Silence and Sound Advent Devotional

Faithful readers,

As promised, our contemplative Advent devotional is ready now for download.  Beginning Friday, December 1 through December 25, enjoy a reading and contemplative exercise each day.

Silence and Sound 2
Download Advent Devotaional

Silence & Sound Advent 2017 is our gift to you this Advent season. We hope that through this devotional, you are called to deeper understanding and fuller practice of the faith we share in Christ! We worked together across the world to compile these readings and thoughts as short daily readings with accompanying contemplations or actions you can pick up at any point in the day or integrate into your personal advent practice.”

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“Silence and sound are two vital themes in the Old Testament. Although this pair are often discussed as opposites, we have placed them on a spectrum–silence can sound like many different things. From the beginning, we encounter the silence of the void into which the Creator speaks, a certain silence of good creation at peace as the Creator rests; but also the silence of Adam during the Temptation, the silence of Eve as she gives the serpent too much shrift, the silence of dread that must have filled their ears, knowing the Lord God would show up. Silence gives the foundational mythos of Scripture its cadence, while sound accompanies the interventions of the Creator. God speaks, and the world is created, and so the morning stars sing for joy. Prophets prophesy and kings decree; people cry out in repentance, and then praise.

“All the way through, silence and sound punctuate this holy history of the Old Testament. The silence of pain: from the uncomfortable silence between Abraham and Isaac on Mount Moriah to the deathly silences Esther endured to save her people. The sound of distress: the sound of Israelites groaning under their slavery, the repentant sound of Nineveh’s decree, and the reluctant sound of Jeremiah’s prophecies. The silence of blessing: from the stupefied silence as his brothers are reconciled to Joseph to the hushed silence as the ark of the covenant is placed in the Temple. The sound of victory: the sound of the Lord God cursing the serpent, the sound of the ram’s horn and warrior’s shout crumbling Jericho, the sound of Isaiah’s response “Here am I.”

“Beyond these guiding narratives, we find silence and sound woven through the lives and the faith of believers throughout history. Silence and sound can be sources of strength when we have trained ourselves to hear them. If we will attune our ears and attend to the message, we will hear the glory of God in the sounds and silences of life. The Advent season is a reminder to us of the power of waiting and listening as well speaking out. May the voice of the Lord guide your lives and faith!”

Writers:

Bethany Stallings
Charlotte Cline-Smith
Meridith Matson
Nathan Bingaman
Scott Matson

Artist:

Ellie Stager
letterandjournal.com

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death

With the past week as America and the world mourned the death of Steve Jobs, it seems death is on everyone’s minds these days, including my own.  Ironically, as I had attended chapel this week at Cascade, the speaker spoke about death also, not even in connection with Steve Jobs at all.

Yet, when I would hear people talking about Jobs, I couldn’t help but feel some kind of, nagging on my heart.  Yes, Jobs was a brilliant man, no one would deny that, and yes, he seems like he was a good man too, but, that’s just it.  He was just a man.  He did change the world, technology-wise, but remember, all this technology will burn one day.  This stuff is just that, stuff.  And in the end does it matter that I do in fact have a Mac Book Pro, or iphone, or ipod or iwhatever…. no.  It doesn’t matter.  Yes, technology makes our lives so much easier, and so much different compared the past, even just 5 years ago, but if I spend all my time engrossed in the technology that I forget to have a conversation (God forbid!) with an actual real person, what does it matter?

If you have some time, I found a great article that really brought to light some of that nagging feeling I couldn’t shake earlier this week, read it here.

Death, for those of us who are believers in God, through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we have hope.  We know where we are headed, so it kind of makes everything else secondary, when you really think about it.  I’ve spent some good time thinking about that lately.  How am I spending my money?  How am I spending my time?  How selfish am I being with these things that are “mine”?

It’s all sobering, if we really take the time to think about it.  We could change the world with an ingenious idea, but if we never change a single heart, what does that matter?

Marriage and other thoughts

This may be a 1, 2 or perhaps 3 part blog entry.  But here we go.

This may be controversial.  But if anything, it’s definitely counter-cultural.  Marriage these days is counter-cultural.

If you watch any bit of television, you see this.  I am unashamed to admit I’m a huge Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice fan, but I will also admit that many of the ideals presented in these shows are totally against Biblical standards for purity and marriage.

I have an interesting outlook on life.  Example number one:  My parents were married at 29 and 32, almost 27 years ago.  Back then, that was OLD.  But these days, this is typical, in fact, marrying even later than this is fairly typical these days.

Mindset/example number two: I always wanted to get married and have kids.  Until recently.  I grew up thinking about my wedding, what it would be like, how romantic it would be.  I dreamed of being that soccer mom driving kids to practice in a van.  Totally.  That was me.  In fact I went through years of feeling extremely lonely and depressed because i was  (duh duh duh…) SINGLE.  I was single for a lonnnnngggg time.  My first boyfriend = age 25.  First kiss= age 25.

But things have shifted.  Example number three: I think many may see me and feel sorry for me.  I’m 26 and single.  But you know what, I’m in an awesome place.  For the very first time, I feel freedom in my singleness I never understood or learned to embrace before.  I feel content and totally fine walking hand in hand with just God and I right now.

But.  Two things are warring against one another.  The culture says to embrace freedom, liberty, and sexuality.  Singleness in our culture means you have a free ticket to explore whatever sexual avenues you want.  Homosexuality, many MANY sexual partners…. among other sinful activities.  Watch one episode of Grey’s Anatomy and you have an accurate picture of how our culture sees things.  Not only this, but hey, if you aren’t ready for marriage but you’re seeing someone, by the second date if you haven’t slept together, there’s definitely something wrong with one of you!

Then, we have God’s picture.  Many right winged Christians advocate for early marriages, and that this can lead to less promiscuity (fairly true), and that God’s entire design is for man and woman to be together, not alone and separate.

But, we live in a fallen, sinful world, may I remind you.

So, what does this mean for me?

I am 26 years old.  I am a virgin.  I have no foresight of being married in the near future, yet so many Christians see me and think that I must be desperate to meet someone.  Not true.  And those who are living a worldly lifestyle assume I’ve had multiple sexual partners and am living in total freedom.  Two worlds screaming at me, but neither is true.  Neither paints a picture of who I am.

I believe God has made us for relationships, to desire protection, care, and to live life with one another.  Out of Adam’s side was Eve created.  Not so that Eve would serve and slave for her husband, but that they could stand hand in hand, side by side, serving God together.  He completes her, and she completes him.

A number of things have delayed the marrying age in our society.  I don’t mean to play the blame game, but seriously, there are few men in my life right now I can say I would even consider dating, let alone marrying.  Many of them are boys, not men.  Many of them spend hours playing video games, eating pizza and drinking.  This is not responsibility, and guys, no woman wants to marry that.  Get yourself together, do things, be productive, read your Bible, be mentored by a Godly older man, and make steps toward marriage, if you believe God will one day call you to this.  We live in a culture that increasingly encourages boys to remain boys, instead of encouraging men to be men.  And now, you’ll find more and more women who are single, leaders, and completely take charge type women, because guess what?  No men are being men.

God knows and sees this.  I just wanted to point out a few statistical reasons why the average age for men and women to marry is gradually being pushed back. In 2010 the average age for men marrying (first marriages) was 28, and women age 26.

Then there is the subject of divorce.

That is an entirely different blog right there.

Perhaps there will be a part 2 or 3 to come.  But for now, that’s all I got.  Back to work.

Informational website on marriage statistics:
http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0005061.html