Monday, November 23, 2009

A Colorado Contrast

6:45 AM and I am driving West on Rockrimmon toward the church. The sky is beautiful blue with just a hint of pink arriving from the rising sun. Pikes Peak stands majestic in my windshield. It has a light cover of lingering snow that has been brightened white with an overnight dusting. It to begins to reflect the red orange of the early morning sun. It is a beautiful Colorado Springs day!

Just across the street from Eagle View Middle School ... another majestic sight. A huge multi-point buck is walking leisurely up the sidewalk like an early morning exercise guru. His neck is engorged and his body is marvelously muscular in the freshness of the day. His antlers look like something from a National Geographic photo. His presence (along with a multitude of his friends) is a reminder that we live in a unique and environment.

Thirty seconds later I arrive at Vindicator and Centennial. I am one intersection from Flying W Ranch Road where the church waits patiently. Just then, something catches my eye. Two military attack helicopters are flying across the front face of the Peak. They are in formation flying North toward the Academy.

The contrast struck me as a message about the world we live in today. At the core, it is filled with the beauty of God's creation. Life is good. But (very near the surface) is the real need to maintain a watchful and vigilant spirit of readiness. Even the beauty of the moment will not allow us to lay down our guard. It is the world today. It is another Colorado contrast.

In a spirit of Thanksgiving, I pause to pray for those who maintain the watch - here and around the globe.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The road to Gethsemani

This has been a really good week. It has been a week filled with blessings. I had a chance to be present for the worship service that officially established Dr. Timothy Tennent as the eighth president of Asbury Theological Seminary. It was a beautiful and spirit filled event!

I also had a chance to make a quick (really quick) trip to the Abbey of Gethsemani. I have been to the Abbey many times for personal prayer and significant retreats. This time the Abbey and the monks took a back seat to the road leading to the monastery.

As I drove through the early morning haze I was captured by the faith of the people along the road. I didn't see any of them in the front yard kneeling in prayer...but I did see consistent evidence of their faith. Look close and you will see a small statue of St Frances under the oak tree. A quick glance reveals a grotto with Mary standing watch. Just a few yards away is a limestone outcropping that protects a small cross covered with a cluster of flowers. Evidence of faith fills the road and points the traveler toward belief in the Christian faith.

For many of my protestant friends...this particular expression of faithfulness may seem a bit out of place or too Catholic for your liking.. Others would be concerned about idols made of wood, gold and plaster. With concern for those issues, it was a wonderful reminder of me about how our image of God is reflected in the images that hold significance for our lives.

My friend Gabriel Tate is writing a dissertation on the images that became central to the Christian community in Liberia prior to, during, and after a very bloody civil war. Faith images make a difference. They give us hope. They help us remember that God is active. They remind us of the grace that is best demonstrated in the life - death -and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Let me ask you...what images of God are important to you? Do you see faith, hope and love as you read the Word? Do you have a place that creates sacred connections? Are you searching for an image? Let me suggest a simple cross. The cross says it all.