Friday, March 29, 2013

An arrest...a trial....a crucifixion...

Good Friday

Where would you have stood?  OR would you have left for home days ago?

The church today stands in a painful place for many of my friends and family.  It is smaller and older.  It is polarized and inward looking.  Many are caught up in the Gay Marriage disputes and how the church should think about Gay and Lesbian people.  Money issues are making ministry difficult in many places.  Communication ministry between congregations seems to be struggling.  The list of hurts is huge and ties us up into  little neatly organized labeled boxes.

A New Pope washed the feet of 2 girls yesterday...a humble faithfilled act that broke tradition and the rules!    Shakes the act of act of grace.

Good Friday....a day when God shook the earth, darkened the sky, torn the curtian, and changed the rules.  The day the faith did everything, but stand still.  When Jesus died on that cross ts made the world change.

Good Friday...God broke the box that faith had organized so neatly.  God changed the meanings and expectations.  God showed the ultimate in loving relationship for humankind.  The earth shook from the power of God's activity. we feel the power of God's change?  Can we feel the power in our lives?  Can we move beyond the boxes of neat organized religion with it's painful assumptions and expectations.....can we move into relationship and see where it takes us?

Can we allow God to do a new thing in us?  Through us?  Using us?  Can we see God beyond the boxes of traditional church/contemporary church/gay/straight/old/young/male/female.....etc etc etc?  Can we allow God to shake things up....especially us...and move faithful people in new a powerful directions of loving, forgiving, graceful relationships?

Where do you stand?  Do you stand at the cross ready for God to move us into loving each other?  I'm not opposed to church....just the judgmental, nasty, little box type places that hurt people.  I'm all for the church that lives out God's act of love on the cross that offers forgiveness, love and grace to one left out.

Good Friday

Thursday, March 28, 2013

7Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed.8So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover meal for us that we may eat it.”9They asked him, “Where do you want us to make preparations for it?”10“Listen,” he said to them, “when you have entered the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him into the house he enters11and say to the owner of the house, ‘The teacher asks you, “Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?”’12He will show you a large room upstairs, already furnished. Make preparations for us there.”13So they went and found everything as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover meal.14When the hour came, he took his place at the table, and the apostles with him.15He said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer;16for I tell you, I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.”17Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves;18for I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”19Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”20And he did the same with the cup after supper, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.21But see, the one who betrays me is with me, and his hand is on the table.22For the Son of Man is going as it has been determined, but woe to that one by whom he is betrayed!”23Then they began to ask one another, which one of them it could be who would do this.  Luke 22:7-23

My congregation gathers for a meal this evening and so we have set the tables and prepared the room. (I know the story tells of Peter and John preparing, but the traditions of the Passover Meal include the women)  My daughters and I have done this as part of our own devotions this week.  It's humbling.  It also brings back the women who would have prepared a room for Jesus....the women who would have been journeying with Jesus preparing meals, taking care of the men, etc.  

As I reflected with my daughters on this we also talked about the women who were left behind when everyone left after dinner.  Imagine watching the conversation at dinner and then watching those men walk out of the room that night.  Did they clean up from the dinner in silence?  in frenzy?  in worry?  in fear?  Did they sit and wait for word?

We know the women were there...the scriptures present them as silent....but we know they were there...they were on the fringes watching.  I imagine they were weeping with broken hearts....fiercly angry and dismayed at their own helplessness.  Did they comfort Peter when he came after his own denial of Jesus?  Or were they angry?  Or were they so overwhelmed they watched the story unfold in numbness as it went so quickly and painfully?

I know the story of the men, but we forget the women.  They were there.  They were present.  I would have been with them.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Now the festival of Unleavened Bread, which is called the Passover, was near.2The chief priests and the scribes were looking for a way to put Jesus to death, for they were afraid of the people.3Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was one of the twelve;4he went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers of the temple police about how he might betray him to them.5They were greatly pleased and agreed to give him money.6So he consented and began to look for an opportunity to betray him to them when no crowd was present.  Luke 22:1-6

Judas....He's a strange guy for most of us to understand.  In some ways it's hard to imagine he would betray Jesus for a bag of coins.  He had been so close to Jesus and was part of the inner circle of friends.  So, why?  Maybe he's just to too close to reality for our comfort.

Each of the Gospels deals with Judas a touch differently.  Luke, is simple.  Satan took over.  Now, I'm not a big Satan believer.  It's really hard for me to wrap my mind around a living Satan the way people think today.  I've studied too much and know that many of our images and ideas come from Dante and other authors who wrote very good vivid images that have stuck in the societal mind's eye.    Now, I do believe in evil.  I've seen way too many people who were cruel and hatefilled.  I've known the times when I was touched by evil and was hateful myself.  For those moments I'm ashamed and seek forgiveness.  Do you?

But this idea of Judas being entered by Satan and betraying Jesus still leaves the need for a solid answer that leaves me out.  You know....Judas had to do it so God made him do it....It had to be someone...he was greedy.  There are all kinds of theories about Judas that make him unrepeatable.

I think Judas is the reminder for all of us that we turn away from Jesus in our lives.  We are tempted to betray Jesus.  For most of us in the USA we live a very nice life with many comforts.  Standing up for out faith really isn't a part of our community.  In fact you can claim to be Christian and live a life that shows no sign of Jesus in it.  The ways to betray Jesus in our lives are plentiful.

