Tag Archive: faithfulness


Sent Out The Door

John 20:21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”

SUsan-door-open

Behind our doors of fear it is the resurrected Jesus appearing. The disciples afraid of being rejected by the Jewish leadership that rejected Jesus – they locked the doors afraid to be who they were called to be. The disciples afraid of failure because they saw a movement end in a cross and a confusing empty tomb which looked like failure – they locked the doors afraid to move forward to do what they were called to do.

The rejected Jesus appears behind our fear of rejection and doesn’t reject us. Jesus says “Peace be with you.” Showing off scars that no longer can be marks of failure, but marks faithfulness. God has redeemed those scars to now be glorious marks of freedom and forgiveness for all. Jesus appears behind the doors we lock because we are afraid of failing and we have our own scars that we think mark our failures. It is behind this door of fear Jesus says, “Peace be with you.”

Then the powerful thing about this passage is in the midst of the Son of God proclaiming peace over us, he also says “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”  As we unlock the doors of fear because of Christ peace in our lives we are sent out as the Body of Christ to appear behind the doors of fear that our neighbors, family members, and friends find themselves hiding behind.

Thank you to all those who have shown up behind the doors of fear that I have often tried to lock in my life. Because of you I have been able to step out in love that casts out fear toward being who I have been called to be.

Lord Jesus, you who promised to give and leave your peace with us, may we go like you willing to appear in places of fear and lead in your ways of peace until your kingdom comes and your will is done.  Amen.

 

Roots and Wires

clarafications IMG_1250A few days before the turn to the new year Jill and my boys took me around downtown Raleigh to the Artspace. We met an artist named Clara Johnson (check out her website: http://www.clarafications.com/ !!! Amazing stuff! ). She has these fascinating 3D sculptures using wires and beads that just drew me into her studio. There was one in particular that hung on the wall of her studio with its burst of sun and trees that captured my attention. Clara and I began to talk about this work of art and little did I know how God was preparing me for this recent pilgrimage journey of exploring issues of race and the church in our state of North Carolina. As we talked I noticed the sun giving life to the two magnificent trees with their branches and roots breaking the boundary of the frame. Images of the tree of life and parables of the vine and branches were flowing through my mind as I gazed upon this creation, until she points out the tombstones lining the bottom of the art. What is death doing in this? In avoidance my eyes went back to the red and yellow sun. Then Clara helps my eyes see that connecting these two parental trees is the silhouette of the continent of Africa. I didn’t see it at first, but right before me was a grand history of family and a story of pride with branches reaching out. I was given permission to witness the amazing roots of family and love that hold strong and break the boundary of the frame itself, but some of those stones of death seemed to have their own roots of bitterness and pain acknowledging a reality of injustice that continues to hold up these trees and stones.

Now I find myself wondering and asking questions after this journey around North Carolina. I heard stories of masters, slaves, stories both personal and institutional of dividing walls of racism that still separate communities today, and I heard of the all-to-seldom hero that would speak and act as if dripping wet with the waters of baptism resisting injustice and oppression in their various forms.  It all makes me wonder what kind of roots are we laying down?  What kind of roots are holding us up? Do we have roots of love and life, roots of death and destruction, or a strange tangled mix of both holding us up? Are our branches building up hedges that keep out or reaching out breaking boundaries?

Lord Jesus, there are some branches that have tangled together because the roots of racism and prejudice have nourished our trees to form hedges that only separate. There are some roots of pain and injustice that need to be transformed by your redeeming touch. Master Gardner Jesus, have your way with our roots and branches and heal us. Restore this garden to loving, interconnected, abundant life.   Amen.

Clarafications IMG_1251

Thank you Clara for being willing to bear witness in your art to a story that is greater than the simplified story I only want to see.  You tell a good story.

 

 

Who You Talking To?

5bcb744a-10c4-4cc2-8468-d9f486778965Back in June I talked to a friend of mine who was using the rosary as a prayer instrument. This led to a conversation with my Dad. Not long after that conversation I received a package from my Dad, and I was thrilled to see that my Dad mailed me his rosary. I couldn’t remember all the patterns or the prayers that went with it, so I kind of made up my own pattern. I would get up early in the morning and go for a walk with beads in hand. I would pray the Lord’s Prayer on the beads with a notch and then pray for different groups of people (family, friends, peers, leaders, the hurting or neglected…) on the other beads.

In some of my classes prayer practices using icons were mentioned occasionally. I did find it fascinating how it was described that through prayer these images would act like little windows into the grandness of God. I loved how it sounded, but I had no practical experience to help me relate. When I got to the icon of Mary I didn’t know exactly what to do. I found myself reflecting on Mary. When the Apostles Creed came to life in how we believe in the communion of saints and the resurrection as I began thanking her for her witness. Allowing her stories from scripture to fill my mind. Then without realizing it I began talking to her. Not praying like I do with God, but talking like I have had a conversation with many of you.  It wasn’t a conversation where I heard her speak back to me, but in a different way it was a conversation. As I was reflecting and thanking her for her willingness to submit to God, her faithful response to the incredible I was flooded more and more with images of who God is and how we as God’s children are called to lovingly respond to like Mary to God’s grace. I thanked her for her willingness to participate in God being born in and through her. The prayer shifted as if Mary was pointing all along to God the Father and I began to pray that I would also allow God to use me so that the love of Christ Jesus would be born in me for the sake of God’s world.  I began to pray for the church that we would reflect a similar witness like Mary, who did not resist God revealing God’s self in and through her.

I am only using the beads once to three times a week now, but I felt like it opened up a whole new world as I can reflect on all the saints who have gone before us from the men and women of scripture to Athanasius, Irenaeus, Augustine, Calvin, Wesley, Martin Luther King Jr. to my Grandmother. We can thank them for their witness, and allow them to point us to God revealed in Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ, you are not a god of the dead, but of the living. Thank you for the faithful witnesses that have gone before us who continue to point us by the power of the Holy Spirit to the grace of Your Father. Amen

Discipleship Memory

InvitationChallenge matrixMy discipleship group has been learning about how Jesus worked with his disciples by balancing a high level of invitation and a high level of challenge and creating a discipleship culture that empowered those that responded.

Invitation refers to an attitude that says, “I’m glad you are here, I’m committed to you and will welcome you no matter what.” Challenge refers to an attitude that says, “I want you to grow, I’m committed to holding you accountable to change for the better.”

The other night in the midst of our discussion about invitation/challenge I was reminded of God’s faithfulness of keeping his promise. One of the things that I am finding to be funny about this adventure of following Jesus is how short my memory is. I have learned so much in these last couple years about God and what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. I have even preached about many different aspects of the good news of Jesus Christ. I have seen God’s transforming redeeming power at work in my life and in the lives of those around me. But despite all that I still need to be reminded of simple things – like that God is faithful and keeps his promises. I am thankful that I am not on this journey alone, because God uses so many of you to remind me of who God is and who I am called to be.

It was nice to have a moment of invitation – of God reassuring me of his faithfulness even when I don’t know what lies ahead. I guess I just need a reminder every now and then of WHO lies ahead.