God has place this wonderful creation in our hands. As U2 sings, "It's a beautiful day, don't let it slip away." We have this one life to live on this beautiful planet so enjoy these reflections on God, faith, life, and music. "After the flood all of the colors came out. It's a beautiful day."

Thursday, December 3, 2015


My advent word of the day is open.
My photo is from a painting project I started this summer. I did the first canvas quickly and knew what I wanted. But the second blank canvas stumped me. I didn't know where to go to reflect the colors and feel of the first canvas but create a new reflection and image. So a deadline approached. Company was coming for dinner. The table had to be cleared. So it was time to be open. To let the creative juices take me to a place where beauty is created. This was a time to be open to that space with in where I often feel the Spirit moving me. 

When I was in seminary I took a class on teaching the bible. We were assigned a group project where we had to come up with a lesson and teach it to the class with the other person who had chosen the scripture you did. So the person I was assigned to work with based on the lectionary passage I wanted to use was for Mark 7:24-37. So out first meeting and she told me what and how we were going to present the subject. Not a good approach for my personality type. If you tell me what I have to do and how I am goign to respond like a toddler and say no. So I made suggestions of changes we could do that would include me. She said this is what we are doing and how. So I did the only sensible thing a rebel can do, I said no and formed my own group. So she did the first part of the passage on the Syrophoenician Woman and I immersed myself in the more neglected text, the blind and deaf man.
 Then he returned from the region of Tyre, and went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. 32They brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him. 33He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. 34Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, ‘Ephphatha’, that is, ‘Be opened.’ 35And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. 36Then Jesus ordered them to tell no one; but the more he ordered them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. 37They were astounded beyond measure, saying, ‘He has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.’
What I was struck with were the words be opened. They took on a whole new meaning to me as I studied the text and in placement in Mark. I took this approach to teaching the text which took you through finding the center of the passage. The center of this story are those words be opened. But when looked at in the context of Mark these words are also at the beginning of the end for the discipleship narrative. After this we as the readers are asked to be opened. To hear what is to follow when the characters int he story are going to lose their way and their connection to Jesus. The words when directed to us the listeners of the story are about staying there present with Jesus as he expends the kingdom of God to the world and sets his face toward Jerusalem. We are asked to be opened. But in the story world we encounter a deaf and mute man. Jesus does this really gritty healing. Where he spits and rubs, where he sighs, groans up to heaven. Then speaks a word that is then translated for us to be opened. Then we learn that this man who could not hear and therefore spoke unclearly had his ears opened and his tongue freed and for the first time could speak plainly.

Those words have become a breath prayer for me. When I am anxious, I stop and breathe those words. Before I enter a hospital room, have a tough ministry meeting, visit with someone, I try to stop and say those words on my breath. Be opened. So that when I enter the space of anxiety, I have invited the Spirit to go with me so I can hear, speak, and listen with ears that can hear and a mouth that can speak clearly.

Be Opened. This Advent where do you need to be open. Where do you need to have your ears opened to hear what may be tough, what may be challenging, what may tear and you heart. Will you allow Jesus to touch your ears and speak the words that will open you to hear. After you have taken that time to listen, to listen with the guidance of the Spirit. When you have listened deeply, will you then again hear Jesus speak to you, 'Be Opened.' Will you allow you words to be clear. Your words to be guided by what you have heard and by the Spirit. Will your words be plain and open.

Be open.
There is violence in the world. More violence than we can understand.
Be open.
Where guns have cause pain. Listen.
Be open.
Where sorrow and grief are raw. Listen.
Be open.
Where lives, black lives are cut short. Listen.
Be open.
Where women seeking healthcare are attacked. Listen.
Be open.

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