How do we betray Jesus?  How do we deny our faith? 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Luke 20.20-47

20So they watched him and sent spies who pretended to be honest, in order to trap him by what he said, so as to hand him over to the jurisdiction and authority of the governor.21So they asked him, “Teacher, we know that you are right in what you say and teach, and you show deference to no one, but teach the way of God in accordance with truth.22Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?”23But he perceived their craftiness and said to them,24“Show me a denarius. Whose head and whose title does it bear?” They said, “The emperor’s.”25He said to them, “Then give to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”26And they were not able in the presence of the people to trap him by what he said; and being amazed by his answer, they became silent.

Thte question of authority is the relavant question they are striving to catch Jesus on.  He's a smart man, though and the game of authority becomes a game of whits.  Who can outwhit the other?  Here we have the question of in society.  

Luke 21

21He looked up and saw rich people putting their gifts into the treasury;2he also saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins.3He said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them;4for all of them have contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in all she had to live on.” She gives everything...she has nothing else...she puts her faith in God and gives her 2 coins.  She takes the risk and gives everything she has with the faith God will provide.   It's interesting that these questions of money are so present during Holy Week.  To think about money this week seems so out of the picture...we're supposed to be talking about our hearts, our faith, our Savior!  How often, though, does money come between us and our God?  The need for money to pay provide a roof over our  But the question stands....which is more important?

Who or what holds authority in your life over God?  Who or what holds power in your life?

Monday, March 25, 2013

Luke 19.41-48

41As he came near and saw the city, he wept over it,42saying, “If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.43Indeed, the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up ramparts around you and surround you, and hem you in on every side.44They will crush you to the ground, you and your children within you, and they will not leave within you one stone upon another; because you did not recognize the time of your visitation from God.”45Then he entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling things there;46and he said, “It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer’; but you have made it a den of robbers.”47Every day he was teaching in the temple. The chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people kept looking for a way to kill him;48but they did not find anything they could do, for all the people were spellbound by what they heard.

The people were spellbound....they were so caught up in Jesus and what he had to say that they were spellbound.  When was the last time your faith left you spellbound?  Completely engaged?  Totally in the moment of faith? 

People drop off from the party of Palm Sunday as the week goes by.  Most of us start out in the crowd on Palm Sunday, waving palms, excited.  But something else comes along and we end up wandering away.  We lose our focus and we wander off.

What leaves you spellbound?  What in faith leaves draws you in and engages you completely?

Friday, March 22, 2013

Today has been a beautiful day in our house....we did nothing!  Ok, sorta.  We looked at buying a new know the discount is wasted by the delivery and set up fees?  We took our daughter to lunch.  We're headed out soon to buy stuff for our granola fix for next week...gotta be sustained during Holy Week running somehow!  The sun is shining so Michael raked sweet gum balls.  We've laughed at stupid things, stupid jokes and just plain spent time together as a family.

The weather man is saying we're going to get snow on Sunday....a crazy Palm Sunday!  A Winter Storm is strolling through Cincinnati Sunday and will mess with life as March prepares to end soon.  The trees are budding and my grass is turning green so I know this winter experience is coming to an end soon.  I don't blame the ground hog...I mean really?  They're suing the ground hog?!  That's just a waste of money, time and crappy publicity stunt.

I saw this morning the new Pope is going to have Hoyl Thursday in a "new" place this year and wash the feet of the down trodden instead of priest/cardinal type people.  I'm intruiged with this Pope.  He's stil conservative on the female leadership thing, but that's a common sin for a man.   I'm blessed to have men in my life who believe God really did create women with possibilities....not just as extra decorations for the arm.

In some ways today is my day to relax and breathe before the chaos of Holy Week begins and Easter comes flying in to end this whole Lenten experience.  I'm grateful for Lent this year...I was starving myself on a ration of task and Lent has brought me back to the healthy habits of relationships.  I was clinging to doubt and fear and have been able to find faith and grace.

Are you ready for Holy Week?  Have you cleaned out your heart and looked at the sins you're gonna leave on the cross?  Are you ready to journey past the Triumphal celebration of Palm Sunday into the truly hard part of our faith?  ....The Cross and the death.

Winter is hanging on...are you hanging onto your sins?  Winter is throwing one last party this weekend...are you holding onto those tasks/things that keep you from reaching out for the hem of his garmet in faith looking for healing? 

Catch your breath folks...the best is yet to come!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Some of my friends here have seen this picture.  Early Monday morning First Christian in Owensboro, Ky was struck by lightening and burned.  The pastor shared this picture on facebook this morning saying the sanctuary was behind this wall before the fire.  It's a stark picture of the fire and rubble it left behind.  It's also the truth of faith standing strong and calling us forward.

In many of our congregations we use our "old" communion tables in creative ways.  Church remodeling projects come along and we change the tables, the furniture and carpet.  But the old Tables stick around in different places.  I imagine the pastors who stood at this table and the Elders who prayed.  I imagine the women who carefully prepared communion the first time and set it on the table for worship.  I imagine the worship services that centered around this table in the past.

The building burned.  The ministries are temporarily displaced.  The congregation is grieving a beautiful building and lost memories.  They can never go back. 

When I  first heard of the fire it wasn't long before my thoughts turned to the possibilities they will have of defining church together....To build a building that meets the needs of their ministry and the future possibilities. 

Life is full of chaos and tragedies and moments where we are brought to our knees in grief and dispair.  In the middle is the presence of God...remember me....hold onto me....grasp me and let me comfort you....let me tell you of my love.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Philippians  2:1-13 If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy,2make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.3Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves.4Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.5Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,6who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited,7but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form,8he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death— even death on a cross.9Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name,10so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,11and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
12Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence, but much more now in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;13for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure. a new thing in our hearts today...rework us...let us be a blessing and not a burden...

