Preparing

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Holy Week is coming up, really soon. It’s a week of raw emotions, memories, chaos, grief, celebration.

I have often wondered about having a funeral service for Good Friday. Having a funeral for Jesus. We often call these services “Celebration of the Life.” We could easily do that about Jesus, and I suspect it would be pretty cool. Yet is another, very real way it would have to be a celebration of death – a death for us, and for the forgiveness of our missing the mark (sins) so often in life. This would make Easter a huge celebration of new life, renewed life, blessed life.

How do you prepare for Holy Week? What changes in your pace of life that allows God to share the story of love and grace  again for you to experience?

Eavesdropping

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I know that eavesdropping is bad manners, against social norms, and sometimes downright wrong, BUT…

It never fails that when I am in a coffee shop or bar or restaurant waiting for the rest of my party to arrive, I tend to listen in on conversations that are going on around me. It is amazing the things you hear talked about in very public arenas. Even more so, now with people on their personal cell phones, having very personal calls in public. So where are the boundaries?

I wholeheartedly take responsibility for the times that I intentionally listen in on a conversation. But at the same time, I wonder about the kinds of boundaries people are setting up for themselves. I mean, if there is a really personal call you take, isn’t it better to slip out of earshot of others – that is if you care about the integrity of the call you are having. Or with social networking, when is it okay to “air your laundry,” and when should the “dedicates” be kept private?

Eavesdropping, with our communications now, is happening more than ever. For my part I will refrain from intentionally listening in. Perhaps we all need to be more cognizant of our boundaries, what we are allowing others to hear and see and holding some integrity for the relationships we have.

Would love to hear your thoughts.

Meaning of Baptism

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“We need to get our child done.”

“Baptism is how we are saved.”

“Baptism is like fire insurance.”

I have heard all of these statements regarding baptism. I truly believe that baptism is a special gift from God that we don’t deserve and we cannot earn. But what is the intention of baptism?

I asked a 14 year old this. He’s going to be baptized on Easter. His response was, “I think baptism makes me part of a community.” And I began to think, “Yea, that’s what it really is all about.” At 14 he desired to be part of a specific faith community where he could grow, question, love and be loved, experience grace, and share all that life has to offer. I think that he’s got it.

What are your thoughts about Baptism? What is the role of the community? What is special about a “ritual” that creates a bond?

Beautiful Things

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By happenstance, I heard a song called “Beautiful things” when running earlier this week. I say happenstance because I was listening to a Pandora station of mine that typically has little to no “Christian” songs. Here are some of the words:

All this pain
I wonder if I’ll ever find my way
I wonder if my life could really change at all
All this earth
Could all that is lost ever be found
Could a garden come up from this ground at all

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

You make me new, You are making me new
You make me new, You are making me new

I love the words because they remind me of the biblical narrative of how God created humanity – out of dust, and with God’s own breath. Anthropologically I recognize this is not the way humanity came into being, but I like the allegory.

I think that we all need to hear from God, that God makes beautiful things out of us, and that God is making us new. There is hope and promise and love here.

Any thoughts?

Forgiven-Ness

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I have faith, hope and trust that God in Jesus has forgiven me, and you for that matter. My issue is, how is that played out in daily living? Hence, “Forgiven-Ness.”

I believe that if we lived in the “Forgiven-Ness” of God, life would look a great deal different. I think that this may be a key to living the commandments that Jesus challenges us to live: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul; and love your neighbor as yourself.” By living in “Forgiven-Ness” I believe that we could love God in a more authentic manner – not with worry or fear but with genuine love. Likewise, I actually believe that we could love our neighbors if we live in this grace filled “Forgiven-Ness.” Because, to be really honest, at least in my experience, often when love is shown to the neighbor there is some direct benefit to the self. So you have to wonder is this love for the neighbor really for her, or is it “all about me”

So what is it that holds us back? What is our true view of forgiveness? (Like is it real? Or some construction of an institution.) Are there consequences and/or requirements that go with forgiveness? You see, the water gets muddy here. What sort of clarity or ponderings can share?

A Look

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In the stories of the last day of Jesus’ life there is a particular interaction that now intrigues me more than ever. Then scene begins with Jesus telling Peter, “Before the rooster crows you will deny me three times.” Over the course of a long night, Peter does in fact deny that he knows Jesus. Two things happen when Peter finishes his final denial: a rooster crows, and Jesus looks straight over at Peter. The story concludes with Peter going off and sobbing uncontrollably.

I’ve often wondered about that look that Jesus gave Peter: disgust, peeved, hurt, shunned… It wasn’t until a recent discussion that perhaps the look was one of deep and loving forgiveness.

What if that were the case? Even at the point of death, Jesus forgives. It fits Jesus’ persona much better.

How could this “look” change the entire way we follow and emulate Jesus?

Think about it, and if you want, share something about it.

What about Hope?

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Romans 5 says, “suffering gives us endurance, endurance gives us character, character gives us hope, and hope doesn’t disappoint us.”

1 Corinthians says, “faith, hope, and love abide. And the greatest of these is love.”

Carol Howard Merrit in “Reframing Hope” looks to Hebrews which says, “hope is what is longed for.”

I have Japanese kanji for “Faith” and “Love” on my biceps, and at the base of my neck is “Hope” holding them together.

I think that hope is what can lead to faith and love. In some real and tangible way we need to experience hope, and then be able and willing to share it. In these days of lots of unknowns, what is needed (longed for) is hope. Where do we see hope in the world today? In the middle of tragedy, war, ambivalence is there hope?

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