Friday, April 30, 2010

Band GRRrrrls

Last night was the end-of-the-year band concert for Reedy Girl. Though I know she dislikes the "Mamarazzi" I took my camera anyway. Thanks to my new zoom, I could sit in the back and get a couple good shots.

Entering stage right. Jazz band exiting.


Ninth grade band playing. 


Reedy Girl is in the center of the picture.


Band Grrrls. This is their 6th year playing together!
(L to R: Reedy Girl, French Horn, Clarinet, Flute.)


There. semi-annual torture is over... (But I'm proud of our girl!)

Friday Five: Friendship Edition


KathrynZJ of RevGals writes...

I spent the better part of last week on a continuing education cruise with a group of revgals. Both the class on hospitality and the connections made with friends (old and new) were phenomenal. I always have a difficult time with re-entry into reality from times away but this, aided by getting nailed with strep throat, has been more difficult than usual. Not only does it a take a few days (weeks? months?) for it to stop feeling like I am on a boat, but my heart misses my friends.

In parish life the boundaries are clear and they are there for a reason, but it can make the life of a minister a lonely one. It is such a tremendous gift to spend a few days with women who not only are wonderful and gifted, but who also get exactly what you do and why you do it. The hugs are genuine and free and the laughter is awesome.

Many of us have friendships - past and present - with these same qualities. And so today we will celebrate Friday with friendship:


1) Do you remember your first best friend? What did you do together? Are they still in your life?
Her name was Joann and she lived down the street. (At the time we lived on Rawlinson Road near Rock Hill, SC.) Her dad was (interestingly!) a Methodist pastor. She moved away after 3 years. I have not thought of her in years and have no idea where she is now.

2) Did you ever have to move away or have your best friend move away from you?
Both are the case. 

We moved from Ohio to South Carolina when I was 8 and then back to Ohio when I was 15. The move back to Ohio was not fun. But, because of family needs, it was necessary. 

In the recent past (around 2 years or so) a couple of good friends have moved (Sarah, Becky) and I miss them. 

3) Are there people in your life now that you can call 'friend'?
Oh yes indeedy. They are amazing.
4) What are some of your favorite things to do with your friends?
Laugh. Listen. Love. Learn. Pray. Cry. Read. Talk. Serve. Worship. Walk. Eat. Find my center.

5) What is a gift friendship has given you?
The gift of encouragement. One of the greatest blessings in my life outside of my family are some "RevGals" IRL. There are five of us. We meet for a meal once a month and do as much of the things I listed in #4 as we can. We try to be the kind of friends who are there to cheer, cry and watch out for one another. Three of us are ordained and done with school... Two are well on their way (having their first district council meetings in May! We actually met through being involved in Walk to Emmaus weekends. They are just a gifrt from the Divine. (Here's a photo of 3 of us... one had to leave early, and I was taking the picture. We need a pic of all of us!)

I look forward to meeting MORE RevGals IRL some day!




Thursday, April 29, 2010

Not sure why...

NOTE: This "conversation" is a compilation of the things that have been said to me in the last month. The people in question didn't really want a response... they wanted to impress me (or get in a not-so-subtle dig...)

God, give me grace so that I do not develop a 'tude, nor be unable to stand for the high Calling you have placed on my life. And the rest... will get sorted out in heaven.


original post follows...



"Congrats on your graduation."
"Thanks!"

"Not that it matters. I mean, we all can study the Bible."
"You're right about that."


"I mean, you don't need a seminary degree to know what the Bible says. It's silly. All these people with degrees telling other people how to read a book!"
"...!"


"So when are you getting a real job? You know --  one that isn't just on Sundays?"
"Well, actually I..."


"You know, every minister I know just likes to use big words and impress me with the Greek. Or Hebrew. SHUH KYE NUH. There! I know Hebrew too."
"Good one."


"Yeah. See? It's just not useful information. How many times do you need THAT word when you're going to work? I mean, I'm happy for you and all, but I don't see the big deal. You know, people who graduate from seminary are so snobby. They think they know more about the Bible than the people in the church. They act so holier than thou!
"Really..."