Lord, stretch your hand under those who lead and lift them...may they know your strength and open their mouths to speak wisdom in these days of chaos

God of Grace....calm the storms surrounding so many....may they know your still quiet voice

Humble us gently, that we may embrace each other with love and not shame.  Humble us gently so we can hold each other in love and not ambition.  Humble us so we can just be with each other.

God, can I just hang with you today?

Monday, March 18, 2013

please join me in praying for the following:

1) the community of Steubenville, Ohio and the surrounding area as they struggle to deal with the results of party gone terribly wrong.  I pray for the young woman...the young women...and the young men involved.  I pray for a community that must not deal with stereotypes images and media.  So much.

2) Owensboro, Ky...First Christian Church...their sanctuary was hit by lightening in the early hours of morning....complete distruction of their worship the grief and possibilities of the future.

There are others, but I ask prayers for these.

I saw the Dead Sea Scroll exhibit again today.  It's intoxicating to think about these scrolls and the possibilities of them.   I'm really overwhelmed by the questions and thoughts they bring to my faith.  It's sooooooo exciting!  Think about it...the oldest pieces of written faith for Judeo-Christian-Islamic traditions.

Walking around the room and looking at things I also like to look at the people.  There was one man he wanted to see EVERYTHING.  He wanted to absorb all of it and not miss anything.  The other men in his group were trying to nudge him along a little faster, but he was so enthralled he was going to get as much as he could.  He went back to touch the stone from the Wall.  One of the women in my own group was lit like Christmas.  I know come Sunday there will be a ton of exciting there's a way to start Holy Week!  YAY!

To think that scriptures could be so exciting!  But they are.  They have everything in them.  They have all the challenges, the stories and the wisdom for living.  Seriously, are you learning to live by watching Dancing with the Stars?  Great entertainment with people in really skimpy clothing, but seriously?  Scripture...I double dog dare you to read some....

It really would be too cool to see people reading their Bibles and being excited.....

Friday, March 15, 2013

It's quiet God....I can hear the day begin, but I'm not quite part of it yet.  The sun shines.  I know you are present.  I can feel's like you eagerly await for me to join's nice to be yours.  It's like having a friend waiting to play after breakfast.

Philippians 4:4-9
4Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.5Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near.6Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.7And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.8Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.9Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.

Hold me today the strength that renews me.  Make me a blessing, not a burden...mind my steps, my words and my deeds that I may reflect my faith and not my chaos.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

This is the 3rd time I've sat down and starting writing today....I'm a little indecisive about what to say....not really!  It's kinda been one of those days.  I started with plan A and left it behind long before I hit the shower this morning.  There are days like this.  It's not been a bad day, but it's been full.

Truth is that today has been full of relationships.  Doing the tasks of life just hasn't fit into the plan today.  Sorry about the work I didn't finish, but people stepped into the time.  So, when I sit and reflect of the times I found God today it's easy...I found God in the relationships that went deeper. 

When I began Lent this year I admit I was really struggling.  I had been for some time.  The doubts of life had been weighing on me and I was really feeling a bit like the dry bones in the desert.  I needed Lent this year!   I needed to find God in the beauty of life again.

See I was caught up in the tasks, the getting them done and the ones needing done and the ones that just weren't getting done.  I was caught up in the priorities of tasks and the energy people spend on the doing or not doing or planning or complaining or whatever.  There's so much energy put on tasks in life.  If that's what life is about all the time it's exhausting.

I needed Lent this year.  Lent has brought me back to adjusting my life to be about the relationships....not the tasks that seem to hide relationships.  Often times the tasks of a relationship are the stumbling block.  Loving a person is more than the tasks and expectations of relationships.

I needed Lent this year to force me back into the groove.  As I let plan A, plan B and plan C go and allow myself to just go deeper in the relationships I have found I am being more faithful in my faith.  I am seeing God and hearing God's voice and loving God in deeper ways.

I know the tasks are important...but being a person of faith is counter cultural!  relationship verses task.....

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

before I begin....I have to give thanks for my daughter.  19 years ago she rocked my world and changed me.  I've never been the same and I'm grateful for the changes her life has made to mine.  I'm a better and happier person.

As a kid I remember having head lice.  The worst of it was the nightly was aweful!  I had long hair so having my Mom spend the hours combing it was no fun and it hurt, but the worst was still the itch.  and the shame.  My Mom was awesome, but somehow I had the impression this was something people were embrassed by.  When my own kids had lice it was again the shame that got me.  I would watch as well meaning people would spread the word, point and talk...and I would feel the shame.

Bed Bugs!  They are an epidemic in Cincinnati and everyone is capable of getting them.  People recently got big deal right?, people got caught in the shame of it.  Something completely out of control that makes people afraid others would judge us....shame.

There are moments all over where shame is's a relationship breaker.  It also weeds out the people who truly love us from the ones who just want the gossip.  Those who truly love us help us out in those moments.  They show kindness and compassion. 

Relationship breakers are all over the place...the moments we choose to break relationship or hurt another person or belittle another person.  The opportunities to think ourselves somehow better than another.  Family arguments, nasty comments out of hurt feelings, harsh words, turning of the back and walking away, silence instead of love....ok, the list could go on.  Let's face another big one....if your first thought is the sin of the other person than you really need to turn that finger back inward and take a good hard look at yourself.  That's all I'll lecture on the self thing....

I truly believe faith is about and with each other.  I truly believe that's the broken part of life.  Walking to the a place of forgiveness....don't we also need to look at how we break our we need to seek forgiveness with the we need to fix our own selves....

