Rhythm and Mystery

Our church home has rhythms it repeats annually. I think most organizations and even families do this naturally, without realizing it. But when you claim it as “your thing” it takes on deeper richness and meaning. We as a society know that children (and adults) learn through repetition. We’re forgetful, and to continue to learn we need reminders of our purpose and how that plays out in day-to-day life. So a rhythm, a repeated beat, like a heart beat, it plays on-and we learn. Music happens as we play our part.

It’s January-a new year has dawned. 2017 is here! This new year brings about the first rhythm of our church home, the spiritual disciplines; prayer, study, fasting and meditation. This past week, one of our pastors led us through the Lord’s prayer from Matthew 6.  Collaboratively, our church family has been daily praying through one section of the prayer on our Facebook Group page. We broke it up as follows…

“Our Father in Heaven,

Hallowed be Your Name,

Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven,

Give us today our daily bread

and forgive us our debts as we also forgive our debtors

and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” Matthew 6:9b-13

It’s been an exercise that has brought a lot of emotion and reflection into my field of view. We are taking this whole week day by day to pray this prayer in chunks. And today was the third line as I wrote it above, “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven”.

I find myself rejoicing in the adventure and mystery that 2017 holds for me. It feels full of promise as much in my own personal life is transitioning. Yet, already it holds a lot of sorrow and sad news.  I long for God’s Kingdom to come. It aches to be in the midst of the ruins of sin. Broken relationships, death, sickness and sorrow, fear of the unknown and uncertainty for how things will play out for our families, our homes, our nation.

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This focused look at the rhythms of prayer, study, fasting and meditation though, it’s pulled me back from getting too far ahead of myself. It’s helped to ground me and center me on what matters for today. The future stays in the future until today dawns on us. There is little we can do about it but live each day to it’s fullest. We love to the best of our ability, we serve in the capacity we can offer.

“That is why I tell you not to worry about every day life-whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing?

Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are?

Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?” -Matthew 6:25-27

Today could very well be the last day any of us have in this life. This Scripture has challenged me to rest in what I don’t know as well as in what I DO know. These rhythms have encouraged me afresh as this new year sits before me like a blank canvas. Right now I’m sitting and staring at it with hope in my heart. I’m challenged to rest there and enjoy being present as the Artist I serve and worship paints and to look for opportunities to join Him along the way.

I’m so grateful for the joy of where it could lead, and yet I realize that there will probably be valleys full of challenging circumstances along the way. So I long for His kingdom to come and His will to be done, and I walk on until it does.

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Ushering in New Things

 

 

Some pretty spring color courtesy of Pike Place Public Market in Seattle, WA
Some pretty spring color courtesy of Pike Place Public Market in Seattle, WA

Another new year has quietly dawned. Some years we like to have a big party to celebrate the new year, but others-like this year-are spent with one or two friends in a night like any other. Dinner, time for the kids to play games together, laughter, jokes and the inevitable melt-down of very young ones up way past their bed times. This year we were asleep when the clock turned over to 2016; but somehow I feel very satisfied and content with that.

I ditched having it all together for the New Year quite a few years back, so that expectation doesn’t hold the weight that it used to on my heart. Now I look forward to January with anticipation! Because my new expectation is that I would take the whole month to ask God what the new year will hold. January has become the time where I reflect on our family and myself, as well as a time where I dream up projects, trips and goals.

I’d like to tell you that I have some neatly organized plan already figured out –  but I don’t!  I’m rejoicing in the absence of it. It’s like taking a pitcher full of water marked “2015” and pouring it out into a bucket with the same marker. Then sitting with my empty pitcher on my lap (now marked “2016”) and praying and preparing the vessel as I wait for God to slowly place new drops of water into the freshly drained pitcher.

a waiting vessel
a waiting vessel

It’s exciting to think of all that will happen this year; and even a little frightening to know deep down that it will hold pain and sorrow and sadness too. All the while I am grateful for the time to sit with this waiting vessel in my lap, to pray and seek and ask for guidance, strength, and courage for the things that will be hard.

Here is one of the tools I’m using this month as I think and pray.