One gets to the heart of the matter by a series of experiences in
the same pattern, but in different colors.
(the red snapper at Bud and Alley’s Seaside Beach, Fl / Julie Cook)
Ok, I admit….this is a picture of a fish with potatoes and not a steak.
as in “meat and potatoes”
I did have a lovely picture of a prime rib roast which I had cooked a while back,
but the fish seemed a bit less red and well, meaty…as I know there are those
out there who just really are opposed to “red” meat….despite my knowing there are
those who will grouse over the whole well, whole fish…meaning head and eyes….
but we digress….
I’ve stated before, I’ve always been a meat and potatoes sort of girl.
Be that meat…fowl, pig, lamb, fish or cow…..
Yet today’s post is not about food…meat or starch…
but is a post that we might just call more of a hearty dose of the
Word of God….being sustenance for the soul verses the food for the stomach.
As in getting down to the heart of the matter….
And now that the dust has somewhat settled…as the snows are now melting…
life is settling back into its normal madness of Christmas….
sans any of the distracting, as well as debilitating, white stuff.
Power is now restored.
Limbs are now cut up and stacked.
Cars have been moved to where they belong….
As schools resume to normal schedules today.
So in the madness since late last week, when the snows did begin to fall,
I was literally pulled away from much of my reading and study as my duties
were needed immediately elsewhere—
And I was particularly pulled away from my reading and focusing on the teachings
of those 3 favorite clerics of mine…
And what a delightful hodge podge of spirituality they are—
A renegade Anglican priest, a reformed Presbyterian minister and a Catholic monk…
And may it be known that whereas each one of these men may seem,
from all outward appearances to be vastly different,
when all the pretense of what the world perceives of them is
peeled away, they along with their messages, are but one in the same.
And I for one delight in that.
In my distraction with the snow and writing about such…there has been so much
that has actually taken place that needs not only my attention but yours as well….
Jerusalem is being recognized by the US, at long last, as the capital of Israel…
much to the chagrin of most of the world as well as by many actually in the US
The Pope, much like our US President, has boldly and perhaps blindly, ventured
to where he may not should have trod, by declaring that the Lords’ Prayer
needs an overhaul….see the perspiration beads forming at my brow….
Sexual harassment continues to prevail in our headlines as it appears to have crept
into the fold….
And my friend who I made mention of the other day…
the one whose family business my family had frequented for the past 25 years or so,
lost her earthly battle early Friday morning.
During the last time we had a chance to chat, which was just a couple of weeks ago,
I noticed that my friend was rather sad and weepy.
I asked what was troubling her….and this 78 year old friend looks me in the eye
and tells me “I miss my momma”—- as I look back at her,
telling her how I understand because I miss mine as well—of which she knew….
So I am uplifted in knowing that both her son and daughter were by her side
when she gave up the earthly ghost and headed on home to be with her mom…
All of this, along with all the other tit for tat that has been happening in what seems
to be my snow encrusted writing absence, will each be addressed in due time…..
But first I wanted to return our focus to Advent.
Because isn’t that what our focus should currently be about?
As in The Coming….
I spent some time this morning listening to the 2nd Sunday in Advent’s homily
offered by Bishop Gavin Ashenden…I was a day late and a dollar short,
but none the less, blessed.
12 delightful minutes of good meat and potatoes for the soul.
The good bishop reminds us that Advent is a time for making space in our hearts,
more space for Jesus.
He tells us that this is the time that we are to be about repentance…
in order to make sacred space available.
Bishop Ashenden focused on the reading of the day which was taken from the Gospel of
St Mark (Mark 1:1-8) in which there is a good description of John the Baptizer…
a man wearing simple garments and who is sustained by eating wild honey and locust.
The good Bishop admits to having always been a bit perplexed as the why
the locust eating would be so important as to be included in the text….
but a Greek friend noted that the true translation in Greek, as only Greeks would understand it to be, was not that of an insect but rather actually a type of flower—
of which seemed to make much more sense.
So we get the complete picture of John…that he was a simple man,
living off and being sustained by the land.
Not the crazy loner off in the desert howling by the moon at night as he
has often been portrayed—perhaps more mad than wise.
