advent 2017, an epilogue-Boxing Day

26 Dec

advent epilogue 2017, His touch
my deep darkness, His glorious light 
NAS 1977  “For behold, darkness will cover the earth, 

 And deep darkness the peoples  But the LORD will rise upon you, And His glory will appear upon you.”- Isaiah 60:2

My life was covered with darkness from my birth. A unexpected twin, my mother emotionally overwhelmed at my and my brother’s birth, kept one for the first six months of our lives and gave the other to her sister to care for. That other was me. My mother and I never bonded. I left home at 17 to live.
All of our lifes are broken, ruptured, in disrepair. Deaths; divorces; ill health; social inequality and global injustice ; environmental distress – all these touches all. This, our darkness, my darkness, deeply covers. It especially touches me at this Advent, Christmas time- a time of year of less light. The lack of light during this season always makes me more sensitive, more open to deep darkness.

Yet, from Asian culture and His word, I am washed, covered, and touched. The story of the Japanese art form of “Kintsugi” comforts,

“Kintsugi (金継ぎ, きんつぎ, “golden joinery”), also known as Kintsukuroi (金繕い, きんつくろい, “golden repair”), is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum, a method similar to the maki-technique. As a philosophy, it treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise. “(Wikipedia)

Isaiah speaks not just of the dark but of as ‘deep darkness.’ He gives us this image in an attempt, as blind John Milton in his description of hell, to make ‘darkness visible.’ (Paradise Lost)
Deep darkness in both these texts is absence- the absence of Light, hope, life and especially of God’s felt presence.

As he does at the end (Isaiah 60: 2); the middle (Isaiah 45:7), Isaiah weaves deep darkness in beginning of his work,

“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.” Isaiah 9:2 (NIV)

My darkness is with me all the time.  Yet, so is my Jesus.

Jesus is my, our, life. His coming is celebrated this time of year by gifts of value for those we value: we give gold as Magi to bless and heal; to touch and be touched; to love those who are hurting.

Today in the U.K. and other countries is “Boxing Day.” It is a day of rest and reflection. Of rethinking and refeeling. A day to put aside darkness and be in light.

My daughter who lives in Florida asked me why is this day called ‘Boxing Day.’ While none are sure, the best story is that on this day in Medieval times the Lord of the Manor placed gifts of food and coin for the servants and poor of the estate to bless and honour them. 
These small boxes must have been like a Magi’s gold: threads of glorious light for those without in this in deep darkness. 
 

Today, plan in the coming days, weeks, months or year to give a box of gold to another: a word; a gift card; a smile; a hello. Without a judgement. Perhaps, receive a present without thinking yourself unworthy. Perhaps, even plan to give to yourself some self care.

But give and give with life, His light. 

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His prayer filled touch

23 Dec

His prayer filled touch
In Luke 1:37 ‘Nothing is impossible with God’ (NIV) is spoken by the Angel Gabriel in response to Mary’s troubled query on how she, a virgin, can be with child.
In Mark 9:24 ‘ …all is possible for he who believes’ (NIV) is Jesus’ response to a crying troubled father. 
Jesus’ response in Mark 9:24 echoes the Angel Gabriel’s response to Mary-how? 
Both Jesus and Gabriel, who have been with the Father from the universe’s beginnings, speak to the broken hearted, the deeply troubled, about faith and trust. They, who have been with God the Father from the beginning, know that no word, not a groan or syllable to the Father can not be filled. They speak of what they have seen, touched and experienced. (As John speaks on in 1 John 1)
As eyewitnesses, they testify to the truth: He hears and answers as our prayers touch Him. Jesus and Gabriel tell those who are hurting, questioning or one thing is truly nesseart to touch God: pray. 

When the father in Mark brings his son to Jesus for healing of a possessing spirit. He asks Jesus have ‘pity on us’ and to ‘help us …if you can’

Jesus replied, ‘if you can? …all is possible for he who believes.’

The father speaks in this ‘exclamation’ 
‘I believe, help my unbelief.’ His language switches from using ‘us’ in his first plea to ‘the use of ‘my’ here. 
Why?

Because the father of the possessed child is praying. Now it is personal for the father; it is about his personal response to Jesus. 

The father’s crying out here is prayer. The word describing the words and the person of the father is ‘exclamation.’
“Exclamation” (NIV) should be translated as speaking in tears, a cry. He is crying over his unbelief. Unbelief can be seen as a defective, a flawed, a weak faith. And if unbelief stays unspoken, unshared, it would remain so. Yet moved to tears the father speaks it to Jesus. And by bringing this weakness to Jesus he and his son experience healing belief. He comes to Jesus, torn hurting, un-believing, and yet, paradoxically, also a believing man. 
Mary’s response echoes the Father’s- She is ‘the Lord’s servant…May it be to me as you said.’ Luke 1: 38. May it be to ‘me.’ It is now very personal to her. Jesus is to be her child, her son.

