Archive | November, 2020

advent wonders, angelic voices, the smallest, the first song

30 Nov
Bethlehem’s hills

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

“He will stand and shepherd his flock
in the strength of the Lord,
In the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.
And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great
to the ends of the earth.
5 And he shall be their peace. “ Micah 5: 2 -4

I have walked the hills and fields surrounding Bethlehem and in the town itself. The people there are Palestinians thru and through.  All places, for me, are composed of their peoples. Here, the fields have its shepherds, flocks and farmers; the town its small businesses and restaurants. Merchants and tourists walk together here. Bethlehem is a place one should pass by and not stop at. But I didn’t. 
Bethlehem’s peoples love to speak. A friend shared with me that they were people of ‘tent’; and people who love to gossip, ‘ who speak as the winds, always moving, blowing.’ 
Bethlehem, before Jesus, spoke in the softest, the gentlest of voices. Micah, a prophet ( grouped with others called by academics, the ‘lesser prophets’ ) speaks God’s, words, calld to us. Less calls to, speaks of less. And I am of the least. I walk.
In my thoughts, my memories, my life, I am small, really somewhat insignificant. Forgotten, rejected, betrayed by others and myself, I – in truth – grow smaller with time and peoples. Yet, in Bethlehem-
I am as a sheep on a hill, in a pasture. Precious to my shepherd as I stand, as I walk.
Advent is a time of unspoken expectations; silenced worries and concerns. For me these moments, these Advent times, have always been laced with sadness. Visually, trees have let go of their leaves; dark nights come as days let light fade. And in 2020 people await a vaccine, a small liquid to cure an invisible and even smaller virus. We wait for a saving, a cure: a return of, to peace.
Israel, Bethlehem also waited. And Jesus came. 
He came as a baby, the softest and smallest of things that can be held. He came into a broken marriage that needed resurrection. He came to the smallest of towns, Bethlehem, from the most broken of worlds. Why?

He came to give a physical form to prophet’s words; Jesus came to listen those silenced and to those self-silenced; he came to speak for the sinner and the meek. And he, Jesus, still comes. And Micah’s soft angelic prophetic voice sings

‘Who is a God like you,
who pardons sin and forgives the transgression
of the remnant of his inheritance?
You do not stay angry forever
but delight to show mercy.
19 You will again have compassion on us;
you will tread our sins underfoot
and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.
20 You will be faithful to Jacob,
and show love to Abraham,
as you pledged on oath to our ancestors
in days long ago.’

Jesus comes with Micah’s whisper,

He faithfully trends, covers all sin, hurts. He hurls diseases away.

Walk with him, me, others this Advent.
Advent comes. Jesus has been, is and will always be faithful to his promise embedded in Bethlehem of his birth: my sins and sadness; my rejections and betrays. Silences and my own sins and self-silencing is gone.
Trampled underfoot, hurled away, my sins no longer shout unto me.

In Advent comes the softest of sounds, the silence of peace, ‘forgiveness.’
Advent wonders: songs, mercy, forgiveness.

this is the first of 8 meditations of Advent wonders, our next one will be published 7 December

‘quick, angelic voices, advent wonders 2020 – a prologue

28 Nov

Advent has always been a time of ‘quickness’”,’ a quick season. People, presents, preparations. All has to be done quickly. Even more so for this 2020.

For 2020 ‘haste’ is what is greatly desired: a quick end to lockdowns; a smooth transition in political manners, leadership; fast ‘black friday’ deal shoppings; and, especially, a quick vaccine to end the Coronavirus, A quick passing to this year of virus, for Black Lives Matter deaths, to immigration global injustices, this economic recession, and our own isolations from others. And especially from ourselves.

Advent 2020 is a time to see and be seen; to hear and be heard; and a time sing with angels. To sing angelically.

How will I sing this Advent Season?

By reading, meditating, and conversing with God’s word and other others around me. And especially myself.

And I am to do it quickly. So, Three ‘quick’ Bible passages for us today,

• Luke 15:22 NIV – the Prodigal’s father first word his returning son hears from his father’s is ‘quick.’

Genesis 18: 6 NIV

• Father Abraham, to his soon to be in-with -child wife Sarah, he speaks-‘quick’ for her to prepare a meal for 3 heaven sent visitors. And, David-

• Psalm 38: 22 ‘Haste to help me, O Lord, my salvation’ YLT or another translation

‘Come quickly to help me, my Lord and my Savior.’ NIV

What is striking in common in these three passages is the desire to serve, to hear, and to then act ‘quickly’ in the Lord’s presence, or his seemingly absence. David, Abraham and our Prodigal Father are all quick and respond to God with spirit led haste. How?

The Prodigal Father stops his son’s apology in mid-sentence. Speaking to his servants who followed him to the son’s return, he commands, ‘Quick!’ He desires a ring, a robe and a fatted calf meal for the lost. His word is an act. This father runs, embraces, loves and forgives ‘quickly.’ He wants his servants to have loving and quick hands.

