Sunday, December 28, 2014

E. T. PHONE HOME

Spielberg admitted this scene triggered specul...
Spielberg admitted this scene triggered speculation as to whether the film was a spiritual parable. Judith Crist (1984). "Take 22: Moviemakers on Moviemaking". Viking . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
WAY BACK IN 1982 the film, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial was released and became the highest grossing film until Jurassic Park was released in 1993. That Stephen Spielberg guy knows how to make films!

One of the key themes in the film was E.T.’s desire to get back to his home planet, thus his desire to phone home. I guess it doesn’t matter if you’re an earthling or an extra-terrestrial, there is a drive in us to get back home. Sadly, for many in our world that prospect both physically and emotionally is not that easy.  Consider the thousands of refugees in Africa and the Middle-East that have been forced to flee their homes and not live in border town refugee camps. Consider the thousands that have been streaming across our southern borders seeking a new place to call home. And consider all those who may find themselves in fine houses surrounded by the luxuries of life, but still long for a place to truly call home.

I believe that there is a “homing device” built into each one of us that draws us to that place we can be ourselves, let our hair down, be accepted and loved and safe.  These things are one of the reasons we have chosen for our church’s Vision Statement that we would be a Place to Call Home. We desire to create a place where we can each be loved, accepted and safe and even more to be a place where we can grow in all aspects of our lives.

Saint Augustine in his Confessions wrote, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.”  We could say until we find our home in Christ. This is what we are working to be, a place where we can all be at home, at rest, at peace with God, our Savior.

If you’re looking for A Place to Call Home, I invite you to come be part of our God’s family. If you’re already a part of the family, my challenge for you is to help us make this a place where all feel at home and experience the hope, peace, joy and love of God, our heavenly Father.

Welcome home!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

SEEING BEYOND THE PRESENTS

THERE IS A CHRISTMAS I REMEMBER, when our two oldest were still quite young.  It was Christmas Eve, and they were tucked into bed waiting with eager anticipation for the first morning light and the opportunity to open the gifts that lay beneath the tree.

Therein, for me at least, was the problem. Both sets of grandparents had descended upon our home and you could not see the whole of the living room floor due to the over abundance of gifts. (Okay, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but not by much.)  I remember sitting on the couch at one end of the living room and gazing over the sea of gifts brought by grandparents set to outdo each other. I recall tears in my eyes for I knew that that this is not what I desired my Christmas to be, a room littered with wrapping paper and toys and clothes and more!

I was saddened, maybe even a little mad, at the over-expenditure and over-doing that was before me. I knew that it missed the point of the giving of gifts.  Presents at Christmas time are to remind us of God’s great gift in His only Son (John 3:16-17), but though as extravagant as the heavenly Father’s Gift was, it was also a simply-wrapped Gift of Love. A Gift not without glory, but a glory hidden; to be revealed as the Gift walked among us.

This Gift of God was more than a present from a gracious God, it was His very Presence among us. The Gift, Immanuel, God with us, and who is with us this very day.

The gifts that covered my living room floor decades ago are long gone, the wrappings decomposing in some landfill, and the presents long forgotten. There is no need to feel despondent. It’s that way with earthly, material presents. This should make us all the more grateful for God’s eternal Presence that does not decay nor diminish over time, but grows ever greater with each passing day.

This Advent may your living room and your heart be filled with the Presence of the LORD!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

CUDDLING WITH CHRIST

LET’S FACE IT, THERE’S few things better than cuddling with an infant who has just had a bath.  Their hair smells of Johnson’s Baby Shampoo, the aroma of fresh powder surrounds their little bodies and then of course they are snuggled in those little fleecy footy pajamas.  I can remember those moments quite clearly and of course holding one of my grandchildren after such a time brings me back to holding my own children many years ago.

I can remember holding one of my kids one night as they drifted off to sleep, I could feel their little heart beats and feel the soft warmness of their sweet baby breath. I noticed that I tried to breathe in rhythm with them, not an easy thing to do, but I was contemplating the reality of them being so close, I even remember trying to hold them closer to feel almost one with them.  There was beauty in the sweet aromas, the gentle breaths and the peaceful slumber of complete safety as they slept in my arms.

I wonder how Mary felt holding the infant Jesus? Of course no Johnson’s powder or shampoo, but there was, I am sure, the sweetness of His breath and the rhythmic beating of His heart as she held Him in her arms of safety.  What would it have been like to know that you are cuddling with the Christ-Child? The One whose breath was the very breath of God, the One whose heart would break and bleed for the salvation of all. What would it be like to be so close to the very heart-beat of God?

It is to this place of peace and rest that the Lord of all eternity calls us today.  He calls us to draw close to Him, to feel His breath, to feel His heart-beat. Jesus calls us to come near and to cuddle close so that our hearts would beat as one with His, that our breathing would be in rhythm with His. As Mary held the infant Christ, He desires now to hold you.

Therefore, during this Advent season draw near to the One who longs to cuddle with you and discover that wonder-filled, peace-filled, love-filled presence of God.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

CARING FOR KILEY

THIS PAST FEW DAYS Linda and I had the blessed opportunity to watch Kiley overnight while her mama and papa went to celebrate their anniversary. It was their first time away from her for a few nights, and for us a quick recalling of what it means to watch an infant for an extended period of time.  I can’t speak for the rest of the family, but I think Kiley and I did just fine!

For me, caring for Kiley means making sure she smiles, wrapping her in a warm blanket after her bath, putting her in her jammies, (who designs those things!? No one with kids, that’s for sure!) and of course, rocking in Grandpa’s chair.  Having an infant in the house means you live by her time schedule not yours.  Any plans you might have move down the list. You can either let that frustrate you, or you can take it as a precious gift from God.  I choose the latter.

It many ways it’s enjoying a kind of moment to moment Sabbath. Sure there’s stuff to be done, changing diapers, warming bottles, giving baths and did I mention changing diapers? But there are the blessed reminders and opportunities just to stop and hold her and gaze at the wonder of God’s creation.

That’s what Sabbath was meant to be; a time where we would rest in God’s arms, and gaze up in wonder at the One who loves us so much.


In this hectic time of the year its too easy to forget what our true priority is to be, therefore, I strongly encourage you to make time for Sabbath, evenly daily. I even suggest stopping for a few minutes every day to gaze into the face of the God who loves to just hold you.  Be sure to take a day of Sabbath that God has given to us as a gift. As the mug that the Garcia’s brought home for me says, take time to “Slow Down,” for “Life is Good,” with God!