Both submit their hearts and doubts; their belief and unbeliefs, prayerfully to Him. And  new life is borne out of the father’s unbelief as his son is healed (Jesus lifts him by hand and restores him to life) and global, eternity saving life comes from the child Mary is to carry, this same spirit healing Jesus.

 Questioning, troubled and hurting people here pray. And their prayers are answered with life. Everlasting life. Belief. 

I am these people , hurting, troubled, believing and awash in unbelief. Their beautiful prayers are also mine- ‘I believe – help my unbelief.’ They model my struggle of belief and unbelief. And they tell me who to take this struggle to: Jesus.

In Mark’s gospel, when Jesus debriefs His disciples on why they couldn’t exorcise the unholy spirit, He tells them that this type of spirit can only come out through prayer. Prayer. 

That is all that is truly needed – a weak, crying, humble prayer- the prayers of a broken man, a loving father, or mother; a prayer that is ever reaching out to Jesus. 
This season: believe; yet if needed, state your unbelief. Prayerfully question and then reach for Him, as a child reaches for a parent. He will touch, reach back, in return. Whether by an Angel, a person, a father or a child, he will respond.
 Reach 

advent 3, to touch His word, His flesh

18 Dec

The Incarnation of the Word of Life
1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes,which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. 2 The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life,which was with the Father and has appeared to us. 3 We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard,so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 4 We write this to make our joy complete. 1 John 1: 1-4

A woman I work with believes that where a tattoo is on a body clearly indicates the possessors’s age. Millenniums favour the leg and ankle area; baby boomers arms, and especially for men, chests. People desire to see words on flesh; they desire to have their words touch, join, become part of their flesh. Their desire is for the eternal; for words that will last beyond flesh. 

Advent is, as John tells us in his letters and gospel, when we reflect on God’s word becoming flesh. John tells us that his ‘eyes have seen… and our hands touch’ the Saviour. 

Jesus was sent in the flesh; a metaphorical tattoo for all to see, read and possibly to wear on our hearts and minds. We see and holdin our mind’s eye a baby; and a child in a temple; a teacher, a healer and on across, our Saviour. His life story is the words we internally wear and live for. John can’t stop feeling Jesus in his eyes, his hands and his heart. Why?

Because Jesus takes on flesh in the end to cover our sins. He comes to express in words the Father’s, the Spirit’s and His love for us.  He weeps at Lazarus’ death because He loved His friend so; and then Jesus’ words calls Lazarus forth; He touches the Samaritan woman at the well by sitting and speaking with her; He speaks words that heal, instruct, direct and encourage. His words are loving touches for us. They are joys. He is the word made flesh; a flesh to speak.

This season share His life; His words; a part of His touch, with another. You will make joy on, and into your world as you do.

a video, me- a new birth portrait

12 Dec

advent 2

11 Dec

Ana & Simeon, voices; touching words.

Prophets see and speak with the sight and voice of God. 

They see what and how God sees. They are caretakers of vision and cannot add or take away from the vision, images, or sounds and words given to them, or even dreams. 

 Prophets speak; and they voice what they feel by His Spirit.

 In Luke chapter 2, two prophets, Anna and Simeon, see in a beginning, a fulfilling ending. 

Both have been promised by the Spirit that they would see the Messiah; both are at the end of childless long lives; both have stayed true to a promised vision; and both see the vision fulfilled. 
What do they see, feel?
Redemption, and their rescue, by a new-born babe. Simeon sees and speaks first. But his words only come after he touches, holds our Saviour in his arms:
 “When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord …Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout… and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Moved by the Spirit; he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:

‘Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace.

For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.’”

This child’s coming dismisses the prophet in peace; and, holding the child, touching him, inspires Simeon to speak. Hopeful touch inspires faithful, prophetic and fatherly words.
Anna, a prophetess, sees and feels next. She is in the temple at the same time as Simeon. They speak as one and of one redemption, a child, Jesus:
“There was also a prophetess, Anna. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.”
 “At that very moment.”- here- ‘at that very moment’- there is no time lag; no time for hearts to think; only a time to feel. Then Anna speaks to all; after His touch she can not stop speaking, feeling. 

What does Anna see in the promise of this baby? 
She sees eternal redemption, a new and full life. A childless widow honoured, blessed, with a beautiful child. A Naomi touched, redeemed.
Anna gives thanks as she speaks about a child, a saviour to everyone. Redemption is here, for all, and especially for her. Waiting exists no more. 
She holds the child, dearly, with all her love, in her heart and words.
 Two older servants, Anna and Simeon, faithful till the endings of their lives. What do their lives mean for them, for us?

