Tag Archives: Jesus

When Hummingbirds Argue

Jesus was a master storyteller. He loved tackling tough topics with stories about common things that every one could relate to. Lots of time he wouldn’t even try to explain what he was talking about. He would just tell his story about the crops, the wedding, the farmer or the feast and leave it there, trusting people to figure it out. It’s kind of funny when you read scripture knowing this because you can see how many people didn’t get his parables. This didn’t seem to bother Jesus at all. He just kept telling stories.

I like to preach like that. It’s especially fun when I’m not even sure about the full point of the story I’m telling. Sometimes, as the storyteller, you have to trust that the listener will glean more from the story than you could even imagine. It’s an exercise in trust.

Last week, I purposely spent the week alone, away from my usual distractions. I wanted to do this because I believe it is a good spiritual exercise to learn to be alone with yourself and your thoughts.  I also wanted to get some writing done for a couple of upcoming projects.

At first, I had to struggle with the usual discomfort of hanging out with myself. I found I talked to my dog a lot. She didn’t say much. After a while, I listened better to other things: the sound of the wind, a storm rolling in, the difference in the birds morning noises and how they sang in the evenings. After a day or so, I started paying more attention to the hummingbirds and the buzz they made when they whirred by.

Then, I got pretty good at noticing their chirping. Mostly, though, they just argued. They had access to three full feeders. There was plenty of room around the base of each feeder for 4 or 5 to land at once and feed (They do land, by the way). The hummingbirds would have no part of group dining. They dive bombed each other and argued all week about who should feast at any given time.

There was plenty of food and plenty of room for every hummingbird. Instead they argued. Soon some started posting on social media about how fed up they were with each other and how offended they were by the stance of their fellow hummingbirds. Video clips were shared of who was right and who was wrong. Whole news channels popped up around each differing hummingbird point of view. The leader type hummingbirds spoke out and made everything worse. Protests began. Outrage was high. Pretty soon they didn’t even treat each other like hummingbirds, but enemies.

All along, my dog and I just shook our heads and wondered why those silly hummingbirds couldn’t see The Truth more clearly.

Sanctuary Places and People

Holy spaces, sanctuary places, safe people are already embedded into our real lives. On my morning walk through a nearby wooded area, there is a particular stretch of the walk that I call my sanctuary. The trees form an arch. Light filters through the trees in a way that takes my eyes up every time. No one is usually around. It feels peaceful, holy, set apart and full of God’s presence to me. I worship there regularly.

I have another sanctuary place or two at home. One is my red chair right beside my journals, Bible and devotional materials. In the warm weather, I can see the patio plants, hear the fountain and the birds out there. In the cold weather, I’m close to my fireplace.

I’m fortunate to have access to some dear friends’ lake home where I have another few sanctuary places…a screened-in porch, a deck with a lake view, another wooded walking place.    I’m headed there this week to work on an upcoming retreat I’m speaking at. I can’t tell you the anticipation I feel at the thought of five days of nature, silence, prayer, reading, walking, resting and writing.

I also have sanctuary people. Lovely people who I feel safe and open with. People who have shared lots of layers of life with me. These are the ones who don’t require small talk…we can spend time together that flies by and still not quite have said all that needs saying.

When I was younger and much busier, I wish I would have spent more time recognizing my sanctuary places and people and savoring them sooner. I wish I would have written them all down in a list and put a big “S” by each one. I wish I would have intentionally gleaned out the non-sanctuary places and toxic people or at least minimized my time with them.

In Jesus Always by Sarah Young, today’s entry, she imagines Jesus telling us to look for My unseen presence around you. The beauty of nature and the pleasures of loved ones are reminders, pointing you to Me. What does it mean to look for Christ’s unseen presence?

As I head to the lake sanctuary, I challenge you to make a list of your sanctuary places and people and schedule more time in those holy spaces.

  

Infuse Me With Peace

I walk every day. It is partially for physical reasons, partially for spiritual and emotional reasons and partially because my dog is addicted and will not let me do otherwise. She does not understand the concept of a day off from walking or rain or hot or cold. So, we walk.

Sometimes when I walk, I listen to silence. Sometimes, I listen to podcasts. Sometimes, I listen to Christian music. I can always get a soul-read on myself by paying attention to what I listen to. Lately, my soul has been thirsty only for music.

I’ve needed the music of my faith to guide me, to anchor me, to answer my prayers, to provide leadership to me in these trying times.

Our world is in conflict. Our country is in conflict. Our political system is in conflict. Many of our churches are in conflict. We are craving leadership, but who can we trust?

