is "WHY". Scripture tells us not to waste time assigning blame, rather we are to see God in every circumstance, looking for a way to be the light of Jesus to the world. Will we understand everything then? No! The right questions are How can I best praise God in this crisis? Will others see Jesus in my reactions? Am I turning to God for His vision in difficult times?. 

Jesus ~ You are the Great Physician who heals the bruised and broken. How often I think that only means physical healing. You always offer spiritual healing through difficult circumstances. The world blames You when life becomes dark and complicated. But You are Light and Love! Teach me how to praise God in all things, at all times. For His Goodness is everlasting. Amen. ~ dho

Thursday, October 29, 2020

God’s Wireless Plan

Seems every mobile phone company has a "deal"! It is always a different bundle or package, new texting rates, faster speeds, extended data plans, and on and on! Most of us these days are accompanied by our mobile phone almost everywhere. We check our email, text a quick message, or make a call. Ringtones can be set to identify particular callers. To avoid interruptions, we can 'silence' our phones. Today's smartphones double as computers. So, what wireless plan do you have? Is it the best?


The following was on a church sign:
The best wireless plan?
PRAYER - unlimited
minutes, unlimited messages!

Clever sign and it catches our attention because it speaks our language! God's wireless plan is best. This plan is not just voice activated, but thought activated, and when the heart and mind can't find words, the Holy Spirit expresses the need for us. Free, unlimited time with the Lord - no limits or restrictions on days or times. His PRAYER line is open 24-7, 52 weeks or 365 days a year [366 days during Leap Year]. "525,600 minutes" a year ~ and FREE! Unlike some of the people we call or text who don't really want to talk to us, God always wants to spend time with us. Be  still and know that I am GodNo ringtone required!

Choose God's wireless plan ~ now and always! This deal is 'forever'!  ~ dho 

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Burden of Proof

In the late 1500's and early 1600's, Galileo became a scientist that influenced many areas of mathematics, astronomy, physics and philosophy. A devout Catholic, Galileo's understandings of the universe differed with the accepted view that the earth was the center of the universe and the sun and all planets revolved around the earth. Through his studies and observations, he concluded that the earth revolved around the sun. The Pope and the church leaders thought this was heresy. They believed his theories were contrary to the Holy Scriptures. A Roman Inquisition of Galileo forbid him to speak of these theories. Ultimately, he was put under house arrest for the rest of his life. The scientific truth is that Galileo's theory which was proven in time and eventually provided evidence to those who did not believe. Sometimes, giving proof is hard!

Proof is defined as sufficient evidence for a truth statement. "The Sixth Edition of Black's Law Dictionary" explains burden of proof this way:
"Ei incumbit provatio, qui dicit, non qui negat; cum per rerum naturam factum negantis probatio nulla sit . . . The proof lies upon him who affirms, not upon him who denies; since, by the nature of things, he who denies cannot produce any proof."
Atheists and God-seekers alike want proof of God. Doubt inside our frail humanity shouts its insecurity, "How do you know? What proof do you have? Most often evidence is drawn from our experiences combined with evidence from nature. Even the greatest scholars confess the great mysteries of God exceed explanation. So where's the proof?

A great song from the Christian music artists "For King and Country" is called Proof of Your Love. As I listen, the words remind that WE are the proof - you and me, God's children, those of us who identify with Christ, who call Him Savior. OUR LIVES are the proof that God loves! This very sobering thought raises a new awareness in me. What evidence of Christ does my life offer? Does my life story speak the love of Christ?

An old question asks, "What if you are the only Jesus someone sees?" Those who struggle with walking by faith often expect or demand answers to their theological questions. We respond that the Holy Scriptures reveal God and His plan of Grace through faith for all mankind. While we many not understand all that is written within these God-breathed words, God's message is clear. As Christians we are to love God and love each other. Our most true understanding of unconditional love is Christ! We are called to love as Christ loves! The way we love becomes the evidence that we understand God's message. We are the proof of His love! ~ dho

Friday, October 09, 2020

So Many Moments

 


Affirmation of faith:

"We believe that Jesus Christ is Lord. He is the Lord of yesterday, today and tomorrow. He is the Lord over life and death.

