Ashes in Advent

As I was preparing for an Advent service of communion and anointing, I pulled out the little bowl—hand-formed and glazed a brilliant blue—that we use for anointing oil. To my surprise, the bowl still contained ashes from Holy Week. So there I was in mid-December, trying to pour the ashes on our lily plants and…

Advent Reflection: Good News!

Luke 2:8-20 The story of the shepherds and angels is set at night, in the dark and quiet. I don’t mean Lawrence nighttime dark and quiet with streetlights and traffic noise in the background. Or even rural dark and quiet with the glow of the house and the hum of heater and appliances. These shepherds…

Advent Blessing: Peace

It seems that most blessings are for peace(if not love, or faith, or some other such vague ideal)–A few words to calm you down and get you out the door.But this is not that kind of a blessing.It will not make everything OKOr pretend you can escape trouble—for yourself or for this world. This blessing…

Advent Reflections: Kairos at Christmas

During December, Chronos, or chronological time, is emphasized in many ways. The secular world tells us how many shopping days we have until Christmas. At home, many of us use some sort of Advent calendar—counting down the days until December 25. At church we mark the passing of time by lighting a new candle each…

Advent Reflection: Creation Care and Incarnation

Emmanuel. God with us. Really. In the flesh. The incarnation means that in the most real and concrete way, God is connected to the physical reality of this planet. God has inhabited a human body with skin, hair, blood, bone. God has had dirt under fingernails, has drunk thirstily from the offered cup. God has…

Advent Reflection: The Grace of Zechariah’s Silence

(Luke 1:5-25) After the Angel Gabriel’s lengthy proclamation to Zechariah, the father-to-be responds, “How will I know this is so?” Most people assume that Zechariah is questioning the fact that Elizabeth will become pregnant at such an advanced aged. But really, what kind of a stupid question would that be? “How will I know this…

Advent Blessing: Hope

I know how much hope you hold in your heart:For yourself and for those you love.For your neighbors and for our world.Hope for health,for peace,for justice,For a return to the glorious normal of our lives. These hopes are good and holyAnd also not the reality in which we live.Not yet.And maybe not ever—in this life.So…

Advent Reflection: In Those Days

(Luke 2: 1-7) I’m memorizing Luke 2:1-16 for our Christmas Eve service. Maybe that sounds impressive, but the truth is I know most of it already: “In those days, a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. . . .” It’s a familiar story. Comfortable language. A rhythm and…

Advent Reflection: On Hope

In February of 2013, when my dad went into the hospital, I was overwhelmed by the intense, unbearable hope that my dad be made well. At first, this was hope for a diagnosis. I thought that if we could just name his disease, they could make Dad better. I was wrong. When I got what…