Thursday, November 30, 2006

I'm Not Ready

Wow! December already?! Has it crept up on you? I'm not ready.

Things often catch us off guard. We get wrapped up in day to day living and time slips by. Suddenly we arrive at a point we may not be prepared to face.

My eldest will celebrate her twenty-fourth birthday tomorrow. Twenty-four! A few years ago I wrote a similar piece when she turned eighteen. That was a milestone I had a hard time facing and now we’ve arrived at another – she is going to be married in July.

I’ve been expecting this for some time, but somehow I don’t think I really was prepared for those words, “Mom, I’m getting married!” I admit I'm not ready. My daughter is planning her wedding and her first day of kindergarten seems like yesterday. There are so many things I wanted to do with her, things I wanted to teach her, things I wanted to say, but now there just isn't enough time. She's an adult launching into the world to live her own life, and that's as it should be.

But I can't help wishing she were only turning sixteen or fourteen. I can’t help wishing that she was still a little girl under our roof. That would give me time to get used to the idea that some day she'd be leaving. That would give me time to prepare ... or would it? Somehow I suspect the day would still be a surprise, no matter how much it was delayed.

There is a day that has been delayed for centuries, according to scripture. When Jesus predicted his death, he also predicted his return. He tried to prepare his friends for his leaving, and tried to tell them to prepare for the day when he would come back. The words didn't sink in. When Jesus was arrested, they fled in terror. For hundreds of years since, preparations for his return have been sadly lacking.

In Matthew 24:44-51, Jesus tells a story about a master who leaves his house in the charge of a servant. He asks: "Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household, to give them their food at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns."

Who is that servant? It's you. It's me. Part of the preparation for the return of Christ is to care for those around us, both physically and spiritually. We will be accountable when Jesus returns. He ends his story with a warning: "But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, 'my master is staying away a long time,' and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

The day will be a surprise, to all of us. It could be tomorrow. Are you ready?

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Red on Grey

Woke up a bit late this morning and scurried to get ready to drive my daughter to school, so I didn't notice what was happening outside until I stepped out the door. Then that wonderful silence hit me as large fluffy flakes fluttered from the sky. The world had become white overnight, the grey trees across the road draped and bent under the weight of snow. As we drove to the end of our street, my eye was caught by a flash of red. I caught my breath. There, only a couple of feet from our window, was a large woodpecker with a scarlet crown. We only had a few moments to pause and enjoy the sight, but as we carried on I was aware of how much that flash of red brightened our morning. It was like a gem suddenly unearthed, a spot of colour shining through the dark.
God's word is so often like that for me, too. A gem that shines and brightens my life.
Like this -
"Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you."

God is so good! :)M

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Thirty Minutes to Ruin

I’d been watching the progress of the building each week. It stood across the field from our church, so watching the huge home being built became a Sunday morning distraction as I pulled into the parking lot. Last Sunday I noticed there was a large orange tarp draped over the north side. They’re probably working on the exterior finishing, I thought, as I entered the church to prepare for my Sunday school class.

There’s a little boy who lives across the other field. He’s a watcher too. As soon as he sees a vehicle arrive at the church he knows the doors will be open and over he runs. When he arrived this past Sunday, he had a question.

“Where’s all that smoke coming from?”

“Smoke?” I said.

“Yeah, over there.” Nick pointed in the direction of the newly constructed home.

I looked out the window, then ran to the phone to dial 9-1-1. The smoke was thick and black and the flames were already shooting up on the north side. By the time the fire trucks arrived all they could do was stop the traffic to prevent anyone from getting too close. It took only thirty minutes for that house to become a raging ball of fire – thirty minutes to go from a solid permanent-looking construction, to a charred ruin.

As I watched it happen I was reminded that nothing in this world is permanent. Even those things that look like they will last forever are destined to crumble. But there is something that will stand forever. The Psalmist, David, said it – “But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations” (Ps.33:11).
So did the prophet Isaiah – “The grass withers and the flowers fall but the word of our God stands forever” (Is.40:7).

I remember as a young girl standing on the edge of a cliff overlooking Lake Superior. I was so overwhelmed with the raw power of that landscape’s beauty that I thought to myself, this will last forever. But even that will pass away. Jesus himself said it – “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away” (Matthew 24:35).

What then should we cling to? Homes that can burn in thirty minutes? Jobs that can disappear overnight? Finances that can vanish like the wind? Friends that can betray us in a breath?

The answer is obvious. The only one to cling to is Christ. They call Him the rock for a reason.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

An Invitation to a Banquet

I have a confession to make. I love banquets and pot-luck dinners. We'll be having one in our church this week and I'm looking forward to the feast. We call this one our Thank Offering Supper. It's meant to be a celebration of the provision of God, as, in this rural community, the harvest is complete.

I know what to expect. There will be a pan of Pastor Hogman's famous chicken, at least one of Dayna's amazing desserts, a huge bowl filled with one of Karen's great salads, another of Elsie's yummy speckled buns and of course, platters loaded with an abundance of Alberta beef. How could it get any better? Everyone in our church is invited to this feast and it's hard to imagine why anyone would stay away. But some probably will, for whatever reason. Some will be busy with other things, some might feel they can't contribute and stay away from embarrassment, others might feel uncomfortable because they don't know many people yet, and still others will simply forget the feast is happening. Some may simply refuse to come. They may be angry with someone, angry with God, so, as my mother used to say, they will "cut off their nose to spite their face."

There's a banquet prepared for all of us that is more important than any feast of physical food. It's a banquet prepared by God for all those who would come and eat. David, one of the writers of the Psalms, knew about it. He said - "You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies" (Psalm 23:5). Solomon, the writer of Song of Songs knew about it too - he said - "He has taken me to the banquet hall and his banner over me is love." (Song of Songs 2:4).

The banquet God has prepared for us is far more satisfying than any physical banquet could be. God's banquet is everlasting, nourishing not just the body but the soul. On that table is spread every spiritual gift we could ever need, every morsel of grace and mercy God could wring from Himself. His banquet is available to everyone. He invited us to the feast on the day His Son Jesus died. His death opened wide the door to the banquet hall. All we have to do is show up.

But too often we refuse. We're too busy, too embarrassed, too self-conscious, too angry. Or maybe we've just forgotten the table has been spread for us. Maybe we've just ignored the invitation for so long, we've forgotten all about it.The good news is, the invitation stands forever. The door will always be open. So come. Come to the feast. Sit at God's banquet table and be forever satisfied.

Friday, November 03, 2006

House of Prayer

CBC's The Hour with George Stroumboulopoulos took an insightful look at Ottawa's National House of Prayer recently. See the show on his website.