Tag Archive: holy


Safe

Hebrews 12:18-29  But you have come …. to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word…

There are two mountains, but one God. One mountain of awe, fear and trembling and another mountain with a joyful heavenly banquet. We are invited to encounter God, the God of both mountains. Sometimes I do think of Jesus Christ in a simplified, my BFF, kind of way. This passage in Hebrews dripping with imagery from all over scripture blended together evoking wonder reminded me of something C.S. Lewis wrote. Lewis was giving us the picture of God as the great lion Aslan. When the children, new to the world of Narnia, are being told about Aslan one of them asks,”Is he safe?” In response the beaver says, “Safe?”…. “Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good.”

When we enter into worship, or dare to pray, or when we taste communion on our tongue, or watch the water drip down her head in baptism maybe a wider lens is needed. Yes, this God of grace invites us in love to come close, but we are coming close to the one who spoke and the armed band of soldiers coming to arrest Jesus fell back trembling in fear. We are coming close to the one who spoke and wind and waves calmed down. We are coming close to the one who spoke and seas split, starts and worlds were formed. We are coming close to the holy otherness of God.

I can’t promise that it is safe, but by the blood of the new covenant poured out for you and many I think I can say he is good.

Lord Jesus, thanks for making a way for us to encounter you. May we be changed as we come to know and love you more fully as God. Amen

Hopefully these crumbs from the sermon prep table are nourishing.Universal-Donor-title

Good Friday Reality

A slow wading into the strange midday gloom of Good Friday listening in the darkness to the words spoken. Chosen words. Cross words. Words that would have taken concerted effort just to gather enough breath to utter. Heavy words that identify with our breathing and our aching.
“Why have you forsaken me?”
“I am thirsty.”
Words that speak to us with the unseen gravity of hope that draws us to and draws us through the dark places.
“Father, forgive them.”
“Today you will be with me in paradise.”
Forty days of journeying toward resurrection is a journey with one’s eyes on the ground as these Good words move out of the peripheral and into focus. The moon in orbit still pulling and affecting things below still sets our dates for celebrating The Life. On this particular annual trip around my eyes have focused on something much closer instead of a detached and distant view through the scope. These words have drawn my eyes to see the spirals, swirls and ridges that make up the imprint of a finger. Original one-of-a-kind fully fully human. The dignity of the divine is unforgotten, but the blood and pulsing pressure system that moves the red life around the body more real this year than before.
Chords and words of hymns of wood and blood sharpen the focus. Weekly gathering in community both large and small proclaiming and sharing magnifies things all the more. Today thanks to friends new and old I more than remember things which had gone soft in focus. I am re-membered because what came into view as those cross words were spoken was firm reality. Real as the warmth of the sun, the touch of a hand, and the force that holds me to the earth and pulls me to the grave. The solid reality of no more beating, the finality of a last breath and the concluding words from the cross saying

The Word went silent and breathed no more. The strangeness of this good dark day has placed firmly in my life the reality of a servant and a ransom, of a gift and lost things found, and of peace near and far. The reality of clear access to the Holy and the One because of the concrete reality of blood and breath.

This season of Lent as we have focused on the words Jesus Christ spoke from the cross has been like what I understand praying with an icon is to be like where you are simply drawn deeper and deeper into the profound reality of our faith.

Lord Jesus, when we distant ourselves from reality, we distance ourselves from you. Help us as we approach Easter to live into the reality of your loving sacrifice so that your gift of life becomes the real solid ground we walk on. Amen. 

Why do we renovate our homes? What makes us recognize the need for a change? Is it just being tired of the way things are, or is it because something isn’t working right and it is time to get it fixed? Isn’t it funny how once one thing gets renovated it leads to our eyes being opened to something else needing to be renovated? It could be taking down some dated wall paper and putting up a fresh coat of paint that leads to changing the floors or the light fixtures. The broken stove top gets replaced and the projects ends up including new counter tops. 

I am glad this God of grace invites us to participate in his transforming power that can renovate our lives. Through the redeeming power of Jesus Christ and the renovating sanctifying power of the present Holy Spirit those leaning walls of prejudice and racism in our lives can be knocked down. Where the constantly dripping pipes of addictions and destructive behaviors can be torn out and replaced and the leaking stopped. Where the mold and mildew of anger and hatred growing under the carpet is torn out and the cool floors of peace are put in and felt under feet. One of the beautiful things God gives us as followers of Christ is the gift of repentance. The gift of repentance is the entry way in which we can find ourselves participating in God’s ongoing, never ending, sanctifying grace. What is our gracious renovating God wanting to renovate in your life?

Lord Jesus, you who call us to be holy as our heavenly Father is holy. Thank you for your renovating grace that is perfecting us in love. Teach us how  and lead us to participate in your renovating, sanctifying grace that continually transforms us into children of your holy kingdom who love in all directions by the power of your Holy Spirit. Amen. 

Worship Protection

Ear PlugsI was in a conversation recently with a pastor friend of mine. He was sharing about a church he was in connection with and how they were dealing with the volume level of the worship music. When people would walk in to the church besides being greeted by very hospitable people there awaited a bowl full of ear plugs available to anyone who felt that the worship music was too loud. He was asking my opinion about this (I nearly stuck my foot in my mouth, but that is another story for some other time). I went on about how worship with the volume so loud that you need protection is poor stewardship. We are called to take care of our bodies that God would call a temple of the spirit. These bodies must somehow be of importance if Jesus would walk around and heal the blind and lepers. These bodies must somehow be of eternal importance if Jesus was resurrected in a bodily form and we are promised to participate in the resurrection of the body. I just said something about how weekly exposure to worship that is loud enough to cause hearing loss is poor stewardship.

But weeks later I got to thinking… What does it communicate that worship is something that we share in and invite people to that we need to hand out protective gear?

Maybe we do need some protection in worship. Moses was told by God to warn the people not to climb up Mt. Sinai, and put up protective limits around the mountain where God descended. There is a story of some who came before the Lord and made an offering in a way that was contrary to God’s commands, they found themselves unprotected and they died. Moses remembered God speaking of God’s holiness and Aaron just remained silent. This is the God we gather on a Sunday morning to worship. The one who brought forth the cosmos by speaking a powerful word of love into the void.  This same God in the flesh could stand up in a boat tell a storm to shut up and it would respond. We gather on Sunday to worship the one that all creation reacted with shaking and darkness as the son of God was died on the cross.  The cosmos reacted with shaking as death was defeated and Jesus placed his resurrected foot on the ground. It is this God who is very present in our midst in worship. Maybe this is why it is so important that we are incorporated into Christ and there is no condemnation. Maybe this is the significance of God’s spirit acting as an advocate. Maybe this is the significance of us being reconciled to God through Christ. Maybe this is the significance of being clothed in the righteousness of Christ. Maybe we actually need protection.

Ear Protection 1612002-3God, thank you for making a way for us to gather in your holy presence to know your power and your love. The access to your holiness that you have given us by your Son through the Holy Spirit transforms us. For this we give you thanks and praise. It is in this gift of grace we worship. Amen.