Monday, January 8, 2018

Keep Moving Forward


Have you ever seen the movie Meet the Robinsons? This 2007 animated Disney film is about an orphaned boy named Lewis, who is a brilliant young inventor and can’t seem to get adopted. After another failed adoption interview and a catastrophic science fair project, Lewis just wants to give up. However, he unexpectedly meets another boy, Wilbur, who turns out to be from the year 2037. To convince Lewis that Wilbur is really from the future, Wilbur takes Lewis there in a time machine. After the time machine breaks down and keeps them in 2037, Lewis meets Wilbur’s family – the Robinsons. As the future starts to unravel, Lewis learns that the fate of this future rests in his hands. With the help from the Robinson family, Lewis saves the future, and they help teach Lewis to always keep moving forward and to always believe in yourself.

I love the message of this movie. Granted, it is a kid’s movie and a little silly, but the message of the movie is fantastic for anyone at any age. At the end of the movie, there appears a quote by Walt Disney, “Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we’re curious…..and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” 

It is okay to look back at the past year and reflect on what you did or didn’t do. Just don’t get defeated by what you didn't accomplish! Instead, think of how many days stretch out before you in 2018. We still have 355 days left! What shall we do with that many days?

Personally, I want this year to be a year of moving forward and improvement. I'm making a detailed list of things I wish to improve or achieve this year. I encourage you to do the same. It doesn’t matter if it is as simple as reading a book, cleaning out a certain closet or as big as buying a new home, paying off a debt or getting into shape. Think through every corner of your life, mind and heart. Write down your goals and how you want to accomplish them. What have you been putting off? What little project needs to get done? What do you want to improve? What do you need to quit? Where do you want to go? Who do you want to get to know better? Who do you need to forgive? What does God want you to improve or change in your life? Some things on your list may be fun, others maybe not so much, but the entire goal is to keep moving forward and grow!

Giving up in life is not an option. God wants us to live fully and abundantly. He wants us to be the best that He created us to be. As hard as it is sometimes, we have to keep going, building on the past and not dwelling there. Our future is what we make it.

Let’s make 2018 a great year! Be brave, be curious, and be adventurous! Dream big, love immensely, forgive lots, work hard, grow abundantly and……………….

Keep Moving FORWARD.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Veni, Veni Emmanuel


Veni, veni Emmanuel! Captivum solve Israel! 
Qui gemit in exilio, Privatus Dei Filio, 
Gaude, gaude, Emmanuel nascetur per te, Israel.

My favorite Advent hymn is O Come, O Come Emmanuel. I love the text, describing our anticipation of the coming Savior, and I love the Gregorian chant that to me captures the message of Advent. When I hear this hymn, I am transported back to ancient Israel, waiting and anticipating the coming of the promised Messiah. 

The link below is one of my favorite arrangements of this hymn with the text sung in Latin. I have listed the entire text of the hymn for you to read and contemplate on, imagining you are back in time over 2000 years ago, listening to the prophets, waiting for the Emmanuel to come and ransom captive Israel.

During this season of Advent, take time to be still and anticipate Christ’s coming and the light and joy that it brings to the darkness of the world. With the rest of the world bustling around with Christmas already in their hearts, may we prepare our hearts for His coming and rejoice when the Incarnate God appears.


O Come, o come Emmanuel and ransom captive Israel, that mourns in lonely exile here, until the Son of God appear. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, Israel. 

O Come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free Thine own from Satan's tyranny; from depths of hell Thy people save, and give them victory o'er the grave. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, Israel. 

O Come, Thou Dayspring from on high, and cheer us by Thy drawing nigh;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night, and death's dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, Israel.

O Come, Thou Key of David, come and open wide our heav'nly home; Make safe the way that leads on high, and close the path to misery. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, Israel. 

O come, Adonai, Lord of might, who to Thy tribes, on Sinai's height, in ancient times didst give the law in cloud and majesty and awe. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, Israel. 

O come, Thou Wisdom from on high, and order all things, far and nigh; to us the path of knowledge show, and cause us in her ways to go. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, Israel. 

O Come, Thou Desire of nations, bind all peoples in one heart and mind; 
bid envy, strife and quarrels cease; fill the whole world with heaven's peace. 
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, Israel. 