Lord, Forgive me for hurting others.

It may turn out that the greatest shamesful moments in our lives turn into the greatest blessings.  I know what I thought was shameful at one time has been one of the best adventures of my life.

Lord, help me to see you turn the shame into a blessing.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Monday....rain...a full schedule with a couple extra things thrown in...'s your day...I hope I know my place in and not the chaos of it.  I'm going to strive to know the blessings and the depth of relationships and find you in the moments of the day.  I'm hoping not to get lost in the possibilities of bitchiness, but to see the positives.  Lord, I ask your blessing on my family and friends that they too may know you today.  Don't let them get caught in the negatives today could bring....may they see the positives.  May we all know you!

I look forward to the end of the day to reflect on the day and the places we all knew you deepest.


Friday, March 8, 2013

Life and Death

Looking into the face of death is reality and it's a part of life we strive to avoid, ignore and forget.  But I look at it regularly.  Most often it's around the corners of an older person who waits for the comfort and peace of death as if it's a long lost gift.  I like the character Burgess Meredith played in Grumpier Old Men when he talks about feeling like God forgot him.  I see that often in my ministry.  Lately we've been watching the slow death cancer creates as well.  That's like watching death stalk the life out of someone slowly and without dignity or grace.  Death has many faces, but it is always  the same conclusion to the story of this life.

For people my age...any age actually...we try not to think about death.  We are still young enough to think ourselves exempt and to look at younger people who die as tragic.  There was a car accident yesterday that made the news...2 cars of teenagers.  3 died on the scene.  It's considered tragic, but it's still death flashing in suddenly, without warning.

Truth is that death is part of life.  We try to make it an enemy or controlable, but the truth it that it is part of life.  It's probably one of the most natural parts of life actually.  It's the end of this life.

I've been with people when they die and the process is amazing to watch.  It can be gentle and beautiful and quiet.  It's not scary.  I've seen babies born as well....death is much like that.  It's about beathing....those first breaths and those last breaths.  The struggle to be born, the struggles of life and the journey to death.

To think that God decided the best way to explain....example....demonstrate...the love God has for us was through death is wordless.  To choose the thing we resist as the message of forgiveness, grace and love is like having the walls of the box torn off and the world changed. 

To journey to the cross without looking at death is not a complete journey.  To look at death and to see the love of the cross is to see beyond death into something!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

I was praying for snow....and when I woke up early to watch the scroll for closings I was anxious and eager.  Excitement flowed as the first child was off school.  Later the complete picture was created when UC closed for the day as well.  I got to keep both of my girls and play with them today.  It's a rare treat now and so it was a true thrill.  Big breakfast, sledding with the neighbor, movie and nap for the afternoon....slow nothing important day.  The kind of day you savor.  Given our schedules lately it was nice.

The snow was lacy in the trees on our drive to sled and I had the opportunity to hear the silence that only comes with snow.  It's like everything is muffled and sound if the world transformed to the time before we filled it with noise and chaos.  The silence is a sound I crave this time of year. 

The day has also left me reflecting on this journey to the Cross and the empty tomb.   I'm looking forward to Holy Week and the opportunities.  The simplicity of the story and the chance to pray my way through it.  I'm finding my life is more full this year...full of relationships and the depth of them.

The best part of the day, though, was laughing and playing and be completely free to do just that! 

Maybe we just plain need more snow days and less busy-ness in our lives!  Maybe we don't play enough.  Seriously....we fill our days with tasks, appointments and errands, but not play.  Laughter and joy see to get repalced with traffic frustration, grocery chaos and task coordination. 

We might actually enjoy each other more and appreciate each other more if played more!  I dare you to go like someone and play with them until you giggle madly. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

God of grace who breathes life into us in the beginning and welcomes us home....thank you.  Thank for so much. 

my husband who loves me anyway
my children and the love on their faces
the rain as it washes away the dirt
the snow and the possible snow it might bring
the warmth of my house
the friends who are a word away
the hug that lifts and the word that loves
my parents who miss me
the crocus that screams spring
my church that is my family
change that brings challenges and possibilities
quiet and noise in their appropriate places and times
holding me with fingers shaping my like clay
and so much more....

THANK YOU, o Lord!  You Rock!

Monday, March 4, 2013

The past too many hours have been a roller coaster of emotions.  After Bible Study last night I got one of those calls that makes the earth move out from under your feet and sucks the breath out of your lungs.  I stood trying to know my Mom was in the hospital.  Now, before you loving join me in the abyss....she's fine!  They sent her home and there's nothing wrong.   But that phone call and the hours of waiting were incredibly revealing for Lent. sister is amazing in a crisis...She talked to the nurse and got information.  I am the emotional one and didn't think to do that.  Second...I am good at waiting.  I can sit for hours and stare into space without it seeming painful, endless or suffocating.  In the midst of the waiting I found other things.

When I was about 6 years old my Mom took me into the kitchen one Sunday morning yelling about how I hadn't cleaned behind my ears and then she preceded as she lectured me to wash my hair and behind my ears.  I always loved my Mom washing my hair in the kitchen.  She had these great finger nails and she would scratch and massage the soap into my hair and it felt so good.  I had a stuffed dog when I was a little little one and I carried it by the neck to the point it would wear out and spring a leak for the stuffing to fall out.  I remember being about 3ish and asking Mom to sew the hole.  The memories flowed today from strange places...but all of them places of love with my Mom. 

