Wednesday, February 29, 2012

George Herbert Poem {Lent}

The Sinner

Lord, how I am all ague, when I seek

What I have treasur'd in my memory! 
Since, if my soul make even with the week, 
Each seventh note by right is due to thee.
I find there quarries of pil'd vanities, 
But shreds of holiness, that dare not venture
To show their face, since cross to thy decrees: 
There the circumference earth is, heav'n the centre.
In so much dregs the quintessence is small: 
The spirit and good extract of my heart
Comes to about the many hundredth part.
Yet Lord restore thine image, hear my call: 
And though my hard heart scarce to thee can groan, 
Remember that thou once didst write in stone. 
~George Herbert

Special thanks to Lent and Beyond for posting this poem the other day.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

My French Press Life {Lent}

Everybody loves a good cup of coffee right?  Except when what they want is a clear, fresh glass of water...

Sometimes my life is like this french press.  There are bits and pieces of coffee floating around in the hot water - you junk, my sin.  In order to avoid drinking these, I slowly, with my own effort, push the plunger down.  It catches all those unappetizing granules and traps them deep, deep below.  

I am pleased with myself; proud of my effort to get rid of these visible particles.  After all, I have tamed and managed them through my own effort.  I smile.  (Actually it is more of a slightly arrogant grin.)

But then Jesus looks at me, holds out His cup and says, "Give me a glass of water."

My brow furrows and I feel sick to my stomach.  All I have to offer is a stained, black liquid.  And no amount of my effort can push the brown away.

I look at Jesus holding my pot of brown - the parfait of squished junk at the bottom and a sloshy brown liquid above.  I sheepishly shrug my shoulders, hang my head and whisper...

"Jesus, if You are willing, You can make me clean."

Then I look up to find Him smiling as He says, "Now you get it."

Saturday, February 25, 2012

What To Give Up? {Lent}

What will your Lenten journey entail this year?  What are you giving up for Lent?

I asked God what He wanted me to give up.  And His answer?

Sleep - get up early for time set apart to meet with Him
Self-absorption - evidently this will be the primary topic of our conversations!!

Beware of mirrors
They lead us not to see ourselves
But love ourselves
Like poor Narcissus,
Who, grasping at his image died.
They say that floating in the
Water just above his
Wide-eyed, silent face
There was a butterfly.
Had he let it lead him into wonder,
He might have loved science, not himself,
And lived to cure the world of plague.
-Calvin Miller
(Requiem for Love)

Friday, February 24, 2012

Lent 2012 {Lent}

I found myself standing on a stage, in a dark room with one, single, bright, blinding light shining on me.  I tried to shield my eyes from the searing light in order to see who was behind it, but of course, I knew.  The words of Psalm 51 illumined so brightly - fueled by the Author's power.  The light was not war, but pure, crisp, almost a tangible wall and the Holder of the spotlight was unrelenting.  I stood here, at my entrance to Lent and the discomfort was unbearable.

I come from a stream of Christianity that does not observe Lent and this year I understand that much clearer.  Lent is exposure; Lent is discomfort; Lent is the caught child looking down at her shoes nervously twisting her ankles, rolling back and forth from tow to heel.  Lent - with its searing "caught you" light - forces that same child to turn her pockets out, exposing the junk she wishes could remain hidden.

In short, Lent exposes sin front and center....and leaves it there for a full 40 days.

There are no Hallmark cards for Lent.  It is not a holy day that the rest of the world wants to co-opt.  In my tradition, we believe we are sinners, but we like to move quickly to God's love and grace and much more pleasant sentiments.  But I've come to believe that Lent is exactly for those same believers...who having grown lazy have begun to drift slowly away from our First Love.

But Lent is all grace and love of God because it exposes our fractional living.  We live half-this and a quarter-that - mixing concoctions that work for us.  Lent turns our graduated cups upside down and empties order to lead us to Wholeness.

But wholeness does not come easy.  It takes us being willing to remain on the dark stage in the light of Divine Interrogation for 40 days.  We must not our head "yes" to the convicting words of the great Lenten Psalm 51..."Thou art justified when You speak", and "You desire truth in the inmost being".  

It means being emptied, pockets shaken out, nowhere to hide and remaining in the raging love of God.

O Lord, give us the courage and stamina to make this journey! 

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Prayer and a Picture

God of the morning winter sky
Half-cloudy, full of foreboding omens
Half-gloriously light, bathed in golden sunrise
You are God of both
And as I stand on the precipice 
Of what is called today
Enable me to follow You
In whichever direction You choose

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year Prayer by Christine Sine

Saw this prayer over on my friend Christine's website....thought I'd share it here.

God may I welcome this new year without fear or regret,
Secure in the certainty of your promises,
May I live in anticipation of its beauty,
And be prepared to embrace its challenges,
May I look for your love in every moment,
And listen for your voice in every sound,
May I see your image in every stranger,
And exalt in your glory expressed in all your creation,
May I learn to live in the place of trust,
Remembering always that the future is in your hands.


Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Eve {End of Advent}

Did you know without even realizing it, you probably reaped the benefits of at least five hinges before you got here this afternoon?

The hinge is an interesting contraption isn't it? Two pieces of metal with the kicker being the pin that can, and does, literally take things in a whole different direction.

Did you know we gather tonight to celebrate the benefit of another hinge? Except it is no ordinary hinge, but a hinge of history. Somewhere in Bethlehem, many, many years ago, a baby's birth changed everything. The long, straight wall of history bent.... History itself hinged and went in an entirely different direction.

And the pin of this hinge of history is a tiny little word...and a preposition at that...the word WITH. We read the words from the first chapter of Matthew, “ All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”- which means “God with us”.

God WITH us. WITH is the pivot point. WITH takes everything in a new direction.

The last candle of Advent represents Jesus – this “God with us”. The central location of the candle among the others reminds us that the “God with us” is the pivotal point. All the other candles hinge on that center one.

Because WITH is a word of hope – Someone now knows our deepest longings and with Him, all things are possible.

WITH is a word of love – because He opens His arms and welcomes us into the family picture

WITH is a word of joy – because we can see we are not alone

WITH is a word of peace – we know we can rest because we are held in Strong Arms.

WITH is a together word. It brings two things together and allows them to go in a whole new direction.

WITH changes everything.

The whole timeline of the planet shifted that night. God came into the world a whole new way, in flesh and blood, and history hinged. It was no longer just God or just us, but God WITH us. That was good news then...and it is good news now. And that, if we let it, can be the hinge that opens our lives in a whole different direction.