Members of Trust

#tbh, is a social media tag that stands for, “to be honest,” to share an opinion. Teens began using it to say something nice about their friends, or a way of talking to others whom they don’t know well, or to exchange complements and “likes.” “#tbh you’re pretty,” etc. Or, “to be heard” to show an opinion was heard. It’s no longer a trend, but it’s usually a false generosity intended to illicit an in-kind response. An I’ll-promote-your-post-if-you-say-something-nice-about-me. “You’re pretty,” “you’re nice,” “your outfit is en pointe.”
Ahaz tagged his response to Isaiah #tbh when he said, “I’ll not ask God anything because I won’t put God to the test.” It was a false humility, and it revealed his fear – and, ultimately, his profound lack of trust in the God of Israel.
So God told Ahaz through Isaiah that all whom he feared will be irrelevant in the end, but Ahaz will not experience that peace because he didn’t really trust God anyway.
Conversely, Joseph, Matthew tells us, was a righteous person. When he found out that the young woman to whom he was betrothed was now pregnant – when they hadn’t yet the opportunity to consummate – he was respectful, desiring to treat Mary with regard and break up with her in private.
But when the angel of God met with him and told him who the baby growing in Mary’s belly actually is – the one that had been promised to the people of Israel for eons – Joseph trusted God. At the risk of humiliation before his peers, and the possibility of punishment for Mary, Joseph remained faithful to the covenant he began with Mary.
It was easier to believe this angel’s message because the promise of a messiah and the manner in which this messiah will come wasn’t made just to him. The promise was to the community, to the nation that God called to God’s self thousands of years earlier. It was repeated in their rituals, read to their children, and their children’s children. It was a collective trust the people of Israel maintained together. So when some lacked faith, others had faith for them.
We trust because we witness the life of Jesus, the one through whom all things were created and in whom the God who Created all things is pleased to dwell – the witness of the life of Jesus in each other. My father who believed that time-space in which he would see Jesus face-to-face, and his trust imprinted my 11-year-old soul. Y’all live out that trust in community, a membership covenant, a commitment to encourage each other in that faith through your prayers, your presence, your gifts, your service, and your witness, so that together we may grow stronger in expressing God’s love for all creation.
We trust, because together, we are members of Trust

Members of Joy

Joy is an orientation, a disposition of awe and wonder.
The joy foretold by Isaiah is not necessarily a conjuring of an elated feeling, mustering excitement about life when nothing in life seems to be going right, worth celebrating. The joy foretold by Isaiah is that those who did not have full use of their body – can now see, jump up and down, sing…. All will be made right.
There will be joy because not even fools will make unhealthy, unproductive choices; and we will sing together – and everyone will be happy about the music choices!
Jesus is why these things are being made right, even now. And because we are already made right with God, we are empowered to, and deployed to be a part of this right-making.
The justice described in Isaiah happens because of reconciled relationships. In James, we know joy when we stop grumbling and judging each other. Joy happens when we do life together without malice – spiteful, bitter – in easy company.
When the shepherds saw the star – effulgent – they stopped and were filled with joy (Mt2.10). As soon as Elizabeth’s baby heard the sound Mary’s voice, this young woman carrying the savior of the world inside her own womb, when Elizabeth’s baby heard that voice, he leapt for joy inside Elizabeth.
The delight and wonder in a child who just got what she always wanted – effulgent! Joy.
But when we try to manage each other, when I attempt to squash that divine spark (the soul that is made in God’s very image) of someone else, I do great harm.
When you see me for who I am and affirm that, encourage it, everything is right and good – what joy!
How much more so when we are oriented in this way with our children – all of our children: the ones born to us and the ones incorporated into us by way of baptism and membership vows.
Will you walk with me through this week of Advent with a disposition of awe and wonder, an expectation of opening a new day as a child who exclaims, “just what I always wanted!” because we have each other, members of covenant? It is such a good feeling to know we’re alive! Together, members of joy!

Members of Peace

The fullness of God the Creator – of everything! was pleased to have all of God’s own being (fullness) dwell in this itty bitty of a baby whose birth we claim to Celebrate on December 25th.
Still, “without justice and love, peace is an illusion.” #DomHelderCamara
The project of God’s justice – making all things right, reconciling us to God and each other, AND all creation (whether things on earth or things in heaven) – this project of God’s justice is fueled, empowered, made personal, purely by Love: by making peace through Christ’s blood, shed on the cross.
Then, God’s presence will be known, the people will consult God – and pay attention, and an industry of war will no longer be necessary: indiscriminately, across the board, the only commerce will be the facilitation of peace.
Put on the armor of light – walk in the light of Jesus. Live with honor. What does that look like to live honorably? For one, it means living honestly – let your actions live out what you believe. What is it that you believe? We believe in Jesus Christ – the messiah, anointed Present. So if you say that you believe in Jesus Christ, to live honorably is to act on that, to live it.
Awake! remember your baptism and, together, let us center on Jesus who dwells in me and in you – take time allowing the spirit of Jesus (in whom God is pleased to dwell) to speak; confess our frenzy and anxiety at the onset of Advent. Awaken, and remember. Together we are members of peace. Know peace; be an instrument of peace.

Consent to Love

We all possess the capability (as created in God’s very image) to conceive and grow creative life, to give birth to a nurturing love toward other human beings. We are equipped with the capacity to consent, as Mary did, to the presence of God’s Spirit, the creative life and love within.

A Collision of Peace

"José y Maria," by, Everett Patterson

As long as some are not at peace, I cannot really know true peace. The prayer, “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,” assumes that peace will exist in me – that the source for that peace I’m meant to be instrumental in sharing – must dwell within me.

Joy: Cultivating Delight During Advent

What brings you joy?
It isn’t as if we can expect joy to just appear. It is true that some circumstances we find ourselves in might occasionally bring unexpected joy. But it isn’t usual. The practice of loving kindness is a beautiful reminder that every person around me has the same desires and needs that I do. And praying for their well-being shifts my perspective. And maybe I can appreciate them. Perhaps, even delight in them.

Hope in the Midst of Advent

"Wait," by, Ethan Oliver

When you hold in your hand the things that distress you, the fist clenches and everything seeps through, between the fingers – coming apart. Practice hope this week, the holy indifference – hold loosely the things that seem to be falling apart or breaking you apart so the More Than can have space, have room, to hold it all together.

Advent – Anticipate With

Make Advent meaningful. Anticipate the celebration of Emmanuel’s birth with another. Designed to guide you into personal, centering prayer during the Advent season, and intentional prayer for a young person (or anyone, really!) Download the pdf document to share and write in, or link to the eBook version. Start today! It is 4 weeks until… Continue reading Advent – Anticipate With