Saturday, December 5, 2015

On the Journey with Herb Frost: "Tide, Tides and Christmastide"

I’ve begun a new column on my blog these last couple months called On the Journey, through which I’ll periodically feature an essay written by a friend or family member. Of course, it’ll only happen as often as I can convince someone to share some spiritual writing on a nature theme with me! So if you want to take a try at it, or if you’ve done some writing like this in the past you’d like to share with other like-minded seekers of God through nature, be in touch with me and let’s see what we can do...

Just this week, though, I received something from my friend, ministry colleague and former pastor Herb Frost, now pastor of Rochester Covenant Church of Rochester, Minnesota. Though I’d planned something else this week, I decided to postpone it in deference to Herb’s thoughts, especially in light of the news developments these last several days. Additionally, Gail and I are serving this week on support staff at Sonscape Retreats, a renewal ministry for pastors and their spouses to deepen their walk with Christ or sort out their ministry challenges. Herb’s word is a good one for every follower of Jesus, pastors included.

Here is what he writes:

We went to Bodega Bay over Thanksgiving. The house we stayed in overlooked the bay with a full southern exposure. At this time of year, both sunrise and sunset are visible with expansive beauty, inviting the soul into contemplation, reflection and peace.

Down the hill a bit, a short drive or a longer walk, was Bodega Bay itself. A wide bay with aquatic life of the avian and mammalian kind was visible at high tide. In addition to mammalian windsurfers, sea otters were swimming on their backs, sea lions were heard across the water, cormorants, pelicans, cranes and gulls all found life and sustenance from the shallow water. Yet at low tide the mammals were gone, and the birds were bold in their search for food.

A longer drive around the bay and out onto a peninsula called Bodega Head, the waters were no longer sheltered and the waves of the Pacific crashed unabated on the shore. Yet the tides still rose and fell. Of all the rhythms of Creation, how, after all this time, do they still cleanse the beach? Marvelous and wonderful tides…

It makes me wonder: What is the equivalent of a tide in my spiritual life? Isn’t thanksgiving also a rhythmic discipline, an opportunity to experience marvel, wonder and cleansing?

It makes me wonder:
What is the equivalent of
a tide in my spiritual life?

Zechariah prophesies in Luke 1 about his own son, John the Baptist: And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace. (Luke 1:76-79)

The knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of our sins… This also is a repeating, faithful spiritual tide that comes invitationally and unceasingly because of the tender mercy of our God.

As Thanksgiving yields to Advent, and then into Christmastide, may the tides of thanksgiving and forgiveness cleanse us, and guide our feet -- as individuals, as a church and as a nation -- into paths of peace.

Indeed. May these tides wash over each of you, my friends, bringing you peace and perspective in the midst of the daily challenges and griefs of life and Christian service. Thank you, brother Herb.

~~ RGM, December 4, 2015

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