We believe that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. With His help we can remain faithful when tempted, peaceful when troubled, and loving when opposed.

We believe that in all things we can be more than conquerors. For neither death nor life, neither the present nor the future, neither suffering nor trials can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen."

God's love finds us where we are whether we are suffering or shouting hallelujah's! Because God desires a relationship with us, He longs to share in our days, whether they are long and full or hurried and fragile or few and peaceful. God walks with us so closely that sometimes we can miss Him ~ especially when everything seems so easy, so good, so simple. I believe only God can make days like these.

From a familiar hymn, these words remind me to be aware of time:
Take my moments and my days,
Let them flow in ceaseless praise.*

In the week to come, whatever comes our way, I believe we can find God in our moments. Remain faithful and be aware of His presence! ~ dho

* hymn 
Take My Life, and Let It Be

Thursday, October 01, 2020

Encourage Someone Today!




May the God of hope fill you up with joy, fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives, filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope!


I read a modern-day parable:

"Some time ago, an advertisement appeared in which the devil was putting his tools up for sale. On the day of public inspection, each one of his tools: Hatred, Envy, Jealousy, Doubt, Lying, Pride, and so on, was marked with its selling price. Set apart, however, from all the rest, was a harmless-looking tool, well-worn, but priced very high - it was discouragement!“

“Someone asked the devil, "Why is that one priced so high?" He replied, "Ah, that one is more useful to me than all the rest. With it I can pry open a heart and enter, when I cannot get near with any other tool. Once inside, I can lead the person any way I choose. The tool is very worn because I use it on almost everyone, since few people know it belongs to me."

Our sacrifice of praise ~
Encourage someone today! ~dho

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Ordinary Time - September is Childhood Cancer Awareness


Journal entry September, 2011:
This is the Lord's Day! I went to St. Elizabeth's Catholic Church with Linda, Mike and Thomas this morning. Wearing his long white robe and a bandanna with stars, Thomas is an altar server today. He takes his service very seriously and finds deep 
satisfaction as evidenced by his expressions.

This is the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time. "Ordinary Time" is all the time during the liturgical year, excluding the season of Advent (Christmas through Epiphany) and Lent (Ash Wednesday through Pentecost). I always forget about this phrase but like the image evoked, because we all live most of our lives in ordinary time

After the reading of the Scriptures from the Old Testament and the New Testament, familiar words are spoken: The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God. However, before the reading from The Gospel the response is different: A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew. Glory to You, Lord. I like the reply of the people: Glory to You, Lord. 

As is custom, the Lord's Prayer is sung in community. The ending words were my soul's valediction: For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are Yours, now and forever. During communion, these words from the song echoed over and over in my heart as my prayers of thanksgiving were laid on the altar: All my being, bless the Lord, remembering the goodness of God.  

The last song sung was one I had never heard but the words spoke to the core of this journey we must take. It does not feel like it, but we are walking in ordinary time, despite extraordinary circumstances. This journey is not unlike our faith journey, mostly lived out in ordinary time, always seeking an extraordinary Savior. Read the words to the song Enter the Journey, and follow the vision, carry the cross. 

  Enter the journey, come to the song. 
By God you are chosen, by name you are called 
To follow the vision, carry the cross. 
Enter the journey of faith as the family of God. (refrain)

Enter the journey, the way may be long. 
Enter the journey, yet we are made strong. 

God's Spirit will guide us, God's gifts will unfold. 
Enter the journey of hope! 


Enter the journey, though lost and unsure. 
Enter the journey, God's peace will be yours. 

And all who are thirsting will be filled with God's grace. 
Enter the journey of faith! 


