Monday, September 26, 2016

The song of God

It never gets old. Sometimes hearing the same song again and again, or singing the same song time after time, grinds on your nerves. But this never gets old. Some of our songs speak of what I mean: All creatures of our God and King, The spacious firmament on high, This is my Father’s world.
At the Men’s Retreat this month we went on a walk in the woods. I was walking with Jeremy, who is blind. I simply gave a running commentary on what we were walking by, what we were feeling. A cathedral of majestic trees looming over our heads, or a bustle of bright blowing birch dancing across the path, a babbling brook down in the valley or a crag of a rock jutting out as a sentinel over the trees below. And as we walked, we shared the beauty of how God cares for us, how mighty he is, the joy that he brings to our lives and how we can continue walking in the Light. 

God’s song is everywhere in His creation and it is thrilling to stop and listen and then to sing along. This month has also meant several times of singing together with God’s family, as I mentioned last time. The group from Liége that comes on the first Wednesday of the month thrills my heart. Although we still struggle to speak in words with one another in conversations, the words we use to speak to one another in song are so very clear. God is King, we are His and together we will continue in His love and grace.
That was the song this past weekend as well as we gathered with a group in a park in Aachen, Germany. Last year we met for the first time here, in a small museum in the park. When we asked again this year if it would be possible to use the facility, they told us it was not possible as they were preparing an exhibition – but we could use the gardens. So God provided beautiful weather, we all brought our voices and hearts, and we shared God’s words of love with one another – and anyone walking by in the park.
It is thriliing to be singing His song in our lives, singing in harmony or in unison, sometimes softly, sometimes in full voice. What God has created – and is creating – is simply wonderful!

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.                     Colossians 3:1-4

Monday, September 12, 2016

Finding Family

Isn’t it amazing what God creates? Look at the things we see in nature, the wonders of His creation. But look, too, at what he has created for us! We are made to be in relationship. We are made to be together – and when that is done as He has designed, it is amazing! One of those ways of being in relationship is family.
Family is God’s design. And God’s has created His family – the church. Just like with any family – we have only one thing we can do: accept it or reject it. When we decide to put our lives in God’s hands through the blood of Christ in the waters of baptism – God adds us to His family. Then we are brother and sister, children of the Almighty One who is sanctifying us daily through His Holy Spirit in our lives.
In August we were able to spend several days down at Family Camp. The nice thing about this week of camp is that it fits everyone – just like God’s family should. From the letters of 1st and 2nd Peter we learned about suffering, being used for good, persevering and the love of Christ in all we do. We spent time singing together, laughing and playing, and enjoying God’s creation all around us.
You can see some of the pictures from camp here.

Back in Maastricht we were so thankful to be able to meet again with our Maastricht family (who are actually from many places around Maastricht). We are not homogenous; we are a varied and mixed group, put together by the wondrous view of our Father, God. And sometimes it is not easy, but we keep trying to love one another, because we are loved by the One and Only, who has shown us that this kind of love really is possible.
This past Wednesday we had our first ‘First Wednesday’ again since back in May. This is when some of us from Maastricht get together with some of our family from Liége and sing our hearts out to our wonderful Father. Sometimes we learn new songs. Sometimes we just enjoy singing the songs we know (Merveilleux Amour). But always – always – we are amazed and overcome by the beuaty of God’s love in His family.
At the end of September we will get together with the family from Cologne and sing our hearts out again. Isn’t it great that God has even given us this way to put our hearts into words – together! Last year we met for the first time in Aachen (in between Maastricht and Cologne). This year we are allowed to use the garden of the museum where we met last time. As long as we have a place to be, it will be good. Because the people meeting, this family moment, is the most important part of the day. We are looking forward to taking some other members from Maastricht along with us.
And in the meantime, there are those who are considering what this family means. There are those we have been talking to, with whom we have been looking at the gracious love of Jesus, who are considering this choice we have to make. It is the only thing we can do – accept or reject. God wants us in His family and He has done everything necessary in Jesus to make it possible. All that is needed is a new birth. How wonderful are God’s creations!

Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. John 1:12-13