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

on being empty, an essential question

15 Feb

eq: how can emptiness build trust?

When I was head of school, a parent came to see me one morning at 7 am. (Without an appointment. Her child, Jasmine, was living with the grandmother as the mum had some life controlling issues.) In the South Bronx this visit was quite unusual. Parents of high school students, in general, rarely came to school even when we requested a visit. Jasmine’s mother had given her a pair of UGG boots for the child’s birthday the week before. Mom had come to school to take the boots back. She wanted them that day.

… When I looked at Jasmine’s Mother, I thought, last week, the Mother gave just about everything she had to her daughter. She emptied herself but the anxiety of being empty filled her and she needed the boots back. She could not sit with the emptiness. Then I thought to Remus Lupin of the Harry Potter series. Here is he on emptiness,

“You can exist without your soul you know, as long as your brain and heart are still working. But you’ll have no sense of self anymore… no memory …anything. There’s no chance at all of recovery. You’ll just -exist. As an empty shell. And your soul is gone forever…lost.”
(Remus Lupin is speaking about a dementor’s-kiss)

I once heard someone say, “you must know nothing before u can learn something, and be empty before you can be filled, Is it not the emptiness of the bowl what makes it useful?”

All objects are empty of inherent existence.

They, we, may seem full and yet we are empty. Only the Spirit of God with God’s word can truly fill us. Then all the Judas’ of the world can never empty us with a kiss.

Jasmine kept the boots. She never knew from me that her mother came.
Fill us oh Lord, fill me O Lord.

temple thoughts, a powerful reminder

11 Feb

Isaiah 6:3 have seraphs, angels, flying around the Lord’s throne in the temple,
“And they were calling to one another:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory.”
And they were calling to one another:

My question, so why aren’t they singing out,

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty;
the whole earth and all of heaven is full of his glory.”

My answer: they are speaking to each and to Isaiah a powerful reminder: everything in the earth sings of His glory, speaks to His glory, reflects His glory. (Psalms 95 and 96)

The seraphs voices are us: stop, see, listen reflect. He is everywhere.

family update

26 Jan

Hi friends and family

So after the late last 2015 lulu we sent out on our visit to the States and then (now) our return to London, I would like to share facts interlaced with prayer concerns. Please excuse the bullet format, but so much has occurred that this format is best for me at this time.

+ My father is home in Staten Island, recovering from a very near bout with pneumonia. At 89 the long extended time in hospitals watching and waiting for my mother’s open heart surgery did not help his condition. He misses his wife of 63 years tearfully. He spoke last week to her on the phone, (she is alert and conscious) stating ‘get well soon…I am lost without you.’
+ My mother Joan has always been a fast, quick talker; now -two weeks after her ‘successful’ open heart surgery,- she is a step down ICU unit breathing through a ventilator. She can’t slow down her anxiety enough to breathe deeply and slowly. Our prayer: that she breathes deeply and gets off the ventilator. This week I am feeling is a key week.

+ My brother, Donald, sister, Susan, and father Donald have a number of key, family decisions to make. Pray that as we speak and meet His spirit will lead.

+ me: a number of you have called and texted. emailed me. Truthfully, I am not quite up to responding individually at this time. Today I saw a counsellor and she helpfully pointed out that being ‘sad’ and even at times being angry was ‘alright…normal.’ She also pointed out that the past comes in for all during these end days, the good as well as the poor times. My prayer request: to allow myself to feel without judging myself as a person, son, brother, father, Christian.

Thank you all

Geordies

22 Jan

Flying home to London from NYC Tuesday, I was standing in the BA aisle waiting for the people to fill in my row before I took my assigned seat. The steward and I began talking and they asked me where I was from and my business in London. Hearing their accent, I asked where they were from and she responded ‘Newcastle.’
I then said, ‘you are a Geordie.’
They were so impressed that I knew Geordies our conversation continued and as I moved to be seated they came to me and moved my seat on this slightly filled airplane to first class.
God Bless Geordies!!

a late lulu

8 Jan

a late November/December lulu

As the Osewalts are now in 2016 (I hope you all are in 2016 also) this is a very late ‘catch-up lulu.’ Here are our highlights and prayer requests as of 8 January:
Highlights:
• We visited Deardra’s and Bert’s new son in October, Hero. He looks like his mother and her mother, beautiful.
• I had through Stewardship 5 weeks Annual Leave. We went to NYC for our first Thanksgiving (spent with my twin brother and his family) in 3 years.
• The series I composed ‘Advent Wonder’ was well received by 14,000 individuals as of 15 December and 501 churches. (Sermon notes)
• Priscilla and I went to MOMA in NYC with Elizabeth, Sarah, James, Charlotte and Samuel to see the brilliant Picasso sculpture show. The grand kids loved it more than me.
• I caught up with a number of RPC (Redeemer friends) I missed all you so.
• My family had a night of “7 fishes” (look it up) on Christmas Eve dinner at my Dad’s and Mother’s home in Staten Island. It was great to have a family plus fellowship. More on this time in prayer requests.
• Priscilla and I saw the musical ‘Hamilton’-Go!!! (but tickets are difficult to come by…try the lottery)
• We had family and friends over to our house Christmas day. Lovely time.
• The James’ and Elizabeth’s children, our grand kids, slept over New Year’s Eve and we all played ‘Volcano’ together. This is a game I made up where you take and unopened bottle of seltzer water; shake well; open and shout ‘Volcano!!’ The kids loved it!!! (The adults not so much)
Prayer requests
• Priscilla fell a block from our house in NYC and broke her right wrist for the second time in a year. She got the cast off two days before we left and she seems to be healing well. Pray that she does heal
• My mother is not well. I took her and my father to a hospital 28 December after seeing her on Christmas Eve. (She was difficult to convince) She was in congestive heart failure. The hospital in Staten Island admitted her but we moved her to Mount Sinai in NYC on New Year’s Eve. She had open heart surgery the day we left for London, Tuesday/Wednesday of this week. Please pray for her healing as she is in intensive care today, sedated as she recovers.
• Please pray for my family as we all try to prayerfully cope with these events. Our family all agreed for us to return to London at this time as there was little we (Priscilla and I) could do beyond what we had done at this time. My brother, sister and my children are managing with a dear RPC friend. We will know more on Monday-11 January.
Thank you all for reading, praying
Charles and Priscilla

