Thursday, February 23, 2012

Going Deep

(Meditation for the first Sunday of Lent)

Picture a desert.  Likely hues of brown, dryness, and heat come to mind.  Have you ever spent time in the desert?  If you have you know that there is a beauty about the desert that is unique to its need for survival. 

Most deserts receive around ten inches of rain per year.  In some, it may be several years between rainfalls.  In others the runoff and evaporation rate is such that there are bursts of rain in great amounts and then periods of drought.

Plants in the desert are spaced further apart than in areas with more rain.  Plants often have a root network that run fifty feet deep.  Characteristics like this allow them to survive in their arid environment.

While the predominant color scheme is brown with grays and a bit of green, there is life in the desert.  Life that relies on receiving water when it becomes available. 

It is no coincidence that we begin Lent watching Jesus head out into the desert after his baptism.  It is a reminder to us that there is a need for connection to the source of living water, the source of the covenant, the source of the kingdom of God.

In the desert the focus is often on sustaining life.  Unnecessary movement ceases.  The goal is to go deep to find water, sustenance, and life giving basics.

During this season of Lent may we go deep.  May our roots penetrate through the unnecessary that we might find the source of all life.  May we connect again with living water and the keeper of the covenant.  In doing so may we remember that kingdom of God is indeed near.  It lives deep within us and calls us to be a reflection of it in our arid world.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Ash Wednesday

We are sacramental, a people who live out our faith in outward symbols of inward grace in the midst of our worship.  Today we will do so as we are marked with ashes and reminded that we are nothing more than dust to which we will return. 

We are reminded again of the need to closely look at our hearts and our lives, to be reconciled to God.

During this season of Lent it is tempting to give up or take on more than we can handle and like a new exercise program or New Year’s resolution which we start zealously and wear ourselves out with, give up and walk away from.   Leading us to feel we have failed miserably, perhaps thinking we don’t have what it takes to be a “good” Christian.

“Rend your hearts and not your clothing” Joel tells us, while Matthew reminds us of the call from Jesus to practice our piety in ways that may go unseen. 

These words remind us that God seeks our hearts not the outward symbols of our piety.  God yearns for relationship with each one of us.  God seeks us out unceasingly. 
So as you go to God about what to do this season of Lent, remember God has already done the work.  Our call is to say yes.  How that looks will be different for each of us and that is as it should be.

May you open your heart to hear God as the journey in the desert begins.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


(Meditation for the Last Sunday after Epiphany)


Be silent.


Be silent.


Don’t tell.


In the “transfiguration” of Elijah we see Elisha tell others to be silent when they ask if he knows what is coming.  In the transfiguration of Jesus we see Jesus tell Peter, James, and John not to tell others what happened on that holy mountain.

Think about it.  How many times have you heard someone share their faith in a vocal way that seemed condemning only to see them later do or say something that seemed to contradict their words?  How many times have you seen someone claim to believe in a loving God acting hatefully to another?  How often have you been hurt in the “name” of God or the church?

It is striking that in both of these biblical stories those who are witness to a mighty act of God are told to not speak.  There is something there.   

What would happen instead of talking about our faith, our relationship with Christ, our connection to the church, we lived the Gospel?   

What if our actions were the testimony those around us “heard?” 

What if instead of talking about the Great Commission we lived it?  

What if we silently became the hands and feet of Christ EVERYWHERE we go? 

The Gospel isn’t about words.  It is about action. It is about love.  It is radical.  It is what we are called to live not just talk about.

"Christ has no body now but yours,
no hands but yours,
no feet but yours.
Yours are the eyes through which
Christ's compassion must look out on the world.
Yours are the feet with which
He is to go about doing good.
Yours are the hands with which
He is to bless us now."
~St. Teresa of Avila

Friday, February 10, 2012

Shall we dance?

God lifts us up.

God heals.

God restores.

Look at Naaman in 2 Kings 5.  He gets angry because God is not doing more for him.  For not doing what Naaman expects him to do. This great warrior is used to telling people what to do and have them do it.  It seems he expects the same of God.  He says, “I thought for me he would …” come right to me, do all the work, and I would be healed.

Don’t we hear ourselves say that at times?

God has already made the choice to heal us just as Jesus chooses to heal the leper in Mark 1.40-45.  .   

God has already healed us.  

God has already reached out to us.   

God has chosen us.  

God keeps reaching out to us.   

God keeps choosing us.

It is we that push God away.  It is we that put conditions on God, on God’s action in our lives and in our world.

God chooses us!  That is astounding and humbling and EPIC (my new word for the week).

God chooses to heal us.  To turn our wailing into dancing as David so eloquently writes.

That is good news isn’t it?

God chooses to heal us.  We only need to say yes. 

Can we remember again that God is good?   

God is able? 

God is real? 

And that God is generous?

Can we be less like Naaman… “I thought God would…”

Can we put God first?  Make God the priority rather than put conditions on how we meet God?

Can we make  time for God out of love rather than duty?

Can we dance more?  Wail less?

Can David’s words in Psalm 30 become our prayer?

I will exalt you, O LORD,
because you have lifted me up *
and have not let my enemies triumph over me.
O LORD my God, I cried out to you, *
and you restored me to health.
You brought me up, O LORD, from the dead; *
you restored my life as I was going down to the grave.
Sing to the LORD, you servants of his; *
give thanks for the remembrance of his holiness.
For his wrath endures but the twinkling of an eye, *
his favor for a lifetime.
Weeping may spend the night, *
but joy comes in the morning.
While I felt secure, I said,
"I shall never be disturbed. *
You, LORD, with your favor, made me as strong as the mountains."
Then you hid your face, *
and I was filled with fear.
I cried to you, O LORD; *
I pleaded with the Lord, saying,
"What profit is there in my blood, if I go down to the Pit?
will the dust praise you or declare your faithfulness?
Hear, O LORD, and have mercy upon me; *
O LORD, be my helper."
You have turned my wailing into dancing; *
you have put off my sack-cloth and clothed me with joy.
Therefore my heart sings to you without ceasing; *
O LORD my God, I will give you thanks for ever.

Can we remember God chooses us?

Thanks be to God!

Thursday, February 2, 2012


It is by no means a new concept yet today I have been struck anew by the power of words and their perception.  So much of what we say with our mouths is really not what we meant to have heard by others.  I forget that not everyone has learned to read beyond words to see the 90% that is said with the body.  Having learned early and often to "hear" in ways other than words kept me safely at a distance from harm as a child and able to understand those without words in my first career, this "skill" often leaves me heart broken as I "hear" and "see" differently these days.  It leaves the recipient confused and wondering, leads to misunderstandings, and is hurtful when hopes are raised by words not meant.    

I am reminded of the need to speak clearly, honestly, and with sincerity.  I pray my words bring more blessing than pain. 

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, Lord, my rock and my redeemer. (Psalm 19.14)