Photo & Reflection

First there were just a few violets up close to the church door, but now they’re blooming in abundance along the walkway, too. So many signs of new life — and even the tiny ones matter! Where do you see or experience an abundance of new life?

This photo haunts me. What binds me or bends me out of shape and does me harm? And, in my life, where do buds appear and promise new life and freedom to grow? There’s both a Lazarus story (“Unbind him and let him go”) and a Jesus story (“I came that you might have life and have it abundantly”) here. Death and resurrection - good companions on our Lenten journeys.

The angel Gabriel shows up and tells a perplexed Mary that she will have a child who is God's son. Her remarkable response is, "Here am I, the servant of the Lord." When a couple of us met to do Art and Sacred Story last week, this was my art response to this story found in Luke 1:26=38.

Here's our church's compost bin with an acorn squash "volunteer." It's a sermon of sorts about death and resurrection.

Out for a walk with friends in Maine, I discovered this little sign -- and its secret path -- just close enough to the road to be seen but tucked far enough back that you'd have to really be paying attention to your surroundings to notice it. I wonder what adventure would await you if you were curious enough to wander down a secret path. And I wonder if you would meet anyone -- or meet God -- along the way.

In Lent, we are on the road to Jerusalem together with Jesus who knows the way. Our individual journeys don't always come with a map to guide us, though. I wonder what road you're traveling right now. And I wonder who is keeping you company along the way.

I've been hopeless at keeping New Year's resolutions, and a colleague once pointed out that maybe that's because resolutions are too much about us and not enough about God. The past couple years I've simply given thanks for the grace that comes my way and nudges me in the right direction.

Now and then, I get invited to see familiar things in unfamiliar ways that sometimes lead to a deeper experience of the familiar or a fresh perspective on it. A couple years ago, a member of the congregation shared the following little story experienced by a friend of hers. Every Advent since then, I’ve printed out the photo she sent so that I can see it each day of the season of Advent.

Here’s the story she told, as best I can recall. Debbie, a strong Christian woman whose grandchildren were thus far unchurched, brought out her manger scene during a visit from her three-year-old grandson. As she told him a bit of the Christmas story, he began arranging the figures. When she started to “correct” the display, he said, “Wouldn’t they all be looking at Jesus?”

In this season of Advent, as we prepare our hearts yet again for the great Mystery of Christmas, may that child’s wise question turn our gaze toward Jesus.