Sunday, November 30, 2008

The First Week of Advent...with Abi

I have decided to go through a Daily Office of Advent each day this year, rather than just each of the Sundays. Since Northumbria's website does not have such a thing, I went wandering and found something that seems to be just the ticket.

The Abbess invites you to join her every day for Advent at The Virtual Abbey, using this link. I've posted it right at the top of my sidebar, so you don't have to go looking for it! You will notice that they have eight scriptures for each day. I am planning to read all eight of them each day, but I'm not quite sure yet how and when ... and with whom! I would like to do something each morning at 9 and again at noon and then at dinner with the whole family and then again at bedtime with the boys. I am excited about making this more than a Sunday ritual....

I'll be sharing links to other Advent blog posts, like these from Scot McKnight.

And if you're new to the whole idea of Advent, and want to see what I was up to as I processed Advent for the first time last year, you can start with this post about why Advent candles are purple, of all colors!

Today, with the first candle lit, I went back to look at what I had to say about the Candle of Purple Hope.

Be blessed with hope this week....

Friday, November 28, 2008

A Very Special Offer ....

As I prepare to begin blogging my thoughts about Scot McKnight's new book, The Blue Parakeet, I want to share a pretty amazing offer I stumbled upon today. I went over to Paraclete Press to consider ordering the DVD of Scot teaching the seven major lessons from The Jesus Creed. I was willing to bite the bullet and pay the hefty $59.95 price tag, when I noticed a very interesting offer bundling the DVD with the three Jesus Creed books ... check out The Jesus Creed Challenge. This is a wonderful deal, friends, and well worth it!

Stay tuned for the promised "review" by the Abbess ... it might turn into an Advent series!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Job--Patron Saint of the Purple Martyrdom

The other day a friend of mine shared a book about Job with me. While she didn't remember what it was about, exactly, she remembered that she really liked it. I, however, have been a friend of Job for a little over 31 years, so I was happy to have another opportunity to renew that friendship.

This was not like any book on Job I'd ever read. There were almost as many things about which I disagreed as there were things I agreed. I'm not going to go into why, because it isn't important at this point in time. What is important is that God brought me back to Job as I continue to process the Purple Martyrdom. And even in those areas where I disagreed, the Spirit was bringing deep things to the surface.

The first one came in chapter five, where the author stated that the nature of worship is praise in pain. Job knew to praise God in the midst of his pain. He didn't speak about God ... he spoke to God. And while it took many chapters worth of time, God spoke back to Job. Because they had a relationship.

We know that Job was in deep pain -- from his property loss, the deaths of all 10 of his children, and the sores that covered him from head to toe. And this is before the pain brought on by his "friends" ... we'll get to them another day.

At this point in my notes I have two things written:
  1. Job is the patron saint of the purple martyrdom.
  2. Pruning does not just cut off diseased or dead wood. It also removes growth that will detract from the health or fruitfulness of the plant.
I know pruning from experiences with pruning my precious roses and from my experience as a precious "rose" being pruned by a merciful and gracious and loving Papa.

Pruning a beloved plant is an exercise in "severe mercy" (how many times has this phrase of C.S. Lewis found its way into my thoughts in the 29 years since I first read Sheldon Vanauken's book by that title?). As severe as death to the majority of the new growth -- as merciful as preserving the health and shape of the bush and the size of the cane left to bear bigger blossoms.

What to value more: sheer quantity of rose blooms or better quality rose blooms -- not to mention sustainability and control of disease and pests.

Anyone who really loves their roses must prune. Period. But they must do it at the proper "kairos" time and take their "chronos" time doing it.

If someone were to observe me pruning my roses, they would see me down on the ground, looking at every single cane:
  1. was there disease?
  2. what direction will the new growth take?
  3. what is the desired shape for the bush this year?
  4. how much cane should be left?
  5. what canes must be removed completely?
And I would talk to them (there is more than a smidgen of hobbit in Abi) about my choices ... and mourn the deep cuts requiring loppers and the cane buds knocked off in a gentle brush of a finger. But I would always lavish praise and hope for the beauty each rose would bring to the garden later.

There are few things more stunning than a rose bursting with blossoms.

There are few things more stark and ugly than a pruned rose bush.

But you can't have the first without the second. And a true lover of roses knows this well.

* * * * * * *

God was proud of the prize "rose" named Job. And as beautiful as his righteousness was and as fragrant as his life was ... God loved Job enough to allow the ultimate in "severe mercy" pruning -- everything but his life (and his wife ... and let's not beat up on her too much -- everything Job lost was something she was mourning the loss of as well).

And while the pruning was harsh, the growth God brought to bear was unbelievable. Not only were all Job's losses returned (with interest), his 10 new children were even more blessed than the first 10! But more than this, God came to answer Job. And even though God did not actually answer Job, Job felt more than answered. He gained wisdom and insight -- and shared it with us:

I know that you can do everything, and that no purpose of yours can be withheld from you. ...I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. ...I have heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you. Therefore I abhor myself; and repent in dust and ashes.
(Job 42:2, 3, 5-6)
* * * * * * *

The Gardener prunes the rose -- because the rose cannot perceive its situation aright, nor can it take up shears to make the proper cuts. It must submit to the hands of the one who chose it and planted it and nurtures it so that it can be what it is meant to be -- beautiful -- and do what it is meant to do -- bring honor and glory to the Gardener.

Papa is the Master Gardener ... and this wee abbess trusts completely, even when the pruning shears are being sharpened....


Thursday, November 6, 2008

The problems of being "virtual".....

Update: Firewall Man, after about 15 hours in three sessions, was successful in ferreting out all the horrible monsters trying to use the Abbess at a bot base of attach! Hurray! I have some add-on programs to add back, as some of them were hacked into and used to bring in Trojans. Abi is now, gratefully, caught up with virtual life ... and only missed two appointments while her electronic calendar was not available. ;^)

* * * * * * *

Well, it has finally happened...the Abbess has gotten a virus. No, the the one that had everyone else in my house vomiting over the past two weeks. The one that is trying to destroy my computer.

The good news is that I am married to Firewall Man :^) ... the bad news is that Firewall Man says that I cannot even turn on my computer until he has a fix ready to eradicate those viral attachers :^( ...

So, here I am at the Library--finished with Google Reader--and decided to let any of you know who are wondering where I am and why I'm not responding to e-mail or Twittering along.


Another aspect of the purple martyrdom, I suppose.



Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Abbess and The Election

Many blogs have gone quiet concerning the election because there is so much intensity surrounding the candidates this year. But this is the day, friends and the Abbess urges you to be sure that you get out and vote.

Those of you out west, do not let anyone discourage you from casting your vote. Remember Galadriel's words to Frodo: even the smallest person can make a difference. is better to have voted and lost then never to have voted at all. Don't make tomorrow one of regret because you didn't vote.

Whatever the outcome, Jesus is Lord and those who follow him will keep on keepin' on.

...some of you may have a better understanding of purple, however. ;^)

Shalom--to each of you, to this great nation of our, and to the people of the world.