Until I'm back, though, here are some of my favorite pics of a great family holiday in Nebraska.
Alanna & her cousin N discuss the finer points of Exer-Saucer care and maintenance, including improvements in the flavoring for plastic giraffes.
I'm happy to say this works exceptionally well. I went for a five mile run this morning, two days after a severe storm that cancelled school in the Ames district on Friday, with no slippage problems whatsoever on the trails and sidewalks. The only time I did have trouble was the last mile, where I ran on the street and the slush was just too thick for my new shoes to get any traction. The best part? When I did hit bare pavement, I got a nice audio remembrance of my high school football days - it sounded like the metal-tipped cleats I wore when I was a nose tackle trying to gain weight instead of trying to run it off. You know, the sound from the Under Armor ads: "Click Clack - you hear me comin'?" Pretty cool.
All in all, anything that gets me out on the road at this time of year is a good thing, especially on a day like today when the snow is falling and the wind hasn't picked up yet. It was one of the prettiest runs I've enjoyed in a while.
There are only five full days before Christmas Day, and whether you use them for shopping, wrapping, preaching, worshiping, singing or traveling or even wishing the whole darn thing were over last Tuesday, there's a good chance they will be busy ones.
So let's make this easy, if we can: tell us five things you need to accomplish before Christmas Eve.
I just think it bears remembering that institutional church CAN be a force for good, and for many of us it has been.The italicized text might be the most succinct explanation of the need for community and accountability I've ever read. It's one of the main reasons we do what we do in the church: because on our own we can really screw things up. (By the way, don't image search for Fred Phelps if you don't have a strong stomach). For me, part of living the theology of the cross is recognizing the capacity within myself to harm others in the name of the faith that gives me life, but that recognition only comes because I'm a part of a larger body of believers who take our corporate responsibility to one another very seriously.
It is disappointing that not all people have shared a spiritually fulfilling experience at 'regular church.' Certainly we can do a better job at that.
But interestingly, for me it was when I left the institution and went to a parachurch group that there was no accountability and no spiritual focus and my life started to fall apart. Christians turned loose on the world with no guidance can do incredible harm, just as Christians within an institution can. I feel, at least with the institution, we have a chance at keeping things together.
This Friday Five is inspired by my husband's Lasik surgery yesterday....He'd been contemplating it for a while and was pushed over the edge by the fact that we put too much money in our healthcare spending account this year and it would have been gone anyway. (There was only enough for one eye, but the kind people at the eye clinic figured out a way to divvy up the charges between surgery and followup in January=next year's spending account). So please say a little prayer for his safe recovery and share with us your thoughts on eyes and vision.1. What color are your beautiful eyes? Did you inherit them from or pass them on to anyone in your family? My eyes are very light blue. I don't think either of my parents have blue eyes - I know my Dad's are brown, and if I remember right my Mom's are hazel/green. But then again, neither of them are redheads, and I'm the oldest of two redheaded, blue-eyed boys out of three. Maybe Mom wasn't really kidding about the milkman? ;-)
1. Energy. I'm just worn out right now. I'm not unhappy, nor do I feel as though I'm shirking anything but my physical well-being, but I'm too tired to exercise this week and it is really weighing on my mind and my heart."Imagine a complex, multi-cultural society that annually holds an elaborate winter festival, one that lasts not simply a few days, but several weeks. This great festival celebrates the birth of the Lord and Saviour of the world, the prince of peace, a man who is divine. People mark the festival with great abundance- feasting, drinking and gift giving....." (Richard Horsley- The Liberation of Christmas)But this is not Christmas- this is a Roman festival in celebration of the Emperor....This is the world that Jesus was born into! The world where the early Christians would ask "Who is your Saviour the Emperor or Christ?"
The passage goes on, recounting the decorations that are hung, and the songs and dances that accompany the festival, how the economy booms and philanthropic acts abound....
And yet our shops and stores and often our lives are caught up in a world that looks very much like the one of ancient Rome, where we worship at the shrine of consumerism....
Advent on the other hand calls us into the darkness, a time of quiet preparation, a time of waiting, and re-discovering the wonder of the knowledge that God is with us. Advent's call is to simplicity and not abundance, a time when we wait for glorious light of God to come again...
Christ is with us at this time of advent, in the darkness, and Christ is coming with his light- not the light of the shopping centre, but the light of love and truth and beauty.
What do you long for this advent? What are your hopes and dreams for the future? What is your prayer today? In the vein of simplicity I ask you to list five advent longings....