Skip to main content

find your elizabeth (retreat!)

yesterday we started the christmas decorating process.  and wow is it daunting.  box after box after box to open up and see what lies within, freeing ghosts of christmases past from crumpled up newspaper.  all the current decorations have to be taken down and put away and things cleaned before the Christmas decorations go up.  we spent a great deal of time on this yesterday afternoon, and didn't finish.  there are still boxes to be opened.  there is still a space for a christmas tree.  there are still cards to be sent and things to be bought and packages to wrap and so on.  daunting.

in church yesterday we read from luke 1 when the angel gabriel is talking to mary and he tells her that she is going to be pregnant and have this child.  and its not just that (as if that wasn't enough), but he tells her in verses 32 and 33 that the child "will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.  The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the hosue of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end."  wow.  such a high dramatic beginning to all of this. 

how do you begin a season that way?  whether it be a pregnancy or a job or a project or just getting ready for Christmas, how do you begin when the bar is set so high? 

mary retreated.  that's right.  she got away.  she got out of town.  literally.  she took the 80 mile trip to the hill country of judea to visit her (also pregnant) relative elizabeth, and she stayed for three months.  we don't know exactly what she was doing there, but it isn't hard to imagine that she was taking some much needed time to get her mind right, to get her heart right for such an overwhelming future. 

what about us?  we might not have three months to retreat (although a three-month caribbean cruise sounds okay to me right now), but we can certainly carve out some time in our hectic schedules to retreat from it all and be sure to get our minds and hearts right for the weeks that lie ahead!  sure there are boxes to wrap and cards to send and trimmings to....trim...but these things will all get done.  and if we take the time right now to retreat to the "hill country of judea," we may find that those activities will be accompanied by joy, delight, wonder and expectation, rather than dread and anxiety. 

my prayer for my family (and yours) this advent is that you will slow down and evaluate your advent; that you will retreat to the hill country, find your elizabeth, and get your head and heart right for Christmas.  do it now, before it's too late. 


Popular posts from this blog


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…

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 …

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 …