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Showing posts from April, 2017

Confirmation

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Today was my son's confirmation.

First and foremost...how in the world do I have a son old enough for confirmation?  That doesn't make sense.  I mean, sure he is only an inch shorter than I am.  Sure he is in 7th grade...almost 8th.  Gulp...that much closer to driving.  Sure, the years seem to have flown past in some ways.  But confirmation...eek!

To confirm is a great word in the church.  We confirmed today that our youth/young adults are beloved children of God.  We confirmed today that the spirit is moving in amazing ways in their lives.  We affirmed that God's grace has brought them thus far on the way.  We confirmed our prayer that God would continue to bless, guide, and love them every day.  And we definitely confirmed that this is not the end of the journey...not at all!

The joke usually goes that you don't see a youth after you confirm them.  But sometimes our attempts at humor make reality rather than point toward it.  Are we giving our youth/young adults rea…

Easter as Prayer

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As much as Easter sings to our head, heart, and soul...it is an invitation to prayer.

Prayer not only as monologue...but both an experience and exploring.

Prayer need not only be bowing our heads and launching words heavenward.

Sometimes prayer is moving.

Ancient ancestors said..."It is solved by walking".

And "it" is whatever we keep lugging and whatever keeps tugging at us.

A relationship?
Something in our head, heart, soul?
A decision we need to make?
Trying to stay healthy emotionally, spiritually, and physically.

To solve "it" by walking help us.
As we move, our body burns calories.
As we move, the soles of our feet are connected to our very souls.
As we move, our hearts beat warmly.

When the disciples in Luke 24 encountered and experienced Jesus on the road of life, they hearts were strangely warmed.  They were caught up in a holy moment that would forever change their life.
Without every uttering word, I believe in that moment, the disciples were…

Easter as Experiencing

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And talking with each other about all these things that had happened.  While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them.  Luke 24:14-15

If Easter begins with exploring, it is also a season to experience.  Whereas exploring is active, sometimes an experience happens beyond our constant control.  Exploring puts us in the driver's seat, setting the course.  Experiencing is an invitation to enter into a moment where maybe we don't have everything figured out.  Often experiences put us in the passenger seat, there might be unexpected or unseen exit ramps.

Explore...experience...in a beautiful dance.  One where we take the lead and the other where we are whisked around twirling in the arms of the holy.  Of course there are many experiences where we follow our plots and plans to a "T".  But other times, things go awry and astray quickly.  I am thinking specifically here of family vacations.  We try so hard to make sure our time together is…

Easter as Exploring

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Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem.  Luke 24:13

We are in the midst of the fifty days of Easter.  Sometimes as the church doesn't do a great job of explaining that Easter is more than one day.  To be sure, the brass of last Sunday, the fuller-than-usual- sanctuary, the chocolate bunnies and festivities...all help to contribute to the sacredness stirring around us.  Yet, we keep on gathering.  We keep on exploring the not-so-empty tomb.  To say or suggest that some how one Sunday could contain or fully comprehend Easter, is not exactly the whole truth.  Rather, we keep returning and rewinding to Easter.  We keep hanging and hovering around the mystery to see if there is something yet that might help us be drenched in the possibility and promise of resurrection.

Luke keeps us on Easter day when two disciples set out for Emmaus.  They are exploring.  This is a vital part of an Easter faith.  To explore often points…

More than a day

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Easter is not just one day....
In the ancient tradition, we are invited into fifty days to stand...
Soak...
Be simmered...
Saturated in resurrection promise.

It is not just one and done...
It is not just when the chocolate bunny carton is thrown in the recycling...
It isn't even when all that artificial plastic Easter grass is finally out of your carpet...
(Although that might be more than fifty days).
Easter is a continual invitation to enter back into the empty tomb to gaze and glace around.

What did you miss on Easter Sunday with family and friends and food?
Did you miss the angels saying, "Why do you look for the living among the dead?"
Because I might still be doing that.
Did you miss that when the disciples heard what the women had encountered and experienced some thought it an idle tale??
Took the disciples awhile to realize what resurrection might mean for their lives too.

For fifty days to practice resurrection.
You could write down one place of new life every …

Easter Prayer

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Empty is usually a word that leaves us wanting.
An empty container that once held M & M...
An empty heart that once was full of love.
An empty place in our souls where we long for God to move in and take up permanent residence.

Empty on this day turns the world and that word upside down.
Suddenly empty makes room for wonder.
Empty invites us to open our imaginations.
Empty...but not really because there is something still there...
Grave clothes left in a heap like laundry on the floor.
Left hastily, haphazardly, and with a whole heart because Christ knew that Good Friday was not a period, or even a Roman explanation point, but a comma,,,,,,
A comma of God's still crafting and creating something out of chaos and confusion.
Easter Sunday is a re-creation of life in a new way...out of what seems empty, we realize true life.
Death doesn't have the final say.
Even a sealed tomb (or heart or life) might one day be broken and burst open.
Even what first appears empty has some to…

God's Friday

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Stunned silence hovered and hung in the air all around the people at the cross.
A heavy grief, like a winter's coat in August caused everyone's shoulders to slouch.
Why...
How...
What now?
More questions than answers.
More doubts than certainty.
More pain than could be processed in that moment.
But the women and other followers stood their, rooted to the ground, not being able to move.
Like a tree whose roots had sunk deep, they just gawked and gazed and occasionally let out a sigh too deep for words...but a sound of the sigh like the soul breaking apart.

