Friday, December 31, 2010

Isaiah 60.1+6

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.

Arise. Shine. Your soul is light.
         Your face glows with the Beloved's gaze.

The world is draped in black.
         People live in darkness like black paint.
But the Lover dawns in you;
         you radiate her beauty.
God's presence in you will be light for others.
         Even those who have it all will be grateful.
Open your eyes. Be aware.
         The Divine Presence gathers people.
We are bound by this umbilical light.
         It makes us family, even strangers.

Your eyes take in glory, and shine with glory.
         Let this give you joy.
Receive the gifts this life has to offer.
         Accept the world's abundance.
Let the world kneel at your feet
         and bring you gold and frankincense.
This giving and receiving
         is holy praise.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Journey of the magi

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, magi from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, "Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage."

         — Matthew 2.1-2

God is in the world. And there are wanderers in our heart seeking God, not satisfied with the surface of things alone, not wanting to be distracted by all the fads and fancies of the world, but hungry for what's deeper and more life-giving, desiring connection with the Beloved. Our spirit of wisdom and curiosity seeks expanded awareness of the Holy: of a truth, a dimension, a reality that exists beyond and yet within the visible world. It's a journey of consciousness. If we are wise, we go with the magi.

We leave our familiar surroundings, even our religious trappings, and venture into the foreign and unknown, into the darkness. We are pilgrims. We feel our way along a strange path and an uncertain way. We ask directions, and, trusting, we are willing to be led. We learn to find God in the world, to see the Divine Presence in our daily lives. Some people only ever see what everyone says they are supposed to see. They pass by the humble stable without suspecting. But some see the Holy Child, the light of God, the Word made Flesh. Because they are looking, some see.

Take time to acknowledge the magi within, and give thanks for them. Give them what they need for their journey. Commit to going with them. Seek God in this world. Seek Christ in your daily life. Keep your eye on the star that shines in your heart, the promise that God wants to be found, that God is in fact leading you. Look through the surface of this world, to the child in the manger. Each moment you are asking, “Where is the child....?” And each breath you breathe you are getting closer.
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Your star

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.
They set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising.
      —Matthew 2.9

Head lights, foot lights, spotlights, street lights,
little LED indicators that are always on,
blinking your busyness, connectedness, being on,
a million things to do and ways to go ——

ignore them.

Close your eyes.
Within shines a star,
a small one, gentle,
that you can see only in darkness,
in solitude, in mystery,
sometimes in unknowing,
confusion and even pain.
Real darkness.

Beyond within you shines your star,
your pioneer, always going ahead,
always guiding you,
always silent,
but reaching out its hand.

It knows where the Holy Child is.
It is set there by God,
a Word, a promise, a hint, a Presence.

What would you have to lose to follow?
What would you have to be willing to find?

When will you set out?

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

Monday, December 27, 2010

Three French hens

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.
It may be startling news to anyone who lives at a mall, but Christmas is not over. It's just begun. The secular world thinks Christmas runs from Thanksgiving to December 25, but it actually begins the 25th and goes for twelve days. Today is the third day. Three French hens.

Christians may object to the commercialization of Christmas, but we seldom do anything else with it ourselves, do we? I mean, my gosh, what are we supposed to do with the next eleven days, after we've pretty much blown our wad on the first one?

We use the twelve days to practice a faith of the Incarnation. Practice beholding the mystery that God's Word of love is made flesh among us, in Jesus of Nazareth and in one another. Practice giving thanks that God does not just watch us, but accompanies us, lives within us. Practice looking for God.

Practice sustaining the love and peace you felt on Christmas Eve for another twelve days. Practice seeing the light in people's faces as if they're sitting in a beautiful sanctuary singing songs, with a candle in their hand. Practice seeing the divine child within each of us. Practice sensing that this particular time, this present moment is holy.