"Yeah. I don't get why it's so important. Are any of those fancy classes worth anything? Hey, thanks for seeing my grandmother at the hospital. She's been having a hard time since my grandpa died. I think she's lonely."
"Sure. Glad to do it."


"OK. Gotta run. See ya!"


"...Sigh..."

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Morning Worship

I am so thankful for God's grace...

Saturday, April 24, 2010

TOP TEN THINGS I am going to do...

OK, so my last paper has been submitted. It's all over but the grades being posted...  WOW!!!  I am doing my HAPPY DANCE!!*


I can't remember what it's like to have less than a stuffed-full life. I'm kinda liking it, though. 

CPE doesn't start until June. Before then, we have Commissioning and Graduation, and then moving The Johnnie home from college for the summer. But, yes, I do have a wee bit more free time.

Not so much free time that I'm inventing stoopid things like this "To-Do-Tattoo" thingy. But since I keep getting asked, "so, what will you do with all that free time?"  I thought I'd make a list...

* NOTE: the letters A, B, C, D, E play different songs to play while you do your "Happy Dance." Make the little pipecleaner dude move by clicking on the keyboard as given or roll your mouse over them.


THE TOP TEN THINGS 
I AM GOING TO DO
NOW THAT I HAVE FINISHED SEMINARY...


Here's what I've come up with so far...

1. Clean my study. 
While I have cleared the largest piles off my desk, I need to go back and find the stashes of papers that either need to be filed, shredded or reorganized. Yes, you can SEE the top of my desk, but it's pretty messy. I finished the taxes and stashed everything related to them in a big box. Bills are getting paid and shoved in another box. Not good. It's easy for me to miss a few that way. (YIKES!)

2. Cull my books and re-organize them and start compiling my reading list for the rest of the year.  Some of the books I know I will not want, so I have a massive sale list started on Half.Com (Pssst! Hey buddy. Wanna buy a book?) I do have some books I want to read for just FUN. (Wait. Is that allowed?) So if you have nominations, I'll take them. I will have to post what's in my "reading pile" later... it's in too many places in my study to be organized as of yet. 

3. Go through my closet.
There's stuff I won't wear, stuff that I don't need, and stuff that doesn't fit or looks dated and worn out. BUH-BYE!  I also need to think "professional work attire" which is different from "professional student attire" (rats!) and maybe do a little shopping to fill in the holes.

4. Enjoy my evenings with my family! Maybe see friends too...
Yes. Tonight, I have no paper to write, posts to put on Blackboard, or anything. I can get used to that.

5. Be a little better at planning and cooking nutritious meals.
My family has had four years of "desperation casseroles" or another nuked  "Healthy Choice" meal. I'm not that great a cook (and I don't really enjoy it) but before I'm working full-time, I at least need to plan better. That, and be organized so that I can dole out the kitchen duties when I am doing my CPE.

6. Weed my garden.
If they gave out tickets for messy flower beds, I would be bankrupt paying the fines. Unless I can figure out a way to cultivate thistles and dandelions and say that they are ornamental... naw... I like to garden. I just haven't had the time to do it.

7. Play my piano.
Most specifically my Mendelssohn Songs Without Words and maybe a little Bach. Which means, sadly, scales and arpeggios as well. I have lost a lot of technique.

8. Keep up my exercising.
We go to Tai Chi twice a week. I need to get something else in there three more days a week... hmmm...

9. Serious hammock time.
Yeah. No explanation needed!!!  Kinda goes with #2 anyway.

10. Tackle the overwhelming jobs in the house: the garage... the basement... the pantry... and try to bring a bit more organized chaos into our lives.
Four years of neglect and super-busy-ness show. We do have a 2 car garage... not that 2 fit in it. Time to have a yard sale or make a donation of "treasure" to someone! (And no, I won't take on your jobs when I'm done with ours.)

~-o-~

There. How's that for starters? I'll get around to leaping tall buildings at a single bound and solving the world's economic crisis once I have this other stuff done.

Friday, April 23, 2010

CAPTION THAT KITTY!

Henry, our resident boss cat, loves to snoopervise, especially if you are busy and don't have a free hand to scritch him. He also is quite curious. He decorated himself with some used post-it flags after rolling around on my papers...  RevDrKate thinks we need a caption contest -- so please feel free to come up with what you think he's saying -- asking for -- explaining -- or whatever you think is on his little mancat heart... just put your caption in the comments...

