Let Us Wait As Children Wait – the Entire Series.

Aboriginal Christmas - unknown artist

Aboriginal Christmas – unknown artist

In case you missed some posts, here is the complete list of the contributions to the series Let Us Wait As Children Wait. Enjoy

Advent, Children, Justice, Wonder and Humility by Steve Wickham

Lessons From a Nomadic Childhood by Lynne Baab

Let Us Wait As Children Wait by Jon Stevens

Too Old And Decrepit To Bless – by Anne Townsend

Waiting on the Trail an Advent Reflection by Jill Aylard Young

Let Us Wait As Children Wait An Advent Reflection by Coe Hutchison

Everything Will Happen, Just Slow Down and Wait an Advent Reflection by Bonnie Harr

Always Winter and Never Christmas An Advent Reflection by Travis Mamone

Simple Faith – An Advent Reflection by Paula Mitchell

Shhhh…Here He Comes an Advent Reflection by Margaret Magi Trotman

Waiting When There is No Hope An Advent Reflection by Christine Sine

Wading Through Hot Chocolate and Cloudy Skies an Advent Reflection by Kim Balke

An Advent Prayer for those Grieving in Connecticut by Bonnie Harr

Why Being a Child is Admitting We Don’t Know it All An Advent Reflection by james Prescott.

Waiting with Ants an Advent Reflection by Jim Fisher

The Slaughter of the Innocents – Advent Reflections on the Massacre in CT

I Can Hardly Wait for Christmas But I’ll Try – An Advent Reflection by John Leech

This Will Be A Sign For You An Advent Reflection by David Perry

Celebrating Advent with A Birth and A Death by Edith Yoder.

Gifts of Light and Love a Christmas Poem by Heather Jephcott

Advent is Over – What Have You Learnt?

And the prayers that have been posted during the Advent season

A Prayer for the First Sunday of Advent by John Birch

A Celtic Advent – The Creative Breath by John Birch

A Celtic Liturgy for Week 2 of Advent by John Birch

A Celtic Advent Liturgy for the Third Week of Advent by John Birch

A Celtic Liturgy for the Fourth Week of Advent by John Birch

Prayers for Advent from Light For the Journey

Prayers for the Journey – Advent prayers for the week

Christmas Prayers for 2012

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Advent is Over – What Have You Learnt?

waiting on the beach

Today is the last day of Advent. I hope you have enjoyed reading the reflections in the series Let Us Wait As Children Wait. They have enriched my life and I pray they may have done the same for yours. Later today I will post a list of all the posts in the series, but first i want to ask What have your learnt? 

For me, this has been a journey of discovery. When I suggested the topic I felt I knew what it meant to wait as children wait – wide eyed, expectant, impatient, standing on tiptoe to catch the first glimpse of fulfillment. Along the way I learnt about many other aspects of waiting. The massacre in Newtown brought home to us the vulnerability of childhood waiting not just for those who were killed but for all the abused, abandoned and starving children of our world whose lives are cut short and whose hopes and dreams never come to fruition.

Anne Townsend reminded me that often the elderly also wait like children and are often even more vulnerable. This was a poignant message for me as I walk with my elderly mother through the last years of her life. I thank God for my brothers and their families who care for her and enable her to live in freedom and comfort in spite of that vulnerability.

It occurred to me this morning, that the waiting of childhood is also a waiting between the times, just as we wait between the time of God’s promise and its fulfillment. Childhood is full of potential, impossible dreams, hopes not yet realized, a longing for maturity and the time of adult fulfillment yet a living fully in the present moment with fun and games, and enjoyment, with exploration and experimentation, with the willingness to listen, to adapt and to change.

Christ is coming, deep within our souls we know and already rejoice because of the glory and majesty of his kingdom that is already breaking into ours. At the same time we despair at the length of time the fulfillment of God’s dreams takes.

A couple of days ago I was caught up short by the phrase in Isaiah 11:6 and a little child shall lead them.  So often Jesus reminds us to come as children, to live in the the upside down-ness of the kingdom where leadership is not with the powerful and the rich but with the vulnerable and the insignificant, where dependency, teachability, and the faith to believe that everything is possible reign.

