Snowy Silence

My current office is a block room with no windows. I’ve filled it to the brim with toys, supplies, instruments, and assorted decorations. It’s a fun office full of possible distractions, but my desk faces the wall which keeps me focused most days.

I’ve opened my door just enough to look out the window in the room across the hall. Right now big, fluffy snowflakes are drifting down in meandering patterns, dancing in the wind. The only sound right now is the slight whir of my laptop’s internal fan. The silence is… beautiful.

How often do you have silence? Very often while I work organizing supplies or preparing for Sundays or Wednesday activities, I’ll have music, a podcast, or some energetic music depending on the level of focus required for the task. I’m almost constantly reading, or watching, or playing something at home. I play music while I cook dinner in the afternoon.

Mornings in my office have become moments of audio silence, although I’m still usually reading or working on something. This Lent, I’m thinking of adding daily silence to my routine, just 5-10 minutes. No computer, sound, or other input… just silence.

The Psalmist wrote, “Be still and know that I am God.” I may not be creating or producing while the silence happens, but that’s part of trusting God with that time. Even when I rest, when I take time to sit in silence and prayer, God is still working and has it handled.

Do you have silence in your life? If not, when could you carve out some time to experience a little silence in your schedule?

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50 Shades of Clickbait

Amazing what a number and a word can do nowadays, huh? Type 50 Shades on top of any post and immediately everyone rushes to read and comment. I guess this will be my obligatory “50 Shades” post.

I haven’t read the books or seen the movie, so this won’t be a discussion of content, but rather a more general discussion on outlying topics.

As many of you know, I am a Christian man married to a beautiful woman. That said, marital consummation is a topic that is often… skirted in Christian circles. You know, knowing someone in the biblical sense is often spoken of in hushed tones. Churches are reluctant to speak of physical intimacy between husbands and wives.

My point? Christians, traditionally, have a hard time talking about sex.

Whew… I said it.

One positive aspect of 50 Shades mania has been that sex conversations have invited themselves into Christian circles. Instead of hiding behind a safety net of “behind closed doors,” Christians are having to face a culture that has deftly taken over the conversation on sex and sexuality. Christians are also beginning to be more vocal about things like domestic abuse and those trapped in the sex trade, which we should have been doing all along.

I wrote not long ago about the fear of having to give the talk. The culture we live in is not so reluctant. Our culture will talk about sex to whomever will sit still long enough to hear it, including children. Beliefs about sexuality put aside for one second, I want to say this: If the schools our children attend can talk about sex with them, why can’t we?

In some ways, I am glad that Christians are finally being dragged into conversations about sexuality: what’s normal, what’s acceptable, and what God’s intention for sex is. Many pastors, theologians, and non clergy people are seriously searching the Bible for answers – and this is a fantastic thing! For several years now, I’ve had to listen to a one-sided conversation that, for the most part, completely disregards the spiritual aspect of life.

A good starting resource for these conversations is a short book called Trust Us, They’ll Ask by Group Publishing.

Here’s the link to the Kindle Edition.

Meals

I like food. Most people who spend any amount of time around me know I like food. I like making food, eating food, sometimes sharing food (if people ask first or I offer.) Food is one of those great things that can bring people together in a way most other events or things can’t.

So I guess it’s no surprise just how much eating is in the Bible. Many of the big key moments of the biblical narrative happen at a meal or around food of some sort. Just to name a few:

* Adam and Eve eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil
* God announcing Isaac’s birth to Sarah
* The Exodus beginning with the Passover meal
* David beginning his flight from Saul, eating the bread of the presence
* David welcoming Ish-Bosheth
* Esther saving her people from treachery happened at a banquet
* Daniel and his friends choosing veggies over unclean foods in Babylon
* A majority of Jesus’ ministry (parties and feasts – no really, go check)
* Jesus’ final Passover meal before his crucifixion

I guess I like having people over because I figure something big’s gonna happen during the meal. There’s plenty of precedence, after all.

But seriously, two meals stood out to me when I was reading up on the Easter story (yes, it’s early, but I plan ahead) for a lesson this April. I was reading the story of the Road to Emmaus. This story centers on two followers of Jesus who are heading to Emmaus, presumably their home, after the Passover week. They are distressed and discussing what had happened to Jesus when Jesus himself starts walking alongside them. They don’t recognize him, of course, but Jesus begins asking questions and ends up explaining about himself starting with Moses and the prophets and how he had to die to fulfill what was written. The followers were impressed at his knowledge and invited them to their house, and Jesus broke the bread and blessed it. Suddenly, the two travelers recognized Jesus and he vanished. They ran back to Jerusalem and told the Eleven apostles what had happened.

One phrase I left out makes a world of difference, along with a detail I had never considered. One of the commentaries I read suggested that Cleopas’s (one traveler’s name) companion might have been his wife. Which would make sense if they were headed home after Passover. The phrase is: “and their eyes were opened.” We see this several times in the Bible as a way to say someone has received understanding. Here, the two travelers received understanding that their companion was Jesus, in the flesh!

There’s another couple who receives this phrase in their story: Adam and Eve. When they eat from the tree, Genesis says, “their eyes were opened.” Suddenly, they understood disobedience and shame. They wanted to cover themselves and hide. Their understanding was pain itself.

But now fast forward to this passage in Luke: a couple has their eyes opened to the new life Jesus talked about. They see Jesus and recognize him as the Messiah, the Savior, the King. They recognize that the fear, shame, pain, and death that came from that first meal has completely changed. At a table so far separated by time, a new recognition dawns and this couple understands Jesus’ mission and victory!

So when people like me say that meals are important for the family, the biblical narrative seems to support that. Big things happen during meals. Understanding between members is fostered, and knowledge and wisdom pass from generation to generation. Laughter is shared, pain is shared. A regular family meal is something that should not be ignored, no matter how fast life moves.

May your family meals be impactful, fun, and a place of love.