Tag Archives: trust in God

An Anniversary Poem by Tom Webber

3 Nov
You can find out more about Tom & Barb's music by visiting their website: www.fairwebberfolkmusic.com

You can find out more about Tom & Barb Webber’s music by visiting their website: http://www.fairwebberfolkmusic.com

To Barb: An Anniversary Poem

I love you this moment
This small moment —
One drop of the tide of moments
That make the ocean of our life together.

We cannot know its distant shore
‘Though it seems we are on a long journey
On this tiny vessel we call “marriage”.
We do not know whence our journey first began
Nor when we will one day land.
(But we do have this one moment!)

We do not know its depths,
Nor what peril lies ahead.
But we feel the high tides
And the low ebbs
As we ride the crest of this moment along
To some unseen shore past the horizon.

What really does it matter?
This moment is all I have to give you.
For the ocean would be so much less
Were it diminished drop by drop.

So I love you this moment
And give you this moment.
Perhaps the ocean is in this single drop of time.

(c) Thomas C. Webber, November 1990


My wife Barb and I celebrated our silver wedding anniversary today! It has been a wonderful journey together so far, and I am looking forward to all the years we will share in the future. We have filled it with a simple but full life centered on family (we have four lovely children) and our shared love of music which we have been performing together since the late 80s.

I wrote the poem above to commemorate our first anniversary together, and I shared it again with Barb in a homemade card. The message, I believe, will never lose its meaning for me. I share it you, my reader, with the hope that it might likewise speak to your journey of love.

Peace,

Tom

 

 

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A Creed For Disenfranchized Chiristians And Disillusioned Spiritual Seekers

3 Jan
Spiral Staircase

Spiral Staircase

 

“God is not a belief-system.
Jesus is not a religion.
The good news is not a ticket to Heaven.
Church is not an address.
The Bible is not a book of doctrines.
Transformation is not behavior modification.
Community is not a meeting.
Grace has no exceptions.
Ministry is not a program.
Art is not carnal.
Women are not inferior.
Our humanity is not the enemy.
Sinner is not our identity.
Love is not a theory.
Peace is not a circumstance.
Science is not secular.
Sex is not filthy.
The herelife is not a warm-up for the afterlife.
The world is not without hope.
There is no “us” and “them.”
Tattoos are not evil.
Loving the earth is not satanic.
Seeing the divine in all things is not heretical.
Self-actualization is not self-worship.
Feelings are not dangerous and unreliable.
The mind is not infallible.”

– Jim Palmer

Check out Jim Palmer’s WordPress blog at http://jimpalmerblog.com

New Series of Advent Video Reflections

5 Dec

I’d like to pass on this example from a new series of Advent video reflections that feature the beautiful artwork of Brother Mickey McGrath. The promise is that a new reflection will be posted each day throughout the Advent season. The focus of this particular video is his painting “The Annunciation.” Enjoy, be inspired, and you are certainly encouraged to share this!

Video Meditation for Advent: O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

9 Dec

Please take a moment to settle back and quiet yourself,

recalling God’s ever present love.

 

Set aside all of the cares and concerns of this day.

 

Be in touch with your deep desire for God;

your own deep need for Love, for Grace, for Peace, and for Hope.

 

Pray: “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” several times as you breath deeply.

 

Please watch now, with an open heart, a truly inspiring Advent meditation that I found to share with you this day.

 

 

Blessings,

Tom

Advent Reflection: “Alive Again” by Matt Maher

8 Dec

I haven’t been a big fan of what is known in the music business today as “Contemporary Christian Music” (aka CCM)  since after the movement was in its infancy way back in the early through mid-70s. Those early days of what was then referred to as Jesus Music arose as an outgrowth of the so-called Jesus People movement (basically a Christian  evangelical movement among newly converted hippies), and there were several young artists and groups that I listened to and found spiritually uplifting. These included the likes of Larry Norman, Barry McGuire, Mustard Seed Retreat, Love Song, Randy Stonehill, The Talbot Brothers (brothers John Michael and Terry Talbot), Malcom and Alwyn, Honeytree, Andre Crouch and the Disciples, and Richie Furay. As this movement “progressed” in instrumental sophistication, I found that I didn’t have a stomach for the later CCM music which, lyrically, began to sound like “Christian bubblegum.” I also came to a point where I had grown past the fundamentalism that characterized most of the artists. In any case, I still have a place in my heart for much of the music I heard back then.

This brings me to today’s Advent reflection… A little over year ago I stumbled across this song “Alive Again” by a somewhat younger contemporary Roman Catholic artist named Matt Maher and was deeply moved by it. (At the time I was searching for an appropriate tune that I might do for one of our school liturgies at St. Thomas More, a Catholic high school where I was then teaching theology.) Now that we are in the midst of Advent, it struck me that, while not written for this expressed purpose, the song “Alive Again,” replete as it is with Advent themes such as light and darkness, longing for God, hope, redemption, and grace, this song is a perfect source for Advent prayer and reflection.

