Monday, December 31, 2012

Theology of Food

Family and food are central to my Christmas celebration. It seems to begin in earnest with Thanksgiving, and there’s no let up until the New Year.

You would think that “eat, drink and be merry” (Ecclesiastes 8:15) is the only Bible verse I have committed to memory…and unwavering practice!

I’m not alone. I read last week that 65% of NorthCarolinians are overweight or obese. And I was confronted with a stark contradiction in a year-end fund raising appeal: One in five NC children face what we now call “food insecurity” and 170,000 of my fellow citizens receive emergency food aid each week. This paradox prompts a prayer:

Give us this day our daily bread. (Matthew 6:11)

Generous Lord, that prayer has been amply answered during the holidays, and the bathroom scales concur.

The upside…

Those who prepare our family feasts remind me of your care and attention to detail. I appreciate their gift of hospitality, and I am grateful for your faithful provision.

The downside…

I consume far more food and drink than a body requires. Moderation and restraint are elusive. Self-discipline is a myth!

Holy Spirit, govern my choices in the pantry and at the table. Make me mindful of my choices for service and giving to organizations fighting hunger. Amen.

My blog posts about Durham Meals on Wheels, a favorite non-profit!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Advent Interrupted

Almighty God

We weep, we ache over the Newtown school massacre in Connecticut.

The veneer of sentimentality has been painfully stripped from semi-automatic pistols and mental illness.

I will confess to blocking out the news of war, violent crime and traffic fatalities during Christmas, but this story has our hearts in a vise. It commands our full attention.

How clearly, how starkly we see this broken world as we grieve for the murdered first graders and their heroic faculty.

Oh yes, we need a Savior.
Oh yes, we long for a new creation.
It's impossible to elude those Advent themes this year.

Lord Christ, the slain children and teachers know your embrace, but please, dispatch your Spirit to their parents and families, to share and lift their heavy, heavy burden. Amen.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Advent Preparation: Humility

Lord Christ,

I anxiously await the grandeur and spectacle of Christmas: Handel and Bach, poinsettias and processions, candles and carols. Worthy is the lamb!

…but I notice a contrary tone in my Advent Bible readings. When I consider the primary characters, I’m getting a lesson in humility. (Luke 1)

There’s Zechariah and Elizabeth, John the Baptist, Joseph and Mary. An aging couple, their eccentric son, the peasant carpenter and his teen bride. For most of her life, Elizabeth had borne the shame and disappointment of infertility. Putting it politely, Mary was faced with an unexpected pregnancy.

The real Christmas story is about unpretentious people…under duress…straining to comprehend God's plan…attempting to obey.

In this age of self and celebrity, Holy Spirit, prepare my heart with their witness of humility. Amen.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Advent - Preparing the Heart

Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will perform that good thing which I have promised unto the house of Israel and to the house of Judah. In those days, and at that time, will I cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David; and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land. (Jeremiah 33:14-15, KJV)

In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: “A voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’” (Matthew 3:1-3, NIV)

Lord Christ,

It seems to me that the Christmas season began even earlier this year - around Halloween!

We like to blame greedy retailers and the modern day plague of consumerism. I’m not so sure about that. Maybe we welcome the distraction from a true Advent.

The ancient prophets consistently called across the generations for repentance, justice and righteousness as they proclaimed the Messiah. We are called during Advent to prepare our hearts for the coming of Jesus, to make straight our path.

Am I willing to catalog my regrettable thoughts and actions, or lack of action for the cause of Christ?

What about justice? Where our society, government and business miss the mark, will I do anything about it?

Will I make time to consider what it means to live righteously, to model Kingdom values, to trust the Lord in all things, in the coming year?

…or will I charge off to the mall or another Holiday party. Will I confine my preparation to mixing drinks and wrapping gifts?

Holy Spirit, prepare my heart during advent for the coming of Christ, my savior, my Messiah. Amen.

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