Mom is the rock in our family.  We all count on her just to be the rock.  We've probably never said didn't need said...we all knew it and we never questioned the truth of it.  Mom is's that simple.  She was the rock when I was little and she's the rock now.

I'm the one who has flitted around in life.  I gave her hell as a teenager...ask her, she'll be glad to tell you and remind me.  We remember the reasons differently, but it's behind us.  I was the always the challenge for her.  Ask her about when I was little and there are some really good stories.  And even now I'm the one who can frustrate her faster than anything.  Partly, I'm more like her than she wants to realize and I'm way more like her mother than either of us realize, which really is crazy.  But I look at my daughters and I see my Mom again.  So somehow it all moves in the right direction....forward in love.

I believe life is truly about definition of sin from the other day fitting nicely in this's about being right with God and others.  We fill it with other stuff....until the phone rings and the earth moves and we are blessedly reminded again of the love of one person....and the love of the many who help us through the hours of waiting because I know I wasn't alone.  Life is relationships....

Saturday, March 2, 2013

My apologies for starting so late today...but I worked late today and then had dinner and a little family time.  But I also need to write something...for my own journey.

Today was amazing.  See, I struggle with self confidence in a million little ways.  Today I did a Memorial Service for a beautiful lady I've known for years.  Her son is an adoptive parent to me from my days back in college and I love him dearly.  So, having the honor of doing this service was really overwhelming and yet I am so grateful to do it for them.  There's something amazing when our past reaches in and affirms and loves on the present.  It's a special blessing of the future. 

Michael and I are discussing Luke 5 with the paralytic who is lifted through the roof to find healing.  I am arguing the text isn't about's about relationships.  It takes the relationship between the paralytic and the people who carry him.  It takes the widening of the circle to pass him over the crowd to the roof and let him down into the house.  People had to work together, cooperate, move in rhythm, be in relationship for Jesus to be able to even point out/announce "You sins are forgiven" and then to heal him.

I believe sin is that which breaks our relationship with God and/or others.  Sin is that crap that keeps us from loving each other, knowing each other, embracing each other.  It really is that simple.  To me, the crap that separates us from each other is the can be anger, jealousy, laziness, lies, too many things to name here.  But it the power of forgiveness and relationship that goes beyond the sin to grace is amazing.  (There's more to sin and forgiveness, and I'll get to that in a few weeks.  The cross really is coming)

The most amazing things happen in our lives when relationships are given the opportunity to be real, true, forgiving and deep.  We change...we become more....we become stronger and better people when in loving, kind, compassionate relationships that take us deeper. 

Today I knew the depth of loving relationship from my past, my present and my future and I was changed by the depth of it.  Without this relationship I would be so much less and my life less rich.  On the way to the cross I am reminded of the power of relationship and the truth of living in relationship. 

Friday, March 1, 2013

Sabbath....had a conversation with someone recently who was thinking very strictly...Sabbath is Sunday.  I explained Sabbath is a day of rest.  If you're blessed to have it be Sunday great, but many of us aren't.  Today is my Sabbath this week.  I have a little work, but I have more Sabbath than work so I'm thrilled.

Sabbath isn't always an exact day or's really got to be an experience of God.  It's a time to relax, renew, play, reflect. 

I remember as a child reading the Laura Ingalls books and reading how her father was very strict with the Sabbath.  No work was to be done.  It was confining and restrictive.  It was a time of nothingness that was devoted to God.  Does God really deserve our nothingness?

I like the idea of Sabbath in it's true sense.  I once read up on Jewish Sabbath and sex.  Sex is encouraged on the Sabbath....To know your lover in the most intimate and nurturing of ways and finding the renewal of yourself and the other.  That's Sabbath.  By the way, I think God is intimately involved in sex, too....God's everywhere you know! 

Sabbath....a time to enjoy being re-inspire my heart and mind and play and laugh and know the non "work" parts of life. 

Lent is a serious's a serious journey...but it must include the Sabbath parts of life in it as well.  Lent needs to be wholistic to really get us fully to the cross and through the empty tomb. 

Thursday, February 28, 2013

We had our Free Community Dinner last night.  We turned on one of the ovens and it quickly became clear there was something on the bottom of the oven as the room filled with smoke.  So today I was at church on my knees with my head in the oven singing "Because He Lives."  Something humbling in cleaning up that mess and singing that hymn.  It's a humorous sight, but it's also true.  I was on my knees cleaning up a mess...knowing in the humility of the moment that I can get through today and tomorrow because I walk with my Lord.

I spend the day after those community dinners reflecting on the lives that came to the meal.  The turmoil that those lives are in or will face soon.  Today it's the children who caught my heart.  Children in poverty situations are revealing of so many wrongs in our world.

I think about the adults who came to dinner.  Some who are lost to society and ignored...many who are barely making it through....some who are just looking for a friend and other people to share a meal with....some who just like coming and enjoy it....All with a need.

I went to a Lenten Lunch yesterday where soup and bread was served and good Lenten message was preached.  We were all there searching....all from different places in life and different church traditions.  We were deliberate about being on a journey to the cross.  We will gather again next week...we're all in need.

I went yesterday and visited a woman in a nursing home with questions that she will be facing in the next week.  All around her were people who are forgotten...left behind in chairs and beds glimpsing the rest of the world through little TVs, cards and sometimes visitors.  The alarms went off and doors closed and the rooms became smaller....the alarm finally went still, the doors opened and no explanation given for the sudden disruption.  The helplessness of living in this was overwhelming.

There are days that bring us to our knees to be humbled by the reality of life.  I think again how being on my knees cleaning out a dirty oven floor and singing "Because He Lives" isn't quite as funny any more.  I need to be humbled and I need to know it is because Jesus lives I can do anything. 