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Surfing the Present

With a good friend, I recently went on a 5 day 1,738 mile drive in my 40 year old British sports car. Part of the drive was a competitive 420 mile antique car rally which challenged our driving, navigating, and decision making skills. It led us to places we never would have expected – like a logging road suitable only for Jeeps, as well as a stream crossing. In each moment, decisions were made, some good, some not so good. But as we tried to make sense of the clues, navigate and drive to check points, each decision had to be left in the past, just as each new challenge had to be met in the present. Even as we tried to plan for the future, we could not know what it held for us. The here and now is where we had to be. This is my 7th year competing in this remarkable rally, and the best part is being fully present with the amazing men and women who are the organizers, workers and competitors.

During the long drive home, a Jack Johnson song came to mind. It’s a surfing song, and at the end, a surfer is talking about his philosophy of surfing. He says that what surfing is really all about is being present, really present, in the here and now. It’s not about the past, and it’s not about the future. It’s about living in the present.

This idea of living in the present has a lot of Biblical support. In The Message version of the Bible, Ecclesiastes 5:18-20 says: “After looking at the way things are on this earth, here’s what I’ve decided is the best way to live: Take care of yourself, have a good time, and make the most of whatever job you have for as long as God gives you life. And that’s about it. That’s the human lot. Yes, we should make the most of what God gives, both the bounty and the capacity to enjoy it, accepting what’s given and delighting in the work. It’s God’s gift! God deals out joy in the present, the now. It’s useless to brood over how long we might live.”

And in Matthew Jesus says: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? ... But strive first for the kingdom of God and God’s righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” Matthew 6:25, 33-34.


I don’t mean to minimize the problems of the day or dismiss the concerns of the future. There is plenty to think about in our lives and in our world. But the distractions of the moment, and perhaps worries about the future, regrets of the past, or the omnipresence of technology, often keep us from really being in the present. There is a lot to be said for being fully in the present – with our loved ones, in our work, in our joys, and in our sorrows.

Peace, 
Brent+

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Rhythm of Life



Rhythm is the foundation of music. Some musicians may argue with me and say that isn’t true, but I firmly believe that if you can’t get the rhythm, then the rest of the piece will fall apart because you don’t have any structure or foundation to build it upon.

In my daily practice, I use an little thing called the metronome. It beats the beat to however fast or slow I want it. The metronome will never waver or stop. It can become rather annoying, but it will never lie and tell me a falsehood. It will keep me steady if I let it. I have to constantly listen to it and respond to what it is telling me. If I can’t make myself be with it, then I have to slow the beat down or change something else that I am doing.

While I was practicing one day recently, I realized how similar a metronome and Jesus are. In life, we all need a foundation to build our lives on. Jesus is the foundation that holds our lives together. He becomes our rhythm, keeping us steady. If we don’t rely on Jesus, life can be chaotic and we can get lost in a whirlwind of sound and noise, losing the joy that life can bring you. When we don’t listen to him, we get off track, we lose our focus, and we start to get unbalanced, very similar to how you would in playing a piece without any steady rhythm. We have to listen to Him for us to remain steady in life, even when something is hard and seems impossible.

If you spend time with God consistently, you will be able to go through the day without worrying amid the chaos of the day. Your heart will remain strong and you will know your path, just like rhythm and practice make you able to play the difficult piece, knowing you’ve got it. Believe me, there are pieces I thought I couldn’t play, but with daily consistent practice, I found that I could play them. Let Jesus be the metronome of your life, and He will lead you in His path.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Sanctuary

One of my favorite verses is Psalm 46:10 - "Be still and know that I am God." However, most of the time, I don't take the time to just be still. Sometimes, in order for me to be still, I just need a special space and time to refocus and rejuvenate my soul.

Sanctuary, the Cathedral's Sunday evening service at 6pm, can give you that space and time to be still before the Lord. This hour is filled with serene stillness, soft peace, beautiful music, atmospheric incense, and glowing candles. It is a time for you to take yourself away from the world and focus your attention on the Most High God. It is a time for you to refocus and rejuvenate your soul. 

