December 21, 2012

Reader. . .

Where Prayer Grows Naturally
F2012 1536 page24or an editor the world is mostly about words—written, spoken, edited, printed. Which explains why some of the most impressive moments of 2012 were nes spent with far fewer words than normal. If, like the typical male, I speak about 9,000 words a day, listen to nearly 17,000, and read 5,000 words or so, there is a blessed solitude that descends when the total of all three drops to only a tithe of average.

A friend kindly lent me his lakeside cabin for three days alone, and eager for the break, I hurried there. The first evening was mercifully quiet, and I reveled in the absence of the verbal and visual chatter that usually fills my life. But it was the next morning, as I was sitting on the camp deck, watching sunlight steal up over the waveless lake, that I realized the gift I had been given. To speak only to the Spirit, to read only the Word, to hear only the tuneful wood thrush in the pine woods for hours on end, was my balm in Gilead, or actually, Ashburnham. It was the Lord whispering to a many-worded man, “Is not this the fast that I choose for you?”

In such quiet, prayer grows naturally, and grace is celebrated. Which explains why I will be seeking more such days in the year ahead.

Bill Knott, editor

This past year was definitely eventful. From what seemed to be an endless U.S. presidential campaign season to the unprecedented devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy, 2012 certainly put its mark on U.S. history. One lesson that 2012 taught me is that our world is rapidly changing. You can see it in our changingclimate and our changing 2012 1536 page24demographics in North America. For example, U. S. Congress now has its first Hindu representative and its first Buddhist senator, and the number of non-Christian lawmakers continues to grow.

Beyond our changing society, I’m also moved by the changing landscape in the Adventist Church. We’re changing on many fronts. Our leaders are grappling with ways to give young people a bigger voice. It’s gratifying to see more young adults working at the church’s world headquarters. It’s a sight that was nearly unimaginable when I first came here to work.

The church is also grappling with some thorny issues. Recent church events have brought more attention to the subject of ordination to the gospel ministry. While keeping true to the church’s core beliefs, our leaders keep seeking for creative ways to minister to an ever-changing society.

While I’m impressed by the cataclysmic shifts of 2012, I must ask, “How does the church minister to a changing world?”

Carlos Medley, online editor

Greatest Impact
2012 1536 page24Different things impacted me on different levels in 2012. Workwise 2012 brought a lot of travel, both domestically and internationally. As I visited with church members, pastors, and administrators all around the world I sensed an urgency that I had not seen before: How long will this worn-out planet last? When will our rickety financial system finally collapse? How long do we still have to wait for the Master to take us home? It did not feel like one of those cyclic moments of urgency—it felt more raw and pressing. Adventists all around the globe want to go home!

Personally, our family rejoiced in the celebration of a new birth a month ago. My second daughter, Sarah, 12, had decided to be baptized and had invited me to be right at her side in this very important moment. Sarah’s mature decision was greeted with joy in our family. I remember particularly one moving moment as we studied Scripture together. We had just finished reading the somewhat-challenging parable of the unrighteous steward (Luke 16:1-13) when Sarah, a keen thinker and observer, noted with a sigh: “If I want to be a missionary one day [her greatest ambition!], I need to take care of the small things in my life now.” Bang—right there and without warning. A perfect summary for living a life of service and commitment.

Gerald A. Klingbeil, associate editor

Spread the Love
Hundreds of educators stopped at our booth in the exhibit hall during the 2012 North American Division teachers’ convention in Nashville, Tennessee. It was  2012 1536 page24humbling and invigorating to shake visitors’ hands, pass out treats and green putty eggs, and listen to most people rave about the Review’s magazine for kids. Those who filled out our evaluation sheets were overwhelmingly supportive. They really like us, I thought more than once during those days at the booth. And while it was great to feel the love, something else made an even bigger impact on me. I knew it wasn’t KidsView making these teachers happy, energetic, and focused. They were on fire for the job they were called to do—help educate children for worldly good and eternal life. Seeing such a lively, joyous, and committed group got me thinking.

I imagine that if more of us church members had attitudes similar to these educators, those we bear witness to would have no choice but to see our message as truly good news. They’d be influenced by our infectious spirits; the joy and hope and grace that God has bestowed on us would flow—and overflow!

Kimberly Luste Maran, young adult editor

Friends at Midnight
2012 1536 page24How superlative is it to have friends at midnight? Especially when the mess you are in is nobody else’s fault. Until August 9, Iceland had not featured in any of my itineraries. But now that I needed to return home immediately, an August 10 flight from Schiphol, Amsterdam, via Keflavik International Airport in Iceland was my cheapest route, especially if I could find a place to spend 10 hours. Jesus would say (Luke 11:5-13) that I needed three loaves at midnight—for myself! Smartphones may make communication possible, but it is love that makes everything feasible. Before I boarded for Keflavik, I was set for more than money could buy. Someone in Michigan had arranged for someone in Reykjavik to pick up this stranger at midnight, drive him through the storm to a welcoming home and warm bed, feed him in the morning, and return him to the airport in time for a flight to Dulles. Sometimes gratitude that names names puts people in a spot—beautiful, Christian people who love, care, and serve strangers at midnight and beyond without agenda. But thank you, Adventist family. Thank you, professors Brynja and Ivan Davis. Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Orn Johnson.

