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Lenten Words

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This week we have been letting this list of words guide us through this sacred season of Lent...

13.  Grace
14.  Faith
15.  Crawl
16.  Walk
17.  Run
18.  Purple
19.  Party

Maybe you have found ways to converge and combine this random list into a sentence or sentiment of the sacred?
Perhaps something like... When the color purple crossed and crawled into my vision, I slowed my usual frenzied pace of always feeling like I'm running behind. Walking...strolling...sauntering...until I stood still. If faith threw a party maybe it would put up purple streamers. If grace showed up at your house, would it be wearing a purple hat? Or maybe red...and green...and blue...because God's loves to color with all the crayons in the box. So, here I stand...color purple joining me on the walk of life and maybe reminding me that I don't have to race/run. To slow so that life isn't so blurry. And the color purple can join in the party.
As we cross the threshold of the halfway point of Lent…

Lenten Words

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Any new insights or ideas into these words...

13.  Grace
14.  Faith
15.  Crawl
16.  Walk
17.  Run
18.  Purple
19.  Party

When was the last time grace knocked on your door, showed up in your life, and pulled up a chair to sit for a spell?

Where is faith stretching and growing...evolving and exploring right now?  For me, one place where faith is seeking new growth is as we approach Holy Week.  The services of Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter...are familiar that trying to find a fresh breeze blowing through these days is a prayer practice. 

Or where is the color purple popping up?  Do you see it in flowers or in your closet?  What might does the color purple signify for you?  Maybe creativity as in the great children's book, "Harold and the purple crayon".  Maybe today you can find a purple crayon and try to create something...or write a prayer...or just let the color run/race/walk/crawl across the page.

Or where is there a party in your life?  As we ke…

Lenten Words

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Over the last few days you have had the opportunity to prayerfully play with the following words:

13.  Grace     
14.  Faith   
15.  Crawl
16.  Walk 
17.  Run   
18.  Purple 
19.  Party

Part of what is stirring and swirling within me is the ways in life crawling/walking/running isn't always just a linear and logical process.  Yes, strictly speaking, I stopped crawling somewhere in my early years.  But in other ways, spiritually and emotionally, there are times when I am brought to my knees and the only way to move forward is from the position.  There are times I can feel professionally, even with diplomas on the wall documenting my achievements, I am still crawling at trying to guide the church in the world today.  And don't even get my started on parenting...or marriage...or any relationship that has any value.  There are moments when I can feel like I am running on all cylinders only come to a screeching and abrupt halt...when I stumble and fall forward on my face...forci…

Lenten Words

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This week we have dived deep into seven paradoxical...perhaps perplexing...and I pray playful words:

6.   Question
7.   Weakness
8.   Strength
9.   Peace
10. Chaos
11.  Hope
12.  Unfair

A quick poem that found its way through this list of words to offer itself to me:

Through the questions of life,
I can start to see weakness as strength...
Moments I bumble and stumble as the path to engage
New thoughts...
New dreams...
new prayers
Previously left unexplored because I was told those roads were closed.
As I wander and wonder, I start to see some strengths as weakness.
Clinging to certainty, when only mystery will do.
Might makes right, as the least helpful/hopeful way.
And through the chaos of random thoughts...peace comes for a short visit.
And through the chaos of random thoughts...hope sits for a spell in my soul.
And while life is unfair, and I am called to do what I can,
I also sense the beauty a well asked question can evoke and provoke...
And even invoke the holy here and now.

