Category Archives: art

Receiving Them

Readings: Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19; Isaiah 40:1-11; John 1:19-28

Give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to a king’s son.

May he judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with justice.

May the mountains yield prosperity for the people, and the hills, in righteousness.

May he defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to the needy, and crush the oppressor.

May he live while the sun endures, and as long as the moon, throughout all generations.

May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass, like showers that water the earth.

In his days may righteousness flourish and peace abound, until the moon is no more.

Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who alone does wondrous things. Blessed be his glorious name forever; may his glory fill the whole earth. Amen and Amen. Psalm 72, NRSV

How many times during the summer months have we not seen rain in a few days and the grass turns a little bit brown? Do we not hope for that refreshing, renewing rain? 

And that’s what Jesus comes to do.

He comes to refresh, renew us, refresh us with the forgiveness of our sins, and refresh us with the gift of everlasting life. 

He wants us to have these things and know how much we are loved.

He wants us to receive them, as that which only he does, to refresh us and renew us.

Waiting to Receive

Will we always flourish on earth? NO.

But when we believe in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior we are already flourishing in a spiritual way. We already have been given the greatest gift of all. We have already been given the gift of righteousness, forgiveness, salvation, and eternal life. As we receive and embrace this truth, we are already abounding. And this will not only continue until the moon is no more, but beyond it for all eternity because of Jesus, our Savior, because of our King.

Dear Lord Jesus,

As we remember your first coming, help us to see all that you have done and given, the righteousness that you have showered upon us, as rain upon the earth. Fill us with hope in you, and comfort us with your presence, and sustain us by your gifts, as we wait on you, that we may wait, embracing your love, your goodness, your righteousness, your gift of salvation. Amen.

Words and Image offered by Donna Eby, child of God.

Psalm 124

Readings: Psalm 124; Genesis 9:1-17; Hebrews 11:32-40

Psalm 124 by Riley Anderson

If it had not been the Lord who was on our side – let Israel now say –

if it had not been the Lord who was on our side, when our enemies attacked us,

then they would have swallowed us up alive, when their anger was kindled against us;

then the flood would have swept us away, the torrent would have gone over us;

then over us would have gone the raging waters.

Blessed be the Lord who has not given us as prey to their teeth.

We have escaped like a bird from the snare of the fowlers; the snare is broken and we have escaped.

Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

Psalm 124, NRSV

Offered by Riley Anderson, child of God.

Tending

It’s been a bookmark of mine for a few years, this card sent by friends. I love the John quote and the image of a candle in a hurricane glass shining its light on the world beyond the window.

Beautiful as they are, candles require attention or they can create quite a waxen mess. If left unattended, they can burn the house down. There’s a power to their warmth and light that can be destructive, even deadly, if neglected or used with ill intent.

Candlelight is a good image for the faith I share with the world. If I don’t tend to this faith in love, if I proclaim things to be good, true, and holy without love for the life outside the window, I’m as apt to burn things down as I am to shed illumination. If I keep the light to myself, well away from view, it does no one any good but me. I have to tend to it, or it won’t shine for very long.

Another thing: I have to remember that I’m not the only one who was given such a light. When I’m walking in the dark, it just may be someone else’s candle in the window that illuminates my path forward.

Love Is In The Air

Christmas Card, 2021

Love is in the air around here. Valentine’s Day is around the corner, chocolate and candies line store shelves, and a shocking amount of pink and red hearts are plastered everywhere. But that kind of love is not really what this card is requesting.

Love of any kind takes a lot of work and patience to foster. The emotional high we get from a new romance, the thrill at the birth of a child, or the emotional fuzzies exchanged with close friends don’t have a long shelf life if we store them in our inner cupboards like the canned goods in our kitchens. True love in any of its forms is a living presence that requires intentional attention and faithful nurturing. It is a gift from God, sent from above. But it’s a cutting from a living tree more than a figurine in a pretty box. It requires the very essence of who we are if it is to grow – and if we are to grow with it.

Perhaps that’s why it’s a dove and a spray of greenery and flowers – a reminder that our prayers for love are answered, but only come to life when we commit ourselves to love’s flourishing.

That Golden, Gilded Age

Christmas card, 2022

A single gilded word. It shouldn’t be consigned to an Advent or Christmas value. After all, peace something no faith tradition omits, even if none follow through in bringing about its reign.

The golden, gilded age doesn’t usually refer to a reign of peace – it is traditionally mistaken for a time and era filled with seaside mansions and philanthropic achievements. But this card has the truth of it: peace is the substance of a true golden age. No gilding required.

At Home In The World

Cabin

The home is small, the wilderness expansive. The trees and flakes are sparkle rimmed. The skis are set, ready for another foray into the forest; the lights are on. There’s some wood to throw on the fire just outside the door. There are words in the air. Everything needed is here, but nothing beyond it.

Simple isn’t easy, but if I can recognize the holiness of an uncluttered inner and outer space, I just might see in the woods, words, and flakes a glimpse of God’s ever-changing, never-ending love.

Local, II

It’s on the inside of my birthday card, this map. My son, Colin, marked the places where the various items in my present called home – nuts from the Blue Diamond factory and local growers, olive oil, honey, etc. They come from neighboring communities and were picked up in local shops or farmer’s markets. California offers almost everything within a few square miles and under an hour’s travel.

This is local in another way, too: it’s local from the place my son lives.

I don’t believe that everything is relative, but I do believe that everything is related. This map reminds me of that – and prompts me to honor the connectedness and relatedness of all things.

Local

They come to the feeder every day – at least a pair, usually more. For the cost and effort of putting seed in the feeder and scattering bread crusts on the ground, grace and beauty on the wing is made manifest just outside my window. Every season, in all kinds of weather, they come.

It’s said that cardinals are the spirits of those who have left this life returning in a different form. It’s also said that they signal death, the presence of the Spirit, and imminent change. Any, all, or none of these things could be true. I can’t say. What I do know: beauty and grace are local where I live and breathe just as surely as they are resident in exotic, far away places.

Gracious God, give me an eye to see the beauty you offer, and a spirit to be profoundly grateful for it. Amen.

Truth With A Bow

Christmas Card, 2021

I might enjoy what’s in the box, but nothing in it could be the perfect gift.

The true present? That something, almost anything, given with love and received with gratitude, delivers what I most desire in life:

The awareness that this life, all aspects and instances of it, are capable of drawing me into the love of God.

Today, that’s my working definition of Joy.

Epiphany in Images

It’s just a day into the new year, but Christmas season is still with me – the twelve days don’t end until the 6th, and our festive decorations are still brightening up the house. Included in those decorations are the Christmas cards that hang between the kitchen and living room. Walking between rooms, I pass under the well wishes of friends, family, and a few institutions – an arch of love and care that has been constructed card by card for decades. It would be a shame to let the cards go before giving them more than a passing glance…

You might want to share some of your favorites as well…