November 27, 2011

Both Lectionary texts for this Sunday are about waiting, and how to wait. “Waiting” and “waiting with hope” is the whole meaning of “Advent.” Something is about to happen, and we are waiting with anticipation. It’s like expecting company, a special guest, and we clean up the house and prepare for meals. We think about what kind of conversations we will have. What questions we might ask. What gifts we might offer our invited guest. This is the mood of Advent.

Interesting it is, how more of the Bible is not about “God present” but rather “God absent,” and the experience of people waiting for God to act in their lives (Abraham looking for the Promised Land, people enslaved in Egypt waiting for release, people in exile longing to return to their homeland). During the times of waiting, the teachings of the Bible emerge: people hear prophecies, absorb instructions, and discover new ways of living.

Advent times are critically important, for unless we are fully prepared when the “Good News” comes, we can very well miss it.

November 20, 2011

This Sunday is Thanksgiving Sunday. We will look at the story of Jesus when he healed the ten lepers. Nine of them went on their way. Only one returned to say thanks. Jesus asks, “Where are the other nine?” Why was it so important to Jesus to have someone say, “Thank You?”

Within themselves, people constantly fight a mental war with negativity. They get discouraged. Sometimes depressed. Life can seem overwhelming. The attitude of gratitude is critical to our spiritual well-being. It is the one thing that turns life around, and sometimes we need a discipline to do this.

There are many ways to do it as a spiritual discipline. Some have a blessing box and place a coin in it, a small and joyful sacrifice for each thought of gratitude experienced in a brief moment. Some have a discipline of writing out seven or ten things for which they are thankful, each day. I knew a congregation, once, who passed out yellow “Thank-U-Grams,” formatted like the old “telegrams.” Each congregant was asked to write a “Thank-U-Gram” to various people in their lives.

This Sunday, we will explore the spiritual value of “thanks-living.”