We await your wisdom. :)

Friday Five: what is there to smile about?

Jan from RevGals writes:


With the end of RevGalBlogPals' third annual Big Event, I am wondering who went and what it was like. There must be a lot of smiling from the Big Event! Hopefully, the rest of us are not frowning either.

So let us know how your past week was for you. Write about five different aspects of the week  OR answer the following questions:


1. When were you smiling lately?
When I finished a rough draft of my FINAL PAPER for my M.Div. about 1 a.m. this morning.  WHOOOO hoooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

2. What happened unexpectedly to you this past week?
Reconnected with an old friend (from our "pre-kids" days!) and will see her next month at my Gradumacation wingding.

3. How was a catastrophe averted (or not)?
Well, the popcorn in the microwave didn't set off the smoke alarm. I got a retching cat off the bed and onto the floor before a hairball reaction. I remembered to make a back-up of my paper (no small thing at 1 a.m.!) And I put my travel mug INSIDE the car before driving away... Sometimes I think I need to buy back my brain from eBay (it didn't fetch that much, anyway!)

4. What was the most delicious thing you ate?
Ooooohhhhhhhhh... that's a close one! It's between the cheesecake we had on Sunday and the fresh strawberries on my cereal this week... but I'm gonna go with the strawberries!  YUM!!!  (I gobbled up the strawberries before I could take a picture... but you'll have to agree the cheesecakes looked grand.)

5. Did you see any good movies or read any books or articles?
No, I confess to being in an edumacation hole this week... but we are hoping to see "How to Train Your Dragon" this weekend. AND celebrate our anniversary. AND parTAY for the end of my M.Div. (not that I'm excited or anything...)

BONUS:
My friendly co-editor and study companion, Henry, makes me smile... after rolling around on top of my desk he sat up with used post-it flags on his head. I was amused. He was not...

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Adding to the Conversation on the Emerging Church...

Crossposted at Emerging Village: A Call for Voices

I am a child of privilege yet a woman of many struggles. It took many years of painful “not listening” to God to finally agree that I was called back into ministry. As I’m nearing the end of my seminary journey (hallelujah!) I find myself not being drawn back into serving in a church, but in the community. (Specifically, the chaplaincy.)

It partially my own fault (call it stubbornness, cluelessness or naivete), or the machinations of others (in the form of prejudice, “the stained glass ceiling” or doctrinal stalemates) that I have not moved into ministry until now. What is more important is that I see myself as a prayer, mentor, coach and encourager of those who listened to God at a younger age and are invested in what God wants to do next.

I’d love to see my daughters move into their giftedness without the roadblocks I faced, and in a church that celebrates their contributions.

I’d like to have my neighbors see Jesus in me.

And I hope that the days God helps me get it right outnumber the days I screw up…

And in the middle of all this will come another blog post…

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Synchroblog: What is Emerging?

Emerging Women and Emergent Village are having a synchroblog today...

A number of bloggers are participating today in a Synchroblog on “What is emerging?” While there is room (and need for) discussions regarding what needs to change and heal in the emerging conversation, it can also be helpful to here about where people see hope. This synchroblog was a way for a diversity of voices to tell of where they find hope in what is emerging in the church. From personal experiences to theological reflection, these posts (while not always in agreement) serve simply as witnesses to what is developing in the church today. I encourage you to read these posts, join in on the discussion, and acknowledge the differing voices that make up this conversation. If you want to contribute a post to the Synchroblog leave a link here to add yours to the list.

Where do I see hope? I am quite moved by the work of the Spirit in recent months and weeks...

- People can see that the job is not "done" and there are more conversations for the journey yet to come

Aside from those who have suggested the emergent movement is "dead," I hear in response the heart cries of many who remind us that it is not an "American" church we are a part of, but a global one. Maybe there are issues which have become moot in many people's estimations, but the overwhelming noise I hear is among those who are growing more frustrated with those who are insistent on complementarian roles for men and women, want strict adherence to hierarchical organization and a lack of conviction that all of Creation, people included need care and restoration. The job is not done.