May I always be humble enough to see the people along the journey to the cross and see them as children of God.   Don't let me not see them...don't let me blind myself, don't let my heart harden to them....God, use me....make me a blessing not a burden....use me.  Amen

Because He lives....I can face tomorrow...

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

God of grace...God of the weather and the creation and the one who breathes life into us.  ahhhhhhhhhh....When I fall today may I know you catching me.  When I succeed today may I feel your Spirit flow through me as I am vessel.  When I sit and reflect may I see you fingerprints.  As I wander through the day may I not forget you...May I remember you're there.  As I encounter your children may I see you and not the things that break relationships....and I mean that in friends, family nad strangers.  (So, that includes driving)

God of the world...may I know beyond myself.  May I be open to where you need me today.

May I know you today, Lord.  May I not be caught up in the me, but in the you.

ok, today....I'm ready.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

I'm really not sure where to start with this's really very personal so bear with me if I meander through....I just hope it makes sense.

Today was one of those days where I woke to a bad day.  I was arguing with my husband and children, I had the worst headache in months, my computer freaked out and it was raining.  I was in a VERY bad mood would be just the beginning of my problems.  So you can imagine how praying probably wasn't the easiest thing for me to even atempt today...but it was the one thing I needed most.

I went to the office...but I hit the couch elsewhere in the building pretty quickly and lay there looking at the wood ceiling and beams and letting my mind go.  It was I could be silent.  I could just listen.  I collapsed into the hand of God and just lay there in many ways.  I listened as the rain pitter pattered on the roof and I looked the ceiling imagining the hands that created it.   I just lay there in the fingers of God and let God do God's thing....Romans says the Spirit intervenes where we don't know what to was one of those days. 

I admit the anger was still there when my husband brought me lunch, but we were able to get to completion of the argument and make a plan for resolution and growth.  Growth is important...the argument is only healthy if it brings good stuff.  I think this one will, but it was painful to get there.  That is life...and it's not's worth it, but it's not easy.  And when it's 2 strongwilled people who love each other the process is worth the growth point.

Today I found God in the silence as I collapsed and I found God in the argument and in the rain.  I found God in the wholeness of the day from bad start to now...and I know God will be there as I love life into sleep and tomorrow.  If I hadn't found God.....oh, the pain of being stuck there is not something I want to know.  I am grateful for the prayers of silence and the Spirit's intervention.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Listen to me in silence, O coastlands; let the peoples renew their strength;
 let them approach, then let them speak; let us together draw near for judgment.
Isaiah 41:1
This is where I began today in my devotions.  Now, undertand it's Monday.  Sundays are chaotic so Monday is the aftermath.  So, sitting down and finding the silence was/is painful and impossible.  I managed to be as squirmy as possible, as talky as possible, reaching for distractions and finding every possible way not to be in the silence as possible.  There are just moments like that.
Then as I moved through the day I turned on the radio, I filled the space around me and I have listened to every sound that has passed by.  I'm almost filled to the point of yelling...."turn that damn thing off!" to the next sound that filters in.  I'm ready for the silence.  I want the silence, but I'm so busy.
I had to move and engage life to be able to reach the silence.  Truth...I had things I had to finish.  I a relationship to go deeper in as Ii asked forgiveness for an oversight....I had Bible study to challenge me...I had life details to square away.  I can approach God without all of those things crowding out the silence. 
I finally found the silence.  Or I thought I found it...then the phone rang and  was off again.  Ever feel this way?  Like no matter what you's impossible to filter out life so you can just be in the silence to you can be renewed? 
I may have never hit silence, but I sure found God.  I found God in the warmth of the the story of communion told by a son about his the secret gift a pastor took to the hospice the flood of relief in the words of friendship from a dear the love of my daughter and the kindness of my husband.  I found God in the chaos as I searched for the silence.
Sometimes I'm looking in the wrong place.....

Saturday, February 23, 2013

prayer....Over the past couple years I've been questioned by some relationships on how to pray.   Some saying there are "correct" ways to pray and one person accused a group of us of not praying correctly.  Another conversation about how to pray and "Am I doing it Right?" as the primary question.

Prayer for me is an intimate conversation with the Lord.   As a child it is was on a play phone that I would dial and tap into my own privately phone line to God.  As I grew up I learned to just talk.  I actually knew how to sneak into the church my Dad was serving and "hang out" with God.   We would talk and eventually I learned how to sing.  As an adult I've found driving to be a great place to pray...the shower works well, too. 

Prayer is like talking with my best friend.  Sometimes I talk...sometimes I listen....most of the time we're just together.  Sometimes I laugh....sometimes I cry...most of the time we're just getting through each day together.  Sometimes we're incredibly close and sometimes my walls are up and I feel the loneliness of my isolation.  Sometimes I read scripture...sometimes I watch the wind blow and feel the rain on my skin wash me clean.  Sometimes I feel the sunshine and sometimes I feel the hug of another person. 

Each day is different.  Each day I am different.  Each day finds me in the correct position to pray more often than not....or maybe it's just that I don't believe that are incorrect ways to be with God.  Being correct isn't the's's bbeing with God.  God knows me in my correctness and my incorrectness...and God uses all of it to mold me and shape me.


Friday, February 22, 2013

I laid in bed hearing the icy rain fall last evening...this morning I'm listening to the cars drive quickly towards their destinations.  The scroll on the TV is showing schools on delays and my daughter is happily watching MeTV.  It's a pause in the routine, which I love to have.  Our mornings seem like a whirlwind of activity with me getting glimpses of my girls running out the door to face the world.  Today, one of them got a little pause in the schedule. 