Good Friday invites us into the most intimate of mystery...death.
Death of Jesus....God's son.
It wasn't supposed to be like this.
He was going to overthrow the Roman rule...so some thought.
He was going to call all the peasants to revolt and revolution...so others thought.
He was going to be around forever since he was God...so others had concluded.

But this...a cross?
An tool of Roman power.
Like a missile shot;
Li…

Midweek Holy Week Prayer

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On Maundy Thursday Eve, we make ready to step into the streams of disciples who have feasted at the Last Supper.
Grandmothers who kneaded the dough,
Vine dressers who grew the grapes.
Faithful folks who ironed the communion cloth and poured just the right amount of juice into tiny cups.
Christ bids all of us to come...there is a place set for you and plenty of room to spear.
Jesus took a loaf of ordinary, every day bread...just as you did for lunch.
But he torn it in half.
Sending crumbs scattered around the table.
Broken bread given to broken disciples.
One who betrayed him and had one foot out the door already.
One who stood at a distance and denied he knew him.
All the others ran away, deserted him into the darkness of the night, afraid to face the powers that be.
We take a tiny cube of bread perfectly cut, but the truth is messier.
The truth is we all know betray, desertion, and denial.
We have had words like that fall from our lips...and been on the receiving end of those painfu…

Palm Sunday Prayer

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The cacophony of the crowd sounded like random chaos,
You couldn't make out a word of what was being shouted.
Some cheered that Jesus would overthrow the powers that be,
others jeered that this itinerant preaching was making matters worse,
some just shouted, stirring the pot to see what would happen.
Along the parade route that day, the crowd was diverse and there for different reasons.
Some looking to take up arms,
Others throwing up their arms,
And others still just waiting to see what happened.

So into that chaos Jesus rode a humble donkey.
Just as into the chaos in the beginning God's simply spoke a word.
Creativity in the midst of uncertainty.
Something completely different when everyone had an opinion of what should be.

Palm Sunday ushers in our Holiest Week.
But behind and beneath and beyond our waving branches, singing, "Hosanna", what do we really want from Jesus this year?
Do we want him to liberate us with love?
Do we want him to overthrow and upend the w…

Serenity Prayer Part Seven

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Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His will.
That I may be reasonably happy in this life, and supremely happy in the next...

Surrender...that word makes me shudder and sends chills down my spine.
Surrender...to accept that I can't just pull myself up by my bootstraps, which are broken.
Surrender...that I am not as in charge, competent, capable as I try to show everyone.
Surrender...the word feels like defeat.

But surrender is also freedom from and for another way.
Freedom from pretending.
Freedom from all the expectations of self and others I don't clear.
Freedom from individualistic understandings.
Freedom for honesty...that there moments I am a bonehead and moments I bless.
Freedom for God's wisdom and will for my life rather than the voices clamoring to define me.
Freedom for community.

What if the church was less a place of certainty and creeds and more a place of sacred surrender to One who can truly be trusted which such a vulnerable postu…

Serenity Prayer Part Six

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Taking this world as it is...doesn't seem like the sort of prayer we'd pray today.
So often prayer seems to be asking, cajoling, and even challenging God to change what is happening.
Come on, God, there are hungry people in Africa,
People with tears in their eyes in our churches with grief,
Pain that impacts the mind, body, and soul...

This world sometimes seems to be too much for us...which is why we love space exploration.
We love to think of starting over again, somewhere new.
Or we love going to a place where no one knows us with all our faults and foibles,
Where no one knows I am a pastor so they feel free to swear, and drink, and tell jokes.
And besides, aren't we trying to work for God's realm?
Isn't part of the call of Christians to change the world?

But until something is accepted, even in its blessed brokenness,
Until we love something so deeply, we see it for what it is,
Until we sit for a spell with the jagged edges exposed, all our good intentions wil…

Serenity Prayer Part Five

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Accepting hardship as the pathway to peace...
sounds like something you would expect to hear on the blog of a pastor.
Sounds like one of those sentences you'd file under, "Good advice".
Like when people would tell me to enjoy my children while they were young, they grow up so quickly.
But in that moment they were crying and not sleeping through the night.
And now they are almost as tall as me, look me in the eyes.

Hardship...pain...struggle...and suffering are the four streets we would rather never travel down.
We'd prefer they be the "road never traveled".
So often hardship, pain, struggle, and suffering seem like cul-de-sacs.
Dead ends.
Leaving us unsure which way to go, because the options are so limited on those pathways.
But maybe suffering and struggle invite our creativity.
Get out of the car when the road ends and go explore that wooded area just ahead.
Leave behind what we know for the sake of the unknown.
Or maybe suffering and struggle remind u…

Serenity Prayer Part Four

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Taking one day at a time...
Sounds so simple and straight-forward...
So easy...
So logical.

But the past won't keep silent so easily.
Keeps interrupting and interjecting into my "Be in the moment" vibe.
I finally think of a good come back to the person whose words hurt me.
And other words play on an endless repeat loop.
The luggage I carry that are labeled, "Past" and heavy, seem to always be with me.

And then there is the future, the unknown-ness of tomorrow
and the day after that...and after that.
I can spend so much energy and effort predicting,
Coming up with endless scenarios of things that may never happen,
Yet, might...so it is good to plan.

What upsets my ability to be here, in this moment is the past that won't go away and the future that seems way to mysterious.
To be here...
Also invites me into the imperfect.
Right now...
Staring at a screen rather than writing some great, thoughtful book that will change the world.
Rather than spending time w…