I…

Lenten Words

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This week we have been prayerfully playing with this list of words:

6.   Question
7.   Weakness
8.   Strength
9.   Peace
10. Chaos
11.  Hope
12.  Unfair

What fascinates me is that not only are there paradoxes between the words and the worlds they create together, there are paradoxes within each word.
For example, questions ~ there are some questions that evoke wonder and awe.  Questions that stir and swirl within us when we stare at a starry night sky.  Who are we?  Why are we here?  Then, there are questions that can cause our defensive shield to be engaged.  When someone asks us, "What are you doing?"  Or, "Why did you do that?"  Questions can provoke and evoke both the beauty around us and within us...as well as the brokenness that sits side-by-side.  The very word, "question," is a paradox/puzzle.
The same is true of weakness.  On the one hand we try to avoid and hide our weaknesses...cover them over.  On the other...it is through acknowledge our wea…

Lenten Words

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You have had a few knows to play prayerfully with the following words:

6.   Question
7.   Weakness
8.   Strength
9.   Peace
10. Chaos
11.  Hope
12.  Unfair

Words not only create worlds...some times they create a space and place ~ which is why I love reading a good book.  In worship, it is not only the physical building in which we dwell, but also the liturgy (spoken prayers/sung music/being with others) that can create a cathedral to enter too.  Good worship invites us in to something/somewhere to dwell for awhile.  This is what makes Sunday morning so sacred.  We enter a space where words (spoken and sung) still reverberate and resonate from the walls around us...if only we listen.  We enter a space where the sacred has been sung by people we will never know...and yet we can still hear the faint echo of presence from the past.  But we don't only enter the physical door, we are invited to cross another threshold through the words that are spoken and sung that day.  Worship that i…

Lenten Words

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So...you've had a few days now to play with these words...

1.   Ashes
2.   Dark
3.   Light
4.   Creating/Creativity/Crafting
5.   Forgiveness

Maybe you've found a poem sitting in your soul like ~~

Out of the dark of ashes,
Streams forth a small creating light,
Crafting a renewal and refreshing understanding that
We are called for each other...
To give generously our full selves to each other...
And maybe that is really what for-give-ness means.

Or maybe you wrote a definition...took a photo...found an example from your life.

A time you sat by the fire burning bright, until there was only ash smoldering.
Or a stumbling in the dark when you stubbed your toes...or watched as a comet soared across the sky.
Or a light that shined on your face or maybe from your face.
To step into the creativity of Lent...to realize that we are for each other and we give to each other because God is for and gives God's self to us. 

So...ready for some more words?  That was rhetorical, because I…

Lenten Words

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So in the last post we played around the threads that tie and tether together these words:

1.   Ashes
2.   Dark
3.   Light
4.   Creating/Creativity/Crafting
5.   Forgiveness

What is stirring and swirling within you as that post settles in?

What new ideas or insights were awoken?

Was there any resistance or rejection or just plain, "But I don't wanna!"?

Did you discover any distinctiveness or difference with each word?  Any new connections or collaboration with these five words?

Another way to link the five words would be the creation narratives of Genesis 1 and 2.  In the beginning there was chaos and God together.  There was a sloshing sea of atoms swirling around that was disorganized and disheveled and dissonance dancing with the divine.  Just to be clear, that wasn't necessarily bad.  Sometimes the messy mud of life might be preparing for something new.  Because matter can not be created or completely destroyed, the ashy atoms of life are constantly shifting ~ c…

Lenten Words

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Yesterday, I posted my sermon on Matthew 18:1-4, click here to read, along with an invitation to become child-like this Lent.  The sermon alludes to a series of 40 words...not included in the post.  I want to rewind, review the words starting on Ash Wednesday through today the first Sunday in Lent.  The first series/set of words were:

1.   Ashes
2.   Dark
3.   Light
4.   Creating/Creativity/Crafting
5.   Forgiveness

These first five words might seem on the surface to have nothing to do with each other...like some random shopping list.  By the way, I wonder how much a store would charge for creativity or forgiveness?  Would we think it was worth it if we could simply purchase that?

But for me, there is a thread that tethers and ties these first five words together. 

First, a few words about forgiveness...because I think that word has weight to it.  There has been many descriptions and definitions of forgiveness from the church ~~ usually most of these are drenched and dripping in guil…

Lenten Words

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Last Wednesday...we began the journey of Lent.  Here is the sermon I preached on Ash Wednesday which will guide my blog posts in the coming weeks.  The sermon was based on Matthew 18:1-4, click here to read.