The other is on her way out the door and avoiding my's not the normal's helpful advice.  LOL!  I recognize that too often she gets the don't forget this and don't forget that kind of advice...the things she can figure out on her own.  But this was helpful once she stopped to listen...I even got the kiss on the cheek thanks as she took the advice. 

Between my own busy-ness and my ability to not want to listen (Yep, my daughter gets it from me!) I miss opportunities to be with God, to hear God's voice, to know whose child I am.  Blessedly it's Lent.  I have no excuses.  It's a  commitment I've made.  So today, I will work to listen, to know and to be with the blessings God sends my way.

We're well into this Lenten's too easy to let go and not journey.  I pray we all stay strong.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

I'm tired today.  I woke up cranky and dreading the day.  So, I also waited to blog.  The last thing I want is for this to become my person bitch is Lent after all and I'm thinking this faith thing needs to go a bit deeper than that.

I've been in a place of doubt recently.  I've been questioning a lot of things and feeling pretty dried up in my own spiritual life.  This blog is forcing me to drink from the well.  More correctly...Lent is forcing me to drink from the well of God's presence.  (It's more than  that, but I'm not sure on how else to look at it.)

Today in my crankiness I had to face frustration from myself and from others.  It was valid and it is normal.  But we had to work it out and we did.  What I/we found was grace.  I needed grace today.  I needed grace from women who love me in the midst of frustration.  I found God today in these women and their grace. 

So often frustration can lead to anger the desire to dig our feet in and be right.  We get caught in the taking of sides or self righteousness.  We forget we're dealing with people.  Broken relationships can be our society lives are destroyed and changed out of frustration.  Look at the guy on the plane last week who was drunk frustrated and now picking up the pieces of his stupidity.  Anyway...frustration can get out of hand and get in our way very quickly.

Or there's grace...the ability to get beyond and into relationship of love.  To love others.  That's what we're about...the church.  We're called to be in love.  Today it was easy...others days it's not so easy.  But it's always the message.  It may get lost in bunch of theological well meaning other stuff...but the message is a message of love.

I may still be dealing with my doubts....but I'm also finding I'm seeing more love these days.  More grace.  Maybe because I'm craving it and I'm looking for God I'm finding it.  Maybe Lent is more of reminder to drink from the well more often.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

I started reading First Samuel again.  I'm struck by so many things especially in light of the world today.  The Philistine caught my attention in particular.  Hard not to when if I pay any attention to what is going in the Middle East these days.  See, I'm intrigued and trying to understand the culture in a new way.  So, I Googled the Philistines...besides going back to the 12th or 13th century BCE the city Gaza caught my attention.

I've grown up hearing about Gaza in the news and 25 years ago had the blessing of studying Israel/Palestinian relations in school as well as the UN Seminar through the Christian Church in Ohio.  I was struck back then by the depth of conviction each side had that they were "right".  I was used to then and even more now...change.  Today I watch as politicians are locked in mud with short vision and shorter memories.  So many people around me have no understanding of their own past nor the history of our country these days.  So conviction doesn't carry the weight of history for me as it did/does in the arguments of the Middle East.

Looking at scripture and reading of the battles between Israel and the Philistines and places like Gaza it is clear that the Middle East is more complicated than I can understand.   We're talking about people who can trace their family trees and lives back centuries and know the history of the land like I know fairy tales.

I live in a place of peace that has barely been touched by war and that war has become a romantic memory to be relived 150 years later as if it were elegant.  It was a bloody hellish thing that scarred our country and destroyed lives.  But we don't recognize that...we block it away.  I grew up with WWII veterans, but they didn't tell stories.  I saw them in their eyes as black shadows would cross their worn and weathered facees, but stories were rare.  They sheltered us from the ugly.

Violence, hatred and ugly is not something you can hide from in the Middle East.  And it goes back centuries into a history we barely even consider relevant.  The NRSV uses the phrase "The Philistines mustered for war against Israel" as if it was something they hungered for.  It was ingrained in the life of the people.

Lent....a time to know God.  A time to grow closer to God.  A time to really understand my faith which means looking at the depth of cinviction, history and scripture.  I can not fully understand Jesus on a cross if I don't understand the meaning of Messiah and I can't understand Messiah if I don't know the story of David and Israel.  I can't understand the future if I stand in ignorance.

Monday, February 18, 2013

I lead a Bible study on Monday morning that is one of the best things in ministry.  Today it got better.  One of the members laid out the challenge last week for all of us to bring a passage today that we had questions about from out personal reading over the week.  Several folks followed thru and we had one of those deep theological conversations seminary students dream of and seasoned pastors get giddy about.  I can't wait until next week.

To engage scripture seems so easy.  We can all read, we can all think.  But so often we just don't do it.  (Pastor friends...I've read the same studies you have about how much we take care of our own spiritual lives.  Thank goodness for Lent!)  Anyway, it's sad.

One woman brought a passage from 1st Kings about David's death.  She was caught by the soap opera aspect of it.  Love that part personally.  It brings that real sense of humanness to the Biblical role models.

We also looked at Proverbs and wisdom....which we're going to pick up next week.  And several other things we'll pick up as we go along.

Lent...a time to be shaped and to grow closer to God....a time to engage the scriptures and know the story.  Today I put the challenge out to read...maybe start with 1st Samuel and really know who King David was between Goliath and the crown.  What is it about him that makes him special?  Come on....there's nothing as good on TV tonight anyway!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Life invades some days...sorry about yesterday...but see if my reflection doesn't give something to ponder in light of Lent.

