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what shall i cry?

"what shall i cry?" may seem like an odd advent question, but it really is an ancient question.  we hear it in the 40th chapter of isaiah, after God invited isaiah to cry out a word of comfort and peace. 

can you imagine what that must be like?  to be given a word from the Lord to cry out?  i mean, what would it take to convince you that such a word was really from the Lord?  how would you use your voice and your talents and your life to share that word?  these are the same kinds of questions isaiah must have wrestled with, when he first felt compelled to cry out for God.  we are given a picture of this early in the book of isaiah, in chapter 6, as isaiah shares a vision in which he sees God high and lifted up, in the company of angels who are singing "holy, holy, holy," and God speaks and asks who will represent God - who will speak for God?  and isaiah is understandably overwhelmed.  he cries out, "i am a man of unclean lips, and i live among a people of un…
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how long?

you know what i love?  christmas.  i love it.  i love all the tv specials and hallmark movies and peppermint lattes and fake-snow storefronts.  i love all the anticipation and the music - oh the music! - and the lights.  i love the worship and the spirit of generosity, and the latent hope.  i love that feeling of expectation, that build-up through december to something big.  the season of advent. 
i have noticed a more frequent usage of the word advent in the commercial world recently.  for several years now the lego company has sold "advent calendars," which are really just boxes of legos with little doors that open each day of december to reveal a few legos for that day.  but it has now grown from legos into something bigger: disney has the "frozen" advent calendar, mattel has the barbie advent calendar, in which barbie gets a new accessory every day, and there are many more, including a despicable me one, and a crayola one.  advent has seemingly entered into th…

thankful right now

"if the only prayer you ever say in your life is 'thank you,' it will be enough." -Meister Eckhart

"thanksgiving is inseparable from prayer." -John Wesley

i've been thinking about gratitude quite a bit this week, and how to foster a thankful spirit in the midst of the barrage of bad news that for me is punctuated by yet another "breaking news" notification on my phone, interrupting the busyness of my day to rudely remind me that the world's brokenness knows nothing of limits or boundaries, not to mention my schedule or sanity.  still, the bad news keeps coming. 

i just scrolled through my most recent notifications just from the last few days and they contain phrases like "crimes against humanity," "57 million users hacked, but not reported," "alleged pattern of sexual abuse," and "extremely disturbing," just to name a few.  how am i supposed to be present at a staff meeting when my phone is buzzing …

a divided tree

there is a tree in my back yard.  i'm pretty sure it's an oak tree.  at least that's what i think Shannon told me.  i don't know my oaks from my maples, my elms from my locusts.  to me, it's a tree: a corinthian column bursting up into life and glory.  full of sap and pulp and rings and bugs and cells pulsing with water and always reaching for something.  it is full of rhythm, reach and flourish then fall and die, and repeat. 

this particular tree, though, isn't of one mind. 

half of it's rusted orange leaves have given up their grip and surrendered -gracefully or not - to the pull of gravity and the threat of winter.  the north side of this inauspicious oak is just about bare naked, all sticks and straight lines, a skeleton of itself.  but the side that looks south is stubbornly resisting change.  no longer green, the leaves have compromised their summer vibrancy, but they are clearly not ready to concede death just yet. 

i feel like i can relate to this …

happy halloween!

happy halloween from the milinovichs!  our jack-o-lanterns are a puking face (cade), a skeleton jail (me), a traditional smile (jack), a scary welcome (shannon) and a wizard making a potion (quin).

#thoughtsandprayers

i made these comments and prayed the following prayer at one of our worship services at SPWF yesterday, and had a few folks asked if i would post them, so there they are: 
It has been a season of terrible tragedy.  And I have noticed in the news a trending phrase: thoughts and prayers.  It even has its own hashtag on twitter and other social media, but net necessarily in a good way.  People are understandably tired of hearing about others’ thoughts and prayers, when that is only a thinly-veiled way of saying that our only obligation to those who suffer is a brief moment of silence, or nothing more than a tweet or public statement.  The truth is that, for those of us who follow Jesus, much is required when our neighbors suffer.  We are called to do justice where we can, to love kindness and mercy, and to walk with God through it all.  But let us be careful not to throw out the proverbial baby with the bathwater.  We are, as people of faith, those who know that prayer is not simply an em…

charlottesville, houston, and the sun

lord, we are divided.  if the images on your tv screen of angry white men carrying tiki torches in charlottesville didn't demonstrate that to you, then the polarized response to it certainly did. not that this should come as a big surprise. after the election, we knew that there was a chasm between blue and red states and their corresponding voters. and while no oversimplified binary expression of extremes can ever fully paint the picture of who we are as individuals or groups, the way the extremes continue to attract movement to the polar caps of opinion shows just how divided we have become.  of course it doesn't help that we hear what we want to hear in news, social media, and even the marketplace (personalized ads online try to only show me what they know think i am already interested in).  further wedging the divide is the increasing inability to have civil discourse with those who believe/feel/live/love/look/vote differently than us.  when these factors converge we have…