Tag Archives: Jesus

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.

Celebrate!

Jesus said, “I came that you might have life and have it in its fullness.” John 10:10

Oprah said, “The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.”

I love it when my favorite people agree on things.

With our new grandson, we are in a season of celebration. Recently, my daughter told me she felt a little weird with everyone giving them presents, meals, showers and parties just for having a baby. I told her, “Life is hard and peopel need reasons to celebrate. Everyone loves celebrating a baby. Let them.”

But it is more than the grandson. It is me being in a new, easier, more restful, peaceful season of life. (On Monday my one chore was to get two hummingbird feeders, fill them and hang them because now I have time to notice them.) It is being five years past breast cancer. It is having three beautiful children who are at the moment happy and engaged with life. It is having a loving attentive husband that I still like after 31 years together. Did I tell you our sweet grand baby was born on our 31st anniversary? No one could have planned that gift.

It is that fall is coming; I am sure of it.  It is last Saturday having two family gatherings at our home and seeing our grandson meet 2 sets of great grandparents, 2 great aunts, aunts, uncles and cousins for the first time. It was my mom’s 80th birthday too. We surprised her with her great-grandson. She screamed, smiled and cried and told me it was the best birthday party she’d ever had. Even Alzheimer’s couldn’t take away that joy. One tiny baby and all those relatives just lining up for a snuggle, a smile.  We even loved it when he cried.

It is tomorrow, the 28th anniversary of when I became a mom. I celebrate the wonder of watching our daughter grow from adorable baby, to funny toddler, to goofy child who made up her own words, to awkward middle school kid, to dramatic high school student, college girl, married woman, speech therapist and now happy, attentive new mommy/wife and professional. The girl who made up all those words is teaching kids how to say them right. My celebration cup seems like it can’t hold one more drop of joy.

There’s still hard stuff happening, of course. A funeral for a dear, longtime colleague, gone too soon; normal worries; aches and pains; life stuff. But laced through it all are sweet gifts: sunrises, sunsets, hummingbirds, babies, soft pillows, good books, friends, coffee, family, milestones… so much to celebrate!

Just Wait

Every year, I have the same lament.  I almost didn’t say anything this year, but now I’m even being affected by the situation.  It is still a few days before Thanksgiving.  I have not made our family’s Thanksgiving foods yet.  My porch has pumpkins on it. Inside my house there are turkeys and signs reminding me to be “thankful in all things.”  And guess what?  I feel behind.

I’m behind because there are no Christmas lights on our house like all our neighbors seems to have; there are no red and green wreaths on our door. I feel behind because our Christmas stuff is still in the attic. There’s even a word for it now, “Christmas Creep.” I will not even speak of the stores having Christmas before Halloween complete with Christmas music.

I think I’m catching it. In my stress and hurry to get it all done, I wondered aloud, in front of our 17 year old son, if we should decorate for Christmas before we left for Thanksgiving. He actually grabbed my shoulders and shook me, saying, “Who are you and what have they done with my mother?”

He saved me.  He woke me up. So I’m going to say it once again to myself and whoever will listen. Just wait.

I love the book Margin by Dr. Richard Swenson.  He writes about how we have allowed our lives to become margin-less: in our time, in our money, in our overload.  He doesn’t write about Christmas but I believe we have also destroyed the margin between seasons.  If society had it’s way, baby Jesus would be born in early October and off to college by January. Stop. Just wait.

Can we not just be pregnant for awhile?  There is a reason for gestation. Good things need time to grow. We are supposed to wait for the seed of new life to grow and be big enough and developed enough to be born healthy.

In the church, we do plenty of things wrong, but one thing we get sort of right is the waiting.  This coming Sunday is the first Sunday of Advent.  We don’t call it Christmas because the baby has not been born.  We wait. We watch.  We will light just one candle. I know, it is a ridiculously simple decoration.  One blue candle? Yes.  We will read scripture about God doing a new thing. We are going to watch, wait and see what might grow.  It’s okay to just be pregnant.

Yes, Ashes

Today is Ash Wednesday.  In the Christian tradition it marks the beginning of Lent, the 40 days leading us to Easter. In our best seasons, Christians use this time for a spiritual spring cleaning; a time of added devotions, prayer and scripture reading.  Sometimes we give things up to remind us of what Christ gave up for us.  Sometimes we take things on as a way of embodying his life and ministry in our lives.

Some Christians do something very strange on Ash Wednesday; something we rarely allow ourselves to do otherwise.  We let ourselves come face to face with death.  We admit together, for just a moment, that we know we will all die.  We allow ourselves to be literally marked with ashes to symbolize the reality that we will all become ashes some day. Isn’t that the strangest thing, especially in our world of heavy denial, perpetual youth and surface living?

Four years ago this week, I lost a friend and a colleague suddenly.  Actually, a lot of us lost him together.  He was fine one day; working, happy, joking, laughing, planning, dreaming and serving God and, in the blink of an eye, gone.  He was Senior Pastor of our large congregation, a significant leader in the larger Methodist church, a truly good guy, father, husband, friend.  The loss was huge.  The grief ripples ran wide and deep.  They still do.

The days and weeks after his death are a blur to me: the prayer vigil we had that Saturday night; our Sunday morning worship services the day after his death where we knew worship needed to somehow go on without him; his large funeral the following Friday with thousands attending; his birthday shortly after that.  And then, Ash Wednesday, just a week or so later.

I don’t recall exactly what we said during that Ash Wednesday service. I know we let the familiar Christian rituals carry us through. We marked one another with ashes. We faced death only this time, it was painfully, excruciatingly staring back at us.  Yes, you will all die, of course.  But then, this, through the ritual, through the ashes, this Word, “So live, live for Me.”

Somehow, some way, through God’s grace and mercy and resurrecting love, we have.  We will.

I miss my friend. But what I know is this, he was well acquainted with the truth of Ash Wednesday.  He knew about the ashes. He trusted God fully in life and in death. I just know what he would say to us today if he could.  “Yes, ashes. Of course you will all die, that’s the point.  So, live.”