Grace Emerges

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Practice Worship

Practice Worship.

Take a browse through Luke 2 and you will find that shepherds in the field, a priest named Simeon, and a prophet named Anna all worshipped God in very different ways.  But when each came in contact with Jesus they praised God for the amazing things they had seen. They all had hearts that were prepared to hear the good news of great joy, that Messiah had arrived.  They were all open, available, ready.  For all of these individuals, worship had prepared them.  Their hearts were ready. 

Whether your worship is at a kitchen table, in an open field, your living room or in a grand hall, it is practice.  It is practice for hearing God.  It is having a heart that ready.  It is finding the joy in the unseen, peaceful, powerful light that lives inside us all.  It is practicing seeing that light and hearing that voice that rises above our other needs and wants, and the busy scene that captures our external senses.  Worship is just practice.

Throughout the ages, monks, emperors, priests, politicians and kings; peasants, factory workers, farmers and bankers; villagers, college students and scholars; have each found that worship can happen any way possible under the sun.  There is no right tradition, but there is right worship.  As Jesus called it to the woman at the well, worship in spirit and truth is what God seeks.  A spirit of worship and hearing the truth.  It is a state of the heart.  It is the life we lead. 

And when you see the good things that God is doing, you will be, like the shepherds, rejoicing and praising God.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Listen. Practice.

We need to practice the fine art of listening, if we want any relationship to survive.  It is also the greatest spiritual discipline.

Following means listening.

Wisdom means hearing the truth.

Alert, diligent, paying attention happens when we open our senses.

Compassion means relevant kindness, appropriate to the need.

Loving means a conversation.

Community means dialog.

Our Faith is in our Father who is not silent or dispassionate about us.  Instead he constantly calls out to us, by our individual names, in our moment of context.  Guiding. Loving. Revealing.  Speaking truth. 

Our most important role is to relate and respond to what is revealed in these quiet moments.  Most often God, truth, learning, is revealed in the words of other people.  We all have so much to learn from each other.

God is calling.  We must continually practice listening or we will miss it.

Dear Father, today I ask for open ears and alert eyes.  I pray that by paying attention I will learn and grow, and when the time comes to succeed or fail at loving today, that my senses will have prepared me to succeed.  Amen.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Practice Emmanuel

The story of Emmanuel, or God with us, is recorded in history and in the hearts and lives of all mankind.  The ever-present God created each one of us in his image.  God's spirit and passion was placed in us. His light that ignites stars is found in the glimmer of our eyes.  His relentless encouragement of his children is echoed in the words and actions of human parents of any age.   God's creative energy gene was passed on as a dominant character trait.  His spiritual nature, wholeness in the trinity, and perfect holiness, were passed on to mankind in the form of our spiritual yearning, our social conscience, our inquisitive mind, and our illogical sacrificial love for other beings.

And then came Jesus.


The Incarnation.

The passion and person of God packaged in one life of 33-year extent.

And oh, what we learned from that God-person.  We learned that he fully represented God in nature, deed and mission.

We learned from a great assembly of angels, singing to shepherds, that the infinite Glory of God had arrived for one mission: PEACE.  Peace between God and man.  Peace lived out in tranformed hearts. Peace in the form of the ultimate king and the infinite kingdom, a king and kingdom which do not rule by force but by the power of freedom and free will in a peaceful revolution of kindness and fairness of a kind never before seen in the history of man.  No wonder that it was announced as good news -- wonderful joyous news!  Glory of God, and PEACE, juxtaposed, in the birth of a child.

No wonder we are giddy with celebration every December!  We celebrate the arrival not of God's rule but of his peace on earth.

Jesus asks one thing of us. Follow.  Practice Emmanuel.  In fact the power of Jesus to transform the world is not found in heaven where he reigns on a throne, or in the Glory of God announced by angels, or in history where we celebrate him being born in a barn with our traditions and songs.  The power of Jesus is only found in following.  Practicing Emmanuel.  God with us, meaning God continuing to live in us and demonstrated in us.  God with us in spirit.  The Holy Spirit. The Spirit of Christ.  We are the peace.  We are the good news.  We are the ones that represent God's nature in human form in this world today.  We are the light.  We are Emmanuel.  God is with us.

Nearby shepherds were living in the fields, guarding their sheep at night. The Lord’s angel stood before them, the Lord’s glory shone around them, and they were terrified.
10 The angel said, “Don’t be afraid! Look! I bring good news to you—wonderful, joyous news for all people. 11 Your savior is born today in David’s city. He is Christ the Lord. 12 This is a sign for you: you will find a newborn baby wrapped snugly and lying in a manger.” 13 Suddenly a great assembly of the heavenly forces was with the angel praising God. They said, 14 “Glory to God in heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors.”
15 When the angels returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go right now to Bethlehem and see what’s happened. Let’s confirm what the Lord has revealed to us.” [Luke 2]