Sunday, February 18, 2018

Lent One ~ Gospel of Disney


Part of what captures and captivates me about Disney is the imagination.  C.S. Lewis once wrote, "But some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again."  We need space and a place for engaging laughter and imagination and dreams.  Perhaps this Lent you can take time to laugh.  I know this may sound odd in a season that has become defined and distinguished by being serious and somber, but I do believe God laughs with us...that laughter itself can be a prayer.  Our imaginations can help open us to new ways to engage and encounter God whose creativity is still speaking/singing/ crafting and creating.  Our dreams...well dreams are God's territory.  Think of Joseph of many color coat fame who can interpret dreams.  Think of Joseph Jesus' father who dreams a dream of taking Mary as his wife.  Think of Peter on a roof seeing a vision of a buffet of off-limits animals coming down on a blanket.  These dreams of God are always expanding and encouraging us to do the same.

Laughter as a prayer.
Imagination as a place to encounter God.
Dreams as a territory of experiencing our expansive God.

What ways can you lean into and learn from these truths?
Who helps you laugh?
What ignites your imagination?
Where do dreams grow legs to go to new places?

I pray these questions might open you to more than a trace of God's grace in these Lenten days.  Please pray with me.

God, thank you for the sound of laughter that surrounds us and can sustain us.
Thank you for ways we can dream new dreams.
Thank you for ideas that stretch the boundaries of what we think is off-limits.
We pray You would continue to move in our midst.  Enter in with contagious joy, with animals that have giraffe necks and owl wings, with ideas about what might until in the remaining days.  If Easter is an awakening to new life here and now, then we can laugh ~ even if others see us as foolish.  We can believe to look for life where others only see death.  We can follow One who was not just resuscitated, but resurrected to show us that matter matters to You, O God.  Come, O God, come with a grace, love, peace and presence we need in these days.  Amen and Amen. 

Friday, February 16, 2018

Lent Week One ~ Gospel of Disney

Having already engaged one song from a Disney movie, we continue with one of my favorites, The Lion King.  There are many reasons why I find this movie fascinating.  First, it is a great commentary on families who put the "fun" in dysfunction.  All of us know what it is to have unresolved conflict hanging and hovering around the Thanksgiving table.  We know how power plays are not confined or contained only in Washington D.C., but find their ways in to our own households.  The conflict between Scar and Mufasa might not be exactly what we experience in our family, but there are sometimes echoes at reunions and picnics.  Second, I find the commentary on our abuse of the environment compelling and convicting, especially considering that this film is a few decades old.  Third, the opening song has some great theological themes.  Listen...and watch the amazing art those who drew the frames crafted and created...



 The middle verse strikes and stays with me:

Some of us fall by the wayside
And some of us soar to the stars
And some of us sail through our troubles
And some have to live with the scars

The questions of why this may be...why do some stumble and some soar?  Or the question might be how do we notice our own stumbling and our own soaring?  Too often, it is easy to tripped or trapped into thinking that we need someone to validate that our stumbling doesn't define us or that our soaring is for real.  There is a circle, cycle, to life.  Moments when we can accomplish more than we ask or imagine.  Moments when we fail spectacularly.  Moments when we taste goodness, grace.  Moments when bitterness lingers, lasts too long.  Sometimes those moments happen simultaneously.  As we enter into Lent, where are you?

Do you feel like your soul is soar or sinking?
Do you feel like your life is trekking like a train or has gone off the rails?

Perhaps again...it isn't yes or no...but both/and.  Depending on the day, the time, we might respond with an emphatic, "Yes" to both.

Take some time today to settle and let these questions soak into your life.  And may you sense more than just a trace of God's grace in this moment.

Blessings ~~ 

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Lent Week One ~ Gospel of Disney

My family are huge fans of Disney.  They love the rides.  They love the excitement of amusement parks.  They love the food and crowds of people.  They love the giant talking mouse.  Me?  I love them.  

But over the years of going to the parks, the pixie dust of the Magic Kingdom has a way of working its way into your DNA.  The catchy tunes and constantly cheerful people start to wear you down.  As the Borg would say on Star Trek, "Resistance is futile." (Which is another whole blog post for some other time).  

For me, it was, is, and will be the music that has drawn me into Disney.  In High School, I can remember taking dates to see Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin.  I fully accept that these films have their flaws.  They can play on unhelpful, hurtful stereo types of men saving women and cultural racism as well.  But nothing is ever perfect.  I have appreciated how the films have tried to evolve over the years.  I particularly enjoyed a more recent film, Moana about a Pacific Island tribe and a princess preparing to take over.

Most Disney films are a variation on the theme of trying to find your identity...which is something that plays very well in modern day American.  We are all trying to sort ourselves out, answer question, "Who am I?"  The shift from a world where you were a farmer because your father was a farmer and your grandfather was a farmer...to today when we have to construct our identity.  Too often today it is in advertisement and consumerism that we are told we can purchase our sense of self - prepackaged on a shelf.  The shift from a world where you lived in the same town your whole life with your family....to today where we are all part nomadic.  I live a state where the roots don't run that deep, most of us have all been transplanted here.  

This is Moana's (the lead character's struggle).  She finds herself wedged between parent's expectations to continue the traditions and what her heart tells her to do.  I think we all identify with that to some extend.  As Iowan who has come to love the sea - the far horizons that are not filled with endless fields of corn.  As an Iowan who has come to sense the truth of the line of poetry, "The sea is so vast and my ship is so small."  This title song from the musical sings to my soul.  I invite you to listen for the ways these words can sing to you.




I am particularly taken by the middle verse that goes, I know everybody on this island, seems so happy on this island/Everything is by design/I know everybody on this island has a role on this island/So maybe I can roll with mine/I can lead with pride, I can make us strong/I'll be satisfied if I play along/But the voice inside sings a different song/What is wrong with me?"