And so as we note–John was very simple—
in turn bound by no worldly trappings what so ever ….
John both proclaimed as well as accused those of his day of having
lives way too full—
and that the time had come to make the choice…
The choice being between holding on to that which gets in the way of God or
to choose to move out and get rid of that which gets in the way…
getting rid of that which is separating ourselves from God and God alone.
Very much what we see society and our culture forcing upon us today—
Especially and particularly this time of year!
Our lives, particularly during Christmas, are so chocked full that we are
practically to our breaking point.
We are so full and overwhelmed with all that must be done to
make the “holidays” just so special, magical and wonderful…
on top of already busy lives with school and work….
that we are actually crowding out Jesus.
Crowding Him out from the very time He is to actually be at the center of
Bishop Ashenden notes that John’s message of Metanoia, or that of our total change
and or transformation, is so important because it calls us to a new way of examining
Yet at the same time the good Bishop admonishes us that…dare we say,
there is a spirit of evil actually at work, at this very moment, particularly now…
during this time of year that we are being called…called by God.
It is all so totally opposite of the call of the Holy Spirit.
For there is a force working to counter that call…
countering with the distractions and demands we actually throw upon ourselves
particularly at this time of year.
Shopping, church pageants, visits to Santa, picture taking, card writing and sending,
choir practice, school plays, sporting events, making costumes, wrapping gifts,
sorting, cooking, parties, cleaning, traveling…
all of this on top of the already endless demands of both work and school—
All of this becomes the priority while the true essence of Christ is pushed further
We fight to pretend and convince ourselves otherwise—
we rationalize that we are doing what we are doing because IT IS Christmas…
yet none of it has one single thing to do truly with Christmas—
or Christ Mass…
None of this is to be about lifestyle and clutter but about having the presence
of God at our forefront…as Bishop Ashenden pointedly asks…
“how much time then do you allot for prayer, the reading of scripture,
and loving the Lord?”…especially now during this chaotic time?
I found that I had to really look at what he was saying…
I had to look closely at what gets pushed aside…looking at what is then
actually pushing its way into being the priority….a false priortiy.
The priorities that society makes of us during this season…
Our culture clamors that we are to be all inclusive…and non discriminatory—
but should we not be exclusive and discriminatory over that which is demanding
to be the forefront of our focus—-all of which is not the true essence of Christ
nor of Christ Himself….
Reblogged this on Talmidimblogging and commented:
Excellent piece SC!! 🙂
thank you bunches GW 🙂
You’re very welcome SC 🙂
“None of this is to be about lifestyle and clutter but about having the presence
of God at our forefront”… this is why I love the season of Advent, keeps my heart focused…Blessings to you!
And many blessings your way as well my friend! 😇
Love this! Side note, I did’t know about the ‘overhaul’ of the Lords Prayer… I’m afraid to look it up… so I’ll just be over here taking this advice and putting Jesus back in the forefront of things! 🙂
Yeah, I know…afraid to even chat about it, which I will when I have the time to do such a topic justice—and yes, Jesus in the forefront as more and more is ready to push Him on to the back….
Amen to all of that🙏🏼
Thanks my friend 🙂
Amen! Beautiful post.
I now go to a church that really celebrates advent, and the paradox between anticipation and excitement all while resting in His peace. It’s really a blessing to have that soul food in the midst of all the chaos and bustle of the world.
A friend of mine used to call that background noise, as in we should just let all those worldly concerns fade into the background. None of that stuff is all that important.
Thanks IB—your church sounds wonderful—now if the rest of the Christian world would get the memo and quit listening to the culture gods who tack on a bunch of unnecessary garbage to its perception of Christmas and stick to what Christmas is really all about!
Love this message, and praying that we not only make more space in our hearts for Jesus, but that we make Him Lord of our hearts. When this happens, what we do during advent won’t be seasonal, but a lifestyle. Thanks for the post! Blessings to you!
Thank you —and you’re right, when this happens it won’t merely be seasonal but everlasting!!!!
