Sunday, April 8, 2012

Christos Anesti!

Golden wjasig

 1 Corinthians 15:20-26

But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.  For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man.  For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.  But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him.  Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power.  For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.  The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 

Hosea 13:14
"I will deliver this people from the power of the grave;
   I will redeem them from death.
Where, O death, are your plagues?
   Where, O grave, is your destruction?"

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Thank You, Scandolous God

Thank you,
scandalous God,
for giving yourself to the world
not in the powerful and extraordinary,
but in weakness and the familiar:
in a baby: in bread and wine.

Thank you
for offering, at journey’s end, a new beginning;
for setting, in the poverty of a stable,
the richest jewel of your love;
for revealing, in a particular place,
your light for all nations.
Thank you

for bringing us to Bethlehem, House of Bread,
where the empty are filled,
and the filled are emptied;
where the poor find riches,
and the rich recognize their poverty;
where all who kneel and hold out their hands
are unstintingly fed.

Kate Compston, Bread for Tomorrow

Saturday, June 4, 2011

There is a space...

"It is never too late to be who you might have been."
George Eliot

There is a space in our basement about six feet wide by six feet tall by four feet deep that we've never seen in the 20 years we've lived here. Never.

It is a homemade walk in freezer with an ancient freezer door locked and tied shut against the curiosity of young children. It was that way when we bought the house and we never went to the trouble to unlock and untie it. The mystery of the unknown gave the house a certain unique character, and kept our children safe from an adventure gone wrong.

There is a space in my heart like that, locked and tied from a child's curiosity, locked and tied out of the fear this child has of looking into it. I'm convinced it is the place from whence those thoughts arise that scare me. The ones that cause me to ask the question, "where did THAT come from?"

Obviously, it came from me. Or somewhere in me that I either don't go to on a regular basis, or deny exists. A place I am afraid of. A place where all the accusations collect that this world hurls at me in its relentless attack upon who I was created to be.

We all have a place like that.

There is a song about those places, and what can happen to our hearts when we stand, not alone, but holding the scarred hand Jesus' offers, and face those thoughts we fear. . .what can happen when we live in the acceptance and experience of God's profound grace and love toward us.

May I share it with you?


Monday, May 30, 2011

30th of May

"Well, I started on my journey the 30th of May
39 years ago to this very day
And I've never been sorry for choosing this way
or missed anything I left behind"

Today is my anniversary with Jesus. It's the day I chose to step out of the safety of "religiousity" and plunge headlong into the chaos of relationship.

With God.

It wasn't that I was seeking a way out of a miserable life. For all I knew then, I was very happy. I wasn't an abused child. I wasn't a child at all. I was a healthy, happy adult of 25 with a shining, though unknown, future ahead of me.

I just fell into the wrong crowd. A bunch of Jesus people. People whose faces shone with something I'd never seen before. The religious crowd were nice, but there was always a disapproving look about them. They had a list of rules that must be obeyed or...or something awful would happen.

There was no doctored Kool Aid to drink, no mind altering drugs, no sleepless brainwash harangue, no charismatic evangelist at the end of a pew yelling "turn or burn". Just me, my guitar, that tree, and a question from a passerby who later became my dear friend Margo.

I was sitting under that tree very happily singing songs and strumming my guitar. I was a product of the 60s. My idols were Peter, Paul and Mary, Judy Collins, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez. The songs I knew and loved were filled with the cries of human misery and injustice. Such poetry. Then Margo walked by. She didn't even stop to engage me in theological debate, just asked the question in passing, "Singing songs to Jesus?"

She kept walking and I was stunned. I quit strumming to listen to the ticker tape passing through my head. "Why am I singing songs of sorrow instead of joy? Why am I dwelling on the agony of man's inhumanity to man when I could dwell on God's amazing love toward man?