-  My daughters will be better equipped than I was to live as they believe, simply because they "get it" that relationships matter

They show me by their conversations and their friendships that it is not necessary to "go out and evangelize" but they are living the convictions of their hearts. If my teen-aged daughters can do it, so, by God's grace, may I. And I pray that I will remember I do not advance the Kingdom if it is by beating down all those who don't agree with my hermeneutic, or my agenda.

- I see ever-widening possibilities for women and minorities to "have a seat at the table" in these discussions

Yes, most of the seminaries, books, articles and blogs are written by white males. But there is an ever-increasing number of theologians, writers, bloggers and philosophers who respect the roots of Christendom, but are not bound by its anglo-centric views.

My thinking, writing and blogging continue to pull me into deeper questions and honest prayers to God -- because since I am in it "for life" I'd like to do a better job of it all.

Join the discussion at Emerging Women or Julie Clawson's blog...

Attempting to reframe the question...

I spent the first couple years of seminary trying to get the answers to my questions... now as I am finishing, I think it is more appropriate to reframe the question...

However, I'm still cogitating on how to explain that!  More later...

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Counter-protest

The Westboro Baptist "Church" annoys me beyond words. I simply have to love the people who came up with this:


Read all about it HERE!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Heart song...

Worship song on my heart tonight...


Blessed to be loved...

Friday, April 16, 2010

FRIDAY FIVE: Pack Your Bags Edition

Songbird from RevGals writes:

I'm preparing to pack my bags for the Big Event Three, and as I gather what I need I'm thinking about just that: what do I *need* to take with me? As a person who likes to pack light, I worry that in the end I may underpack and wish I had other things with me.  I own the gigantor version of the bag to the right, but my morbid fear of having it go astray and not get to the ship means I'm more likely to try to pack it all in a carry-on bag instead, especially since I have a very tight connection on the way to the cruise. But won't I be sorry if I don't bring _______________?
With that in mind, here are five questions about packing to go on a trip.

1) Some fold, some roll and some simply fling into the bag. What's your technique for packing clothes?
A combination of rolling and folding clothes works the best. Things that are forgiving (like jeans and tshirts) get rolled. Socks and underthings are carefully stuffed in empty spots. Usually I have to re-pack my bag because I forget something that should go at the bottom (shoes, for instance). Actually the best packer in my family is Bearded Brewer, with Reedy Girl a close second. The Johnnie and I are not so good, but we are learning.  (I think there is a "packing gene" -- don't you?)

2) The tight regulations about carrying liquids on planes makes packing complicated. What might we find in your quart-size bag? Ever lose a liquid that was too big?
I have a medications bag and a toiletries bag. I don't try to fit my medications into that precious quart bag any more. Once I found out that medication were exempt, I didn't stress so much. My airplane bag has: shampoo, lotion, liquid soap, deodorant and toothpaste.

PET PEEVE: I want my toiletries in my usual unscented (or not perfume added) choices. Unfortunately, there are NO unscented deodorant travel sizes out there. :(


I had to argue one time to take my medications with me. Since they were all with prescription labels on them, I was fine. (Note: Even over-the-counter meds should have a pharmacy sticker on them to avoid the quart bag limit. My pharmacist printed out a bunch of "use as directed" labels for me with my name on them.)

3) What's something you can't imagine leaving at home?
Asthma medications. Depending on the season, my nebulizer goes with me, too.

4) Do you have a bag with wheels?
OH yes. And I loves it, I does. And my luggage set is slightly smaller than the one in my photo...

5) What's your favorite reading material for a non-driving trip (plane, train, bus, ship)?
I'm trying to remember what I read when I wasn't hauling theology books! I'm guessing some kind of novel where I can "fall in" to the story and let it help pass the time.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Model Seminarian (Reprise!)

It seems ONLY fitting! I am reposting this ditty from my first semester at Regent. 
23 days until graduation!



The
Model
Seminarian

With apologies to Gilbert and Sullivan
and "The Pirates of Penzance"
(but please feel free to sing along!)



I............
am the very model of a modern seminarian
I've information critical of languages grammarian
I know the verb and tenses of languages antiquarian
And quote from Aramaic and now even some Sumarian..