new

23 Nov

This Sunday 22 November I spoke on Ephesians 4: 17-32. In my talk I used both the NIV translation and The Message paraphrase. The editor’s heading for the NIV text is, The New Life. The Message heading for the same text is ‘The Old Way Has to Go.’ Opposites. One positive; the other negative. I used both texts.

Why? And how did I design the talk, and my reflections? I form two steps.

  1. Because when I teach now I no longer used three points, I get it down to one essential point, a key word or phrase. For this passage I used one word: new

Essential word: new

2. I take this word/phrase and form and essential question:

Here the EQ: How do I keep the newness, the freshness of my faith? How do I keep this first love new? Revelation 2: 1-4

There is a two step approach to my answer to this essential/how to question.

A. First, I read the text in two different translations. I wash myself in His word. Ephesians 5: 26 (Both translations I used NIV & Message are below)

B. Last, I think, reflect about being thankful. This is the ‘message’ of this passage in Ephesians. Paul wrote two letters to churches while he was in prison. The overarching message of each is: be content, be joyful in all circumstances. Be thankful. The Message paraphrase of 4:30 puts it well ‘Don’t take such a gift for granted.’ This is the gift of the Holy sprit; the gift of new life in Christ.

How can I be thankful? Reflect on ten things you are grateful for; then expend to twenty; then grow to forty. It will be hard at first as you practice you will become more specific. then, it becomes easier. Thankfulness keeps things new. It keeps me in my first love, Jesus. Be Thankful. Love.

 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.

20 That, however, is not the way of life you learned 21 when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. 26 “In your anger do not sin”[a]: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold. 28 Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.

29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

17-19 And so I insist—and God backs me up on this—that there be no going along with the crowd, the empty-headed, mindless crowd. They’ve refused for so long to deal with God that they’ve lost touch not only with God but with reality itself. They can’t think straight anymore. Feeling no pain, they let themselves go in sexual obsession, addicted to every sort of perversion.

20-24 But that’s no life for you. You learned Christ! My assumption is that you have paid careful attention to him, been well instructed in the truth precisely as we have it in Jesus. Since, then, we do not have the excuse of ignorance, everything—and I do mean everything—connected with that old way of life has to go. It’s rotten through and through. Get rid of it! And then take on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you.

25 What this adds up to, then, is this: no more lies, no more pretense. Tell your neighbor the truth. In Christ’s body we’re all connected to each other, after all. When you lie to others, you end up lying to yourself.

26-27 Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry—but don’t use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don’t stay angry. Don’t go to bed angry. Don’t give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life.

28 Did you use to make ends meet by stealing? Well, no more! Get an honest job so that you can help others who can’t work.

29 Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.

30 Don’t grieve God. Don’t break his heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for himself. Don’t take such a gift for granted.

31-32 Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.

3rd Mark study

17 Nov

Mark 12: 14-44

Later they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Jesus to catch him in his words. 14 They came to him and said, “Teacher, we know that you are a man of integrity. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are; but you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not? 15 Should we pay or shouldn’t we?”
But Jesus knew their hypocrisy. “Why are you trying to trap me?” he asked. “Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.” 16 They brought the coin, and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?”
“Caesar’s,” they replied.
17 Then Jesus said to them, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.”
And they were amazed at him.
Marriage at the Resurrection
18 Then the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him with a question. 19 “Teacher,” they said, “Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife but no children, the man must marry the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. 20 Now there were seven brothers. The first one married and died without leaving any children. 21 The second one married the widow, but he also died, leaving no child. It was the same with the third. 22 In fact, none of the seven left any children. Last of all, the woman died too. 23 At the resurrection whose wife will she be, since the seven were married to her?”
24 Jesus replied, “Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God? 25 When the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. 26 Now about the dead rising—have you not read in the Book of Moses, in the account of the burning bush, how God said to him, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? 27 He is not the God of the dead, but of the living. You are badly mistaken!”
The Greatest Commandment
28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
32 “Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 33 To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbour as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
34 When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.
Whose Son Is the Messiah?
35 While Jesus was teaching in the temple courts, he asked, “Why do the teachers of the law say that the Messiah is the son of David? 36 David himself, speaking by the Holy Spirit, declared:
“‘The Lord said to my Lord:
“Sit at my right hand
until I put your enemies
under your feet.”’[g]
37 David himself calls him ‘Lord.’ How then can he be his son?”
The large crowd listened to him with delight.
Warning Against the Teachers of the Law
38 As he taught, Jesus said, “Watch out for the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, 39 and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honour at banquets. 40 They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely.”
The Widow’s Offering
41 Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. 42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.
43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”
Footnotes:
g. Mark 12:36 Psalm 110:1
Essential questions: In this chapter Jesus is asked three different questions by first the Pharisees and the Herodians, then the Sadducees and finally by a teacher of the law. How does Jesus frame his responses to each? Specifically, how does He use questions in his responses? Finally, what does question does He use to “delight” the crowd?