Please sit back and enjoy this video of “Alive Again” before you continue reading below. Lyrics for the song are included in the video itself:

 

A prayer reflection:

During this season of Advent, I am reminded that even in the midst of winter darkness, be it a feeling of existential alone-ness,  or that of an acute, personal awareness of the darkness of the world at large so often bereft of love, that GOD IS HERE, silently reaching out with the offer love, grace and redemption. Whether I am simply stealing away right now for a moment of quiet solitude and prayer, or if I am feeling uncomfortably alone now, shouldering some heavy burden, perhaps even despairing of God’s absence, God is right here now waiting — waiting with the patience of eternity. That movement of longing and desire that is in my heart now is the sacrament of God’s loving presence, as is the very movement of my breathing, an act of which I rarely conscious. Like the ever present rhythm of my breath, your Spirit, your RUAH, O God, is my ever present, silent partner, bringing me life. Your light slowly shatters my darkness, just as the first faint rays of sunlight bleed through and dispel the long night. For this I thank you, even as I await the fullness of of the coming of your kingdom. Amen.

Late have I loved You
You waited for me
I searched for You
What took me so long?

I was looking outside
As if love would ever want to hide
I’m finding I was wrong


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An important footnote to Matt Maher’s song “Alive Again”…. Matt has shared that his song was inspired to write it after recalling a well-known passage from The Confessions, the spiritual autobiography of the  early Latin church father St. Augustine. St. Augustine (354-540) became a convert to Christianity after years of earnestly searching for truth and the meaning of life, being schooled as he was in the best of Greek philosophy at the time. Matt Maher is briefly alluding to the following passage that Augustine eloquently wrote concerning his own realization that his own desperate search for God, and his later falling in love with God, was itself precipitated by God’s loving grace. All is gift, all is grace.

Here is that passage:

Late have I loved you,

Beauty so ancient and so new,

late have I loved you!
Lo, you were within,
but I outside, seeking there for you,
and upon the shapely things you have made
I rushed headlong – I, misshapen.
You were with me, but I was not with you.
They held me back far from you,
those things which would have no being,
were they not in you.
You called, shouted, broke through my deafness;
you flared, blazed, banished my blindness;
you lavished your fragrance, I gasped; and now I pant for you;
I tasted you, and now I hunger and thirst;
you touched me, and I burned for your peace.

When at last I cling to you with my whole being there will be no more anguish or labor for me, and my life will be alive indeed, alive because filled with you. But now it is very different. Anyone whom you fill you also uplift; but I am not full of you, and so I am a burden to myself. Joys over which I ought to weep do battle with sorrows that should be matter for joy, and I do not know which will be victorious. But I also see griefs that are evil at war in me with joys that are good, and I do not know which will win the day. This is agony, Lord, have pity on me! It is agony! See, I do not hide my wounds; you are the physician and I am sick; you are merciful, I in need of mercy.
Is not human life on earth a time of testing? Who would choose troubles and hardships? You command us to endure them, but not to love them. No-one loves what he has to endure, even if he loves the endurance, for although he may rejoice in his power to endure, he would prefer to have nothing that demands endurance. In adverse circumstances I long for prosperity, and in times of prosperity I dread adversity. What middle ground is there, between these two, where human life might be free from trial? Woe betide worldly prosperity, and woe again, from fear of disaster and evanescent joy! But woe, woe, and woe again upon worldly adversity, from envy of better fortune, the hardship of adversity itself, and the fear that endurance may falter. Is not human life on earth a time of testing without respite?
On your exceedingly great mercy, and on that alone, rests all my hope.

From The Confessions of St. Augustine

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If you would like to watch a video of Matt Maher sharing his own personal account of the story behind his song “I’m Alive,” you can view it on YouTube right here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OyBkwpsAb4Q&feature=related

An Appropriate Prayer for Election Day: “Step Back And Take the Long View”

2 Nov

On this day of the 2010 mid-term elections, I am shortly going to fulfill my civic and spiritual duty by voting my conscience. I will then join others in the effort to encourage other citizens to do the same by making phone calls and/or canvassing neighborhoods. As I embark, I frankly find my characteristic optimism in danger of giving way to despair concerning the probable outcome of this election as I envision the possibility of a rather bleak future for my children and country. Clearly at stake in this election is the election of officials that will assert their power to stem the tide of racism and xenophobia, economic and ecological calamity, the threat of assaults on civil rights and basic freedoms, and an almost certain roll back of some of the much needed health care reforms.

