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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arrival of advent

The arrival of advent awaits us.  Beginning December 3, the church begins a season of expectation and waiting, culminating on Christmas Day as we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

A few friends of mine have put together a contemplative advent guide, which will be available for free.  Check back here later this coming week for a link to download.  This guide is meant to help you create some calm in the midst of this often busy season.  We hope it is a blessing and refreshment to your soul this season.

Check back here for a few of my original writing and poetry, as I’ll post on the day each one is read in the guide.

Peace to you this Christmas season.

146,000 silent nights

Malachi 3:1  “’I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,’ says the LORD Almighty.”

These were last words God spoke.  For 400 years.

The people waited.
And they kept waiting.
400 years passed;
God was silent.
146,000 silent nights.
But all the people were watching and waiting,
and watching some more.

They were not fighting each other.
They were not worshipping other gods…
for the first time in a LONG time.

They knew God was with them as they watched and waited,
but, the promise…
from the prophet Isaiah:
For unto us a son is born
Unto us a son is given
The peace, justice, righteousness…
they knew these were coming.
They knew HE was coming.

But, do you think the people wanted to give up?
Did they get tired of waiting?
Did they think God’s promises weren’t going to come to be?

Maybe.

But the next time God spoke, it wasn’t through a judge, king or prophet.
It was in the cry of a Baby.
God would break the silent nights, with a not so silent night,
through the screaming cry of a baby.
The Son of God,
Emmanuel,
GOD WITH US.

Two people waited expectantly day and night in the temple worshipping God, waiting for the Messiah, or the Christ.

Luke 2:25-32  “There was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, looking forward to Israel’s consolation, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he saw the Lord’s Messiah. Guided by the Spirit, he entered the temple complex. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform for Him what was customary under the law, Simeon took Him up in his arms, praised God, and said:
‘Now, Master, You can dismiss Your slave in peace, as You promised.
For my eyes have seen Your salvation. You have prepared it in the presence of all peoples— a light for revelation to the Gentiles and glory to Your people Israel.'”

Luke 2:36-38  “There was also a prophetess, Anna […] . She was well along in years, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and was a widow for 84 years. She did not leave the temple complex, serving God night and day with fasting and prayers. At that very moment, she came up and began to thank God and to speak about Him to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.”

Simeon and Anna both were waiting,
and after waiting so long, they finally gazed into the eyes of God-
a baby.

Someone asked me last week – why do we celebrate Jesus coming at Christmas time so much? What’s so special about it?

Jesus was and still is the hope of all mankind.
Jesus was and is God – who came to earth to live as one of us,
to share in our sufferings, our struggles,
to live as we live,
and years later – this baby, now a man
would die on a cross and rise again
because of one reason:

LOVE.

God’s love for us – you and I and this entire world
is so big that he didn’t leave us alone,
He didn’t leave us to walk this life alone
He came to be with us,
He came to rescue us.

And that indeed is good news,
the good news of love
that was worth waiting for all those years.

Love.

 

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from death to life

Let-Go

Letting go.
Letting things die
so i can live..
so I can really live, again.

There is life, even in death
because some things need to die, so other things can live
like dreams

But why do we keep praying for clarity?
We are never promised clarity
But … but
we can walk by faith, and not by sight
we can choose trust instead of the questions

And somehow in the mess
there is beauty
in the ashes
and in the end
we may experience a joy that only comes from Him in the midst of the
madness, chaos, confusion and doubt..

and a seed of joy is planted
growing bit by bit
sprouting into a tree.  A tree of life.  Again.

love.

Perverted love is all the “love” this world knows
the kind that says now or never
a demanding lust that craves for more and more

This is our world

This is our reality

Sucking the life out of every young man’s eye
stinging every woman deep within her heart
knowing that the “love” she hoped for
doesn’t really seem to exist
this is our world.  This is my world.  This is 2012.