I may not have written these words, but they have been written on my heart.  We are all called to roll with the roles we've been assigned...but can find a restlessness.  My hunch is that this is true not only today, but I am sure some of our ancestors struggled with not wanting to be farmers.  I am sure several farm wives longed for a different kind of life.  St. Augustine would write, "Our hearts are restless until we find rest in Thee."  It is my prayer that in this season of Lent we will be willing to explore the horizons of faith.  I pray we will take leaps of faith that might take us in new directions.  And that the restlessness that swirls, stirs in us all, might find more than a trace of God's grace in these forty days.

May God bless you and grant you a Holy Lent.

Grace and peace ~~

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Preparing for Lent 2


In the last post I asked two questions....

What would cause your soul to sing and stir as we prepare for Lent?

How do you long to connect with God as we prepare for Lent?

I can only be descriptive in my own prayerful thoughts/responses to such questions and don't want to be prescriptive in how you might enter into the forty days of the Lenten season.

Some of the ways I connect with God are walking labyrinths, spending time in prayer, laughing with my family, and reading.  I connect with God in worship, in Bible studies, and in service out in my community.  I try to connect with God in many different ways.  To acknowledge that God is there with every breath I take to support and surround me and cause a holy shift to deepen between us.

What causes my soul to sing is music.  Some may have read my blog posts from Advent on singing our way to the manger.  I want to build on that this Lent with a little different bent.  Each week I will post three reflections on some music that moves me.  It might be a hymn or it could be from a musical.  Rather than sticking to a classical understanding of sacred OR secular, I want to blur the line to ways that God's still singing presence can be found in varied and vast ways. 

I pray this allows you to sense God's blessings and love moving in real ways.  I am looking forward to this series of posts...please feel free to share them with others who may need a reminder of forgiveness, grace, what pain unprocessed can do to our souls, and how when we love another we see the very face of God.

May the coming week's posts be a blessing and more than a trace of God's grace.

Blessings ~~

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Preparing for Lent


The word, Lent, is one that can evoke and even provoke strong reactions from all of us.  For some reading this post...I wonder if I lost you with the title of this.  For others...I pray you might be interested in re-capturing and re-framing this word for a new day.  For all...I hope you will give me a chance.

Lent is at the heart a season of renewal.  It is a time to remember and reclaim who and whose we are.  We are more than just a spouse or parent or our job...we are beloved children of God.  We find our deepest sense of self and our soul takes flight in relationship with God.  But most days, while we know that to be true, we may not always live that way.  What if Lent was less about feeling guilty and more about shining a light on new or renewed ways we can lean into and live out this truth?  What if Lent was less a dirge and more of a dance with the divine?  What if Lent was less about going through the motions and more about deepening our connection to God?

That is the promise of these forty days that begin on Valentines Day in a little over a week.  I think that is significant and sacred.  Can Lent this year be grounded and guided in a love that isn't purchased at the Hallmark Store, but is found in the incarnation of Christ?  Love that doesn't only come down at Christmas but stirs in our life every day.  One poet I love described/defined Lent as the time we pull back the heavy drapery that too often covers our souls to the let the light of love shine through us and in us and to us.  Too often the drapery goes by the names such as obligation or guilt or not enough.  But I believe those drapes were made by human hands....not God's.  So, we pull back the words of humans so that God's words can get a word in edgewise and bring us into the light.

As we enter into February...what would cause your soul to sing and stir?
As we enter into February...how do you long to connect with God?

I pray you will let these questions simmer and stir in these days and find more than a trace of God's grace as you ponder.

Blessings ~~

Friday, February 9, 2018

Scripture Imagination take three

After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias.  A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick.  Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples.  Now the Passover, the festival of the Jews, was near.  When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?”  He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do. Philip answered him, “Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.”  One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?” Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was a great deal of grass in the place; so they sat down, about five thousand in all.  Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted.  When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, “Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.” So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets.  When the people saw the sign that he had done, they began to say, “This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world.”

Because our Scriptural imagination needs to see the humor in life.

Because our Scriptural imagination can find meaning in laughter and joy.

Because our Scriptural imagination can make meaning even in jokes.

We hear Philip sarcastically say, "Thanks Jesus, I will run down to Walmart and pick up bread for five thousand...can I have your credit card."

We hear Andrew say, "Look...look...here is a lunch...that I totally now realize doesn't really help the situation as much as I thought it would."

We hear the people in the crowd say, "Um...wait...no one told me it was a potluck...was that in the newsletter?"

We hear the people say, "Um...I will take a doggy bag to go because that was the best bread I have ever had."

What other smiles do you see there just waiting in the margins of this story waiting for us to notice.

Because it isn't only about being on the sidelines OR about sacred serendipity...it is also a holy story that causes a smile to cross my face.

I pray brings you more than a trace of God's grace ~~

Friday Prayer


When the week is almost done,
And our souls feel they've been spun,
In a thousand directions we've run,
We long for God's love to make us one.

We enter into this time of prayer
When the good, bad, ugly we share
We want to be wrapped in God's care
Let's us breathe in holy air.

We come with hope
That we can stop walking a tight rope
For God doesn't as us to blindly grope
Rather than we might have strength to cope.

We need a grace more than a trace.
We need a presence to help us brace.
We long for the time and space
That can guide us to see God's face.

So, come, Holy Spirit move in our lives
Come and help us be satisfied.
To know that with you we are enough
And whisper our name with more love.

For our prayers are deep and our hearts are restless
Until in You we can sense there is peace in Your presence.

Calm the storms
Drive doubt away
Be with us God
Not just now...
But every day.

Amen.