This series has given me new eyes with which to look at the scriptures – the eyes of a child. What has it done for you? What lessons have you learned about God, God’s kingdom and yourself as you reflected on the posts throughout Advent? I would love to hear from you.

Gifts of Light and Love a Christmas Poem by Heather Jephcott

Delight filled faces lighting up

Today’s post is the last the Advent series Let Us Wait As Children Wait. This beautiful poem was written by Heather Jephcott. Heather comes from Australia but now lives in Surabaya Indonesia. She enjoys writing, especially poetry, playing the piano, friends and family, black line drawings, gardening, photography, reading. She also loves interacting with people..health or the lack of it has got in the way at times but she’s getting better after 17 years with CFS. She never wants to be too busy for people.

It’s about giving

precious gifts

of thoughtfulness

gentleness

packaged with laughter

joy accompanying smiles

 

Delight filled faces

light up

receiving

gifts of love

an air of happiness surrounds

pleased with the giving

 

A grand party of giving

with everyone included

caring for needs

attentive to likes

unselfish consideration

 

Surprise adds an extra specialness

child-like wonder comes to visit

discovering again

love, joy, hope and peace

Christmas Prayers for 2012

I know it is not Christmas yet but so many of us are already anticipating the day and looking for resources to celebrate with that I thought I would share these prayers with you. If you use one of them for your Christmas celebrations I would love to know about it.

Christmas prayer.001Rejoice Rejoice, Christ our Saviour is come.001

 

Celebrating Advent with A Birth and A Death by Edith Yoder.

Today’s Advent reflection was written by Edith Yoder, Executive Director of Bridge of Hope an organization that creates a three way partnership between single mothers, social workers and church based mentoring groups. Edith’s spiritual journey includes a deep sense of call to engage and equip churches in ending homelessness for single mothers and children. She authored The Mentor’s Resource Guide, a training tool which helps equip caring Christians for an effective ministry of friendship with homeless families.

Antependium_Straßburg_ via wikimedia

Antependium_Straßburg_ via wikimedia

“Advent is not a time to declare, but to listen, to listen to whatever God may want to tell us through the singing of the stars, the quickening of a baby, the gallantry of a dying man.”  

– Madeleine L’Engle

The Christmas season began this year for me with a funeral and a birth.  At the beginning of Advent we celebrated the birth of our third grandchild.  Makenzie was welcomed into the world by loving parents, her big brother, and a joyful extended family.  My stepson and his family live in Corpus Christi, Texas and so my waiting this Advent season means waiting to hold this precious new baby for whom I have already made lots of room in my heart!

But last week was also the funeral of long-time Bridge of Hope ambassador and co-founder of Bridge of Hope Harrisburg Area, Joyce Eby .  Joyce was a social worker who lived a life of service to Christ and who cared deeply about homeless single mothers and children.  Joyce also lived a courageous life, giving of herself even as she faced cancer.

These two events – a birth and a death – have put this Christmas season in a new light for me. This season, as I embrace Makenzie’s new life and say goodbye to Joyce, I recognize anew the implications of “making room” for others.  Making room for others means opening ourselves up to sharing in both the joys and the sorrows of life.

Advent is about making room, both in the physical sense – Mary, Joseph and the newborn Jesus needed a physical place to stay – and also in a spiritual sense – making room in my heart for this Christ child who is the Savior of the world.   My life is enriched when I truly make room for each person and family I encounter, whether housed or homeless, single mother or two-parent family.

I am grateful for the ministry of Bridge of Hope which values each life, each homeless mother and child that we walk with and serve.  While once-homeless single mothers in Bridge of Hope often continue to struggle to pay bills and provide a safe physical home for their children, they can rest assured that their mentors are walking with them and have, indeed, made room in their hearts for them.

May this Advent be a time when you catch a glimpse of the possibilities that abound when we allow God to make room in our hearts for our own family – as well as homeless families.

