Wednesday, April 27, 2011

More Reflections?

just a quick note to say that I am praying about whether to continue this column :-)

I started it as a Lenten prayer exercise and am trying to discern a message about whether it continues.

But at this moment, I think about the Apostles.... when we celebrate Easter, we do it with a knowledge of the resurrection.

But for them.... Easter.... was the day they found their murdered friend missing from the tomb.  It took time... and several appearances by Jesus... to convince them that something else was going on.   They must have been confused.  Even SEEing Jesus... well how could they possible recognize him?  They saw him brutalized.... they saw him executed.... they helped to bury him.  I am not sure that I would recognize him alive and well either.  I would think I was overwrought and a little bit crazy!

It took time and more miracles for Jesus' followers to be so filled with confidence and faith that they were willing to risk everything to continue the message.

So Easter is a beginning.... not an end... a beginning of reflecting and thinking and trying to figure out which way to go next.  In my religion, we call this time Mystagogia.... and it is a time of the Spirit brewing and percolating.

I ask you, my readers, to pray too.... God will speak and together we'll figure out what happens next!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!

I think about Jesus' followers today..... we celebrate the risen Lord with an understanding of 2000 years of faith and thinking.

I wonder what they thought.... with Jesus being killed the other day... and all the grief and fear and mourning.  To discover that he was not in the tomb and to hear Mary's story of the stranger she spoke with.   How confusing it must have been for them all!

What tremendous acts of faith were required for them to continue on believing in Jesus.  WE know the miracles that happened in the next 40 days.... but right now THEY didn't.  The true nature of the miracle was just beginning to unfold.

I pray that God will keep us in faith and joy, fully appreciative of his gift to us!

May God keep you and bless you on this holy day of remembrance!

Amen :-)

Friday, April 8, 2011

2 Weeks

Can you believe it is almost 2 Weeks until Easter?

The most important holiday in the Christian faith!  Easter tells the story of WHY we believe the way we do :-)

For the next 2 weeks, I'm going to share a pilgrimage I made ..... and tell a story.  You know the story already... the story of Jesus' trip to the cross.. his resurrection.

A few weeks ago, I took a trip to the Outer Banks in North Carolina.  There is a park there, Jockey's Ridge, which has a nature trail through a HUGE sand dune.  I have been trying to do the nature walk for a couple of years but I can never get anyone in my family to go with me.... so I haven't done it.

But THIS trip, I was on my own for a couple of days... so I decided to make it happen!  And then a friend joined me.. and that made it all the more meaningful :-)

My friend was tickled with the idea because she likes to walk too.... and it was a beautiful day... so we set out to walk.  It was sunny and warm.... and there were quite a few other people there too.

Surprising for an off-season weekday, I thought.  We walked and talked and stopped at each of the markers... took a few photos... and went on back to the condo and had a super visit just catching up.

But something stuck with me and was percolating in the back of my brain.... the landscape was so desolate... like a desert.  It reminded me a little of pictures I have seen of the middle east.  And, then, late that night, it hit me...  if I led a youth group in the Outer Banks, I would use this place as a pilgrimage about Jesus' trip to the cross.   There is a devotion called the Stations of the Cross that marks several stops along the road to Calvary.

And it so happens that, like this nature trail, the traditional devotion uses 14 stops.  There is a bit of controversy about this devotion and its lack of historical accuracy.  I don't want to get all involved in that - I would like to use it as it is intended... as a way to remember what Jesus chose to do for us.

And so it happened that my friend and I got up early the next day so that we could be at the park when it opened.. and we meditated on those stops as we walked that trail a second time.

This is what I'd like to share.  That little window of an hour or so.... before we left each other and went back to our lives.

We set out without breakfast and were there when they opened the gates just before 8 am.  It was a bit cloudy, threatening rain.  It was chilly and the sand was cold.  I went barefoot.  It became a sacred journey.

Over the course of the next two weeks, I will post a meditation each day about one of the 14 stops along the way.  My hope is that we can capture together a bit of that sacred space and reflect on the tremendous journey Jesus undertook for us.

Dear Jesus,

       We know you walk with us and we are never left alone.... Just as you were not truly alone that terrible day when your world came crashing down around you.  Be with us now as we remember what you did for us and how much you love us.


Worship Together

A funny thing happened the other day.

Somehow I was at church by myself.

No worries... I don't mind.

I entered and headed to my usual spot.  I like being near the choir so I can catch the cues from choir director.  That's really important if you are a lousy and loud singer... you really don't want to be singing when the choir stops :-)

So I chose an empty pew.  Standard behavior, I know... you slip in unobtrusively and sit on the end.  (I'm not sure why - quick get away, perhaps?)

I am sitting there minding my own business... a few polite waves hello... but mostly quiet.  And a family of people starts coming into the pew.  Oh yeah, I forgot.... THEIR pew :-) 

So I start sliding over.... and the rest of the family goes around and comes in the other side... so now I am sliding back and the first few are climbing over me. 

Okay.... back to my edge...

And THEN... someone belonging to the family in the pew in front of me slips in beside me.  Their pew was FULL.  

I was surrounded.

Okay, God..... I HEAR YOU! 

Sunday service is NOT a solitary celebration.  The plan is that we gather TOGETHER and worship you.  Solitary worship is for other times.

Dear God,

       I understand how Jonah felt.  I was looking forward to having it MY way.  I LIKE my quiet time with you.  But you are right.  And I need to curb my desire for quiet solitude on these occasions of communal worship.  I need to greet and enjoy your children, my brothers and sisters.  And thanks for not putting me in the belly of a big fish to teach me this lesson.


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

God, it's me again...

Sometimes I wish the voices in my head would just STOP!