Practice the anticipation of knowing that you are about to receive gifts. Practice the joy of seeing others receive your gifts. Practice generosity. Practice getting a kick out of making a special effort for someone. Practice noticing the poor, lonely and hungry more than usual, and reaching out to them with joy rather than obligation. Practice treating people with blessing. Practice thinking of all humanity as family.

Practice attending to the mystery that God is present in poor and ordinary things and people. Practice awe and reverence. Practice hope, joy, peace and love. Faith is not an accident, a product of a certain event or season. It's a choice. It's a practice. Keep it going. If you can do it for one night, you can do it for twelve days; and if for twelve days, you can do it for eternal life.

Merry Christmas!
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

Friday, December 24, 2010

A psalm of the Nativity


For unto us a child is born,
         unto us a son is given:
and the government shall be upon his shoulder:
and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor ,
         Mighty God, Everlasting Father,
         Prince of Peace.

                  —Isaiah 9.6

Holy One, Loving Mystery,
         Mother of Life, Eternal Companion,
you have come to us.
         You have come to save us,
to heal us, to set us free,
         to bring us into your Realm of light.
You have begun something great among us,
         hidden in the life of a child,
         tendered to us from among the poor.
You have come to us as our little brother,
         and made us all sisters and brothers.
Our salvation will unfold
         in the life of this child,
in his words, his deeds, his love,
         and even in his death.
It will take time, and require of us
         patience and trust.
But already, even in winter
         the bud has opened.
Already, even in the darkness,
         even in our doubt and unworthiness,
we are saved,
         for you are with us in grace.

In awe and wonder we kneel.
         In silence we bow.
In tender love we reach for the child.
         In gentle devotion we hold him.
In our arms, in our hearts,
         in our neighbors, we hold him.

Praise! Sing hallelujah!
         Go ahead and wake the baby!
He too will sing for joy,
         for God has married her people.
God has given birth to us again!
         God has created the earth anew!
Christ is born!
         Let there be light!


Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas prayer


Infinite One,
depth of night,
breath of galaxies:
come to me.

Holiness within,
gestating heaven,
revealing yourself:
let me see.

Tender One,
not afraid of my death,
gentle amidst the storm:
enfold me.

Holy Presence,
enter me.

Heavenly Lover,
journeying with me,
bearing my life:
marry me.

Child from heaven,
come out
and share my world.
Let me hold you.


Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

An inside job

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.
The story of the Nativity of Christ is not just a lovely, starlit moment of precious magic and calm adoration. It's the story of God's subversion of the world, through no power at all except love. Read the stories (one in Matthew, one in Luke) without romanticizing and you see a story of God's vulnerable presence amidst poverty, oppression and danger. The manger is not a cute image. It's about a family that is homeless, at risk, and coping. The magi work knowingly around political and military repression. The family escapes death squads and becomes refugees. And where is God in all this? In a baby.

This is the story of God's incursion into our power structures, to transform them from the inside out with nothing but radical presence and compassion. God does not act as a king or a warrior, but comes as a vulnerable, powerless child, who makes rough shepherds tender, who draws kings to worship on their knees, who threatens Herod and reorganizes society. God does not impose laws for us to follow: God gives us love to fall into.

The festival of the Nativity of Christ is the celebration of God's radical presence with us, among us and within us, with nothing but love. God changes the rough world into a world of gentleness, from among the vulnerable and marginalized. It's an inside job. And God enlists us to join the movement. God invites us to live in the world with this spirit of presence and compassion, to be gentle in a rough world, to be loving when it is a risk, to exercise the power of powerlessness, to trust grace. God extends this invitation by coming into the rough and lowly places in our own hearts, and living there with healing power, with nothing but love.

This Christmas may you be more deeply inspired to embody God's love and emboldened to bear it into this sometimes dark and rough world. May God's Word become flesh. May Christ be born in you this holy season, and throughout the new year.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

CHristmas darkness

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.
I'm writing this while staying up late, watching the lunar eclipse with Jonathan. The moon, lightly veiled by clouds, but still visible, is slowly swallowed by darkness. Life is sometimes like that.