Sometimes I think it might just be me. Maybe I’m interpreting “how things are” in an overly negative way.  This morning however, even my local newspaper had a picture of the events of the weekend along with the headline “A Nightmare Scenario”.  Maybe it’s not just me.

I also know people who are personally going through difficult and trying times. They are living nightmares they did not choose to be in.  Other people, myself included, are just riding out normal life rites of passage that are not easy.

All these reasons are causing me to drink in the songs of my faith.

Everyone seems to be calling for statements, guidance and reassurance. I’ve tried to imagine if I had to issue some kind of statement right now, what it would be. No words seem adequate for all that is happening.

So, instead of issuing statements, I pray, for all of the above.

God, your ways are higher than my ways. You see all things and you know the layers, the complications, the history of all.

Help me now to be a loving, light-bearing citizen of this planet, this country, my family and friendship circles. Remind me again of what Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble…but, take heart, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

God, have you overcome hate? Because it seems to still live here. I don’t want it to live in me, but it does. Have you overcome racism? I see it and feel it and know it lives in me as well. I know darkness lives in our systems and that I’m a part of those sick systems. Have you overcome disease? Because it still seems to be attacking people I care about.  

It feels like too much. It feels like more than my heart can bear. It feels out of control and wrong.

And so I lift it all to your Light and ask that you guide my feet, my actions, my words.

This morning, on my walk, your song penetrated me, “Peace, peace be still. And like a child my heart obeys.” Infuse peace into my heart, O God. Give me an iv of it if you have to…not the kind of peace the world gives, rather, your kind. These nightmare days require your supernatural peace. I know I absolutely need it. Amen   

 

Word

It was a simple question texted to our 25-year-old son about whether he’d be joining us for a meal. He answered back, Word. I always have to stop and remind myself that in the language of young people, Word means Yes.

Then I have to remind myself that the usage goes way beyond that into other languages and cultures. This young generation actually uses the word Word in an ancient format. In Greek, the word for word is Logos. It is translated Yes. However, it is a big yes, as in what gives the whole cosmos order, form and meaning.

That’s why the opening of the gospel of John is rather stunning, especially if we could read it in Greek. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The Word/logos=Yes, a big yes=order, form and meaning=Jesus.

That’s a whole lot for a Monday so allow me to simplify: the word Word means yes.

I marvel at that considering all the words we throw back and forth these days; all the texts, the cable news words, the pundits, the back and forth….just so many words.

I crave just a brief word; a true word, a divine word, ordering and injecting meaning into all, don’t you?

I celebrate being able to share my words and having others read and share them also.

For years, I’ve known that writing was one of my passions. Writing is the place where I lose myself, where I am unaware of how much time has gone by; writing for me is a creative, God inspired act.  When I have taken or taught courses on finding one’s strength or passion, writing always comes out high for me. I love words. Writing leads to preaching and speaking but writing comes first.

So imagine how thrilled I was about a month ago when the Marketing Director of the Jesus Calling materials (Harper Collins Publisher) invited me to blog for them for May. They asked if I would combine the themes of motherhood and graduation with a blog about my own graduation to becoming a grandmother. They gave me 1000 words which  to a blogger is an extravagant gift. They asked if I would cite the resource, Jesus Always. I read Jesus Always daily and am truly inspired by it. Could there be a more joyful, delicious, natural writing assignment me?

The blog will come out this week on the Jesuscalling.com website.  It will also be e-blasted to, I don’t know, at least a few people world-wide.

Sometimes, it seems God says no. Sometimes God says wait, or heal. And then other times, when you least expect it, God says yes.

Today, I’m giving thanks for this yes and wherever it might lead. Wednesday and Thursday I know you will help me share my words and God’s Word through the Jesus Calling blog.

 

 

 

 

That Silent Saturday

In Christianity, there’s not really even a name for that Saturday. No one seems to know what to do with the day in between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. It is such an awful, awkward, painful day.

I’ve heard it called Holy Saturday, but not much. Even the Bible doesn’t have much to say about that day. Matthew’s gospel has Pilate demanding that the tomb be sealed and guards watch it around the clock, just in case someone tries to steal the body. All the other gospels are silent on the topic.

The torture of the agony of Friday ending in death’s finality. The tears, the earthquake, the ripping of the heavens, life over as they knew it. Hopes and dreams crushed. And, then, can you imagine? Saturday happens and it is just silent. God is silent. Time, I imagine, agonizingly slow. There are no answers, no revelations, no angels. Just nothing.

What I want to say today is this, don’t gloss over that horrible Saturday while you are getting ready for Easter. Don’t use it as only a day of gathering Easter supplies and food for tomorrow. Don’t just use it to pull together your Easter fashion ensemble.