They, and we, have had our souls “pierced” with Jesus on the cross. Why? So hearts can speak thoughts in a new way. So our voices can speak in a spirit filled moment; and so what pierces, can also touch, and love us with its harshest touch.
This season look for some faithful people around you. A teacher or a GP; a caregiver or a vicar; a police person or a cleaner. Pray for an opportunity to encourage them, even if it is with just a smile, for their faithfulness. Look for Annas and Simeons, the faithful. 
Touch them with love, words, sight. Touch and speak.

advent 1

3 Dec

Advent, His touch, a prologue 

All our wonders are filled and made thoughtful today, through Jesus who touches 
He was ‘Sent’ to touch and also to be touched. Who does he touch? And How? 
He touches the blind, spits and, then, wipes eyes; he touches lepers with his words and heals; he touches the dead,  Jairus’ child, and gives life; he eats fish; drinks wine. Touching people, food, drinks, hopes and fears with words and hands, Jesus’ love touches, heals. But that is not all.

He also allows himself to be touched. 

The woman with the discharge; Mary with her hair in the gospel of Luke; his parents, mother Mary and father Joesph, as a baby born, who receives; by the soldiers who spat, ‘crowned him’ mocked and whipped Him-
And … in, on a cross, Jesus allows sin to touch, and become Him. 

Why? Because…

Perfect loves casts out imperfect fears; perfect love is a love that touches and allows itself to be touched.
Advent touches. Touch, be touched this season.

Advent voices

29 Oct

Bethlehem, the smallest

Sometimes the smallest voice speaks the truest. And at times it is not people who speak into our lives, but a place.

Prophets were people who speak God’s word, spoke of and for His presence, His being, His character. Yet Bethlehem is as a place of prophecy. It is a place spoken of and sung over. It is a place where God’s voice is heard, from the Father’s words about suffering, to His inspired Pslams by His prophet David; to the first soft cries of the baby Jesus and the lulling of animals. God has chosen Bethlehem to be a place that receives and then echo his voice to His people. It is a special place that holds his voice truly, tenderly and speaks it truthfully.

Micah 5:2 speaks Betlehem’s beginnings,

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me/ one who will rule over Israel, whose origins are from old, from ancient times.”

The Messiah is to come from the small, the ancient, the Father’s special place. And He will come for God the Father, for this Father and son love their children. And they come to the smallest to ask us to be the least.

The adult Jesus teaches on the ‘small’ or least principle in Matthew 19: 30 to a rich ruler,

“But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.”

Here, In Bethlehem, the Lord God began to teach us to reverse what we usually value, expect and have been taught. The least, the small, is the way of our Generous Father God. The world is to be turned upside down through Jesus’ teaching.

And what did Bethlehem speak of from its ancient past before His birth? It speaks of loss, of suffering.

King Herod, in his rage to find and destroy the baby Jesus, orders that all boy children under two be put to the sword. Matthew in his gospel (2:18) quotes the prophet Jeremiah describing this loss,

“A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children
and refusing to be comforted,
because they are no more.”

This city where the children died has Rachael’s tomb at it’s entrance (Genesis 35:19 ‘So Rachel died, and she was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem))She died in child birth. Her child would not know her, a life taken, gone, a loss.

He hears sufferings spoken and those unspoken; our Father listens to silent voices. He understands loss.

Bethlehem is also a town of song. The home city of David, the smallest of Jesse’s eight sons, (1 Samuel 16) the shepherd boy David was overlooked, and forgotten as he sang to God tending sheep in the Bethlehem fields,

“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘ Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. ( a good looking son of Jesse) The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

Hearts are seen, their beats heard by this listening Father. Songs are heard. And he sees and hears them from David of Bethlehem’s boy shepherd and future King.

All these past voices join together, and culminates with a baby’s birth cries. A child who was called Jesus. He is to be our Saviour, our Lord.

This baby is to become ‘a man of sorrow’ ‘; a ‘suffering’ Messiah. (Isaiah 53); and yet He comes to end all sorrows; to ‘wipe away every tear.’ (Revelation 21:4)

Our Lord is a Lord who reverses what man, people, usually value . We value: Queens and Kings; appearances and beauty; power and wealth.

He values the poor and suffering; He values children; the poor; the widow; the weak. People who are born in mangers. The homeless. The refugee. Here, In Bethlehem , He shares His love; and this loving Messiah will heal.

He values all of us. He especially desires us to see the smallest, the most insignificant. He wants to see and hear how ‘little town of Bethlehem’ is our town, our place. His home.

A town with the same name for over 3,500 years. A town, the place of a prophetic voice that says,

“The last, the least, will be first.”

This season hear the smallest, the weakest voice season. Listen to the aged and children; the poor and the powerless. This is the generosity of The Father that Bethlehem embodies: He listens, to the smallest, softest, the most silent of voices. To babies cries. This season, Listen to His heart. Listen to the smallest voice.

