Lent Musings 36

I could blame it on the times or I could blame it on my own crazy brain but the scripture I used yesterday was actually the lectionary reading for today. I honestly didn’t know what day it was….Yikes!

One of my favorite authors and theologians is Frederich Buechner. I wanted to share a quote with you tonight.

“The grace of God means something like: “Here is your life. You might never have been, but you are, because the party wouldn’t have been complete without you. Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid. I am with you. Nothing can ever separate us. It’s for you I created the universe. I love you.”
There’s only one catch. Like any other gift, the gift of grace can be yours only if you’ll reach out and take it.
Maybe being able to reach out and take it is a gift too.”

The party wouldn’t have been complete without you. Not a single one of you. You are all important and loved and God created the universe for YOU! Be safe. Goodnight.

Lent Musings 35

I’m sorry I got behind on my Lent Musings. I confess that I have news media and social media overload. I want to see my kids and grandkids and I’ve been having a bit of a pity party. I will do better because when I do THIS better, I do better all the way around. Some lyrics have been running on repeat in my mind:
“Far be it from me to not believe
Even when my eyes can’t see
And this mountain that’s in front of me
Will be thrown into the midst of the sea”

Mark 10:32-34
Jesus a Third Time Predicts His Death and Resurrection

Now they were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was going before them; and they were amazed. And as they followed they were afraid. Then He took the twelve aside again and began to tell them the things that would happen to Him: “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death and deliver Him to the Gentiles; and they will mock Him, and scourge Him, and spit on Him, and kill Him. And the third day He will rise again.”

I have often read something in the bible and been completely bummfuzzled as to why “they” didn’t get it. They being the Israelites when God was right there, visible, a pillar of cloud. Or they meaning the disciples – who actually walked and talked with Jesus and saw him perform miracles and healings. And here we are in this reading from the daily lectionary with Jesus telling his disciples for the third time what is going to happen to Him. The immediate response? To find that, you have to read a bit more of the scripture. Then you find that James and John, the sons of Zebedee, have a request. They want to sit next to Jesus in Glory. The result? Jesus tells them they will drink the cup He drinks but it isn’t his to grant where they sit in Glory, so they are going to come to a bad end and they managed to irritate the rest of the disciples.

What struck me about this reading today as often happens, is how like them, we are. With this horrible virus, we don’t take all the precautions we should until people near us start becoming ill. Even then, we tend to move a little slowly because we think it couldn’t possibly happen to us. We see it happening other places. We see the news and still we think it can’t happen like that here or it won’t happen to us….until it does.

And here I sit, people are dying and I am rationing my favorite coffee because I know I won’t be able to make a trip to Winco for well…who knows how long. Like the disciples, I am concerned about the wrong things. Like the disciples, I need to be reminded that what I think I understand, is NOT what Jesus intended. I am often petty and grouchy and impatient and judgmental and selfish.

Thank you Father for Grace. Thank you Jesus for the work that you did through your life, death, and resurrection because without you, I would have no chance of any seat at all in glory (I’m just hoping to go skidding in before the door slams shut!). I ask that you give me more of your spirit. Help me to do better at extending the grace that you have lavished on me, to others. Amen.

Lent Musings 33

Father, I come to you in prayer for myself tonight. I am feeling the stress of this pandemic. I feel myself get frustrated and irritated at the littlest provocation. I can’t speak for everyone else but so far I have been mildly inconvenienced. I can order groceries online, I can still pay my bills, so far all of my loved ones are doing ok. So I can’t help but feel that others must be feeling this so much more than I. I humbly ask that you give me grace for now and for what is ahead. I plead with you that you will help us find a way to end this and I pray that you will give your peace and comfort to those who are in situations so much wore than mine. Show us how and where and when to be your hands, and feet and heart for others and how to do that from a distance if that is where we need to be. I pray for your protection for those who because of their job or calling, can’t maintain that physical distance. Not only for their protection, but for the protection of their families. Please help our doctors and nurses to have the strength and the discernment to allow them to bring comfort to those who will obtain their final healing and come to be with you. Give them peace to deal with the losses. We love you and you have proved your love for us, time and time again, but man we need to be reminded of that love right now.
You sent Jesus to die for our sins and even as He was going to the cross, He still loved us even with our imperfection, our pettiness, our lack of compassion for others, all the human things that we so need to overcome and can’t without you. In the midst of the most stress of His life, Jesus put us first. We need your love and grace. Amen

Lent Musings 32

From the archives:

Bible study this time is John, the Gospel of Light and Life by Adam Hamilton. Excellent book, each chapter covering part of the gospel of John. Tonight’s session was all about Jesus’ last words to His disciples. It reminded me of a poem I wrote in 2013. We need to serve each other, every one. we are filled with the spirit, only to pour it out on others and glorify God. We need to feed each other.

The pond must know a secret,
it fills a hollow place,
beauty mirrored in stillness,
quietly waits in grace,
weathers drought with patience,
faithfully refilled.
The pond must know a secret.
How did it get so skilled?

