Monday, November 29, 2010

To God, Via Facebook

I don't know if you're on Facebook.  Half a billion people are, but of course that means that 5.5 billion are still making up their minds. It's certainly much more in vogue to slam the site.

But if you do have Facebook, I have an exercise for you.  Put yourself in the presence of God -- that is, open yourself to prayer, however you do that -- and then, in that space, wander through the status updates and Facebook pages of your friends.  Do it aimlessly -- that is, not with any particular goal or to catch up with person X or Y.  Don't use this time as an opportunity to leave a note, to "like" or to "poke".  Be a lurker -- or better put, be a witness.  Consider yourself as having the opportunity to stand in a place similar to God, with the privilege of getting a glimpse at the private lives of other people.

Do that for 10 or 15 minutes.  Then stop and sit with what you've seen.  Where was your attention drawn? Where were your emotions stirred up -- and in what ways?

After you've sat with that a few minutes, a follow up: Having seen what you've seen and felt what you felt, if you now actually were God, what (if anything) would you want to do?

It's worth sitting with those desires a while.  God chose to enter into the world as a man.  What did he see that made him do that? And what came with that -- that is, returning to the question of the last paragraph, what do you want to do?

An important proviso: Theologians have a hundred reasons for why God chose to walk among us as one of us, many of them very abstract.  But God's motivation for entering in was as specific and personal as his knowledge.  He didn't know "humanity"; he knew Frank and Edna and George.

The point being, don't feel the need to abstract from the specifics of your friends' pages that touch you. Trust that it really could be that God came down simply because he wanted to taste Marge's now fresh cookies, or because Amy's having a bad day, or because he wanted to see keyboard cat play Nickelback or this kid out.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Get Ready

Advent.  We call it a season of expectation, of waiting, but just a passing glance at the readings of the season suggest the time of waiting has passed.  Something dramatically new is imminent.

Something.  Something overabundant with promise:  A kingdom of justice.  A wise, anointed leader. A never-ending feast of "rich food and choice wines".  The healing of all those who know sickness or despair.  A song of praise. Day after day this Advent season, the first reading presents the sumptuous fare to come.

And yet we hear within also warning.  "Stay awake!", cries Matthew in the Gospel this Sunday.  "Two men will be out in the field; one will be taken and one will be left."  Or next Friday: "None of those who cry out 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of God,  but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven."  "Even now the ax is laid to the root of the tree," cries John the Baptist next Sunday.

The birth of a child (let alone the child Jesus) hardly seems a moment for an anticipation tinged with fear.  And yet, every parent also knows of the fear and uncertainty that comes with being a parent.   A thousand unanswerable questions and still-to-come dilemmas that will ask them to choose what is best or right without truly knowing.

That's the sense of warning here -- something's coming, and it's good, but simply by its presence it will also ask us to change our lives.

If you're looking for something to pray for these early days of Advent, ask for openness. It's time to be ready.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Coming Soon!

Sorry I've been away so long. School!  But I'm hoping to try and do something for the days of Advent.  Check back starting a week from Sunday!