Stay in it. Pray through it. Try to feel it because the Silent Saturday is as much a part of the Christian faith as all our other milestone days. In fact, I believe most of our Christian life is lived in the silent, awkward Saturday seasons.

Like when death has been pronounced and the body taken away; or when the divorce papers are signed and submitted; when the diagnosis comes and you have no clue how it will unfold. Hospital waiting room moments or right after you hear them say that you are no longer employed. Our faith lives are full of silent Saturdays.

What we do in the silent, painful, awful moments of life is as important as what we do on Easter.  Actually, maybe how we handle Saturday matters more than how we do when the angel assures us that “He is not here. He has risen just as he said” Matthew 28:6

This awkward, awful, no name, no information Saturday has something to teach us about life and faith. Stay in it and learn.

Old, New or Just Right?

My one word for 2017 is New. I’m paying attention to that which is New. New ideas, new habits, new routines and embracing discomfort as I go.

I’ve incorporated into my daily to-do list a section for New. I’m making myself read, study and try out what is hard for me or different every day.

At the end of last year, my daughter and I started something New that we had been discussing for a while. We opened an antique booth. We call it Mimosa Rose which is a combination of my awesome grandma name and the name my mom called my daughter as baby, “Little Rosebud.” Mimosa Rose is a place for our shared interest in Old treasures used in New ways.

Mimosa Rose has taken me into to a world I know nothing about. I had to get two different tax id numbers. I had to learn about display. I had to figure out how to inventory items and keep track of things.

When I first signed the contract to have a booth, I felt overwhelmed even though I’ve done plenty of hard new things before like going to seminary, being a woman there, being a hospital chaplain, a hospice chaplain, a pastor, a mom of three, speaking in front of large crowds, etc. Nothing should really scare me anymore but this did. Because, it was New.

I find it ironic that mixed within all that is New, there is always the Old; old ideas, old ways of thinking, old habits.

Our New venture is all about repurposing Old things. I’m having to learn more about social media in order to share this New venture into Old things. Last week I even went to a class…(a class!) because there are so many New things to learn.

Jesus taught us about paying attention to New and Old. He told parables about cloth and wine and cautioned about not mixing too much Old and New or you could ruin or damage what is. I believe mindfulness is the key. Honor what is Old in your life. Honor what is New in your life. Any maybe, your New will intersect with the Old to create Just Right.

It’s Always Been About the Light

In my new, slower life, I pay more attention to the light. I somehow feel like that’s my job now: Light Watcher. This morning it started with a pink and blue light show sunrise, horizontal stripes alternating boldly across our January sky. It changed the light everywhere. Even when I looked in the opposite direction, the air was lit up pink, just for a few minutes. Then, it changed.

When I walk every day, I watch the light. I pay attention to how it plays on the fallen leaves, the water and bounces off trees and the pathway.

In my house, I now know the difference between the morning light and the warm way the light falls in the afternoon.

My dog always gravitates to the light. She will give up her dog bed if there is a just right golden light radiating on a rug, on the deck or in the yard.

Christians are now in the season of Epiphany. It is one of the more low-key, least understood of the Christian observances. I love it because we don’t over do it, over decorate it or over sing it. It’s more like every year we arrive at Epiphany and have to teach ourselves all over again what it means.

Epiphany reminds us that it has always been about the light. Starlight that leads us to something new and just born. Aha or light bulb moments that reveal something to us.  Epiphany is a manifestation of the divine. I find that often those manifestations are subtle, elusive, there and then not…like light playing off of the leaves, the water, the sky or our path.

We find ourselves saying, “Did I just glimpse God?  Was that the Divine in that pink sky? In that ray of sun, the moonlight, the starlight?  We love holding our candle of light on Christmas eve but its more than that, it’s about light all day, every day and through the night.

I find myself praying light for people I love…healing light, awareness light, comforting, warm light. I’m praying light for our country in these uncertain, uncomfortable times of transition. I pray to be the light. I pray to be aglow with it.

One time I was trying to describe to someone the essence of Christianity. I found myself fumbling for words. In the end, all I could tell him was this: “You know how it says in scripture that Jesus is the light of the world?” He nodded and said, “I’ve heard that.” I told him falteringly, “That is it…the whole thing. I don’t know why it is not in all caps,  boldface type, highlighted. It is the whole thing. It’s always been about the Light.” He looked at me confused. Light is so elusive, so changing, so real but words seem inadequate to capture it.

For Christians the season of Epiphany continues until Lent begins. Watch the light with me. Speak of light. Pray for light. Be light.