Monday, December 1, 2008

Advent Virtual Retreat - Session 2

Over at the second session of the RevGals Advent Virtual Retreat, Songbird, asked these questions:

1. What demands your attention in this Advent season?
2. What in your life needs to be scattered by God's arm?
3. What brings you joy?

One and two I worked on in session 1 I think. Number 3 is another story. Shouldn't that be an easy question? Well, it would be if I was thinking about joy in the giddy, happy way she first described. What about REAL joy, though? Joy that comes not because my stomach does flip-flops of excited, not silliness, or even sentimentality. What about joy that comes only when I know the divine has met the human, joy that comes when I KNOW God is with us, a theme many others found in session 1. I think that's what joy is - when the divine becomes tangible and evident and revealed.

Worship that has been not about me, but about praising God (whether I'm leading or just participating) brings me joy. The feeling after the fact that God's will has been done brings me joy. Days when I have been used to the full potential God has created in me bring me joy.

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?

Hmmmmm...

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