Christmas Greeting From Tom and Christine Sine

Christmas greetings (c) Christine Sine

“And God himself will choose the sign… A frightened woman in her time… Will bear a son and name him well… God with us! O come, O come Emmanuel!”

These beautiful lyrics from the song the Oracles by Steve Bell words were the focus of our Advent II Homecoming party this last week, a time at which we remember not just the birth of a child two thousand years ago, but the promise of a new world coming in which justice will come for the poor and hope for the marginalized. Tom and I love this season of the year with its expectant promise of hope and fulfillment. Each morning we light our Advent candles, sit in their warm glow, and listen to Advent music while we eat breakfast. We finish with scripture reading and prayer.

This year held many celebrations and festivals for us. In June we headed to Australia for Christine’s mother’s 89th birthday. In July we celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary and in August we celebrated together with many MSA friends, at our annual Celtic retreat, rejoicing at the beginning of our building for the Mustard Seed Village. The poles for our first classroom became the focal point for our fellowship In the afternoon their dedication drew us together again into our dreams and hopes for the future. We expect to have them in the ground and the concrete slab poured before the end of the year. This will house classes on sustainability as well as place for people to imagine and create new ways God can use their lives and communities to have an impact in the lives of others.

Celti Retreat 2012 - Dedicating the logs for our first Mustard Seed Village

Celti Retreat 2012 – Dedicating the logs for our first Mustard Seed Village

We also hosted a number of BBQs and other meals at the house, sharing hospitality with people from around the world and feasting from our bountiful garden produce. Tom’s Bacon and Tomato sandwiches are to die for.

Our participation in Wild Goose East in North Carolina, Wild Goose West in Oregon and Creative World Festival in British Columbia also gave ample opportunity for celebration. These festivals brought us together with a rich array of friends old and new, stirred our imaginations with inspiring talks and invited us to live out the kingdom in our everyday lives. More recently we celebrated with Mark and Lisa Scandrette and the Reimagine Tribe in San Francisco. We walked the streets where Tom grew up, reminiscing and soaking in the stories of how they are making a difference in the lives marginalized people in their city.

Return to our Senses - cover

My new book Return to Our Senses: Reimagining How We Pray is also part of the good news that God is still with us. It invites the reader to see prayer as far more than words. It introduces a rich array of experience that affirm God’s presence in every moment and in aspect of our lives. Today is the last day to order it from Amazon for a Christmas delivery, or download it for your kindle. This blog, Godspace which increasing focuses on how to reimagine prayer and spiritual practices for the future, continues to grow in popularity and is consistently listed in the top 100 Christian blog sites. The current Advent series has been particularly popular and enriching. I have certainly benefited from the posts and I hope you have too.

The Light for the Journey prayer page also grows in popularity with the addition of inspiring new content from John Birch, Bonnie Harr ,  Micha Jazz and other contemplative activists. My growing desire is to provide a place where others can share the creative gifts God has given them. Both Godspace and Light for the Journey provide those opportunities. We will further expand the authorship of both these venues in the next year so if you are interested let me know or sign up for the Godspace writers group.

Tom’s good news is the beginning of a new book on imagination and innovation. It is designed to enable readers to discover creative new ways God can use their mustard seed to be a difference and make a difference in response to rapidly changing times.  He is also blogging about the ideas from the innovative edge on the MSA web site.

As we race towards a fiscal cliff in the US, a slowing global economy throughout our planet and continuing bloodshed and volatility in the Middle East… thank God there is good news! We can in these uncertain times share this good news by how we live and care for our vulnerable neighbors locally and globally. We want to hear your stories of innovative ways followers of Jesus in your community make a little difference in your community. Can you send us your stories so we share this good news with people throughout our global village too?

Our MSA Team and Board are involved in the very ambitious task of refocusing MSA as a center for Christian imagination and innovation…to help us all discover how we can become much more of God’s good news in these tough times.  We are so grateful to God for Cindy Todd and the innovation she brings to our small team and Andy Wade whose tireless work makes our ability to communicate with you possible. Our growing circle of supporters and volunteers are constantly blessing in the midst of all we do. Please consider joining us in this venture. Your year end donation to Mustard Seed Associates will help keep this blog and the other ministries of MSA alive.