"For all of the things I once counted as gain
I gladly gave up for my sweet Savior's name
and consider it loss that I might proclaim
that Jesus Christ is my Lord"

The next weekend, I gathered up my entire collection of vinyl (around 50 albums strong) and traded them in at the local flea market for the only two records about Jesus they had--a bunch of hymns by Tennessee Ernie Ford (you've got to be kidding!!!) and another I can't remember. That was quite a trip from "Blowin' in the Wind" to "I Need Thee Every Hour"!

"For He washed my sins away when I gave him my life
And, I'm telling you, that's not much of a price
considering all He had to sacrifice
when He hung upon the cross"

It was the sacrifice of love that got me. That cross, that crown of thorns, that bleeding side. Why would anyone put up with that, much less God? How could anyone love that much?

That powerful love drew me into His arms.

I now truly had something to sing about. A song of hope. A song of love. I started writing songs and fell into a singing group. For three years we shared our songs of hope with people in the US, Switzerland, Germany, and France. Then I fell in love with another man, a handsome attorney who loved Jesus too.

We based our lives, our marriage and our family on that song of love.

"Well, we've been through some sunshine, we've been through some rain
but He's shown me the joy in the midst of the pain
And it seems the more I lose, the more that I gain
I can do all things through Him"

We have not been spared the ravages of life: man's inhumanity, disease, loss, disappointment, grief. We have been shaken but not shattered, held together by the Rock that is higher, the Hope that is surer, the Love that is faithful.

God is good even when circumstances are not. We go nowhere He hasn't been already.

"Well, I started on my journey the 30th of May
39 years ago to this very day
And I've never been sorry for choosing this way
or missed anything I left behind"

Yes, I have wavered in strength of commitment, cried and shaken my fist at the heavens, wondered why. Life is not perfect with Jesus, but it is perfected in suffering. Becoming like Him, becoming a Christian, is not for the faint of heart. It's hard. It is not easy to love others more than yourself and offer forgiveness when your heart is trampled on.

But it is good. It is worth the struggle. Who else has the words of Life?

"For all of the things I once counted as gain
I gladly gave up for my sweet Savior's name
and consider it loss that I might proclaim
that Jesus Christ
that Jesus Christ
that Jesus Christ
is my Lord"
"30th of May" by JAS

Counting thanks with the community of gratitude:
292. that tree
293. that passerby
294. that question
295. that answer
296. that thorny crown
297. that bleeding side
298. that amazing love
299. so great a Savior
300. the Father's arms
301. simple questions
302. profound answers
303. the right choice
304. a friend for life
305. a song of love
306. 39 years proof of His faithfulness
307. God's riches
308. Christ's expense


Friday, May 13, 2011

Laying Pipe


There is a scar still visible on the land two years later, a mound of hardened earth. It was made by machines grinding deep furrows to set water pipe below frost level from our well down in the pasture to our farmhouse above. One hundred feet of pipe.

I thought about that today as I read a prayer from The Valley of Vision, A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions. I stumbled upon a website that offered a tool for reading through those prayers daily. I have now completed one day of readings, stopping three times within my day to reflect on the source of living water.

My thirst has been slaked in the discipline of making a space times three in my day for my Lord. How powerful are the ancient words of devotion. How accurately they speak of my heart needs.

From this morning, "Searcher of hearts, it is a good day to me when thou givest me a glimpse of myself; sin is my greatest evil; but thou are my greatest good. . .let me not lay my pipe too short of the fountain, never touching the eternal spring, never drawing down water from above."

My day needs hooks to hang on, paths that lead me to reflecting, pipes that are laid long enough to reach the well. When you are thirsty, a hundred feet is not too far.

I'm laying my pipe straight, all the way from my heart to His.

online excerpts from The Valley of Vision

Joe Thorne's downloadable Walking through the Valley of Vision


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Grace Active


(from The Valley of Vision, A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions)

O God, may Thy Spirit speak in me that I may speak to Thee. O Lord Jesus, great high priest, Thou hast opened a new and living way by which a fallen creature can approach Thee with acceptance.

Help me to contemplate the dignity of Thy Person, the perfectness of Thy sacrifice, the effectiveness of Thy intercession.