Lael Caesar, associate editor

In Little Moments
For me the moments of greatest impact are often not earthshaking events. They are the little, almost casual comments in the context of everyday life that  2012 1536 page24influence me the most. This past year I had one of those moments. Who said it and when it was said are not really that important, but what was said is of extreme importance. The comment went something like this: “I can never remember my father telling me that he loved me.” These words have echoed in corridors of my mind ever since. How tragic for any child not to sense the enormous love of a parent. But my thoughts meandered further down this winding path of words. I pondered: How many people do I interact with each day who are longing for some word of encouragement? How many people in my sphere of influence need to know they are appreciated and valued? Am I often too busy to notice and too concerned about other “more important” things to care? As 2012 fades into a distant memory and 2013 looms on the horizon, I pray that the Holy Spirit will give me eyes to see, ears to listen, hands to help, and a heart to understand the unspoken needs of those around me so that I can touch them with His grace and be an ambassador of His joy.

Mark Finley, editor at large

A Changing View
2012 1536 page24The sun was beginning to set over the Sea of Galilee, the Kinneret in Hebrew, as the group gathered for worship and reflection. But this was not just another assembly; these were delegates to the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s third international Bible conference, held in the very land of Jesus.

For many, it was their first time in Israel, their first opportunity to see the places they’d heard about, read about, and studied for years, even decades. By the end of the visit it wouldn’t just be “Capernaum”—participants would recall strolling through K’far Nahum. The Mount of Olives wouldn’t be words on a page, but a place they’d walked.

All that was to come in those diminishing moments of daylight. Now it was just being there, singing the songs of Zion, hearing the words of the Master, breathing the air He breathed—all that was welcoming, comforting, challenging. Even those privileged to have been there before knew this trip would be different. Indeed it was—every first-time visitor I spoke to affirmed it: seeing the place where Jesus lived changed the way they saw Scripture. And it all began on a quiet evening beside waters laden with meaning.

Mark A. Kellner, news editor

Extraordinary Love
Numerous momentous events occurred in 2012 that exposed the fragility of life and reinforced more fully the nearness of Jesus’ return. Natural disasters and extreme weather conditions wreaked havoc on lives and communities; acts of terrorism killed and maimed for purposes that have no fathomable justification; and2012 1536 page24wars and rumors of wars to wield control over resources and lands resulted in inestimable devastation and destruction. What affected me most forcefully, however, were the singular acts of heroism by “ordinary” people amid these extraordinary circumstances.

Countless individuals risked their lives—some paying the ultimate price—to rescue victims of Hurricane Sandy. Men and women living in war-torn countries put themselves and sometimes even their families in harm’s way in order to help a neighbor or to bring a semblance of calm and safety to their community. And still others fought for a better way than war—for peaceful means—to negotiate differences. It is in these individual acts of heroism that we see glimpses of the kind of love Jesus spoke of in John 15:13, a totally selfless love that puts others before ourselves—even to the point of sacrificing our own lives. Love like that is possible only because a devoted Savior laid down His own life for us, risking everything so we might be saved and live eternally with Him.

That is the kind of love I long for within my own heart—within every person’s heart—this coming year.

Sandra Blackmer, features editor

Every Day Is Precious
2012 1536 page24In February my mother received a diagnosis that sent us to the Internet to find out exactly what it was, how it would affect her, and how that would affect us. We found out the disease is chronic: treatable but not curable.

My family has always been important to me. And in June my mother’s extended family from throughout North America converged on the tiny farm town of Liberal, Missouri, to celebrate what it means to be part of a multigenerational family. We had a reunion that was off the charts.

I remember going to these gatherings when my mother’s parents celebrated their fortieth, fiftieth, and sixtieth wedding anniversaries. Each time we saw the family both swell and contract as people got older and passed away, and as dozens of cousins got married and had children (and grandchildren) of their own. Those of us who were kids in decades-old photographs of those events are now pushing retirement. (One of my uncles greeted me as “Charlie” [my dad’s name] when he saw me.)

Of my mother’s nine brothers and sisters, only five are still alive. And who knows what will happen before the next family reunion?

My greatest impression from 2012: Every day is precious.

Stephen Chavez, coordinating editor

My husband and I were just talking about how quickly 2012 has flown by. Has anything extraordinary happened in my life this year? I can’t say that it has.In2012 1536 page24 other words, this year has been a good one for the fact that it’s been somewhat ordinary. But in that I find tremendous blessings. Though I’m a firm believer in the notion that the hard times (and exciting ones) draw us closer to God, the greater struggle is stopping to turn to Him when everything is going just fine.

This year I feel as though I have learned to do that more. I have tried just to stop and be grateful for the chance to wake up in the morning healthy and pain-free, when many others do not enjoy that privilege. To be able to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon in a warm and cozy house, folding laundry and watching a favorite movie—secure in the knowledge that at this moment a seemingly unremarkable day is evidence of how good God is to bestow the simplest blessings on us. It’s these sorts of things I will take from this year, and I sincerely hope I don’t forget that in the years to come.

Wilona Karimabadi, KidsView editor

This article was published December 27, 2012.