Tag Archive: hope


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. 

News

Unintentionally I have just returned from a news fast. I didn’t intentionally set out to avoid the news media. Typically in my life I would get my dose of what was going on in the world by watching the first 5 minutes of the Today show where they would highlight the big news stories of the day, and then I would listen to NPR news in the car as I drove around. Well, we have unplugged from cable and we are simply doing Hulu and iTunes for entertainment. Over the last number of months instead of filling my ears with NPR while I was in the car, I have jumped fully into the world of podcasts and audio books. This has been great for learning and processing things as I dive deeper into this journey of being a follower of Jesus and a pastor.

FullSizeRenderHowever, when I discovered about the recent Paris attacks days after it happened I felt a bit convicted that I had gotten a little too unplugged from the world. I hadn’t realized how disconnected I had been from what is going on, but now I am trying to find a balance.  So this week I have turned on the news. Being away from it for so long has made me hypersensitive to the things being presented in the news. I found myself being completely shocked by hearing sound bites of politicians saying things like how in America need to screen out and only let certain Syrian refugees in and refuse others. (What about the other human brothers and sisters fleeing for their lives, are they not worthy of help?) Then the reports about the Paris attacks included details of the trauma, the specifics about how and how many died, particulars about the impact on the community, culture and economy. However, when the news reported of bombs being dropped in retaliation details about death, destruction or trauma is not mentioned. All we hear is that bombs are dropped. The whole thing was just a shocking experience.

I know it is not right to cover my ears and eyes to the things around me, but at the same time it was hard to hear, see and witness the darkness. I also questioned how am I to be a voice of God’s loving righteousness and truth in the place I live? How am I to speak in such a way that I don’t just add to the noise of the news and social media? How do I participate in our baptismal call to resist evil if I remain blind to it? When death dealing words are being thrown around in all directions along with death dealing weapons I can’t help but wonder how am I supposed to fulfill God’s calling on our lives to love neighbor?

I am afraid that today I have more questions than answers. Despite the questions I have I enter into the waiting of Advent knowing and trusting that it was this kind of world that Jesus was born into. It is a world with name calling, lies, plots, scheming, brokenness, abuse of power, war, oppression, and genocide. But before I jump into Advent too quickly maybe I should remember that Jesus was born into this world to be a king and his kingdom is good and it looks like love and peace.  In the end this good king reigns.

God thank you for opening my eyes this week; sorry for keeping them shut. Jesus, teach me your good ways in which I should go. How do I love? How do I speak love and truth? When your baptismal waters washed over me a covenant was made to to renounce spiritual forces of wickedness, reject evil powers, accept Your great power to resist evil, injustice and oppression – Jesus show me the way. May your kingdom come. Amen.

 

 

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If you are interested here is a list of some of the podcasts and books I’ve been listening to these past months:

  • Art of the Sermon (podcast)
  • TED Radio Hour (podcast)
  • Seven Minute Seminary (podcast)
  • Sermon’s from United Methodist Church of the Resurrection (podcast)
  • EntreLeadership (podcast)
  • Sermon Brainwave (podcast)
  • Your Move with Andy Stanley (podcast)
  • Sermonsmith (podcast)
  • Productive Pastor (podcast)
  • Dallas Willard lectures (podcast and iTunes U)
  • iTunes U has a set of lectures on C.S. Lewis
  • Duke Divinity Summer Institute Lectures (iTunes U)
  • Following Jesus: Biblical Reflection on Discipleship N.T. Wright (Book that I have my iPad read to me)
  • The Abolition of Man C.S. Lewis (audio book from public library)
  • The Great Divorce C. S. Lewis (audio book from public library)
  • The Class Meeting – Reclaiming a Forgotten (and Essential) Small Group Experience by Kevin M. Watson (iPad reading this this kindle book)
  • Good to Great in God’s Eyes by Chip Ingram (iPad reading this this kindle book)

 

Vision and Blindness

So my wife sent me a link to this video. My only response is to pray.

Jesus, you could use mud to open eyes. Sometimes we see others like they are trees or just landscape. You have come to set captives free, and I wonder if our captivity includes our inability to see the world around us. You have come to give the blind sight. Open our eyes. Holy Spirit, awaken us to see visions. Visions of the world as it really is, not as we imagine. A world with brokenness, hurt, and despair. A world that has not been and never has been abandoned by your grace and love. A world that has homeless, and mentally disabled. A world that have break-ins and gunshots in our neighborhood. A world that you created in beauty and goodness, and have given yourself in love to redeem all to beauty and goodness. Father God create in us eyes that see all of creation as you see it. Heal our blindness. Forgive us for our lack of vision. May the visions and clear sight you give us move us to participate more in the goodness and beauty of your kingdom.

Amen

 

Who are the ones that you haven’t seen?

What paths do you take daily? Who is on that path?

Who do you avoid?

Skipping Saturday

The rain and clouds tried to remind me, but I apparently like to skip Holy Saturday. I remember the cross. Meditate and reflect on the sacrifice of Good Friday and then I tend to skip straight to Sunday – to Easter.  That Saturday long ago must have been a strange one, because with the tomb full of death and darkness it proved there was no need to put Jesus back on the cross. It was a day of silence and death. It was a day of questions and wondering. It was the day before resurrection.

So what did I do to reflect on the silence and darkness of the Saturday before Resurrection Day? I “ran” with my family in the Color Me Rad 5kWP_20140419_008-001 WP_20140419_029 WP_20140419_030 WP_20140419_047 WP_20140419_058

Maybe it was just to resist staring into the darkness.

Maybe it is because celebration is easier than working through our fears and pain.

Maybe because we know the hope of Easter that we can even celebrate on the darkest day.

I wonder if any of the thousands of other participants where dancing, running and having fun because they knew Sunday was coming.

I wonder if we should have paused to let the rain come down and reflect on the darkness of that day.

I wonder if that day in the tomb was to remind us God is with us even in our darkness, suffering, and dying.

I wonder if skipping Holy Saturday keeps us from being with those whose life looks more like death than life.

I wonder if we should be dancing, even on Saturday knowing what we know about Easter.

Jesus, thank you for the Saturday before resurrection. Thank you that you have emptied yourself completely – obedient to death on a cross. You know fully our darkness, suffering, pain and even our death. You are with us in our darkness. You are with us, but with us as the light of the world. Jesus, thank you for giving us hope even when our lives look more like a tomb than a party. Thank you for Easter. Help us to remember the sacrifice of Friday, the darkness of Saturday and the hope of Sunday so that we, as Easter people, can love each other when we are in the suffering of Friday, the doubts and darkness of Saturday, and we long for the hope of Sunday.

Amen