Abraham, though, does not have his servants feed, water or prepare a meal for his heavenly sent visitors. His and Sarah’s hands act. He gives cool water in the heat of the day; Sarah bakes a fine meal. And they do so from the love of God that has been quickened in their hearts.

In the same spirit, David sings his prayer of his heart’s desire and need to feel his Lord God. Here, David’s voice is as quick as hands touching his musical instrument. Haste ( present tense )

Sound, as hands, reach out to his Lord asking, pleading for a quick God.

My prayer: as we begin Advent 2020, Lord let me, let us, pray with hands and heart. May our voice be as an Angel’s to you and others. Please, come.

Come quickly our generous Lord. Come.


Genesis’ Abram, Phillip Pullman, author, Dust ( His Dark Materials ) and CS Lewis’ Narnia, part 2, listening

25 Nov

from part 1

‘Dust in Abram’s walk parallels his attentive look, his call by his God to see, the uncountable stars. ( Genesis 15 ) Each star, each particle, each seed is a new world. We just have ‘walk’ to see, walk to understand, to grow.

Consciousness in these texts come from dust, stars, and from seeing. And from these new worlds of consciousness come life.’

from Genesis 15,

5 “He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars – if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”

6 Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.”

Abram/Abraham is being built by the Lord. Slowly, ever so slowly, the Lord God develops his servant into an acute and active listener. What, how is Abram/Abraham growing in his abilities to hear? to see and to feel? to understand? Abram sees God as the Lord actively and totally listens to him. Abram moves to becoming Abraham, the complete and finished father of stars and dust, nations, by experiencing how God listens to him: to Abram’s thoughts, spoken and unspoken; to his fears and desires and his anxieties; and to Abraham’s faithful loving actions. And to Abram/Abraham’s failings.

In Genesis 17: 3 Abraham falls ‘face down’ ( his mouth and eyes touching, covering the dust that he had walked earlier ) as God explains how Abraham will father many nations.

And in Genesis 17: 17 – 20

Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to himself, “Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?” 18 And Abraham said to God, “If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!” 19 Then God said, “Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him. 20 And as for Ishmael, I have heard you: I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers.”

God hears both the spoken and unspoken. As we grow in seeing how God listened to Fathers, Mothers and children of the past, we listen well.

By dust, Abram/Abraham grows. By dust and stars Abraham learns, sees and understand, how the Lord hears him. Verse 20 underscores this when after the Lord voices Abraham’s inner speech with complete answers, he says to Abraham, ‘And as for Ishmael, I have heard you: I will surely bless him; …’

Abraham heard because God first hears him. And we hear as He first heard us, hears our prayers, spoken and unspoken.

Walk this day with Him; see stars and dust. Be conscious of Narnia and Dark Materials. Hear, see, be with him.

the lovely, priscilla

24 Nov
her flowers

Genesis’ Abram, Phillip Pullman, author, Dust ( His Dark Materials ) and CS Lewis’ Narnia, part 1

23 Nov

Phillip Pullman lives in Oxford and in a real sense the opposite of another Oxford resident, CS Lewis. Lewis is champion of Christianity; Pullman is an avowed opponent. Yet, they have more in common than an Oxford life: both have written loved children books in series – ‘His Dark Materials’ and for Lewis, the Narnia narratives. Worlds, alternative lands, ‘dust’ are the settings of each of their series. And they use ‘dust’ to serve as connective tissue in their imaginative universes.

Pullman described ‘Dust’ in a 2017 interview as “an analogy of consciousness, and consciousness is this extraordinary property we have as human beings”.


“Dust came into being when living things became conscious of themselves; but it needed some feedback system to reinforce it and make it safe, as the mulefa had their wheels and the oil from the trees. Without something like that, it would all vanish. Thought, imagination, feeling, would all wither and blow away, leaving nothing but a brutish automatism; and that brief period when life was conscious of itself would flicker out like a candle in every one of the billions of worlds where it had burned brightly.” — The Amber Spyglass, Chapter 34

Dust here is created when we are conscious of we. And we use this dust, along with consciousness of any type, if we don’t create and recreate with it.

CS Lewis has no desire to create a detailed world with Narnia. Lewis wants only to create a brief illusion of some extra dimension. ( or Dust ) And, in at least one reported conversation shows, he was indifferent to breaches of internal consistency in the stories. His good friend, the poet Ruth Pitter, challenged him about how the Beaver family in The Lion manage to produce potatoes for their meal with the children, given the wintry conditions that had prevailed for most of living memory; not to mention oranges, sugar and suet for the marmalade roll.

Yet a world is created, a new garden paradise where sin is overcome by love. Narnia is CS Lewis’ Canaan and Dust is Pullman’s paradise. In one evil and wrong is when consciousness is being stifled and disconnected; in the other awareness of a child’s innocence ( the forgiveness and rescue Edmund ) is is preserved by Aslan’s self-sacrificing love. Sin here is forgiven, then forgotten. In Pullman’s works ‘sin’ is the lost consciousness, forgetting.