The pond must know a secret.
See all around it grows.
It’s silence sings to living things,
even the marsh grass knows.
The trees are fed and cluster near,
cradle nest and fruit and seed.
The pond must know a secret,
made to be fed and then to feed.

Goodnight folks. Love each other.

Lent Musings 31

John 11:1-45

Jesus returns to Bethany and is met by Mary and Martha. They had enough faith to believe that if Jesus had been there, their brother Lazarus would not have died. Even though Jesus knows the end of this story, he weeps with them in their pain and grief and loss. Jesus stands with us when we grieve, not to the side as an impassive observer, but as someone who like us, has been in the midst of pain and loss. But more than just sharing this pain, Jesus speaks life and calls Lazarus and us from the grave and into life with Him even as He Himself was on the way to the cross.

Lent Musings 30

There is a birdhouse that looks like a church on a shelf on my back porch. Yesterday, I was putting potting soil back on the bottom shelf and realized that there is a bird nest behind the birdhouse. There are three eggs in the nest and I made sure not to touch it. Today I saw the mama fly in.

It reminded me that in the middle of all my anxiety, where for the time being, life is defined by the news, by where we can’t go, who we can’t see, and who is sick, God’s creation goes on doing life. Plants are greening up, eggs are getting ready to hatch, spring is happening.

While Lent is a time of going deeper, of taking our hearts on the walk with Jesus as his journey moves Him closer to the cross, it can’t be truly experienced without remembering that the cross is not where this journey ends. As spring follows winter, new life follows suffering, and resurrection follows crucifixion.

I will be watching to see what happens with the baby birds.

We have hope.

Lent Musings 29

Lent Musings 29

James 4:7-10

7 Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.

Cleanse your hands people! The news just seems to get worse every day so we cling to the peace of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Someone shared a blog post today and a quote from it stuck with me.

“Peace is a person. His name is Jesus”

Wash your hands and stay home but check on your people! Call them, FaceTime them, Zoom them! Whatever! Stay six feet away from everyone except God!

Lent Musings 28

Psalm 89:15
Blessed are the people who know the joyful sound!
They walk, O Lord, in the light of Your countenance.
Hebrews 13:8
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
Isaiah 41:13
For I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand,
Saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you.’

A friend posted a page from her devotional book this morning and these were the scriptures the page listed. It spoke about needing to let go of somethings and learning to hold on to others. This spoke to me today because there are things I need to let go of and in the letting go, there is fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of losing a sense of control that I never actually had anyway. For the things of the big outside world, and the things of my little personal universe. If I shut my eyes and stop trying so hard to steer, and just walk in the light of God’s face, then I can let go of that steering wheel. It is to big and too hard for me anyway.

Hebrews reminds me that Jesus was, is, and will be, the life, the truth, the way. He said his yoke is light and I need to remember to give my burdens to Him.

And Isaiah, oh what a thought…That God will hold my hand and tell me to fear not. He will help me. I can close my eyes and walk in the light, Jesus is still the savior of the world and God will hold my hand and help me.

Amen

Lent Musings 27

Hebrews 12:1-3 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.

Years ago, I coached a little girl to compete in swimming for the Special Olympics. It was the first time that I had participated and I was close to tears the entire time. Those kids all tried so hard but there were several noticeable differences between Special Olympics and other competitions.

All the kids tried very hard but if one fell down in a race – the others would stop and help them out. They all wanted everyone to finish and so while they all did their best to finish the race, they also did their best to see that everyone made it to the goal.

Everyone who was not racing was cheering for everyone who was. They were not just cheering for their own students or children. They were there to support every single person competing.

Even the motto ‘Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt,’ reminds me of this passage.

I believe that this is what we as the church are called to do. We are to finish the race before us because we are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses. But…we are also to BE the cloud of witnesses – encouraging each other when the way seems long and dark. When one stumbles, we should all help them up. It’s often that encouragement, whether we are giving or receiving,, that is the thing that keeps us from becoming weary and discouraged in our souls. And we should want everyone to reach the goal because God desires that none should perish and should we not all want what God wants?

Lent Musings 25

Matthew 13:47-50
“Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

This passage caught my interest because I think each of us reads it thinking that we ourselves and those who think, act, look like us are the righteous and everyone else is the wicked.
If we look at this passage in conjunction with the next one it gets even more interesting:

Matthew 7:1-5
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

We quote the first part of this passage often but we kind of ignore the second part. We talk about judge not lest ye be judged but that statement changes when you add the part about you will be judged with the same measure you used, I don’t know about you, but that part makes me a little nervous because in my head, I can get pretty judgy and if I stop and think about it, I seriously pray that God will be a little easier on me than I am on myself and others.