You need another challenge... you need to simplify your life.... you need to ask for help.... you need to stop imposing.... you need to lose weight.... you need to stop worrying about weight.... you need to help your kids.... you need to let your kids stand on their own....   yikes!  I feel like a battleground!

I am one of those voices, aren't I?

You bet!  But it's killing me... I can't figure out which one is YOU half the time!  I know that you have an opinion on every one of these choices before me.... but I can't figure out what that opinion is!

You really want me to tell you what to do?

Yes... why can't you just point the way with neon lights or something?  Like... YES to the lose weight... but NO to the worrying about it.. just eat sensibly and exercise and I'll take care of the rest..... or YES, ask for help but watch and be careful about imposing too much...

So far so good.... it doesn't sound like you need me yet...

Oh yes I do.... "just" eat sensibly?  If it was that simple, there would be no fat people on the planet!

"Be careful about imposing" would be simple too if people (your children, by the way) would tell the truth.  They lie... with all good intentions, they suck it up and keep doing for you until they get resentful and angry for being abused.  And then the original person who asked the favor... is left standing there feeling horrible because they took advantage and didn't know it was happening!

I admit, it sounds confusing...

Yes, but the thing is.. I KNOW you aren't confused.  I KNOW that you know how this is supposed to go.  Why can't you just TELL me so that I can make good decisions and not hurt people?

You are right.  I am not confused :-)  But I do love you and don't like to see you worry so much.

So... why exactly won't you help me?

I do help you.  I'm listening right now.

Ugghhhh.... I know that!  But won't you tell me what to do?

I don't need to.  You already know.

No, I don't.  I thought you said you were listening...

I AM!  You just gave me the answers.  The reason they don't work for you is that you are WORRIED about it!  You don't TRUST me.


That's right.  The weight thing would sort out IF you would just trust me.  Eat good food when you are hungry and move that body of yours instead of sitting so much.  VERY simple.  The weight issue won't straighten out WHEN you STRESS about it.   

The people thing.... people are messy.  My children are just like you... worry , worry, WORRY!  They want to help.  Then they get overwhelmed like you are right now.  It's just too bad when they get to a breaking point..... but you are right... it IS their responsibility.... but it is SAD when it breaks a relationship.  YOUR job is to KNOW this and keep the relationship anyway.  I LOVE you.... YOU love them.  Simple!

I DO trust you.

Then trust yourself.  I am with you.  I am helping you make these decisions.  Just trust me and show my love to others.  It will all sort out, I promise.

ummmm.... God?


I still don't know what to do.

<sigh>  Go to sleep.... I've got this for tonight.   We'll talk again tomorrow.



Thanks for listening.  I know that compared to tsunamis and earthquakes and civil unrest... my problems are small.  I appreciate that you care about my little stuff.

You are my child.  Your problems are important to me.  Now PLEASE go to sleep.

'night, God.

Monday, April 4, 2011


Over and over again, we read in the scriptures..

that Jesus had a special love for the lost...

for the searching...

for those who didn't know him...

He searched long and hard for the lost ones.

He left the ones who were safe and went out looking for the lost.

What does this mean for us and our love?

Why do we shy away from people who think differently than we do?  Is it because we are frightened of others' beliefs?  But WHY would we be frightened unless we are unsure of our OWN beliefs? 

Are we afraid that exposure to the thinking of others would shake our OWN faith structure?

Shouldn't we spend some of our love for those who don't know him?
Don't we realize that we are the only gospel some people ever get to experience?

Dear Jesus,
  Help me to spread your love around my little corner of the world.  Help me reach out to those I do not understand and offer them the same respect and caring that you do.  You never forced anyone to see your point.  You just loved.  Help me rise to your challenge of love!  Help me go forward away from the familiar... knowing that I am secure in your love and my belief in you. 


Sunday, April 3, 2011

What a DAY!

My mind has been rolling around like crazy since I arrived at church this morning!

I have 2 pages of notes.... so I will have ideas to share with you :-)

One of the things I dislike the most is that place in my head....

Where I am poised to move forward ...

AND there are several roads to take.

For me right now.... it is writing and prayer... but sometimes it is other choices that life demands of us.  Sometimes we sit and are caught betwixt and between....  so many opportunities... and who knows WHAT the outcome will be...  It is hard.  But that is okay because life is not supposed to be easy.  Easy has no rewards.  But easiER would be okay sometimes :-)

Dear God....

  Tonight I will take a rest.  I trust in you.  You alone.  You know what my choices are.  And you know where you want me to go.  Tonight I will praise you because you are awesome.  Tonight I will thank you for my blessings.  Tonight I will stop the maelstrom in my head and just rest.  I am open.  YOU direct me.  YOU lead me.  I am ready when you are!


Saturday, April 2, 2011

In gratitude

I can't wait to go to church tomorrow.

I was sick last week and couldn't go....

and I missed my friends.

AND I missed the service.

I missed all the little things that went into putting the service together.  All the invisible and not so invisible pieces and parts that so many contribute.

When I think of Sunday services..... I naturally think of my pastor and I thank him for the gifts he shares.

But I also want to give a great big THANK YOU to all the people who make my Sunday service meaningful.

You know - they are in your church too.... the choir, of course..... but all the greeters and readers too... the youth who help out... and those who work with the children....  all the 'behind the scenes' workers.. people who clean the worship space and do the flowers and art...  and print up the worship aides....  and all the people I have forgotten...

And then there are the ones who COME!  Who listen and sing and pray with me....

I thank you all for making my worship more meaningful!

Dear God,
     Please extend your loving hand in blessing right now over the members of all your congregations and their families.  Please give them all a great night's rest and help them be excited and ready to gather with me tomorrow to worship you!