  MSA is a 501c3 not-for-profit organization. All donations are tax deductible.

We wish you and yours a joyous Christmas and a new year filled by creative new ways to be a bit of God’s good news in times like these.

Tom & Christine Sine

This Will Be A Sign For You An Advent Reflection by David Perry

Today’s reflection is written by David Perry. Dave is a Methodist Minister who blogs at www.visualtheology.blogspot.com. A passionate photographer, he is keen to use visual imagery as a way of bringing the faith alive. Dave is currently Superintendent of the Hull (West) Circuit in East Yorkshire in the U.K. I highly recommend checking out some of his other photography and lectionary reflections.

cracked mirror - David Perry

In the centre of town, fenced off in a demolition site awaiting redevelopment, the sole surviving interior wall of a once private washroom is now open to the elements. Set above the rotting surround for a pair of long removed hand washbasins, two mirrors reflect the immediate surroundings. Their surfaces bear the marks of violence,  exhibiting the tell-tale signs of impact damage. This could have occurred as the building was being demolished, or it might bear testimony to rocks, bricks or stones thrown by vandals at such an easy and tempting target afterwards.
Like razor sharp spider webs, spun within the structure of the glass, the crazed and splintered patterns look like their sole purpose is to capture meaning and prevent it escaping from the mirrored surface intact.  Such violence has achieved its aim: the picture is disjointed, broken, distorted, difficult to interpret or see as a unified and intelligible whole. The shattered mirrors convey the truth of the world’s brokenness and suffering. Everywhere violence inhibits us from seeing the picture of a world perfectly reflecting the love of God. Violence breaks up the image, smashes it into sharp-edged pieces which hurt and harm. Violence splinters meaning and traps our perception into falsely chaotic and hope-denying mindsets.

Across the world the mirror of everyday experience is shattered daily by violence. The brutality of dictators and the mindless, murderous impulses of dissaffected young men take the lives of the innocent, especially women and children.  Domestic violence and abuse, hidden away in every community, wreaks havoc in a similarly destructive way with clenched fists and brutalising words. All around us mirrors of expectation and promise are shattered and smashed; cruelly, deliberately and vengefully.

Violence would smash and destroy all possibility of us seeing God’s reflection in the image of contemporary life. The Bible knows differently. If the perfect picture of God’s loving Kingdom is broken into myriads of apparently faith denying shards, our Christian faith tells us that it is within the splintered, broken picture that we should expect to discover God alongside us, amongst us, reaching out to us. God never abandons us. Within the shattered heart of life God remains lovingly faithful and true: the ancient promises hold good and God is always and utterly merciful. Mary knew this and claimed it for herself and her son: “in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made” (Luke 1:54-55) The life of Jesus was God’s incarnate gift of self within the very splinters and shards of human experience.

The sign of this truth is that God is with us and we should expect to encounter that reality for ourselves: “to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger ” (Luke 2:11-12) Looking into the mirrors we can see a face, a woman’s face, reflected in one of the broken pieces of glass. She is looking at us. And we realise that she must be standing close by. In the second photograph this splintered truth is picked out in colour. Mary stood in the brokenness of her time and place and Jesus was born right there where the splintered patterns of poverty, death and violence were at their worst.

We see Mary on God’s side of the image. She allows us to perceive a different reality all around us, one that violence cannot deny or obliterate. The Magnificat puts this picture into words. In his birth Jesus is the very disclosure of this divine presence and purpose which confronts and confounds violence. Today, as at that first Christmas, God looks out at us with love from within all the razor sharp shards of horror that would deny God’s very existence. This will be a sign for you; a sign to turn around and see the God picture which challenges the distorted brokenness of our human behaviour and perception.

cracked mirror with shard showing womans face - Dave Perry

cracked mirror with shard showing womans face – Dave Perry