Does the kind of love exist that we all grew up thinking “love” was?
the kind of love worth sacrifice
the kind of love worth everything

because 1+1 didn’t seem to equal one anymore
in this world at least
the odds just don’t seem to say it can work
“statistics” say it can’t happen

every 1 out of 2 marriages will end
100 percent begin with love
50 percent end with hate
or resentment
or simply shattered hopes
does real love even exist?
does hope for this kind of love even exist?

the love of dying in the arms of the one your heart was made for
the love that is as strong as death
jealousy demanding as the grave
that many waters cannot quench
LOVE

what is love?  We ponder.
but the answer is right in front of us
right near to the touch of our fingers
GOD IS LOVE.

who is love?
God.
not lust
not demands
not fear
not skepticism
not ultimatums
not manipulation
not pornography
not lies
not dashed hope
GOD IS LOVE.

some of these things people might find offensive to say
but the reality of our reality
is that love doesn’t seem to exist anymore
and some people.  Like me.
ponder if it is possible.
and like you
wonder if it is possible.  Real.  Does it exist?
or like you, who continue to hope and never seeing
or you who gave your heart again and again only to see it returned in pieces
or you who placed every longing you have in a better world around you.

Real love does exist.
And it already belongs to you.

What if we don’t deserve love?
what we “deserve” is damnation.
we don’t deserve any kind of love
it is a gift.  A priceless, precious gift.

Love is sacrifice.
That love is what makes the love our heart longs for.
That love makes us believe again.
But it begins within yourself.
but more importantly, it begins with knowing
you don’t have the ability within yourself.
that comes only from God.
But makes real love, true love.

Does real love exist?
Does the sun rise every morning?
I must believe.

fighting gravity

I’ve been going through a dry spell, in regards to the creative side of my life.  I can’t remember when I last wrote a song.  This really isn’t a good thing, if you know me.  Hopefully changes in the future will aid this.  However, I had a moment of inspiration today, and am in the process of again writing:

Fighting gravity
’cause it’s all I can do to breathe
coming up for air
because gravity isn’t what I was made for
I was made to fly, I was made to fly

Fighting looks and glances
and who you think I am
Gravity was made for you
but not for me, never for me
I was made to fly, I was made to fly

I was made to fly
I’m more than what meets your eye
But can’t seem to escape
what you see me as
Fighting gravity
but it only seems to me
I’m grounded because
what you think I’m made to be

Like I said, it’s in the process.  Has a folky/country/shuffle feel.  More inspiration to come, hopefully…

(almost) dead on arrival

almost dead on arrival
i pulled myself up out of the ashes
opening the door with near ease and a good push
stepping through the threshold and slamming the past behind, along with the door

head pounding, heart sinking
i found myself alone once again
covered in blood, sweat, and dirt
but i didn’t mind the silence, or the filth

time to clean up, i thought to myself
only there was so much still to do
as i began washing the dishes and sweeping the floors of my heart
i realized i was missing something, i just didn’t know what

i sill had my hands
strong enough to play instruments
i still had my voice
clear and ringing with no change

wasn’t that.

i glanced in the mirror to look at my face
the face i supposed i’d always had
yes, still looked the same to me
only a few small wrinkles forming, and white hairs growing on my head of hair

i searched my room, the heart of me
what was missing?
my journals nicely stacked, Bible on the end table
everything nicely lined up and in perfect order

i paged through bills
all stacked on my bookshelf
along with many books i probably will never read
then through the piles, i found what was missing

only what was missing, really shouldn’t be there at all
the memories of someone who never really was
who never really belonged in my heart and home at all
he needed to go

but for some reason i still held onto that framed photo of two smiling faces
maybe because at first i thought i would have reason to put it out again
but mostly because when it ended i couldn’t even look at him anymore
so i slammed it down, and buried it with my bills and Christmas cards

i stumbled home nearly dead on arrival
because for some reason this small piece was creating a huge weight in my heart
what am i missing?
i’m not even sure anymore.

i’m missing peace of mind and comfort in fears
i’m missing the dreams i once carried in my pocket
that are now hard to find
i’m missing the life i desperately want to live
but can’t because for some reason you’re still everywhere i go

can you just leave me alone?
let me be the person i was before you came along and stole my heart?
you don’t belong
you never did.