I'm keeping vigil. Not that the moon needs me to make it through the darkness, just that it feels right to keep it company and bless its darkness.

It's the winter solstice. Not since 1638, 465 years ago, has an eclipse come on the winter solstice. (A fascinating aside: scientists don't know the next time this will happen. They're in the dark.) This is the year's shortest day, the day of the most darkness. From now on, the days are getting longer. The darkness is slowly swallowed by light.

Dualistic thinkers see here a battle between good and evil. But darkness is not evil. It's just a place where we can't see, that's all. And it's not a battle. It's a dance. They both surge in and out, back and forth, turning around each other. The darkness shines in the light, and the light cannot overcome it.

Paradoxically, although the winter solstice promises the return of the light, it marks the beginning of winter. Even as it's getting lighter it's getting colder. Dark and light, warmth and cold balance each other, complete each other, need each other. Life is sometimes like that.

It wouldn't be the Christmas story without the darkness. An angel comes to Joseph in a dream. Magi follow a star in the night sky. The heavenly host comes to shepherds watching their flock by night. God comes to us in our darkness. God accompanies us in our darkness, and blesses it.

When you love those who suffer, you can't necessarily abolish their darkness. But you can keep vigil. You can accompany them and bless their night.

Don't be afraid to enter the darkness. Grace happens there. God is there. And there, in the darkness, you can see the light return. In the darkness, light shines.

As it turns out, clouds swallowed the eclipse. We didn't see much. But it was fun to stay up and watch together. Life is like that. And so is God.
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

Chritmas lights

Christmas Lights

The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who lived in a land of deep darkness—
on them light has shined.

— Isaiah 9.2

Little lights they are, mostly,
strung in trees and tacked along eaves:
small lights that couldn't light a room,
and yet they brighten the street
and beautify the whole neighborhood.

A small light you may be,
but be a light anyway,
an Advent candle,
a radiant sign of the coming of Christ,
shining Christ's grace.
Someone walking in deep darkness
will see, and give thanks.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

Friday, December 17, 2010

Baby God

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.

A little child shall lead them...
and they will not hurt or destroy
on all my holy mountain.

Christ did not count equality with God
a thing to be grasped,
but in self-emptying took the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.

Blessed are the gentle,
for they shall inherit the earth.

Love is patient; love is kind.

Love your enemies.

You must become as a child
to enter the Realm of God.

You shall find a child,
wrapped in swaddling cloths,
lying in a manger.

God comes as a baby
to draw out our tenderness.
Hold the child gently
in all that you do.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Joseph's dream

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.
         An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said,
         "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife,
         for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.”

                  — Matthew 1.21

Joseph, awake.

Wake from your sleep of knowing everything, your dream of not having to look.
Instead, look anew. I have hidden blessing in your life, wonder concealed in what you reject, glory waiting on the path you resist.

I know, you want to understand, and to control things, and this is beyond those.
You are afraid of what others will think. But that is not real. This is real: I am asking you to be faithful without proof, loving without assurance, humble without protection. I am asking you to trust.

Learn to listen in a way that the world can't teach you. Learn to know in a way that is not how the world knows. Learn to follow a path the world can't see.

Mary is on a quest, discovering the blessing and wonder that I have created in her. Do the same for yourself. Look within. Listen to your dreams. Give your heart a voice. Trust the magnificence of what I desire for you. Never mind people's expectations. Follow my delight. Do not be afraid to change your plans, to risk, to sacrifice, to commit.

Joseph, never mind being right. Commit to love. Marry blessing and faithfulness. Marry your doubts. Marry wonder. Marry unknowing. Marry not being afraid.

Joseph, awake. I have hidden blessing in your life. Take it as your own, and know my joy.

         When Joseph awoke from sleep,
         he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him.

                  — Mt. 1.21

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


O Christmas saints, come gather here
         in my Bethlehem:
         let the miracle unfold in me.

