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Courageous obedience

by davesandel on January 1st, 2021

Friday, January 1, 2021                      (today’s lectionary)

Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God

Courageous obedience

Say to them, The Lord bless you and keep you, the Lord let his face shine upon you, the Lord lift up his countenance upon you … and give you peace.

Our need to be touched begins at birth, and never ends. Without touch there is no peace. Your touch, mama, makes me safe and sound. Hold me, papa, and let me smile as I fall asleep in your arms. Abba, Father. Abba, Mother. We are all your children. Touch us.

As my friend Ken said, “my faith is in my Father far more than in 2021.” We are ready to be rid of the 2019 covid scourge that stretched itself through 2020 and stretches still into this fine new year. And we are ready for resolutions, at least I am, to grow my spiritual practices and begin again the physical ones! Read, Write, Listen, Pray every day. Eat less sugar, drink more water, walk 30 minutes a day, sleep 8 hours. Look into the eyes of everyone, and smile. Above our masks, our eyes look different when we smile.

Self-care is all well and good, but then at age 41, just elected to the House of Representatives, you die. Or at age 22, just finishing your nursing degree and newly minted as an RN, you die. Oh, hold me close, my Heavenly Father, in life and in death! My self-care is a wisp in the wind compared to the care you give me from my dusty beginning until my dusty end. Even now blow on me, breath of God.

As God lets his face shine upon us, then all nations will know his way on earth and his salvation. May the peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you.

For all our days there are poetries. Our friend Clarence Heller pours out poetry every day, often reminded in his prayers of how much he loves and is loved.


It’s a magical life when you are twenty months old

and your days are filled with eating good food,

playing with friends,

being the center of attention,

having a sense of control,

and feeling that nothing could ever hurt you,

feeling totally safe, loved, cherished and precious.

These days, knowing that my grandson’s life is magical

brings me joy beyond what I could have hoped for.

These days, sharing the magic by spending time

with him is all I long for, and what I miss, the most.

As our daughter Andi wrote in her post for December 31, “God is inspiring me to actively love and serve instead of only listening and learning.” On a large chalkboard in their bedroom she wrote the phrase COURAGEOUS OBEDIENCE, and added words underneath throughout the year.



On the one hand, she wrote, everything seems to be crumbling. On the far better other hand, “I see more and more of His big solid Rockness at work through kind acts. It took a pandemic for me to realize … it’s game changing to be motivated by obedience instead of by my desires, or my fears. And their 4 year old son Miles, who is picking up on what matters to Mom, “knows that Daddy and I read the Bible in the morning before coming to get him out of bed.”

God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts crying, “Abba, Father!” So now you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son then also an heir, through God.

I will never give up Christmas. The manger in Bethlehem and Baby Jesus have an always-place in my heart. I sing “O Little Town of Bethlehem” all year long. As we step past the half-way point of Christmas, edging toward Epiphany, I still hear the angels.

The shepherds went in haste to Bethlehem and found Mary and Joseph and the babe lying in the manger … And Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. And on the eighth day, the baby was named Jesus.

The shepherds, my friend Ken, our daughter Andi and husband Aki, Margaret and I, we all go back to work. We read, we pray, we sing, we work … St. Benedict gave us the Latin phrase ora et labora, words etched above monastery gateways in the fourth century and still now. Prayer and work. Prayer IS work, and work IS prayer.

Our courageous acceptance of this simple truth turns to joy down inside the crucible of our souls. Let this alchemy be our beginning as we enter God’s merry, generous, joyful, happy New Year.

(Numbers 6, Psalm 67, Galatians 4, Hebrews 1, Luke 2)


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