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The Second Sunday

The season of the Gospel called Advent started last Sunday and ends on Christmas Eve.

During Advent, we prepare for, and anticipate, the coming of Christ.*

To me, Advent is like that moment at a symphony concert when the conductor taps her/his music stand with the baton. Then, lifting both arms up, s/he looks at the orchestra…THAT is what Advent’s like, that in-between moment.

What are you anticipating this Advent season?

*http://www.umc.org/topics/topic-advent-and-christmas

A Long, Loving Look

Attention, all!

See the marvels of God!

God plants flowers and trees

all over the earth,

bans war from pole to pole,

breaks all the weapons across his knee.

“Step out of the traffic!

Take a long,

loving look at me,

your High God,

above politics,

above everything.”

— Psalm 46:8-10, The Message version

What’s one specific thing you’re doing today to both “Step out of the traffic” and “Take a long, loving look at” God?

As always, I’d love to hear from you, and will see you back here tomorrow.

Meanwhile:

  1. “Step out of the traffic” and
  2.  “Take a long, loving look at your High God”

Come Be Part of a Live Recording Today

You’re invited —

What Are We Doing in Our Prisons?

Stacy Hulm has given me blanket permission to share her writings with you here, and this one, yeah, I’m for sure endorsing —

I’ve been meditating on Acts 16 this morning. Paul and Silas are in prison, their feet in stocks.

They are praying and singing hymns to God while “the other prisoners listened.”

In this place of darkness and death, they are bringing light and life.

Then there’s an earthquake and ALL the prison doors are opened and EVERBODY’S chains break loose – not just Paul and Silas’s.

What we do in our prison affects ALL the people around us.

Portrait of a Hero

One of my heroes is/was/continues-to-be Dr. Dennis F. Kinlaw. Have me tell you sometime about how he literally stopped me in my tracks while on my way to breakfast.

John Schmid is a Mennonite friend IRL who’s a full time singer (understatement) who has an amazing prison ministry (another understatement). He recently wrote this about Dr. Kinlaw and it’s with his gracious permission that I can share it with you here —

Dr. Dennis Kinlaw was the president of Asbury College when I went there.

Probably the most brilliant and deeply spiritual man that I knew personally.

He read the Bible in Hebrew and Greek and yet when he preached a child could understand him.

— You, too, would have loved Dr. Kinlaw.

 

Kurt Vonnegut’s Advice, part two.

Yesterday we looked at a letter together, sent from Kurt Vonnegut to five high school students.

I sure hope you completed his assignment! (JanetH and I sure did.)

Before we move on, let’s notice how he ended that letter —

 God bless you all!

— Not sure why that surprised me so much, but it did.

I appreciate him more than ever.

And if you’d like more on the backstory of this letter, here’s a source: https://dangerousminds.net/comments/kurt_vonneguts_letter_to_high_school_students_pretend_youre_count_dracula

Now, as he said to them, God bless you!

Kurt Vonnegut’s Advice

Brace yourself.

Kurt Vonnegut was the favorite author of five high students. They contacted him as part of an assignment. And he replied!

Again, brace yourself. —

November 5, 2006

Dear Xavier High School, and Ms. Lockwood, and Messrs Perin, McFeely, Batten, Maurer and Congiusta:

I thank you for your friendly letters. You sure know how to cheer up a really old geezer (84) in his sunset years. I don’t make public appearances any more because I now resemble nothing so much as an iguana.

What I had to say to you, moreover, would not take long, to wit: Practice any art, music, singing, dancing, acting, drawing, painting, sculpting, poetry, fiction, essays, reportage, no matter how well or badly, not to get money and fame, but to experience becoming, to find out what’s inside you, to make your soul grow.

Seriously! I mean starting right now, do art and do it for the rest of your lives.

Draw a funny or nice picture of Ms. Lockwood, and give it to her. Dance home after school, and sing in the shower and on and on.

Make a face in your mashed potatoes.

Pretend you’re Count Dracula.

Here’s an assignment for tonight, and I hope Ms. Lockwood will flunk you if you don’t do it: Write a six line poem, about anything, but rhymed. No fair tennis without a net. Make it as good as you possibly can.

But don’t tell anybody what you’re doing.

Don’t show it or recite it to anybody, not even your girlfriend or parents or whatever, or Ms. Lockwood. OK?

Tear it up into teeny-weeny pieces, and discard them into widely separated trash receptacles.

You will find that you have already been gloriously rewarded for your poem. You have experienced becoming, learned a lot more about what’s inside you, and you have made your soul grow.

God bless you all!

Kurt Vonnegut

—- I invite you, yes you, to follow his advice.

To use his example, write your own six line poem, about anything, but rhymed today. And then follow the rest of his instructions to them as well.

If writing a poem seems scary, that might well be the exact and most helpful place to start today.

Whichever of the 11 options he offers in his letter, pick one right now.

And then get busy.

See you back here tomorrow!