O what blessedness accompanies devotion, when under all the trials that weary me, the cares that corrode me, the fears that disturb me, the infirmities that oppress me, I can come to Thee in my need and feel peace beyond understanding!

The grace that restores is necessary to preserve, lead, guard, supply, help me. And here Thy saints encourage my hope; they were once poor and are now rich, bound and are now free, tried and now are victorious.

Every new duty calls for more grace than I now possess, but not more than is found in Thee, the divine treasury in whom all fullness dwells. To Thee I repair for grace upon grace, until every void made by sin be replenished and I am filled with all Thy fullness.

May my desires be enlarged and my hopes emboldened, that I may honour Thee by my entire dependency and the greatness of my expectation.

Do Thou be with me, and prepare me for all the smiles of prosperity, the frowns of adversity, the losses of substance, the death of friends, the days of darkness, the changes of life, and the last great change of all. May I find thy grace sufficient for all my needs.

"Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies.  Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? " Romans 8:33-35 (NIV)

When I am too weak, too tired, too burdened, too faithless, He is faithful.  He is at the right hand of God, interceding, being my portion, carrying me through this world, and into the next.  Oh, the grace, such wonderful, active grace!


Sunday, April 24, 2011

All Around the Earth, All Day Long

 The bells of Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France

Can you hear them? They are ringing. Big bells in lofty church towers, small prayer bells in quiet monasteries, electronic carillons. From every country on earth, bells of every size and shape and sound ring out as the shadows of night flee from the advancing light of day.

The Easter Sermon of John Chrysostom

Is there anyone who is a devout lover of God?
Let them enjoy this beautiful bright festival!
Is there anyone who is a grateful servant?
Let them rejoice and enter into the joy of their Lord!

Are there any weary with fasting?
Let them now receive their wages!
If any have toiled from the first hour,
let them receive their due reward;
If any have come after the third hour,
let him with gratitude join in the Feast!
And he that arrived after the sixth hour,
let him not doubt; for he too shall sustain no loss.
And if any delayed until the ninth hour,
let him not hesitate; but let him come too.
And he who arrived only at the eleventh hour,
let him not be afraid by reason of his delay.

For the Lord is gracious and receives the last even as the first.
He gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour,
as well as to him that toiled from the first.
To this one He gives, and upon another He bestows.
He accepts the works as He greets the endeavor.
The deed He honors and the intention He commends.

Let us all enter into the joy of the Lord!
First and last alike receive your reward;
rich and poor, rejoice together!
Sober and slothful, celebrate the day!

You that have kept the fast, and you that have not,
rejoice today for the Table is richly laden!
Feast royally on it, the calf is a fatted one.
Let no one go away hungry. Partake, all, of the cup of faith.
Enjoy all the riches of His goodness!

Let no one grieve at his poverty,
for the universal kingdom has been revealed.
Let no one mourn that he has fallen again and again;
for forgiveness has risen from the grave.
Let no one fear death, for the Death of our Savior has set us free.
He has destroyed it by enduring it.

He destroyed Hades when He descended into it.
He put it into an uproar even as it tasted of His flesh.
Isaiah foretold this when he said,
"You, O Hell, have been troubled by encountering Him below."

Hell was in an uproar because it was done away with.
It was in an uproar because it is mocked.
It was in an uproar, for it is destroyed.
It is in an uproar, for it is annihilated.
It is in an uproar, for it is now made captive.
Hell took a body, and discovered God.
It took earth, and encountered Heaven.
It took what it saw, and was overcome by what it did not see.
O death, where is thy sting?
O Hades, where is thy victory?

Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!
Christ is Risen, and the evil ones are cast down!
Christ is Risen, and the angels rejoice!
Christ is Risen, and life is liberated!
Christ is Risen, and the tomb is emptied of its dead;
for Christ having risen from the dead,
is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

To Him be Glory and Power forever and ever. Amen! 

from The Medieval Sourcebook