Monday, March 30, 2009

Taking an old Advent sermon and making it something new

I've been asked to share a few words tonight at the prayer house before the students participate in self guided reflection. I had in mind to take an old sermon and revamp it. I couldn't find the one I really wanted, but found an Advent sermon instead. I think the way I've changed it around will work for today. (5th Sunday in Lent, focus on Agape love for God and neighbor, spoken to college students who are members of NC's Baptist Campus Ministry at UNCC)

Are any of you tired? Do you feel sometimes like you are sleep walking to class and then laying your head down on the desk during the lecture?
It is almost as if we're asleep and we're dreaming some sort of horrible nightmare where people pass us by without speaking and we go to class without thinking; where people curse one another because of an orange bouncy ball and a hoop and we kill each others' spirits with silence and apathy. Is there any hope for us?

We're sleeping through our lives, not noticing, not appreciating, not thinking, not caring. Or at least that's what it seems like sometimes.

Don't you hear God yelling, "Wake up!"
"Wake Up! I am here!"

Our hope is here. Our life is here. Our light is shining. Wake up!

The Bible says, "Jacob came to a certain place and stayed there for the night, because the sun had set. taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place. And he dreamed that there was a ladder set up on the earth, the top of it reaching to heaven; and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. And the Lord stood beside him and said, 'I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring; and your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and all the families of the earth shall be blessed in you and in your offspring. Know that I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.' Then Jacob woke fro his sleep and said, 'Sureley the Lord is in this place and I did not know it!' And he was afraid, and said, 'How awesome is this place! This is non other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven."

The presence of the Lord is not a dream it is real. God is present in and with the person who has a rock for a pillow and a tree for shelter.

God is present in and with the boy who is sent on his own, away from home. God is present in our numb sleepwalking lives, beckoning us to "Wake Up!"

Like a thief in a sleepy night, God steals us away from the world we know and sweeps us off to real places and real people we can only dream places like a holy manger, where we see a baby boy being born right before our very eyes. We'll hold his perfect body, we'll count his ten toes and fingers, we'll see a bright star scattering the darkness and bringing light. What seems like a dream to us is a reality. This is the real thing we're being snatched off to. In this dreamy reality, we're taken on a journey, fleeing from Herod, carrying the Christ child in our arms across dry land.

And then, in a blink of an eye, this boy becomes a man. His voice changes, his shoulders broaden and he'll leave home. Once again, he'll steal us away, leaving family and possessions to follow him. We witness never before seen miracles, unconditional love, and deep care in his presence.

He'll take us to a candle lit room and he'll share bread and wine with us. We'll pray together and enjoy each other's company.

As soon as we think we've got it all figured out, he'll set us down and say, "Wait here! I'm going to suffer this part of the journey alone."

We won't put up a fight. As if we are asleep again, we'll lay dazed and confused at the sight of our friend and teacher, dying right in front of us.

Forgetting what he said about waiting, we'll stumble to our feet and head home. Weary and worn out, we'll curl up and pray that this nightmare might end.

Wake up! He's here! Wake up!

Anxious and doubting, we'll get up. We've got to see this for ourselves. How can he really be here?

And there he is...Is this a dream? We'll have to pinch ourselves to make sure it's real.

Wake Up! He is Here! Expect him to be here! He IS here!

This isn't the time to by lying in darkness, in hopelessness, in dispair. This is a time to awaken your senses to God's presence. Let go of the heavy rock you've been slumbering on and Wake up! God is present and calling on us to respond with faith in Him and Love for our neighbor.

Spend as much time as you need praying with God, waking up to God around and within you. Respond to God's wake up call by pledging to serve your neighbor, praying for your enemy, and caring for the forgotten. God encourages us and challenges us to share our Love for Him with others, to wake up not only to God but also to your neighbor. Take this time to listen and respond to God's love and presence in this place. This is the time to Wake up! Wake Up, Oh Sleeper. Your light has come!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

I had to share this

I love this icon painted by Roisin Reilly

Monday, March 16, 2009

I'm back!

I'm back and I've sort of forgotten my regular blogging routine. THis might be the perfect time to change some things up since I don't remember which day was designated for what.

I'm wondering, if I were to change up some things on my blog, what would I change? What would readers want to see? Do I have readers? If a tree falls in a forest and if a blog is written in the blogosphere, will anyone hear/read it? I'd like you to send me your ideas for what I could include in this blog. My intent is to redo my blog in the next few pics, new colors, new format...maybe? I hope you'll give me some ideas of what would be interesting.

I just got back from a trip to Richmond with UNCC's BCMers. I witnessed a lot of things in one week: the lovely city life, architecture, my old stomping grounds, and a big house fire. I saw old friends and ate at old favorite restaraunts. All in all, it was a good trip.

Now, I'm back and I have tons of laundry to do and house straightening too.

Looking forward to hearing from you about the blog or about life in general.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Out of town

I'll be gone from now until March 15th. I will not add to my blog during those days.
Try not to miss me too much. :)

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Imago Dei

We read Psalm 51 on a snow day. Read it and see.

A Prayer for Forgiveness
1You are kind, God!
Please have pity on me.
You are always merciful!
Please wipe away my sins.
2Wash me clean from all
of my sin and guilt.
3I know about my sins,
and I cannot forget
my terrible guilt.
4You are really the one
I have sinned against;
I have disobeyed you
and have done wrong.
So it is right and fair for you
to correct and punish me.
5I have sinned and done wrong
since the day I was born.
6But you want complete honesty,
so teach me true wisdom.
7Wash me with hyssop [a] until I am clean
and whiter than snow.
8Let me be happy and joyful!
You crushed my bones,
now let them celebrate.
9Turn your eyes from my sin
and cover my guilt.
10Create pure thoughts in me
and make me faithful again.
11Don't chase me away from you
or take your Holy Spirit
away from me.
12Make me as happy as you did
when you saved me;
make me want to obey!
13I will teach sinners your Law,
and they will return to you.
14Keep me from any deadly sin.
Only you can save me!
Then I will shout and sing
about your power to save.
15Help me to speak,
and I will praise you, Lord.
16Offerings and sacrifices
are not what you want.
17The way to please you
is to feel sorrow
deep in our hearts.
This is the kind of sacrifice
you won't refuse.
18Please be willing, Lord,
to help the city of Zion
and to rebuild its walls.
19Then you will be pleased
with the proper sacrifices,
and we will offer bulls
on your altar once again.

J is for...

J is for jukebox. If you go to you can look up your favorite musicians and listen to them and other musicians like them online. I've found some of my favorite groups and have bookmarked their pages so that when I'm in the mood to listen to them, I can click and there they are. Check out bands like:
David Schultz and the Skyline
Stevie Wonder
Letters to Cleo
Julianna Hatfield
Wayfaring Strangers
Earth Wind and Fire
James Taylor
Paul Simon
Derek Webb

Bold and Beautiful

It finally snowed in Charlotte. It was enough to play in and reasonably enough to validate the day out of school that the kids got. We had a lot of fun playing with neighbors!

Best comment of the weekend: Lamar, along with several others, is headed to the park to sled. Ice is dropping off of the trees and onto the pavement. You can hear it hitting the pavement everywhere. Lamar says, "Miss Helms! It sounds like Pop Rocks!" It did! It did sound like Pop Rocks!

See the pictures from our snow day here.