a collection of words about God and life and art and baseball and football and hope and my family and my ministry and music and the immense joy in each moment of all of it. it's a record of being human. welcome.
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steelers - ravens day!
it's finally steelers - ravens day. here are a few hopes i have for the day:
1. let's hope flacco serves up a couple interceptions as kindly as he serves pizza to the greater baltimore area, and let's hope he throws them straight as a unibrow to the guys in the black and gold.
2. let's hope the ravens fans end up looking something like this. and let it be quiet except for the steelers fans there. i want to hear them.
3. let's hope ray-ray can be put where he belongs. if not behind actual bars, then behind the bars of some significant blocking so that mendenhall can pick up some yardage.
4. let's hope it isn't a 24-23 overtime victory, which puts me in the hospital. please? can we please hope that we squash them?
5. let's hope that after today the only team on top of the afc north is the one from the steel city.
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.
"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 …
"why has this happened to me?" that's the question that elizabeth asked, and it's the third question of my advent journey this year.
you may remember that zechariah and elizabeth were living in the hill country of judea; zechariah a priest and elizabeth his wife, unable to bear a child, and they were, as luke is careful to tell us, "getting on in years." we find that one day in the course of his priestly duties, zechariah's turn to enter the sanctuary and offer incense turns into a moment he would never forget, as an angel of the Lord appeared to him and told him that elizabeth would bear a son, that they would name him john, and that he would prepare the people for the coming of the Lord. unable to process this increadible unbelievable news, zechariah is made mute until the day of his son's birth.
the story moves ahead to elizabeth's sixth month of pregnancy. zechariah is still unable to speak. mary has had her own encounter with an ange…