So many comments. Red snapper – my favorite fish. I too have noticed a hunger for spiritual meat and potatoes. I think Thursday afternoon’s post will discuss that. Bishop Ashendon talks about John and our Associate pastor spoke of John on the first Sunday of Advent, much the same focus, including the diet. We do need quiet to hear God’s voice. Maybe that is why the Devil makes Christmas so noisy, busy, rushed, and filled with anxiety. Thanks for a great post.
I know right? I do love fish, and my husband is like you Mark as he loves red snapper the best!
It was pretty much a wake up call to me as to why this time of year is utterly so noisy—as Satan is doing his best to drown out our call to true Salvation…
But the Holy Spirit did give you the wake up call. Rather than grumbling about commercialism, we need to keep reminding folks that t grown Jesus is the cure for their anxiety during this sea son.
That it is Mark!!!
This was the perfect message for me today. I’m so behind in things. I have to stop and realize what this season is all about. I almost started to laugh when I read, “A renegade Anglican priest, a reformed Presbyterian minister and a Catholic monk …” I thought you were setting us up for a joke!
you and me both—as I got called into the store today for just an hour or so—that was like 6 hours ago….such a hectic time this all is—and it’s truly not suppose to be……
its as if I need to fight for the quiet, the peace…just so I can be anticipatory over the arrival of Salvation!
We already own it❤️. The peace which surpasses understanding. Hang on to every second!
Thank you for this important reminder that Christ needs to remain the center of our Christmas celebration. All too easy to get sucked into busyness and miss the entire point. This message was perfect for me today. I am not overly committed and I do have the time to ponder and reflect, I just need to do it and not feel like I should be ‘out there’ doing more:)
Thank you Susan for your kind words—it was a good wake up call to me yesterday hearing that homily…that I need to really work at seeking the calm and the quiet —our problem is having a life in retail…especially this time of year—absolute madness!
Yes… this is exactly what has been on my heart recently as well, and in fact, I planned to post about the need to be still during this time of year. But you have said it so perfectly. Whatever could I add? Ah, well. Perhaps, God feels it bears repeating so it may show up after all 😉 I’ll just hide it in my lil’ corner of the blogosphere. 😉 You are such a fantastic writer, my talented friend. And dear Julie, I am so very sorry for your loss. I will pray for you and for your friend’s family. Love and hugs!!
You write that post Lynn!!!!—we need to hear such in stereo!!!!
Thanks for the e-mail today —I got called into the jewelry store and Gregory said it be for about an hour…that was 6 hours ago….ode to Christmas shoppers……
I’ll answer soon as I do want to do so thoughtfully—-
looking forward to your echoed words….
Love and hugs!!!
I’m so sorry for your loss. Your friend sounded like a lovely lady.
Everywhere we turn during this season is pointing us toward rushing, especially with how early stores are now putting out Christmas things. It’s good to stop and slow down.
Thanks for the post!
I totally agree —and thank you for the kind words—our community will indeed miss her as she and her family’s business has been an icon in our town since the 1940’s
Wow, that’s sad to see a legacy like that be lost. Even sadder when a person dies, especially under the circumstances.
I just hate watching such transitions— but all things seem to come and go — and I’m old enough now to be a part of it all 😬
What a thoughtful post Julie. I used to get so completely overwhelmed at this time of year, trying to get the “Christmas Thing” right. One year I just stopped and decided to concern myself with studying Christ and strengthening my relationship with Him, family and friends. It was the best Christmas I’ve ever had.
I can’t say I’m completely immune to the craziness of Christmas but I do make a much more concentrated effort to focus on what’s important. Oh, I’m a red meat eater but I think enjoy fish more, sans eyeballs…;)
I’m sorry about your friend passing away. It sounds like she was surrounded in love at her passing.
Thanks Tricia—I suppose I find the search for quiet so difficult as ours is a life a retail that is just nuts during Christmas—so I have to work extra hard to hand on to and remember what this is really all suppose to be about!!!
And yep, give me a good steak, BBQ ribs, fish…you name it 🙂
Sure wish someone would figure out how to do Christmas a month at a time. This once a year thing is so vain. Oh, my, did I say that? I love Christmas but I want it in twelve monthly doses. 😀
Yes you said it and it is very true—that we could and would work at being of the Christmas spirit and joy 12 months of the year!