Ever have one of those days when nothing goes well/right/decent?  EVERYTHING goes wrong?  Yesterday!  It included the all out argument with the spouse to make the day worse.  Neither of us dealt well with anything and made the day one of those that you wish at noon were over.  It was like being stuck in a groove and not knowing how to get out and looking at the other person screaming for help and they are just as stuck...Together we were mess!

Have I painted a good enough picture?  You've been there...we all have.  There are just those days in life.  Today I'm sitting here with the sun on my face looking into the face of a different day...calm, sane and happy.  I'm not yelling....not breaking anything  (Yep, I'm a breaker...that's a whole other blog, but it's also my confession of the moment.)  I have dinner in the crock pot and I'm off with my girls for a lovely experience.

Michael on the other hand woke up cold with a headache...after wrapping up in bathrobe and blankets and swearing he was fine I told him he had the flu.  He, of course, swore he didn't.  He's now quarantined in the back of the house and forbidden to breathe on us.  He's also calling someone else to preach.  I'll save the I was right moment for later since I'll probably come down with it next. 

Lent....Thursday was love...Friday was is life...each day is different.  Each day provides the opportunity to look at another part of our lives.  Yesterday provided the ugly side...the side I don't like living out and really hate admitting to.  It's a place I would rather never visit...but it's also a place where deep passions are confirmed.  Anger is a place where I see how deeply I love my husband and my self.  It's a place where I see my sinful side up close and ugly and start working on it.  It's a place to begin changing my sins into something else.

Anger used to scare me.  I thought it was sinful to be angry.  Then I engaged the picture of Jesus being woken up in the boat to calm the storm.  Or Jesus turning tables in the temple.  Anger isn't the sin.  It's a motivating force in life that when used properly changes us for the better.  When used improperly can become sin.

Lent...each day brings a new challenge to look ourselves.  From basking in deep love to the passion of deep's all good clay for God's fingers.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

I have to admit I'm glad to see my blog wasn't completely ignored and lost in the shuffle yesterday....was a pleasant surprise to see people liking and commenting on Facebook.  Thanks for joining along.

Valentines Day for Michael and I has always been very simple.  Our first was a Sunday night in seminary after a weekend of telling our parents we were getting married.  Let me tell you there's nothing romantic in that at all!  The engagement being expected by one set of parents and a complete surprise to the other should have let us in on surprises to come in the future, but we blessedly were naive.  Anyway, we kept Valentines simple....Pizza! thin crust mushroom and sausage.  We're doing our 20th tonight....that's hard to imagine!

Yesterday I went to the grocery to pick up a few things and was joking with the cashier about the overflow of balloons, flowers and stuff all around him.  We laughed about the men who would ravage the display in the next 36 hours trying to make someone happy.  I told him our tradition and he wished everyone could be that simple about it.

The thing is that simple.  It's the gentle touch of a hand to hold walking down the street, the voice you want to hear on the other end of the phone, the presence you want to feel safe in.  I'm not mushy type...I'm more the obnoxious screaming strange things to make you laugh type...but it's ok, he gets it....he gets the way my head works...the way my heart works.

Loving my husband today is such a good way to start Lent.  To know that God's love is deeper and more of everything is intense.  I love my husband and would be lost without him so starting Lent here is good.  God's love being more is amazing to me.  To ponder that love and to know that love as I wander to the cross makes me take a deep breath as if preparing for God's finger to reach over and mold my soft clayness. 

To back in God's love as I walk to the cross this confess my sins in the midst of that basking....Thanking God for loving me so much.....

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Ash Wednesday 2013

I debated back and forth as to whether I wanted to do this this year, but I think I do.  If you want to hang with me great...if not, I hope you find someplace to feed you through Lent.  I sat down a couple weeks ago to work on a devotional and got the outline organized...then life settled in again and the devotional isn't happening.  So, I offer my own journey through Lent to share with friends who want to do this with me.  It may get pretty love my honesty some days.

Ash Wednesday...the beginning of Lent!  Ok, so I'm sure everyone has good intentions for the next 40 days (not including Sundays) to prepare themselves for Good Friday and Easter.  Honestly, I don't!  I've been making plans lately and they haven't been working out so well.  Yep, I get up and think I know what I'm doing for the day and by the end of it I'm baffled.  The plan was shot 5 minutes after I made it and the day was not the "planned" day by any stretch.  So, for Lent, I have very few plans.  I hope to blog...I hope to do 2 Bible studies...I hope to be open to God's plans and forget trying my own.  Get the word hope in there.

So, I opened my copy of  The Message this morning.  If you don't have a copy, you need one!  Anyway....Romans 12!  My favorite passage....ok, one of the top 10ish.  Here you go...

12 1-2 So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

3 I’m speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me, and especially as I have responsibilities in relation to you. Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it’s important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him.

So, it's the idea of Fixing the antention on God and the last part about how it's what God is and does that's important.  Those were the lines that grabbed me this morning and help me to define Lent this year.  It's not really about all the's about God.  Holding on to God, focusing on God, living out of an understanding of being God's child, living with the understanding YOU are God's child with me.  It's that last part that society differs with in the ever present destrustion of the other person.

So, I, or better yet, we, begin Lent.  We begin this journey that takes us back to the cross and then onto the empty tomb of Easter.  God's fingers molding and shaping know a deeper relationship with this God who created us, breathes life into us and so much more.

May we each know God's voice in this journey!