I have always enjoyed reading articles where people rate and rank, debate and discuss, classify and categorize who is the greatest of all time or GOAT for short.  For example, is Beethoven or Bach the best composer ever?  Is it Gone with the Wind or The Wizard of Oz or Star Wars at the top of the list?  Is it Audrey Hupburn or Meryl Streep?  Is it Frasier or Ali; Brandy or Manning; Michael Jordon or LeBron James, with my deepest apologies to my Cleveland brothers and sisters for that reference.  There is something deep down within us that loves to compare and contrast, rank and rate, that wants to know who is at the front and who is no so much.  So, it makes complete sense to me that at the weekly staff meeting for the disciples, the question of who is the greatest came up on the…

Friday...

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Around our house...Friday has a special sacredness.
Another week of school for our kids is in the books.
Another week of work for my wife and I is ended.
Time seems to slow down a bit and make less demands.
Friday night is pizza and ice cream night.
Friday night is time to watch a movie or some frivolous television.
Friday night seems to have this special sacredness that asks us to breathe and be...take stock of what was...what is...what will be.

Of course, this isn't new.  Our Jewish brothers and sisters have said for centuries that when the sun sets on Friday, the seventh day begins (because in Genesis 1, creation starts at night).  Our Jewish brothers and sisters see sun down on Friday to sun down on Saturday as a time for sabbath...to pause, to worship, to remember that we are more than what we produce or consume.  That we do not earn our worth or Gods love.  Friday as a special, set apart time to be saturated/soaked in the sacredness of life.

Of course...tuning out the world…

Ashes

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The burnt bits of wood broke easily into ash
As I poked at the fire that blazed last night.
I remember the warmth...laughter...roasting marshmallows and watching the flames dance.
Now, no heat rose...no sound was heard...no sweet sugary item was founds...the flames had long since stopped to draw you in.

It is so easy to see ashes as a reminder of what was...
As what will never be again.
It is so easy to see ashes as a reminder of
brokenness...those atoms left over...as a negative remnant that is now useless.

What good can come of ashes??

Today, we take the palm branch from last year to burn on Ash Wednesday.
We take what has gone from green/growing/alive to now brown and brittle.
We take and burn the palm that was still drenched in "Hosannas" from last Palm Sunday.
We take and burn the palm that still has the DNA of the hands that held it.
We take and burn the palm to make something else.
The palm branch quickly is consumed and turned to ash.
We take the ash, trace the plac…

Meeting Matthew Again...Anew

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When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is now late; send the crowds away so that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” Jesus said to them, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.”  They replied, “We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish.”  And he said, “Bring them here to me.” Matthew 14:15-18

I have to admit that I can be a lot like the disciples.  Around dinner time, I get hangry....hungry and a bit edgy.  I get after standing/sitting all day in the blazing hot sun baking the back of their necks...listening to Jesus preach and teach a sermon that Matthew doesn't even bother to give us - been there and preached that sermon many, many times - the disciples just want to take their bread and fish for a nice quiet picnic. 

I love how the disciples say this place is barren...desolate...a desert-like place.  I imagine there were not many trees around...perhaps a sea of sand as far a…

What is Wisdom??

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I love it when a group of words congregate, converge together in such a way that it makes you pause.  I love it when a sentence is so beautifully put together that it brings a smile to your face.
I love good quotations dripping and drenched with wisdom.
This is part of the reason why I love scripture so much.  The words of Scripture create worlds that sing to my soul.  The words of Scripture cast a vision that compels, challenges and calls out to my heart.  The words of Scripture form and fashion a space.  There is this sense that the words of worship create a place too.  This is called, the Cathedral of liturgy.  Good prayers, call to worships, hymns that flow into a Scripture passage that is amplified, electrified in the sermon.  You enter in...just as you would a house...only it is cinder block or wood structure...but made from verbs and nouns dancing together.  Words that have not just of syllables but evoke meaning and possibility.

So, on this Friday, the first of March...I want…