By the same token, when the net is lifted, I pray that I am one of the righteous (NOT self righteous!) And even if all this talk about judgement and separating the fish makes me uncomfortable, I also remember that God is the most patient of fishermen. 2 Peter 3:9 says The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness but is long-suffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

Here is one thing I believe is true. If Jesus had judged us the way we judge each other, we might be looking at different ending. But He saw beyond our pettiness, he saw behind the eye that was covered up by the log, deeper than the superficial part of the heart that made the cruel judgement of a brother or sister to the child of God that is hiding behind all that stuff and that child, precious ones, is who He died for. We have within all of us, the ability to be either the worst or the best and during these troubled times there will be many opportunities to choose to be kingdom children.

Father, I pray for the ability to see beyond the outside. I pray to see beyond the outer shell, to see your child inside. I pray to better show the grace that you have extended to me. I ask that you remind me that when I am certain I understand you – that is the very time you will surprise me. Help me to stay open to those surprises and the joy that comes from staying near to you.

Lent Musings 24

“I will rejoice and be glad in your steadfast love, because you have seen my affliction; you have known the distress of my soul, and you have not delivered me into the hand of the enemy; you have set my feet in a broad place.” (Psalm 31:7-8)
Maybe Something here will bless someone – Some music that helped me today:
Communion by Steffany Gretzinger and Brandon Lake
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=91hHw1YPqxE
Aint No Grave Bethel Music & Molly Skaggs
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nGncW_ueyHA
God So Loved by We the Kingdom
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iq5URsXbKXs
Be Thou My Vision by Ginny Owens https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=faBLAC6a_Fs
Find Me In The River by Delirious
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GpoxId5KGQ0
New Jerusalem by Michael Card
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=emsKFfg4u-Y
Hills and Valleys By Tauren Wells
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p4rRCjrAyCs
Hillsong Broken Vessels
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fiyYoe678yI
Twyla Paris I Choose Grace
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GLGuIgZ4_FI

Lent Musings 23

Lent Musings 23

This is just some thoughts. We have the first confirmed case of covid 19 in our county. If we have one confirmed case, that number is going to multiply rapidly. I say that because if there is a confirmed case they could have had the virus for up to 20 days without being symptomatic. During that time they may have gone to church, ate at a restaurant, all without realizing that they were contagious.

I am afraid. I know the bible says “Do not fear” a kajillion times. And I wish I was better at obeying that particular biblical mandate. But because of Jesus, I know that my inability is where His grace meets me.

I have faith that God can heal the sick. I also have faith in Him even if He doesn’t. I know that I would like things to go my way, but I don’t have the whole picture, just a few threads right in front of my face. Personally, I’m not fond of suffering. I am not fond of pain. But I know that if you are alive, there will be suffering.

That being said, I don’t believe in suffering needlessly so, lets be careful. I am sharing a link to a video from TedTalks by Global Health expert Alanna Shaikh which does not dramatize or politicize but does explain how this virus works and why it is different than other’s we have seen in a way that even I could understand. https://www.ted.com/…/alanna_shaikh_coronavirus_is_our_futu…

Be safe precious people.

Lent Musings 22

the wind is fierce and waves are high
the way is dark and can’t be known
we each hold tight in little boats
and pray that we can stay afloat
in stormy seas that tug and pound
till we are frightened by the sound
but there’s an anchor safe and sure
that we forgot in calmer seas
it’s useless sitting in the boat
and it will only slide on sand
but catch it on the solid rock
so in the fiercest blow it holds
and Jesus who has saved our souls
can calm the storm and and make us whole

Lent Musings 21

In Exodus 17 the Israelites were on walkabout in the wilderness and their GPS (God’s positioning system) kept sending them in circles, without benefit of winnebago or Buccees. They were grousing, expecting Moses, the leader of their little caravan to scare up some BBQ and sweet tea. Moses was frustrated with the whole mess and before you know it, he finds himself between a rock and a hard place. God tells him to strike that rock with his staff and lo and behold, water flowed.

Moses obeyed, God sent water. It wasn’t BBQ and sweet tea but it kept them alive. They couldn’t fill their shopping carts and pantries so they had to continue to trust that God would provide what they needed.

Maybe the larger lesson is that God is present whether we have full pantries or just a few cans of soup, whether we are sick, whether we are healthy.

God isn’t the means to what we need. He IS what we need. Until we figure that out, we will continue to wander – thirsty and muddled.

Lent Musings 20

Perfect love casts out fear
so because you said so
I will try not to fear
and when I fail
I will lean on the author of
my faith
the One who walked
the road to the cross
on that walk
He loved me
so I will try to love as He loved
even if that love means
staying away from others
because He loved you too

Lent Musings 19

This morning
since church was canceled
due to virus concerns
I watched churches streaming online
my pastor posted the text of his message
and I read it
I “went to church”
more than I would have
if I had
well..went to church
maybe that is the answer
to a question
we don’t even know to ask
how to get through
this peculiar and unsettling time
read your bible
check on each other
talk to each other
pray for each other
because no matter the media
no matter the worry
drawing closer to God
and to each other
(though not in large groups please!)
is good.