Friday, May 22, 2015

Blossom in the Present
In this my new address, I am helping to care for a number of gardens ... weeding, planting, hauling, mulching, watering. I am truly thankful for this work ... I love gardening as a gift for time to pray and think  ... and see things grow. But, I confess that at the beginning of this new leg of my journey, my thoughts turned to questions of why I went to seminary in the first place if my work is going to be selling stuff or weeding gardens. What were all those years of study and pressing thru to ordination about? Hmmm. A little pity party going on. Then, I read this in Anne Long's book Listening:

It is not the particular ministry but our availability and readiness to respond which matter. Much of what we are called to will be humble, unacclaimed acts of service, a simple response to what God was bringing to our attention. ... It is not the place where you are that is the important thing. It is the intensity of your presence there. It is not the situation that counts ... [but] that you are fully alive in any situation. It is this that puts down roots and then flowers in your life. Availability: that is obedience. That and looking hard at the place where you are, instead of wanting to work wonders somewhere else. 

Wake up call! Bloom where you are planted! I don't know who the author is of that quote, but Jeremiah had something to say about it. In chapter 29 he speaks to the people in exile and tells them to be alive wherever they find themselves. Build houses and live in them, plant gardens and harvest the blessing ... and give that blessing to others. Stop looking to go somewhere else, for some future place or time or event that seems to be the perfect answer to your prayers. Live now. Be fully alive in the present now. Be available to all and everything around you. Be attentive and listen for the Lord's work around you now. And, be blessed and bless ... in His Name.

My Dad loved sunflowers, those blooms that follow the sun all day long and bow their heads of sunshiney petals to sleep at night. Even at night they prayerfully watch the sun to await the dawn and live the new day ... the new address ... fully present and available where they are planted. Be available to God's work in and thru you today and bloom where you are planted.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Sacrifice of Praise and Thanksgiving

About six years ago a family member lost his job. It wasn't a pretty experience and to make matters worse, these years have heaped rejection upon rejection at attempts to get full-time work. Even so, during these years God's love and care provided part-time hourly employment that enabled them to keep their home ... but it has been a long road of piecing together 3 to 4 jobs that translated into 10 to sometimes 14 hour days.

Then ... yesterday ... a promotion to full-time employment!
Praise be to God!
... was my immediate response. My heart spilled over with thanksgiving for God's answer to my prayer, their prayers over these last years. So, now I wonder what to offer as a Sacrifice of Praise and Thanksgiving.

When God gave Moses the instructions for the sacrifices to be brought to the temple, the Sacrifice of Thanksgiving was one of them. (Leviticus 7) This sacrifice was to give thanks to God for his answer to a prayer, for his blessing bestowed. The one who prayed was to bring a sacrifice to the temple, and while the priests prepared the offering ... that one was to tell others, give testimony to what God had done. And, then they all feasted together from the sacrifice offered. This offering was praise to God ... an offering of pure praise.

I don't have to do this. I want to. I want to tell you of God's faithfulness and love and tender care for us ... how He provides for us. It isn't always in the way we want it or when we want it. But, when I choose to be present to the present of the Presence of God in my life ... the long road, the hard road, the rocky road, the windy road ... take me to a deeper road of faith in God's unfailing and loyal love for me, for you, for us.

If I were a poet, I would write a psalm. But, I'm not. So, as a sometimes blogger ... I blog in praise and thanksgiving.

Friday, May 8, 2015

... and all manner of things shall be well.

"One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
and to inquire in his temple."
Psalm 27.4

... and she loved cats!
Of any verse in Scripture, to me this one describes the life of Julian of Norwich. We probably know her name better for the familiar and popular quote,
"... all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well" 
but she could say those words of comfort because of the one thing she asked of the LORD: to know His beauty in the Passion of Christ. From her life of contemplation on His sacrifice for us, she discovered the depth of God's love for us and for all his creation. She said,
"He that made all things for love, by the same love keeps them, and shall keep them without end."
God's love for us keeps us ... forever. We were made for His love and in that love He keeps us, protects us, saves us. And, not only us ... but all of creation. Julian knew this love. It was her daily contemplation, her daily work of worship. She gazed upon Him and inquired of Him in His temple. And, from this daily work of worship she gleaned this:
"Truth sees God, and wisdom contemplates God, and from these two come a third, a holy and wonderful delight in God, who is love."
This may sound as though Julian lived above the difficulties of life, that she was not aware of struggle and hardship. Not at all. It was an illness that almost took her life that set her on the journey of contemplating the love of the Lord Jesus. And, it was in His love that she found consolation. She said this of struggles of life:
"If there is anywhere on earth a lover of God who is always kept safe, I know nothing of it, for it was not shown to me. But this was shown: that in falling and rising again we are always kept in that same precious love."
In falling and rising we are kept in God's love. That brings us to this verse:

"Wait for the LORD;
be strong and let your heart take courage;
wait for the LORD!"
Psalm 27.14

Wait for the LORD. Gaze upon His beauty. Ask Him to show you his love and grace ... that is for you! Be strong in that Love. Take courage in It. Wait for Him. AMEN.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Happy Easter!

So, you probably thought I missed it, didn't you? I didn't change the blog last Sunday for Easter. Well, like Holy Saturday ... that day between Jesus' death and resurrection when it's not yet Easter, we have one week between our Easter celebration and our Orthodox brothers and sisters. They celebrate Easter this coming Sunday, April 12. So, while I'm a little late in declaring Easter greetings for my friends in the Western Church, I'm a little early for my friends in the  Eastern Church.

This Easter date debate has been going on for centuries and has many complexities to sift and sort through in order to understand it. Easter is a movable feast, meaning it's never on the same date every year. The date is set according to the first full moon after the vernal equinox. This seems rather straightforward, right? Well, it appears there is question as to how to define "vernal equinox" and "full moon", and from where those things are observed. (Eastern Church holds that Jerusalem should be the observation point as that is where Jesus was crucified and rose again.) Then, there is the question as to whether the date for Easter should fall after Passover?
Add to the mix that the Western Church uses the Gregorian Calendar and the Eastern Church uses the Julian Calendar. OK, so it's going to take a little more than sifting and sorting ... so here's my take ...

No matter where we stand to observe the movements of our natural world, no matter where we stand on how we count days, we stand on this side of the Cross and Empty Tomb. We are Easter People. (Thank you to my friends in the Adirondacks for this new view of who we are with and in Christ!) We celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord every day. Yes, we especially remember our resurrection life in Christ on Easter Day, but let's not quibble over the specific date. Let's make every date a reason to celebrate our Risen Lord.

Alleluia? Oh, yes. He is risen indeed! Alleluia!