Monday, December 24, 2007
In the past, I've gauged my success in this in terms of simply remembering the nativity, of Jesus' birth and life. But this year it really served as a reminder to be grateful for the 'why' - for God's grace and forgiveness and to let that gratefulness then turn into letting that forgiveness flow unto those around me.
OK - so plans.
December 24th - Our American friend Emily is spending the night with us and just being a member of our family. Our church is hosting a Midnight gathering where we will read the Nativity story, sing together and light the fifth advent candle.
December 25th - Open presents and lunch at the Rotert home. Final packing and preparing for trip to Germany.
December 26th - Leave at 7:00 am for Munich, and the next day on to Colditz. Check out www.midwinterrally07.com for a peek at what we will be doing there.
From our family, have a very Merry Christmas!
Friday, December 21, 2007
Go ahead. Let it sink in. Whew. Good stuff. Free-ing stuff, if we let it be.
*From the article, "Religion-less Spirituality" by Timothy Keller.
Thanks to Josh for sending it my way.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Nervous chatter filled the room;
The big room where the great court met
To dispense justice and to free the oppressed.
And the one with the gavel,
Adjusting the skin that covered his face,
Motioned for silence, silence!
A man entered, cold and hard,
His was a crimson path to walk,
Padded, with trim.
His seat wide, soft, ornate.
Those with ballot in hand looked on with compassion,
Knowing the charges against him were impossible, ludicrous.
Their eyes were diverted when the doors again swung open,
When entered the flower.
Bright yellow was her face,
Her petals pearly white,
All but one,
Stained and wilted.
Boos and hisses echoed in the room,
Who was this flower anyway?
How dare she make such a fuss?
So she was stepped on?
She was in the man’s way!
No permanent harm was done,
Her golden middle was still gold.
Who cares if one of her petals
Is stained and torn?
Murmurs of assent circle the room.
A smirk crossed the face of the man,
As if to say, yes, who does care?
“I DO!”, came a thundering voice from above.
It silenced the crowd,
The man’s face was frozen ash.
“Justice is mine, and…it…will…roll!
The day will come when this flower
Again will be whole.
I care that her petal is not the white I made it!
I care that she has been stepped on!
I care that what was meant for my glory and my delight,
Was instead taken and thrown away, misused and disrespected!
I care that innocence has been stolen!
I care for this flower and my decision will be known!
Play your part, take your stand.
Bang your gavel and read your verdict.
Play at justice, with your man-made laws."
But I am the Judge and from me there is no escape.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Thursday, December 6, 2007
1. Time flies in there!
2. When is the next one?
Lukewarm faith was inspired. Traditional religion was reawakened. Children were encouraged to use their talents to praise God. Trust was established and grown. One young mom came out and wrote us this note:
“the prayer room was an extremely touching experience for me. Entering the prayer room was like entering in a separate world. My hour went by very fast and some time with myself and with God was very meaningful…sat down on the sofa and kept weeping. I felt I wasn't worthy enough to be in there where everybody had humbled and open their heart to God, put their pain and worries in the hands of God, sticking their prayer on the wall...”
-ownership: by our team and now, after, by our church, and all those who participated
-100% participation: this doesn’t happen often here – but everyone on our team and in our church participated
-promoted unity: not only between ourselves and the Apostolic church, but also between the leaders of the ecumenical group and several key priests of the region
-focus wasn’t ‘us and them’ but just ‘us’: so often I believe we err in sharing the Good News by assuming that we have it all figured out – it was really refreshing to not focus on ‘winning’ anyone to Christ but to merely invite them to spend time in communion with God – what the lawyer lay-leader wrote on the wall was equally valued and honored as what the six-year old drew.
-mission was granted: this one I didn’t really expect – you see, I’m already a missionary…but as I prayed in the early morning hours, somewhere between the loud, bass beats of the club downstairs I believe I detected the call of Christ to get to know the club-goers better
Saturday, December 1, 2007
It is a strange and wonderful and, maybe most importantly, new thing I’m experiencing with the opening today of our first prayer room: spending consecutive hours focused on Jesus. Yes, that means that a couple of people didn’t show up. Yes, I wish more had signed up today, but I’m finding myself drawn to this warm, cozy room; eager to see what new request or poem or picture hangs on the wall. We’re learning how this works. We’re learning the importance of communicating details, of reminding people, of being prepared beforehand, of being prepared for spiritual attack before, of keeping the focus on spending time with Jesus. I had hoped to have more manpower to be able to gather prayer requests from the city – all in time. I like that we are doing it anyway, flawed, imperfect, errors – it is OK, because we’re spending lots more time with Jesus than we normally would.
So now, I sit here in the assembly room of our rented location at 1:20 Saturday morning. In the entry room, Massimiliano, who is on-call tonight, is trying to get an hour of sleep on an inflatable mattress and blanket that smells like mothballs. Brian is praying in the prayer room. I occasionally hear him strumming something on the guitar. And through the windows to my left, I hear the laughing, the clinking of beer bottles, the thumping of disco beats from the club below us. Father, do something crazy…starting in me.