I'm very well acquainted, too, with matters analytical
I parse and line my Greek, both the simple and emphatical
I read my ancient Hebrew text with understanding little
Though profs tell me I must attend to every jot and tittle!


Though profs tell her she must attend to every jot and tittle!
Though profs tell her she must attend to every jot and little tittle!

I know biblical history, from Aristotle to McLaren
I've know all methods, points and sermons capable of reaching 'em
I hobnob with all leaders in the field of missiology
And hold my own regardless of one's view on eschatology


I'm very good at ancient earth and natural theology
I am the one who can defend most facts of anthropology
In short, in matters dogmatic or egalitarian
I am the very model of a modern seminarian!


In short, in matters dogmatic, or egalitarian
She is the very model of a modern seminarian!








With all my holy knowledge I'm quite plucky and adventure-y
My Call has not been questioned since the starting of the century
But still, in matters dogmatic, or egalitarian
I am the very model of a modern seminarian!


But still, in matters dogmatic, or egalitarian
She is the very model of a modern seminarian!

YES! I am the very model of a modern seminarian!


I've been humming it all day...
Deb

Monday, April 12, 2010

It's the little things...

This weekend a little neighbor left this bouquet on our front doorstep. I found it as we were doing some afternoon chores. We don't know which child left it for us to find, but it touched my heart. The detail, the variety, the care taken to tie it carefully with a small piece of twine. It was a sweet reminder of the beauty seen in another's eyes.

It truly is the "little things" that remind me of God's work in my life.

...a reminder that though our girls are past the dandelion-gathering stage, that we can still have an impact on the kids on our street.

...a reminder of the fragile beauty of life.

...a reminder of the variety and intricate detail that God paints into every leaf, tree and flower of Creation.

...a reminder that every day, every moment, God calls me to remember the care and love that is showered my way.

Ginny Owens wrote a simple prayer of dedication and remembrance... it's how I'm starting my day today.





How does doubt slip in, so silently?
And why does condemnation come so naturally?
Why do I still get the best of me?
Loving so little and living so selfishly?

When all I want to do, is give this life to You.
All I want to do is give this life to You.
All I want to do is give this life to You,
and let Your will be done 'til it's all I want to do.

And what have I been given by Your grace?
Will I come to understand this mystery I embrace?
Make of me a new creation now,
Fill me with all you are and be all I am some how.

'Cuz all I want to do is give this life to You.
All I want to do is give this life to You.
All I want to do is give this life to You
And let Your will be done, 'til it's all I want to do.

Faith so fragile
Reaching for Your hand

All I want to do, is give this life to You
All I want to do, is give this life to You
All I want to do, is give this life to You
And let Your will be done, until it's all I want to do.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

ALL THAT'S LEFT...

The final uphill climb begins...  This is ALL that is left to be DONE!!!!!  



Revelation Song

Worship today...

Friday, April 09, 2010

Friday Five: On the Road Again Edition

Sophia from RevGals writes:



My family is heading out to my husband's parents for the weekend later today. They would have preferred that we come at Easter, but I preferred that my choir director not bring my life to an early end! (Five liturgies to sing between Thursday and Sunday, two with major solos). So Low Sunday it is. 


Some Gals and Pals may have been able to travel to join family or visit a vacation spot last week; some who had to stay put then may be traveling this weekend; and, if I recall correctly, some lucky ones are heading out to the Big Event next weekend. Hence: a road trip Friday Five.


1. When was your last, or will be your next, out of town travel?
OUR LAST TRIP: We just got back from a short trip to western Pennsylvania to see the Frank Lloyd Wright houses, Fallingwater and Kentuck Knob. Here's pictures from both...

(Fallingwater: photos of house not allowed... God's architecture, however, is OK.)

(back terrace of Kentuck Knob)

(Youghiogheny River - Falls in Ohiopyle State Park)

(Flowering trees... heralding spring.)


(Breakfast area at the B&B where we stayed -- Hartzell House)

OUR NEXT TRIP:  When I graduate!!!!!! WHOOP WHOOP!!!