Deep down I realize that, regardless of whatever the immediate voting results might be, I am seeking to join myself with a larger current of grace and providence that trancends not only myself, but even the army of good people involved in effecting positive political change. In the end, as a Christian it is incumbent on me to humbly seek God’s Kingdom and will. Victory is assured. No effort born of a love of Truth and Justice, and motivated by a compassionate concern for my fellow human being and creatures of the earth, will be in vain. I must abandon my fears and renounce even the fruits of my own efforts, patiently trusting in God’s grace to guide this mess to his own end.

Today, then, I offer a prayer written by Roman Catholic Bishop Kenneth Utner for a homily read by Bishop Deardon in 1979. It was preached shortly after the assignation of Archbishop Oscar Romero, who had been assassinated in El Salvador for his stance in solidarity with the poor of that country against the rich and powerful there. The prayer so reflects the spirit and tone of Romero’s own spiritual vision, it is often erroneously attributed to him. With a little adjustment, I find it a perfect prayer to make my own.


It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view.

The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts,
it is even beyond our vision.

We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction
of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.
Nothing we do is complete, which is a way of saying
that the kingdom always lies beyond us.
No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith.
No confession brings perfection.
No pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No program accomplishes the church’s mission.
No set of goals and objectives includes everything.

This is what we are about.
We plant the seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted,
knowing that they hold future promise.

We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.

We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation
in realizing that. This enables us to do something,
and to do it very well. It may be incomplete,
but it is a beginning, a step along the way,
an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.

We may never see the end results, but that is the difference
between the master builder and the worker.

We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own.

Amen.

Feast of St. Francis of Assisi (October 4th)

4 Oct

St. Francis of Assisi

I wanted to be sure and not miss adding a post to mark this important feast. I haven’t had the time today to compose a regular entry as I would have wished. So what I decided to do is simply place here for your reflection and prayer two readings I have chosen as the focus of my own prayer and reflection today. It is my intent to follow this up with my own written reflection to share with you tomorrow.

Perhaps the fact that I couldn’t get around to writing a full-blown post is a good thing! I am inviting and encouraging each of you reading my blog to meditate on these readings and subsequently share with us your own personal reflections in the form of a comment here.

St. Francis of Assisi (1181-1226), as you probably know, is not only honored as a saint by Christians everywhere, be they Roman Catholics [like myself] or Protestant, Anglican, or Orthodox, but he is likewise honored and embraced as a holy man by countless others beyond the boundaries of Christianity, including many Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists and even atheists!

Thus, in his honor, I present to you these two readings for you to ponder, as  I believe that they each capture important elements of his spirit that I would like to emulate. Taken together, these readings provide us with windows into the soul of a mystic who, because of his spiritual poverty, lived in a continual state of spiritual wonder and joy, ever attuned to the closeness of God’s presence in creation around him:

READING #1: An excerpt from Thomas Celano’s “Life of Blessed Francis”

In every work of the artist

he praised the artist;

whatever he found in the things made

he referred to the Maker.

He rejoiced in all the works of the hands of the Lord

and saw behind things pleasant to behold their life-giving reason and cause.

In beautiful things, he saw Beauty itself;

all things were to him good.

“He who made us is the best,” they cried out to him.

Through his footprints impressed upon things

he followed the Beloved everywhere;

he made for himself from all things

a ladder by which to come even to his (i.e., God’s) throne

…for that original goodness

that will be one day all things in all,

already shown forth in this saint

– all things in all.

(Celano, CXXIV, 269-270)

READING #2: ST. FRANCIS’ PRAYER “CANTICLE OF THE CREATURES”:

Most high, all powerful, all good Lord!
All praise is yours, all glory, all honor, and all blessing.

To you, alone, Most High, do they belong.
No mortal lips are worthy to pronounce your name.

Be praised, my Lord, through all your creatures,
especially through my lord Brother Sun,
who brings the day; and you give light through him.
And he is beautiful and radiant in all his splendor!
Of you, Most High, he bears the likeness.

Be praised, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars;
in the heavens you have made them bright, precious and beautiful.

Be praised, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air,
and clouds and storms, and all the weather,
through which you give your creatures sustenance.

Be praised, My Lord, through Sister Water;
she is very useful, and humble, and precious, and pure.

Be praised, my Lord, through Brother Fire,
through whom you brighten the night.
He is beautiful and cheerful, and powerful and strong.

Be praised, my Lord, through our sister Mother Earth,
who feeds us and rules us,
and produces various fruits with colored flowers and herbs.

Be praised, my Lord, through those who forgive for love of you;
through those who endure sickness and trial.

Happy those who endure in peace,
for by you, Most High, they will be crowned.

Be praised, my Lord, through our Sister Bodily Death,
from whose embrace no living person can escape.
Woe to those who die in mortal sin!
Happy those she finds doing your most holy will.
The second death can do no harm to them.

Praise and bless my Lord, and give thanks,
and serve him with great humility.

*Alternately, here is a marvelous video adaptation of St. Francis’ Canticle that you might find to be a good supplement to the above reading of the prayer . . .