In this new book From the Psalms to the Cloud Maria and I ask the writer’s or prayers to share some of the thoughts behind their writing. Ken Sehested of North Carolina US writes and it is quoted in the book this way before his words “Invitation to Spiritual Shoppers” which may be something that some of us want to hear in this season when … shopping is so ubiquitous.
Ken responds to a note from a parishioner about the hard first Christmas after the death of her husband. “It doesn’t surprise me at all that the holidays are tougher than you thought they would be. This is not at all uncommon when you’ve suffered such a loss. No doubt you already know this, but you should neither bless nor repress that ache. Just turn to it and say: ‘I see you there, Mr. Boogeyman. Stay as long as you like, but you’ll get neither a plate nor a bed here:’”
Invitation for Spiritual Shoppers:
Attention, spiritual shoppers. There are no discounts.
No sale prices. No fifty percent off summer specials,
no bonus miles, no pre-inventory clearance or back-to-school savings.
There are no shortcuts to faith, no money-back guarantees,
no lifetime warranties or last-minute deals.
Every minute is your last. There are no wading pools.
The depths are deep and turbulence is standard.
Where there is no vision, the people shall perish.
Where no wisdom, only sorrow and anguish.
But joy awaits every lover’s consent to be wed to Beloved’s intent.
Though failure is frequent, pardon is bountiful.
If you want a God-soaked life, move to the margins.
Plant sequoias. Find an eroded field and stake your soul on its reclamation.
Synchronize your hope to an abandoned child’s heartbeat.
Set your sights on the interest from millennial investments.
Say o’er the clamor of all merchandising madness:
Life is not had by what is possessed,
but only by what has been promised.
In a completely different vein is John Danner of Florida who has a pastoral discipline of writing a different Doxology — word of praise — every Sunday of the year. Each week he sits down to reflect on that week and writes to the often familiar Doxology tune Old Hundreth. Here are two — one for an Advent Sunday and one for Christmas.
Praise God who calms our ev’ry fear,
Who holds us close and counts us dear,
Who gives us hope when nights grow long,
And fills our hearts with grateful song
Praise God with joyful heart and mind,
For in the manger we will find,
The One who gives us hope and peace,
The One in whom our troubles cease.