2. Long car trips: love or loathe?
While there are good things that can come from them (a captive audience for a good conversation, for instance), I am not a fan. They are a necessity when airfare prices are so extravagant!

3. Do you prefer to be driver or passenger?
Driver.

4. If passenger, would you rather pass the time with handwork, conversing, reading, listening to music, or ???
Usually conversation and music... I get carsick too easily!

5. Are you going, or have you ever gone, on a RevGals BE? Happiest memories of the former, and/or most anticipated pleasures of the latter?
Haven't made  B.E. yet... but hope to some day.

6. Bonus: a favorite piece of road trip music.
I confess to loving classical music. Especially Vivaldi!

A good day for reflections...

Just thought I'd share this Sara Groves song... perhaps other people need God to "speak up" a little...




Hello Lord, it's me your child
I have a few things on my mind
Right now I'm faced with big decisions
And I'm wondering if you have a minute, cuz
Right now I don't hear so well
And I was wondering if you could speak up

I know that you tore the veil
So I could sit with you in person
And hear what you're saying but
Right now, I just can't hear you.

I don't doubt your sovereignty
I doubt my own ability to
Hear what you're saying
And to do the right thing
And I desperately want to do the right thing
But right now I don't hear so well
And I was wondering if you could speak up

I know that you tore the veil
So I could sit with you in person
And hear what you're saying but
Right now, I just can't hear you.

And somewhere in the back of my mind
I think you are telling me to wait
And though patience has never been mine
Lord, I will wait to hear from you
Oh Lord, I'm waiting on you

Right now I don't hear so well
And I was wondering if you could speak up

I know that you tore the veil
So I could sit with you in person
And hear what you're saying but
Right now, I think you're whispering

Friday, April 02, 2010

Friday Five: Good Friday


Sally from RevGals hosts this week's Friday Five:

It seems almost irreverent to post a Friday Five on Good Friday, so I will try to treat it with some respect. I am still mulling over the darkness of last nights Tenebrae Service, the silence as we left was profound, and although I travelled home with others we did not speak, there was a holiness about it.....and yet we know that holiness was born of horror!
So as we enter into this darkest of days I offer you this Friday Five:

1. Of all the gospel accounts of the crucifixion, which one stands out for you, and why?
John speaks to me because the writer includes the very human frailties of the disciples and even his mother. He shows how they do not understand what Jesus is doing, or why God seems to have suddenly "changed" directions. Their doubts, questions and confusion ring tanglibly in my own.

2.Do you identify with any people in this account, how does that challenge you?
Like Peter - I let my doubts run away from me, and pull me from God.
Like Mary - I want more than what God has planned
Like Pilate and the Pharisees - I don't want my privately ordered world to be re-arranged or shaken up.
Like the soldiers - I am callous and indifferent to the suffering around me -- until God gets my attention with a thunderclap
Like the disciples - I struggle with my  fears and unbelief in the face of that much love and sacrifice.

3. Hymns or silence?
I usually use a combination. Music to get me focused. Silence to be quiet in the Presence. Today on pray-as-you-go I was drawn into prayer by the music of Antonio Lotti -- the piece Crucifixus from Exultate Deo is lovely, haunting and a soft reminder of the suffering Christ went through for my sin.

4. Post a poem or a quote that sums up Good Friday for you?
The words to Orlando Gibbon's Drop, drop slow tears speak to me. I posted a music video of them here...


Drop, drop, slow tears, and bathe those beauteous feet,
which brought from heaven the news and Prince of Peace.
Cease not, wet eyes, His mercies to entreat;
to cry for vengeance sin doth never cease.
In your deep floods drown all my faults and fears;
nor let His eye see sin, but through my tears.


5. Is there a tradition you could not be without, a tradition that makes Good Friday, Good Friday?
Not being on church staff this year, I find it a bit difficult. Also being from a non-liturgical church, there seems to be little to make this day any different from the rest of the calendar. We will be gathering with friends for dinner tonight, which seems altogether appropriate. I have spent more time in reflection and writing this morning... the promise of Spring, of Easter morning, is shining outside my window this morning.

Glory be to God for the marvelous work of the cross!
I am blessed and encouraged.



We adore you Oh Christ 
and we praise You
because by Your holy cross 
You have redeemed the world.
Amen.