Come, Gabriel, interrupting angel,
         and tell the innocent Virgin within me
         that she shall bear holiness into the world.

Come, dreams, and haunt me with the courage
         to marry the blessing I would spurn.

Come, tender Joseph, and walk with me
         along this road of not knowing.

Come, natal star, build your nest in my darkness,
         and guide me to seek, and keep seeking.
Mark my life with your promise
         that beauty may be found here.

Come, magi, from your wanderings,
         and teach me to follow;
         teach me to behold.

Come heavenly choir, breathing wonder:
         Astonish my routine. Awaken me.
Send me into this village
         looking, looking.

Come, shepherds and all who are shabby and shady,
         and show me how to recognize glory
         swaddled in the mundane.

Come, Holy Child, and be alive in me,
         wordlessly, helplessly
         drawing out all my love.

O Christmas miracle,
         come to the the little shed of my life;
enfold me in your strangeness
         and make me a house of wonder.

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

Within us

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.

Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel,
which means “God is with us.”

— Matthew 1.23

God does not live in outer space.  The wonder of the Holy Trinity is that God is not only infinite but also incarnate.  God, who is pure love, lives within all loving souls. The birth of Jesus reveals God in human flesh, in human love, in human presence.  And Jesus is not an exception.  God is fully present in all of us in love. “The Realm of God is among you.”

Imagine God, present and loving, within you.  God lives and reigns in your heart. Your soul is the manger in which the Christ child lies, from which he looks upon the world.  Your heart is the throne from which God reigns with unconquerable gentleness and infinitely deep compassion.

As you go through your day today, the whole glory of heaven radiates from within you.  The presence of God gives you life; it is your pulse, your breath, your awareness.  Live in harmony with God's presence within you.  Act and speak in harmony with God's delight in you.  Let every breath be God praying in you.

As you prepare for the coming of Christ, don't think that it's going to be just a sweet baby born one night long ago.  It's God's incarnation—God's inhabitation—in Jesus, and also in us. 

How silently, how silently the wondrous gift is given;
so God imparts to human hearts the wonders of his heaven.
No ear may hear his coming, but in this world of sin,
where meek souls will receive him, still the dear Christ enters in.

O holy child of Bethlehem, descend to us, we pray.
Cast out our sin and enter in; be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels the great glad tidings tell;
O come to us, abide with us, our Lord Emmanuel.

— O Little Town of Bethlehem

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve
Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

With us

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.

Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel,
which means “God is with us.”

         — Matthew 1.23

God is not against us,
         but with us.
For us.

God is not above us,
         but with us.
Among us.

God is not separate from us
         but with us.
Within us.

We will not find the Divine
by gazing into heaven
but by attending to our lives,
our hearts, our relationships—
looking to the human mystery
and the wild love married to us,
the delighted presence
even now walking hand in hand
with us.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

Friday, December 10, 2010

Advent prayer


O Coming One,
give me a steadfast spirit
to wait for you with grace.

Give me patience to listen
for your breathing
in the breath of your people.

Give me courage to trust
your continually blossoming presence
even in the unseeing darkness.

Give me wisdom to see
your manger in rough places,
your star in dark nights.

Give me gentleness
to receive you as a child
amidst the shouting of kings and warriors.

O Blossoming One, you are the love
with which I wait tenderly
for the coming of your love.

O Holy Child, come to me
that I may fall in love with you,
and become wholly yours,
in faith, in love, in steadfast hope.

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

Thursday, December 9, 2010


Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.

Be patient, therefore, beloved, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious crop from the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains.

         — James 5.7

The great scandal of incarnation is than in choosing to live in us, God assents to our vulnerability, suffering and finitude. God does not come in a palace, powerful and safe, but in a shoddy stable, in a lowly manger, poor and at risk. God willingly, lovingly lives in all that is not well in us. God lives in our hurt and our failure. Our pain and weakness, our anger and bewilderment, our lack of faith, this is the manger where Christ comes. God takes up a dwelling in our lives with great love, with tender delight and unflappable patience.

