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Showing posts from November, 2015

Church Season: The Day After

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Ever had a party?  After all the guest leave there are dishes in the sink, the once-freshly-washed floors are suddenly again dirty, there are bits of food scattered around, trash to take out, and you try to return to ordinary of life.  Yet, something is different.  Hopefully it was a good party where laughter was absorbed into the walls of your home.  Hopefully with each dish you wash you remember the delicious food and friendships deepened.  Hopefully as you rewash the floors you know that the impression of your friends was left on your life.  It takes time after the party to appreciate how quickly the time went and beautiful that moment was.  Easter is a grand, great, holy celebration, but most of us don't live life in party after party.  We live (what I said previously) in-between.  In-between the holy and ordinary.  In-between the to-do-lists and the complete.  We live between what was promised on Easter and what will come when God's realm is fully established.  
The day …

Church Season: Easter

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After the joy of God breaking into our world at Christmas, the season of letting that sacred truth saturate our lives (known as Epiphany), the recognition that everything is not chocolate rivers and we have brokenness in our lives (called Ash Wednesday), the season of Lent (deepening a connection with God), and finally Holy Week where we go from the enthusiasm of a parade to the pain of desertion/betrayal/denial by so-called friends, we arrive exhausted (perhaps physically, emotionally, and spiritually) at an empty tomb.  This great cycle of birth, death, and resurrection is part of life.  All around us, the soil is constantly being transformed as some plants die and others strike out tiny sprouts.  Our bodies are constantly shedding skin cells as new ones are made.  In our lives, constant change of family and friends and in our own bodies is a theme.  
God enters into that cycle, participates in the dance, and on Easter morning proclaims, that now there is a new beat/riff.  Now, ins…

Church Seasons: Holy Week

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As the season of Lent enters its final week, we set aside the week before Easter and call it, "Holy".  The week begins with Palm Sunday, Jesus triumphant entry into Jerusalem.  We continue on Maundy (Greek word for commandment ~ referring to Jesus' new commandment to love) Thursday where we celebrate the Last Supper and, in some churches, foot washing.  We come the next day, Good or Holy Friday, where we stand at the foot of the cross.  For me, God did not need Jesus to die on a cross to satisfy some anger.  God had already come to us in the form of unconditional love and unceasing grace.  But when met with such a radical, unimaginable, un-human-like gift, we could not deal with the sacred.  In some ways, we still cannot.  We don't like it when we receive a gift without one to offer in "exchange".  We don't like it when we are upset and someone says, "I love you" or "I forgive you."  Such words fuel our fire of frustration.  Friday …

Church Seasons: Lent

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From Ash Wednesday, we set out on a journey of forty days, not including Sundays.  The first question might be, "Why not including Sundays?"  Because we live on the other side of Easter, we know the end of the story, every Sunday, even in Lent, remains a mini-Easter celebration.  Every Sunday is a celebration of the possibility and promise of resurrection, even in the journey of Lent.  It is an interesting juxtaposition and tension.  And we usually don't do well with it, we end up treating the Sundays of Lent be governed by our inner-Eeyore.  We are sad rather than celebratory, we are solemn and serious rather than practicing our "alleluias".  Most of this has to do with tradition and our general distrust of all things enthusiastic in worship.  It need not be that way.  Worship in Lent can hold in tension the pain and joy.  In fact, if we don't shine a like on the intimate dance of two in these forty days, when we will do it?  Yes, the cross is horrific.  …

Church Seasons: Ash Wednesday

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After Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, and being in-between...we arrive at Ash Wednesday which marks the start of Lent.  I will talk directly about Lent in the next post...but it is good to center on the service that starts that 40 day journey to the cross.  Ash Wednesday centers around the phrase above, "From dust to come, to dust you shall return."  That does not sound very happy!  Where is the positive thinking?  Where is the uplifting thought?  Where is the inspiration?  No wonder people avoid this service...plus isn't this really Catholic?
A couple of thoughts.  First, on Ash Wednesday we do come face to face with our mortality.  Again, most of modern-day, Western thoughts wants to avoid this topic.  We are a death-denying culture.  We Botox and photo-shop our way to believing that we can live forever.  The fact is when you spend time around people in their 70s plus...most DON'T want to live forever.  I love serving a church that has wisdom of age to look at life, …

Church Seasons: In Between

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At some point the Christmas tree comes down, the creche scene is wrapped carefully and put away, we hang our new calendar on the wall, and we enter a season in the church of "in-between".  We have celebrated another Advent/Christmas/Epiphany and we are anticipating another Lent.  Some years, this in-between time lasts a few weeks, other years it can be closer to two months.  It is not exactly the most exciting season.  There are NO great decorations to put up in the church and the liturgical color green (which I find ironic in the north...where the tree shed their green leaves months ago and the green grass is covered with snow upon snow upon snow...feel free to visit Florida at that point).  
Usually to be in-between something is not seen as a good thing.  We talk about being between a rock and a hard place or in the messy middle or caught in a sticky situation where you are darned if you do and darned if you don't.  But, then, I found the above picture.  Let's fac…

Church Seasons: Epiphany

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There are twelve days between Christmas and Epiphany, which is where we get the song, "The Twelve Days of Christmas"...although I have no idea what I would do with six geese a-laying and twelve drummers drumming just sounds loud.  There is a connection between Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany.  We spend four weeks preparing for the birth of the One with promise dancing in his eyes.  We spend four weeks making room and ready for God to enter into our lives anew and afresh.  We bask in the silent, holy night of Christmas.  Then the next day, we pack every thing up, put the tree back in the attic, try to get the tinsel out of our carpet fibers, and start making New Years Resolutions.  But it wasn't always that way,  Many people can remember NOT putting their tree up until Christmas Eve and the tree would stay up until Epiphany.  I am not suggesting we go back to those 'good ole days'.  What I am suggesting is maybe we find ways to keep basking in the glow of Christm…