Good Friday

This is my Good Friday homily - I don't have a pulpit to preach it in, but it's what is on my heart today...

"Do you now believe?" Jesus replied. "A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me. I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."
After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed:
"Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began."
John 16:31-17:5

There are times I am very grateful I do not know everything that is going to happen in my life. And then there are times when I desperately want a peek into the future. I guess that I am in good company, as the men and women who were with Jesus as he walked and taught in Galilee. They faced the same issues. They wanted to be given privileged positions and confirmed answers to their questions.

This passage always chills me a little, as Christ was given a spiritual insight into the hearts and lives of the disciples and the tests ahead of them. Yet Jesus' prayer was focused on the work he was about to do on the cross, and moved by the Spirit to ask for the strength to be obedient until his death.

It's one thing to pray for answers to the questions you have for the future. It's quite another to pray, knowing what you must give up in order for God's will to be done. The wrenching that must have been in Jesus' heart as he prayed must have been exquisite.He believed in the ultimate best for them all - and desired above all else to bring glory to God.

This particular prayer of Jesus came at the end of a week that started with joy and triumph and proclamations of the Kingdom of God. And it came on the precipice of a painful weekend, when the hard truth of death and the pain of loss would be keenly felt. Those who ran away from the cross and the persecution of the Christ had no clue that God had already made a way. That is the message of the Cross - that God has made a way.

We may be in a rocky Good Friday in our lives, when everything we've hoped and believed is crashing down around our heads...

  • It might be a financial disaster.
  • It might be a relationship that seems broken beyond repair.
  • It might be emotional pain that exceeds anything you have ever faced.
  • It might be a diagnosis that sends you into a panic.
  • It might be the realization that you have made a huge error, and have to 'fess up to it, facing the consequences.

I have been in those moments. It is beyond scary. It seems impossible.

Jesus quoted the words of David in Psalm 22 as he hung on the cross:

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?

Words of pure pain. Raw emotion. Doubt. Maybe even anger. Jesus knew these feelings intimately.

That same Psalm bursts into words of faith and promise a few verses later:

All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations shall worship before you. For kingship belongs to the Lord, and he rules over the nations.
Words of faith. Hope. Trust. They are true for us today.


There is nothing that is beyond the reach of Grace. Nothing that can't be lived out with God's love motivating you. Good Friday and Silent Saturday are hard stretches, believe me, I know. The pain is real -- and if you are living there, I do not want to minimize it. God seems far away. The answers are not easy, when you do finally hear them. And no amount of positive thinking will take away the pain of sin in the human race. Only Grace does that.

But Easter has come. Hope is there.

I have walked in some pretty rough spots, seeing the empty cross and tomb in front of me. But I have also seen God's faithfulness.

Perhaps you are in that place of worry or fear or just exhaustion. The love of God is real and tangible. It was given center stage almost 2000 years ago in the birth and death of Jesus, the Christ. It comes to us, new, fresh and real every morning. After long, dark nights of waiting.

I will watch and pray with you - and believe for you if you are in a space that makes belief difficult. If you look around you and ask for confirmation of God's love and care for you, the evidence will come pouring into your life. In fact, here's my challenge to you --

Take a moment - grab a piece of paper - and write down all the good things in your life. If you need help, try the alphabet. A is for apples and Aunt ___ -- B is for buds on the trees... keep going. (Good luck with Q and X!)
It sounds simple, but when we are in these moments of worry or fear or living with what seems to be insurmountable odds, reminding ourselves of God's faithfulness can build a swell of hope in our hearts. Hope builds our faith. And faith helps us keep walking - towards the sunrise of Easter morning.

Let us pray:

God,
We who often beg for answers are scared when we finally receive them.
Walk with us in the dark stretches of Good Fridays and Silent Saturdays.
Show us the pinprick of light that is the reality of Easter Sunday.
We believe in your love.
We thank you for your Son, Jesus, the Christ,
Who died, and rose again and lives again with you - One God, Father, Christ, Holy Spirit...
Amen.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Music for Maundy Thursday

Drop, Drop Slow Tears
Orlando Gibbons


Remembrance
by Matt Redman