Enter the journey, dark is the way. 
Enter the journey, do not be afraid. 

For God's great compassion will give you new sight. 
Enter the journey of light! 


Enter the journey, the old and the young. 
Enter the journey, the kingdom is won. 

By faith now united, as servants we come. 
Enter the journey of love! 

(by Mark Friedman and Janet Vogt)

Glory to You, Lord! ~dho

* Previously posted on BreathingRoomForMySoul.com September, 2011/Donna Oswalt

www.CaringBridge.org/visit/ThomasMcGirrwww.CaringBridge.org/visit/ThomasMcGirr

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Ache for God

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is
the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Psalm 73:26 (The Message)

 

I first read Marina Wiedekehr’s book A Tree full of Angels over 15 years ago. “Holiness comes wrapped in the ordinary” grasped my thoughts, conscious and unconscious. She goes on to remind, “Glory comes streaming from the table of daily life.” Her writing of this book is designed to help us see “the Sacred in everyday life.” Wiedekehr, a Sister in the Benedictine community of St. Scholastica Monastery, passed away this spring, April 24, 2020, from a glioblastoma. She certainly had a way with helping the soul find God’s presence in the ordinary. - dho

 Macrina Wiederkehr writes in her book A Tree Full of Angels:

It is time, then, for us to embrace this frail flesh of ours with love. . . What was good enough for God to embrace must be good enough for us. Let us try to . . . stop hiding behind the mask of our frailty. . . The ache for God lives on in our depths. It gnaws at us and cries out to be named. If we walk back through our days, no doubt, we will come upon many frail and glorious moments - places where our poverty and our wealth touched each other. . .

The eye of God beholds so much more than we are able to see in our lives at any moment. Always our goodness and potential loom large under God's gaze. . .We would think it strange to read about a person who died in poverty while having great material wealth stashed away somewhere within reach. Yet how often this is the truth of our spiritual lives!

Thursday, September 10, 2020

God’s Goodness - September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Then Moses said, "Now show me your Glory." And the LORD said, "I will cause all My goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim My name, the LORD, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion."
Exodus 33:18-19 NIV

Nine years ago our family prayed its way through a journey of brain cancer, surgery and radiation; we asked God to heal, to strengthen, to comfort Thomas, my nephew then 9 years old. Our prayers and the countless prayers of family and friends and friends of friends also asked for encouragement and energy, for patience and peace, for calm and courage. Holy praises were offered to the Lord for joy in simple things, for small victories, and for laughter. We had not asked God like Moses, "Now show us Your Glory", but He did! God's great goodness passed in front of us! His Glory evidenced in moments and minutes and memories of His never-failing Presence during the journey.



The question of why suffering exists and who is healed or not healed will never be adequately explained or understood by earthly minds. Soon after the beginning, human weakness invited sin to stand between mankind and God. Only through Christ can we ever find a way back into a relationship with God. Even then, we will wrestle with uncertainty and chaos and questions. However, when Christ returns for His people, Certainty and Peace and Truth will reign. For now, we can find this possibility within the heavenly realms, in God, the Creator himself who has all authority. Not bound by time or distance or circumstance, God constantly remains omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient. God's ways will always exceed my understanding.

Neither knowing why nor understanding His Ways, I can say for certain that we felt God's mercy and compassion, that we witnessed God's mercy and compassion, that we will continue to tell of God's mercy and compassion. As every petition would rise like incense to this Holy God, each one overflowed with thanksgiving for such undeserved, unmerited mercy and compassion. Truly the Goodness of God passed in front of us, too, during this difficult time. God's goodness and glory still surrounds us - even now in the ordinary, everyday moments of doubt or minutes of disappointment or memories of difficulty. We continue to marvel that God let His goodness pass in front of us. We choose to see God's infinite goodness embracing us each day, especially when we do not understand.~dho


**previously posted on Breathing Room For My Soul/Donna Oswalt 2015