It speaks of Bethlehem. His special place; His voice; home.

 

 

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advent, or christmas in July

7 Jul

The Magi’s speak

Micah 5:2

“But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from old, from ancient of days”

Matthew 2:1

“Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herold the King, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, Where is he who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him”

From ancient days the Magi’s families watched the skies. The wisest of their community, they had one responsibility to their society, households and selves: to watch the skies for a light.

Their life had this one purpose. It must have been both freeing to be given just one certain life-time task to do and also crushing. Suppose the light did not appear? Suppose this was not the time for the light, his star to rise? What is they went on vacation or slept and missed the light’s appearance?

No matter. As seers, prophets, wise men of their community, they just had to follow the ancient prophecy. All they had to do was to see, to follow the light. It would seek them. Ready to move and follow, they could rest in the certain belief that if it was their time, the light would find them. And it did. And they followed His generous star, His light.

Unnamed and uncounted the Magi represent all of their past forefathers and the future generations who would speak of what they saw, the generous fulfilment of light, of a new King, a new world, a new creation. All their community would hear the Magi speak of where the light took them, to a Saviour, a babe. All are invited to follow.

The Magi would rise with the star and pack gifts of extreme value to travel with, gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh. Gifts to heal, to anoint, gifts to bring rich abundant life. The child King and his family will have great need for these gifts. Soon this family will be driven by Herod to exile in Egypt. Homeless, these gifts would provide shelter.

The Magi would journey first to Jerusalem. It is a great city. A crossroad of empires. Down its low stony hills, armies of ancient Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece and now Rome, had marched. Jerusalem and the surrounding towns are sacred ground: Abraham travelled here; Moses brought an enslaved people to this land; Joshua fought and claimed it and David ruled over it. David’s hometown was Bethlehem. And this is where the Magi’s and Jesus’ star leads-to the smallest town, to a family, to a baby, to a child.

A small group of men follow a lone bright star to the smallest of towns. They see the light: they speak of it among themselves and when they return to their sending community. People want to, need to, desire to hear about the light. God is sending the light, His light, His son into the world so all will know: all past and future people, all are loved by His life, His light.

This is the rich and generous message the Magi returned to their homes with: we are loved in His and by His light. This is what they speak of.

This is the generous message of Advent celebration. We ar

temple thoughts 6

18 Mar

“I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23 The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. 24 The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. 25 On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. 26 The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. 27 Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”

Revelation 21: 22-26

God, the Father, Son and spirit, are our temple. We enter as overcomers thru the words of our testimony and the blood of our lamb, Jesus. Purity comes from Him; He is light, a lamp, and life.

We sing because He first sang over us. We love because He first loved us. We enter Him, our Temple.

 

a very late 2016 lulu

9 Mar

Very late January/February Lulu

Dear Friends,
You are must think we have disappeared the last two months. In a sense Priscilla and I have followed in Harry Potter’s footsteps by Apparating, moving in a seeming instant from one place to another.
We were in London, left for NYC at the end of November for Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday, then I was onto Staten Island for a week and half to be with my mother and father as my mother, Joan, was very ill; back to London 5 January; then back to Staten Island by myself mid January; back to London and then in late February a sad journey to NYC for my mother’s wake and funeral. (See SI obit below)
http://www.silive.com/obituaries/index.ssf/2016/02/joan_osewalt_85.html
Presently, we are in our London home.
Last week one of my favorite writers died, Pat Conroy. Though he was at times repetitive and over the top, at his best moments he wrote beautifully. (See NY Times obit here http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/05/books/pat-conroy-who-wove-his-family-strife-into-novels-of-carolina-dies-at-70.html)
The last paragraph closes with this quote from Mr. Conroy,
“One of the greatest gifts you can get as a writer is to be born into an unhappy family,” Mr. Conroy told the writer John Berendt for a Vanity Fair profile in 1995. “I could not have been born into a better one.” He added: “I don’t have to look very far for melodrama. It’s all right there.”
I too was born into such a family. So my mother’s passing has been difficult for me on spiritual, emotional, physical and even practical levels. I am very grateful for those of you who have reached out through cards or attending my Mother’s wake or visits to our London home on our return. I greatly appreciate you all.
My thoughts now are to try to reflect and write on these pass weeks, not with a view to publically publish but with the possible to apparate from the past to the present. How will to do this? By writing…and just for myself at this time. In order to apparate I must be, according to Wilkie Twycross, Ministry of Magic official and Apparition Instructor, but recall The Three D’s: Destination, Determination and Deliberation. One must be completely determined to reach one’s destination, and move without haste, but with deliberation.
So as I endeavor to write everyday, pray that I am completely determined to get there by faith, where I am not sure but where I must go
Much love,

Charlie