There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.  — Luke 21:25-26

Read: Luke 21:25-36


“Advent: the time to listen for footsteps – you can’t hear footsteps when you’re running yourself.” — Bill McKibben


A quick glance at global news headlines can be a terrifying thing. Headlines announce war, murder, destruction, natural disaster, hunger, poverty, and abuses of all kinds in a macabre parade of words and images. It’s enough to put one into flight mode–at least metaphorically.

One way some folks cope with this onslaught of devastation is to ignore it by running to other activities, passions, and pleasures. The problems seem so big, so bad, and so complicated that it’s easier to ignore them. Thank about it: after the horror of 9/11 we were encouraged to shop, to get on with life as usual and keep the economic machine running smoothly.

Luke’s gospel tells us something completely different. Instead of fleeing, falling, and fearing, we are to “stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (21:28b). We are to look and listen for the footsteps of God’s redemption in our world.

The season of Advent provides the space and opportunity to slow down, give our “running shoes” a rest, and listen in prayer, worship, and daily life for the signs of divine action in the world. The signs are there. They are hopeful. And  they are very, very real! Dear friends, look for these signs of real life abundant and overflowing with mercy, love, and grace. Be still and encounter God.


Take a “news fast” today. Avoid encountering news on television, radio, and website. Instead, play some music that inspires you. Take a walk outside if weather permits. Bake some bread or sweets and fill your home with the fragrance of love’s creative action. Share your baked goods with family and friends. Choose an inspiring film to watch–or a comedy if you’re in need of a laugh. Most importantly, light a candle and pray for the wisdom to work for peace and watch for God-signs in the world. Blessings on your day.

Like Dave Brubeck? Remember him this week by listening to “Pilgrim’s Progress.” Check out David Anderson’s article about Brubeck, who died December 5 at the age of 92, here.

Photo by kt Ann. Thanks!

Unflinching Love & Dirty Floors

One of my friends and colleagues, David Hansen, wrote a fine blog entry reminding us all that today is not pre-Easter Saturday and that we shouldn’t fast forward to resurrection glee (even as we prepare the lamb and arrange the flowers). Click here to read his thoughts. David is right; today we are still in the midst of the passion; at least until that beautiful moment in this night’s Easter Vigil when the first joyous notes of Easter will sound. But that’s tonight, not right now.

For now we still wallow in the dark; after last night’s Good Friday worship, we are painfully aware of the brokenness that binds and blinds us to the face of Christ in our neighbors and in the strangers we encounter. We seek peace, yet reap discord. We crave love, but sow seeds of indifference and disdain. We desire to do good, and still our selfishness curves us inward and away from those who need us most. Yes, even though the sun is shining brightly outside my window, the very heart of darkness is present.

A young boy asked our Children’s Church leader last Sunday why Jesus had to die. Talk about a loaded question! Knowing her, I suspect she gave a good answer wrapped in love, yet his question has haunted me all week as I contemplate my Easter sermon.

Why? Why indeed did Jesus have to die? Oh, sure I can spout all the correct theological arguments and explanations, but at the heart level the question still cries out . . . why, why, why? The words sin, atonement, forgiveness, murder, evil, hatred, brokenness, and love are all engaging in a fierce round of cranial bumper-cars right now.

Another wise and wonderful pastor, Nadia Bolz Weber, offers a concise explanation of sin and forgiveness:

Because sin is just the state of human brokenness in which what we say and do causes these sometimes tiny and sometimes monstrous fractures in our relationships and in our earth and in our selves and in strangers and in those we love and sometimes even in our own bodies. Sin is the self curved in on the self. And it’s not something we can avoid entirely. Which is devastating.

And forgiveness of sins was just too close to the heart of Jesus for me to think it’s about some divine eraser in the sky letting me off the hook for being bad. I think forgiveness of sins is more about how Jesus saw the ugly truth of those around him and loved them in a way they could never love themselves.

That last sentence really hit the mark for me. Jesus, God Incarnate, sees the ugliness and darkness that I can’t erase from the deep recesses of my soul, and loves me anyway.Wow! This is truly wondrous love.

When I think of sin, I think about the kitchen floor I hate to mop. The linoleum has all these little grooves and depressions that catch the dirt and grime of daily living. No matter how diligently I swiffer and no matter how hard I scrub with a toothbrush on my hands and knees (and let me assure you that does NOT happen often), it is virtually impossible to remove all the dark trackings and leavings of the world. Yuck. I hate for people to see my dirty, dingy kitchen floor, yet it’s the room I love most in the house.

Jesus can look at the kitchen floor of my heart, and love me without flinching. That, my friends, is real love. This weekend, whether you celebrate the Creator’s love and continued redemption through the Passover or through the resurrection of the Christ, remember that you are loved–unflinchingly–by the One who created all things and called creation good. Now that’s worth some serious thanksgiving AND thanks-living!

Photo by quinnanya used under Creative Commons License. Thanks!