Both these series call to mind the journey of Abram from place to place; from being Abram to becoming Abraham. Dust connects Abram from world to worlds. And he walks to get there, growing in consciousness, covering in dust, as he walks. As in here,in Genesis 12,

The Call of Abram

12 The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.

2 “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” 4 So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Harran. 5 He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Harran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there. 6 Abram traveled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. 7 The Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the Lord, who had appeared to him.”

Abram travels to an unknown land to grow in knowing himself and his God. The God who created the first man, Adam, out of dust is now using this same dark material to reform Abram, and also his descendants, us.

Genesis 13 continues Abram’s story,

‘But the land ( the dust ) could not support them while they stayed together, for their possessions were so great that they were not able to stay together. “The Lord said to Abram after Lot had parted from him, “Look around from where you are, to the north and south, to the east and west. 15 All the land ( dust )that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever. 16 I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted. 17 Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you.” 18 So Abram went to live near the great trees of Mamre at Hebron, where he pitched his tents. There he built an altar to the Lord.”

Dust in Abram’s walk parallels his attentive look, his call by his God to see, the uncountable stars. ( Genesis 15 ) Each star, each particle, each seed is a new world. We just have ‘walk’ to see, walk to understand, to grow.

Consciousness in these texts come from dust, stars, and from seeing. And from these new worlds of consciousness come life.

a passing

23 Nov

This week we saw the passing of a loved nephew at 39 years of age, Noah. He struggled in life, yet he was dearly loved in his life. His father shared at Noah’s passing service, his church service, that Noah at family gatherings always sat at the kids’ table. Mike said that now he understood that Noah sat there because he did not feel judged there.

Jesus in Luke 18 days,

Let the Children Come to Me

15 Now they were bringing even infantsto him that he might touch them. And whenthe disciples saw it, they prebuked them.16 But Jesus called them to him, saying, “Let the children come to me, and rdo not hinderthem, qfor to such belongs the kingdom ofGod. 17 sTruly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”’

Noah received as a child.

Lord help me to receive like him, like Noah this day, these days.

All days.

19 Nov
Liv, sleeping, Tampa
my b day
a daughter

forty, 40

19 Nov
40 years wed, then
NYC daughters

London, LA friends

Melanie and Eric and Anthony

… and Anthony,

Florida grandkids

Tampa, Florida

advent wonders 2020

10 Nov
an image of the priest, Zaharias

beginning Sunday 15 November my yearly series on Advent will be published here with a prologue.

‘angelic voices’ is the theme of 2020 advent wonders, and, in draft form, their 8 publishing dates are:

Friday, 4 December ‘a soft voice’

Monday, 7 December ‘a clear voice’

Friday 11 December ‘Mary’s voice’

Monday 14 December ‘ancestors’ voices

Friday 18 December ‘manger’s sounds’

Monday 21 December ‘lament’s cry’

Thursday 24 December ‘love’s voice’

Saturday 26 December ‘silence’

Angels are mentioned in only one of the above titles by design. These pieces look, move and, hopefully, will touch very familiar texts in a different form. Angelic voices, as a trope, a metaphor, is embedded in unexpected places throughout the Advent scriptures. From prophets to priests; from Micah to Zaharias; to Mary and Joesph, we hear. We hear sorrows and joy; lies and promises; cries and silences. People here speak as angels speak. Answers, promises, warnings and directions are in these angelic voices. All speak.

And sometimes there are also silences.

Yet, what all these voices have in common is God and his love through, to and within his word. His voice is love, angelic love, and in this Advent we hear, experience, live his love

1 John 4:19 ‘We love because he gets loved us.

We love because his angels always speak to us. They aways speak. Always.

epilogue, Lamentations 5

3 Nov
Hamlet with Yorick, his fool

Jeremiah’s lament is the Lord God’s soft voice. It is soft and personal for me. Just me this day. His voice calls to me, and I call back,

19 “You, Lord, reign forever;
your throne endures from generation to generation.
20 Why do you always forget us?
Why do you forsake us so long?
21 Restore us to yourself, Lord, that we may return;
renew our days as of old
22 unless you have utterly rejected us
and are angry with us beyond measure.’

Laments are global, judgemental and overflowing. In their birthings and life nothing else can be. Nothing can be heard or felt; be personal and general; seen or be imagined. Laments exist as ‘whys’ without heard responses,

20 Why do you always forget us?
Why do you forsake us so long?

This is how my, how Jeremiah’s voice speaking as the people in Jerusalem, and how life laments end: with unspoken and unheard and unfelt ‘whys.’ Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’ ends with his ‘the rest is silence.”
After speaking all his thoughts, changes, actions and pauses, Hamlet rests in his life, his lament. This is Hamlet’s lament; silence and self- silenced. His overflow has ceased. His rest is silence. He rests.