Monday, December 1, 2008

Advent Retreat - Session 1

I am THRILLED about the day-long Advent Retreat
taking place over at RevGals. I popped Handel's Messiah in first thing this morning, and began to read "Comfort, O comfort" as I heard the first line "Comfort Ye." Ahhhhhhh...providence.

In reflecting on this passage (Isaiah 40:1-11) for the congregation's Advent devotional I was drawn to the accessibility of the royal road. As the "landlord" to an organization for youth with disabilities I read about a road that everyone could travel. Kathryn's reflection about what has to happen to make the road accessible to God and others hit home for me.

There's a lot inaccessible on the highway from God to me now. It has been for a while. I think I took too seriously in seminary the new-to-me idea that faith and spirituality are hugely about the community and not just the individual relationship with God. I have let the one slip down in importance to lift the other up.

And so now I have mountains between God and myself. I have unidentifiable barriers in my prayer life, in my devotional life, in my spiritual life. I don't know what's blocking me, if it is fear or distrust or faithlessness or what, but the mountains are there.

I've been talking (to myself mostly) about this need for a change, but have also been complaining (again to myself) about not knowing where or how to start. Kathryn put words to what is probably stopping me. I think inside I know that a change can't be small. I can't just add in a 5 minute devotional here or there, call it a change, and be done. Mountains, priorities, barriers, hesitancies, fears, doubts will have to be toppled to make a highway for God. A deepened renewed relationship with the divine will change me. I know that. I preach that. I believe that. I just don't know that I'm ready for that.

I want to know what the landscape will look like once the highway is in place, and that's impossible to see. I LOVED the piece about how sometimes building the new road can even protect and enhance what is already there and maybe even being threatened or damaged by the current road. Could those current, long-standing or at least future-looking homes and structures be my family, my marriage, even the congregation I serve? If I don't let God come on this new highway, if I don't get this new highway prepared, are those things at risk?


I'll wait a few hours to participate in Session 2. I need to let this perc a little, and do some praying.


Purple said...

It is a rocky road at times. Change is such a fickle creature...especially when reorienting our interior landscapes. Throw in some balancing acts to boot...and life just seems to zoom by. Prayers for your journey.

Juniper said...

It's so funny (peculiar, not ha-ha) that doing the work of ministry can so often move us away from the God who called us to it in the first place. Sometimes when I cant pray for myself, I find it helps to ask my peeps :) to pray for me. Kind of pray me along until I can return to it. I am praying for all of us on retreat today, so I will add my fervent prayers that the toppling mountains will come down as gently as possible!

Hot Cup Lutheran said...

i have to re-read the words about the highway enhancing, protecting what is to come and what is to be... i like that notion alot. for now my sermon has been inspired and is 2/3 there... so it's time for a cup of cocoa and some cookies. hope your percolating is going just fine... balance indeed is a tricky thing.

Kathryn said...

Thank you for engaging at such depth, and for identifying something that I can see going on inside me too.
This virtual retreat is a huge blessing, I'm finding.

Songbird said...

Sometimes we have to *start* with five minutes...