Bearing the Light

By Katie Harmon-McLaughlin

Sometimes what is most profound is in the details.

A beautiful Advent worship had been planned. A young girl, beloved by our congregation, with severe physical disabilities was invited to light the Advent candle. As she rolled to the front of our circle in her wheel chair, Gail (our pastor) realized she would not be able to bend to the table where the candles were displayed.

Gail lifted two candles from the Advent cluster, one already lit and one waiting for flame. Handing the unlit candle to the young girl, she held the other one in her own hand, catching hot wax as it dripped down the side. Arms reached toward one another as one light became two.

The service continued, but as Gail sat back down beside me, I saw the wax already cooling on her fingertips. This sight became to me a symbol of the presence I also felt– God with us.  I deeply admired Gail’s compassionate leadership, her impulse for inclusion, her sacrificial act to bear light for and with another.

Bearing light is not easy. It may result in hot wax on your fingertips, or other forms of discomfort and inconvenience as we make a way for the peaceable kin-dom to flourish among us. Being a witness to this light-bearing restored hope in me, and a renewed conviction about the light I am called to bear in places darkened by fear or despair.

However we hold the light and in whatever place, what was clear to me in that moment was the incomprehensible width of invitation. It is a light for all people, within all people, carried by each one. As we move toward Christmas, may we reach toward flame and heat held by others brave enough to guide the way, that one light may become many.

Come Feast With Christ

Lenten Practice: Fasting
Daily Act: Spend time in prayer with these questions for reflection: 1. How does intentional emptying make more space for God in your life? 2. How does this disruption in your normal routine draw your attention to God and others in a new way?
Weekly Prayer Phrase: Repeat this phrase slowly as you breathe deeply. You may choose to memorize this phrase and repeat it throughout your day.

“OPEN ME TO RECEIVE MORE OF YOU.”

As we reach the end of our first full week of Lent, here is a poem to prepare our hearts for World Hunger Day (tomorrow). In each emptying and receiving, may you find joy.

COME FEAST WITH CHRIST
WORLD HUNGER DAY

By David Brock

They wouldn’t really get
the guilt part
of World Hunger Day,
our thin-armed Third World sisters
who reach weary fingers
to receive a piece of bread,
coconut, or cracker;
our old-before-their-time brothers
who sip the grape juice
or caramelized sugar water
as they feast with Christ
this Communion Sunday.
They just wouldn’t get
the guilt part.

If you came.
If I was there,
they’d find some yam
or tarot root and cassava greens,
free range chickens or one thin goat,
boiled rice and Coca Cola at room temperature.
They’d rustle up abundance
from a crusty loaf and a dried fish.
They’d work a miracle for the visitor.
You, the guest,
and even their thin-lipped kids
would eat well
on World Hunger Day.

If you or I were the face of Jesus
in their hut today,
someone would thank God
for God’s grace and generous gifts.
We’d sing. We’d laugh.
We’d eat to overflowing
and there’d be enough
and to spare.
We’d laugh more, sing more
than any of us has for too long
and those rich moments
would be the greater miracle.
Joy and abundance
on World Hunger Day.
A full-on feast with Jesus
in the symbols of sacrament
and the hospitality of our hungry
Sisters and brothers in Christ.

I keep forgetting the hospitality of the poor.
I simply keep forgetting the hungry:
More than 800 million of them this World Hunger day.
The thousands who’ll die today
The cold calculations that number the
names of the 7 who die each minute,
in whose drawn faces
the light of the eyes
slowly fades and blinks out.

Wars kill, AIDS kills, cancer kills
But nothing kills like hunger.
They wouldn’t get the guilt part
of World Hunger Day.
They’d just share their abundance
They’d be as generous as they could.
They’d give the gift of hospitality
And they and we would experience joy.

[BFW—www.bread.org (advocacy)
Outreach International
Oblation—World Hunger
The Feinstein Foundation Challenge to Students
Joyce Carter, Ken Schnell]

Lenten Spiritual Retreat with Presiding Evangelist David Brock.  March 13-15, 2015 Click here to register!
Lenten Spiritual Retreat with Presiding Evangelist David Brock.
March 13-15, 2015
Click here to register!

For Courage

Lenten Practice: Fasting
Daily Act: Create space within by opening your heart to another. Whom will you let in today? How do you experience God when you make genuine space for others in your life?
Weekly Prayer Phrase: Repeat this phrase slowly as you breathe deeply. You may choose to memorize this phrase and repeat it throughout your day.

“OPEN ME TO RECEIVE MORE OF YOU.”

For Courage
By Katie Harmon-McLaughlin

Blessings of courage to you
In each opening
Of your deepest self
To someone else

In daring to see
The holy
Radiant
In another life

In each response
To what you see

Blessings of courage to you
When you encounter
Strangers in this desert
And feel the urge of hospitality
Deep in your bones
Welcoming and receiving
With a surprisingly open heart
Despite the pounding fear
Of the unknown
Only to discover
You’ve been entertaining
Angels
Unaware

Blessing upon each encounter
That you may risk naming them
Holy

Even with your boss
Even with your spouse
Even with your co-worker
Even with your child
Even with the bus driver
The grocery clerk
The person delivering your mail
Even with the ones
You struggle to love

And the many faces that pass
So often unnoticed
On your way to somewhere
Now beacons of the divine love
You’ve come here to seek

So many people
In this desert place
Seeking some form
Of a glass of water
A loaf of bread
A kind-hearted smile

And God says-
I will you meet you here
In each one
In us all

“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.” Hebrews 13:2, NRSV