English: The loneliness of Culloden Culloden is one of the few areas that I leave feeling full of sadness. This lonely tree at the sight says it all. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Everyone experiences loneliness and isolation. Some people experience it more than others. They may have a greater need to be connected to others, or they may have lost and never a significant connection in their lives. Some are lonely because there are not other people around. Others are lonely because they have a sense of isolation even though they are in a crowd. I suspect that a lot of our loneliness is about the sense of connection we have to other people.
Shepherds are often alone, even today. They face a great deal of isolation as they care for the sheep. Maybe that is why they were invited to the birth of Jesus. God chose to reach out to those who were isolated and alone. God chose to share with them because God wants to offer to all a connection to something more. God wants us to know, especially those of us who are lonely and isolated, that we do not have to be alone. We are invited into God’s story. God wants us there are God interacts with humanity. God wants us to be a part of something more.
This Advent and Christmas, realize that God is with you. Invite others to be a part of the experience of God.
Communication (Photo credit: P Shanks)
This week ends the Easter season in the life of the church. While many of us have long since put away our Easter baskets and chocolate bunnies, the church celebrates for 50 days. In this time, the church celebrates the new life offered in Jesus Christ who has conquered death. The season ends as we celebrate Pentecost Sunday. We celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit came upon the disciples as well as the people who happened to be present in the town that day.
The Spirit allowed Peter to speak to everyone in a way that they could understand. The Spirit allowed the people to understand what Peter was saying. Even though this was a multicultural gathering of people who spoke different languages, the Spirit allowed comprehension. One of the first gifts of the Holy Spirit was effective communication. More often than not, we need divine intervention for effective communication. This is a gift that is available to all, but we often try to rely on our own abilities.
Consider the typical behavior when we encounter someone who speaks another language. We speak more slowly and more loudly. Somehow we think that this will bring comprehension to the listener. We do the same thing, at times, with those who disagree with us. We decide that they would agree with us if they understood our point. So we repeat our point. We continue to repeat our point, convinced that the listener was just not paying attention. Instead of these pointless repetitions, we need divine intervention. We need the Spirit to come and flow through both the speaker and the listener. We need new ears for hearing as well as a new voice for speaking.
May the wind of the Holy Spirit come into all of your communications and create more effective communication.
Cristo Redentor, statue on Corcovado mountain in Rio de Janeiro (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Bonnie Tyler sang “Holding Out for a Hero”. She first released the song in 1984, but I remember it most from the soundtrack of the movie “Footloose”. Some days I feel that is my song, or at least my desire. I want someone to come and take care of all the things in my life that seem to be overwhelming me. Maybe you know this feeling. She is looking for Superman. She is looking for the cowboy-in-white-hat who will rescue her. I imagine that most of us, if not all of us, have a dream that there is one who will come and rescue us. We want a hero who will clean up our mess, shoulder some of our burden, help us out, and generally relieve some of our stress.
We want to be saved from our to-do lists, our work, our chores, our responsibilities, and our lives. I think we are looking for a savior more than a hero. We want someone to save us from ourselves. We want someone to save us from the tidal wave of responsibilities and work that threaten to overcome us.
We already have a Savior, but we sometimes forget that our Savior is not the bust-down-the-door type of Savior. Our Savior is often waiting and wanting to be included in our lives. Our Savior helps us realize that while there are many things we need to do, this is all temporary. Our lives are bigger than the daily demands we and others put upon ourselves. We are a part of the kingdom of God. The things of this world are all temporary. We have a Savior who has conquered even death itself, so we don’t need to allow the things of this life to overwhelm us. We have Jesus Christ, a Savior. Allow your desires for a hero to be shared with Jesus. Allow the Savior to share your burdens. In this sharing, we find comfort, peace, and a new perspective. Hold out for more than a hero. Hold out for a Savior.