In entering into the heart of all that is, God enters as well all that is not yet. God is in all that is not right, not just, not healed, not yet finished. Mary sings of the transformation of our society, when the hungry are fed. Isaiah sees the desert blossom and all the exiles return. This has not happened yet. But God comes already anyway, and waits with us as grace unfolds among and within us.

In Advent we enter into God's great patience. We enter into the healing of the world and we wait with God, who waits with us. We enter into the pain and the not knowing, the loneliness and the despair, and because God is there, we find hope and tenderness. We trust that what we await will surely come, and that even in our waiting God is already present.

Be patient and wait. Know that God is waiting with us with patience as well, and with great love and unimaginable power.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.
And Mary said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
         who has looked with favor on me in my lowliness.
The Mighty One has scattered the proud
                  in the thoughts of their hearts.
God has has brought down
                  the powerful from their thrones,
         and lifted up the lowly;
God has filled the hungry with good things,
         and sent the rich away empty.”

                  — from Luke 1. 46-55

Mary is not singing about some metaphor. She is singing about us. We adore heroes and powerful people. We love to pretend that the Bible says (though it doesn't) that “God helps those who helps themselves.” We cut benefits for the unemployed and give tax breaks to the rich. The cost to end hunger throughout the world is estimated at somewhere around $200 billion a year. Americans will spend $500 billion on Christmas. Yeah, that's us she's talking about.

The Magnificat is no sweet lullaby. It is a fierce revolutionary cry against our fear and selfishness, and the political and economic structures that are built on money, power and coercion. And it's not just a promise of better times for the underdogs. God not only lifts up the lowly but brings down the powerful. And, most radical of all, it is not a dream, a wish, a hope for the future. It's already been done; it's an accomplished fact. God has brought down the powerful and fed the hungry.

Oh, yeah? It sure looks like the hungry are still hungry and the powerful are still powerful. —But that's where we're wrong. The promise of Christmas is that God comes among us in a revolutionary, life-changing way that transforms both our souls and our society—and that most of the world either will resist it or won't get it at all. But Advent invites us to see what's already here but unseen, to receive what's already been given but not received. Mary invites us to see God's favor for the poor, to see God's presence in the lowly, and to see how the selfishly rich and powerful have condemned themselves to lives of emptiness and grief without knowing it. Advent invites us to join contemplation and justice in that mystery we call incarnation: God's real presence among us in human flesh, the flesh of our companions on this earth: in a poor homeless peasant child laid in a feeding bin, a refugee family fleeing violence, a child among soldiers.

Jesus says, “Go and tell what you see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them” (Mt. 11.5). In Advent we who are blind to God's presence learn to see; we who are deaf to the good news begin to hear; we who think we understand have something new brought to us. God breaks in like a birth, like a death, and changes everything. God reverses the ways of the world.

This Advent contemplate this mystery: that what is done is hidden in what is not yet, that God's blessing is hidden in powerlessness, that God's judgment is masked by riches and power, that God's presence is embodied among the lowly, that God's Christ is born among the poor. This Advent contemplate the birth of the Prince of Peace, the Servant of Justice among us, whom we cannot see, but who is already here, reigning in the great power of his mercy.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

New moon, Advent


for the moon to fill
night by night
hidden sun pouring light into you

in the great deep night
of the virgin's womb
holy child
floating in darkness
waiting to learn your name

soft crescent of dawn in me
out of darkness rising
in stillness, waiting

in this empty space
a presence

I am the holy child
the night my womb

not another season but
a new person

pale belly
beating heart
dark moon, whole and round—
ah! you are already here.


Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

Monday, December 6, 2010

I prepare a place


Holy Child of mystery,
I prepare a place for you.
I remodel the inn of my heart.
I clear a room
and let go of many things.
I fashion a crib of finest wood.
I make a space that is just for you,
and open it up each day,
and in stillness I wait—
until I find that in darkness of night
beneath my knowing or waking,
in cold and poverty,
without place at all,
you have already come
and lie waiting in some
unexpected manger.


Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

Friday, December 3, 2010

Child of peace

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.

A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse....
         With righteousness he shall judge the poor....
The wolf shall live with the lamb....
         and a little child shall lead them....
They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain.

         — from Isaiah 11.1-11

“One who is more powerful than I is coming after me;
I am not worthy to carry his sandals.
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”

         — Matthew 3.11

Jesus is not coming to protect us from God's condemnation, nor to set up a new hoop to jump through to get to heaven. He comes to save us from our own violence: to show us how to live gently with all Creation, since such harmony is what heaven is. He saves us by drawing us into God's peace and breathing into us the fire of God's love.

In this candled, starlit season we find it easier than usual to be peaceable with one another, to love our neighbors, to extend hospitality to strangers and enemies, to give gifts to the undeserving. It's a good start. But Jesus does not come for a season, but for all eternity. He comes to change us forever. He comes as a little child, a child who will be hurt and destroyed—but he comes anyway. He comes as a lamb who lies down among us wolves, a lamb who will surely be eaten—but he comes anyway. He comes as the Gentle One to bear God's tenderness to us; as the Harmless One to save us from our fear of God; as the Loving One to set us free from the terrible weight of our desire to hurt or destroy; as the Vulnerable One to invite us into that dangerous, world-changing place of non-violent love. He comes to transform us.

This Advent, pray that you may be baptized with the Holy Spirit of compassion, that the little child might lead you into a life of holy peace. Pray that the carols you sing, the gifts you give, the candles you hold, the greetings you send may change you forever. Pray that the gifts you receive this Christmas may be gifts of courage, love and creativity. In the Spirit of Christ, may you become more deeply a Child of Peace.
Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The ax

Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.
         John the Baptist said, “Bear fruit worthy of repentance.
         Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees;
         every tree that does not bear good fruit
         is cut down and thrown into the fire.”

                  —Matthew 3.8, 10

Beloved, take your ax
to the trees in my orchard that bear no fruit,
to the limbs that are not loving,
to the roots of the fears and desires,
the attachments and expectations
that get in the way of your perfect love in me.
Take your ax to the Way I Wish Things Were.
Come at the habits by which I grasp at control,
exercise power, protect my security.
Dig them out. Cut them down. Chop them up.
Throw them into the fire of your grace.
Let me bear the fruit of love, even in winter,
flowering within me.

As the Virgin Mother waits, ripe with Christ,
may I blossom with you.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Dearly Beloved,

Grace and Peace to you.

In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near." This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said, "The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: "Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.' "

          — Matthew 3.1-3

When John the Baptist comes yelling out of the desert telling us to repent, we wonder, with maybe a little panic: Of what? How? What am I supposed to change? Repentance seems like something we have to work at to meet some externally imposed standard, something we have to start getting right. But Advent promises that it's actually God who's behaving in a new way, doing something new. All we we do is notice, and say “yes.”

Like Mary, swelling with Christ, we hold a new incarnation of God within us. God is in you, moving with new life, surrounding you, moving in a new way. What is God doing? How is God’s presence unfolding in you? To discern this, of course, you have to be still and watch a long time. It's as if in the woods you find a little den of some sort and you want to know what kind of animal lives there. What you do then is sit off a way and wait and watch for a long time until whatever it is comes out. You have to be still a very long time.

Be still for a few minutes every day this Advent and wonder, “God, what are you doing in me?” Devote yourself to saying “Yes” to it, whatever it turns out to be. In silence, simply sit and wait. Don’t expect an answer. The little creature won’t come out for a long time. God is doing the work, and you are practicing being present. As you do, you will become more present all day long, all season long, until the truth is revealed. Let this redirecting of your will and your attention be your repentance. Let this attentive presence be your preparing. As Jesus says, watch. Keep awake.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light