Below are some audio recordings from the Sanctuary service. May these recordings refresh your soul this week and give you a sense of peace.






Tuesday, September 12, 2017

A Glimpse of God's Kingdom

          As with many other adult Americans this past Monday, I took some time to reflect on the events of September 11, 2001.  Aside from the shock, devastation, and number of people who either lost their lives or suffered injuries that day, what stood out in my mind were the people who reached out to help others in need. There were the churches, mosques, temples and private citizens who opened their doors, where not only survivors but also first responders and those seeking  their loved ones. There were citizens and emergency workers who rushed to the crash site in Pennsylvania in the hope of lending assistance to any injured. The same was true in Washington, D.C. In other parts of the country, people rushed to blood banks to donate blood, people flocked to churches to offer prayers. Hundreds of people across the continental states began making plans to go to New York to be of assistance. People left the comfort of their homes and families to spend  long exhaustive days in the wreckage searching for the missing.

          Over the past two or three weeks, we have watched with dread as the two hurricanes slowly made their way towards Texas and Florida. Even before the storms struck, people from nearby states were opening their churches and homes to people who would be needing shelter. As with 9/11, first responders from states near Florida and Texas made their vehicles and gear ready to go and offer aid. Utility workers left the comfort of their homes to travel southward to help with the restoration of power and water supplies. Nurses and doctors headed south to provide medical assistance. All the while, across the country, individuals sent money, clothing, food supplies and water to those areas affected by the Harvey and Irma. In hospitals and nursing homes, staff left their homes and families for days at a time because they would not leave their patients.

          As I have reflected on these tragedies the past few weeks, a recurring thought has come to mind: I have seen glimpses of God's kingdom in the sacrificial work of thousands of people trying to help strangers in their times of need. Is that not what Jesus calls us to do; to love our neighbors as we love ourselves? So I wonder, how much change could I bring about in this world if I were more diligent in helping others?

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

The Search For Meaning - Even In The Very Young - by Amanda Tudor

     On April 25, 1986 the Alpine village of Mogno was engulfed by an avalanche. The snow slide demolished the community’s focal point; the 17th century church dedicated to St. John the Baptist. The community commissioned Mario Botta, renowned church architect, to design the new chapel. What’s probably not surprising to most is that his design aligned the new church spire with the exact spot of the nave of the former church. What the architect wrote about his design – that’s what caught my attention. He said, “The design arose from the

​....
need to bear witness to something greater than one’s own life and
​ [to]​
overcome the sense of loneliness that permeates modern society.
​"

     As I read the architect’s reflection on his design and this comment about this sense of loneliness that permeates our society, Godly Play popped into my mind. For those of you that are not familiar with Godly Play, it is our Sunday school curriculum for 3 year olds through 5th graders and we have used this framework for over 25 years here at Christ Church Cathedral.      You see, I have been a Godly Play teacher for several years now and more recently I have been the lead teacher for the class of 3 & 4 year olds. Not only is the goal of Godly Play ​to ​help children (and me, as a teacher) learn to use religious language to know God and find direction in life; the language of Godly Play gives us a way to confront this sense of lonliness that permeates our society.  
     Now you might be saying, W​HOA.  What are you all doing on Sunday mornings!?  Let me reassure you - Godly Play provides a cornerstone in the lives of our children (and in me, as a teacher) and this work is vital to our spiritual growth!

     During Godly Play
we discover meaning
​through amazing stories.
W
e understand more clearly what it means to be free because we have been forgiven
​, and​
through God’s Grace,
​we ​
​can ​
forgive ourselves and
​forgive ​
each other
​.​
W
e
​actively talk about how
 we are not alone
​ -​
 God is with us!
W
e build our relationships of love and listening to each other and we know we don’t have to suffer in loneliness. 
​Every week we make time to sit together in silence, 

​because we are not 
able to understand why things happen the way they do, but we trust in God no matter what.

Godly Play transforms me every week and I am so thankful to be a part of it.


     If you have children in the Godly Play program and you’ve wondered, what exactly is going on in those classrooms, we want to invite you to join us in a few weeks for special orientation time. Please stay tuned for the date and time of an orientation.