Posts

Showing posts from May, 2020

Friday Prayer

Image
Creative and constantly crafting God,
In the beginning, Your first act and song was to separate light and dark.
In the beginning, Your first move was to define and distinguish a rhythm to the day.
In the beginning, Your wisdom call all creation to find the daily beat of the rising of the sun to the going down of the same.

In our lives, we have sought to control light and dark.
In our lives, we want our own rhythm to be the one we dance.
In our lives, we want to define and distinguish where and when the light pours in.

Remind us again and anew, O God, of the wisdom that comes from morning and midnight.
Let us lean into and learn that You are there every hour with a truth we need.
When the lights are on we can feel at ease and also see more clearly our brokenness.
When the night settles in we can find rest and also wrestle with all that is unresolved.
Day and night offer moments we need.
Day and night are both gifts.

So be with us in these moments.
Drench our day with Your love.
Immers…

Word Wednesday

Image
First, thank you for continuing to read, especially after the Music Monday.

Second, in the midst of the struggle, our nature/normal intuition is to seek out the light.  We don't always want to learn to walk in the darkness.  Because of Thomas Edison, we rarely need to.  Every room in my house has the ability for light to flood into any room with the simple flick of a switch.  I don't need to build a fire at night.  I don't need to have a ready supply of candles.  Light is right there all the time.

My mind unconsciously applies value to this reality.  I often think, light is good and dark is not so great.  Yet, night is great for sleeping.  Night is great for seeing the stars.  Night is necessary to really see the way the flames of a fire dance.  Night is helpful for cooling down.  Night is necessary for all of life to slow down.  For example, we know that the grass outside takes in energy from the sun all day, processing that after sunset, to inch its way taller.  You als…

Music Mondays

Image
Continuing to let the melody and music of Les Mis guide us, I invite you to listen to the above recording of, "At the End of the Day".

While the tune is catchy, if you listen to the lyrics, it is certainly not one of the most up-lifting songs you will ever hear.  Lean into the opening words:  At the end of the day you're another day older; And that's all you can say for the life of the poor; It's a struggle, it's a war

I am sure your first reaction is, "Um thanks for this, Wes...I think I'll go watch the news which will be more inspiring than this."  But stay with me for just a moment.  What I find profoundly powerful is how these words are an honest lament.

Life can be a struggle, especially for those who are pushed to the fringes of our society.  Life is not easy for the most vulnerable.  Often, those of us who have a cushion or bubble around us, don't see that. 
Life can be a struggle for those whose economic status is a bit better.  The…

Prayer Friday

Image
Prodigal God who welcomes us with open arms,
You invite us to choose life that isn't some mathematical equation but a mystery.
You do not keep a balance sheet where our good deeds have to weigh more than our bad ones.
You continually embrace us as the Father did of the prodigal in Luke's gospel.

We confess this is not the way of the world.
We are more accustom to eye-for-eye and what goes around comes around.
We prefer our ways of justice to Your's, O God.

So we name aloud a person we struggle to forgive.

Ourselves
A family member
A friend

We name that person not because it will magically make everything better,
But because the person is a beloved child of Yours.
We name the person so that we see him or her as a person.
Fully human with all the frailty and fumbles; broken and blessedness
That stares back at us when we look in the mirror.

The power of speaking the person's name can awaken us in this time of prayer.
We entrust that person to You.
You ask for You, O God,…

Word Wednesday

Image
In the opening minutes of the musical version of Les Mis, we see the juxtaposition of eye-for-eye justice in Javert and the forgiveness of the Bishop.  This will be a unfolding theme throughout the musical.
Who offers forgiveness?
Who clings with a tight fist to legalism?
And more importantly, why?

Forgiveness so often is portrayed as a one and done act.  In some ways you could see the Bishop as simply forgiving Valjean for stealing.  But for me, forgiveness is a continual process.  Forgiveness can be one step forward, three frustrating steps back.  Forgiveness doesn't even start with the other person, it starts with me processing the pain ~ anger and hurt and harm.  While I try to not get caught in either/or thinking, in some ways the choice is between the pathway of forgiveness or holding a grudge.  The choice is between letting go of my claim that I was right and the other person was wrong OR seeing the that I may not fully understand what motivates the other person's acti…

Music Mondays

Image
One of my favorite stories of all time is Les Miserables.  If you have never seen the musical, read the book, watched one of the many movie adaptations; I encourage you to dive into this narrative of what grace and love looks like when the world is less than perfect.  The above will take you to YouTube where you can listen to the Broadway soundtrack, which leaves out some of the transitional songs ~ many of which are important to understanding story.  But, if you have some experience with the various versions of Les Mes, the above will awaken your memory.

If you are unfamiliar with the story line, you may want to watch the PBS version of the musical live on stage by clicking below...warning it is over 2 hours...but will be helpful and in my humble opinion well worth your time.



This story seeks to deal with questions like, what happens when life is unfair?  How do we live in the midst of suffering, stress, and strain?  Sound familiar?

In the opening we meet Valjean who was arrested fo…

Prayer Friday

Image
God of moments when the sun is shining,
God of days when the rain won't stop.
God of times when our souls surge with life and smiles sit on our faces,
God of heartbreak and ache that won't feel like they will ever stop.
God of every single second, we open our hearts to You in this moment.

We know that You are here in this place.
We trust that with You there is quite enough strength and power and grace.
We long for You to illuminate our lives and stir our souls.

We give thanks for the moments that have led us this far.
For childhood memories ~ carefree and joy-filled.
For the yesterdays that strangely warm our hearts.
For stories we can share with each other.

We give thanks for those honest, heartfelt times we went astray.
Times we knew the truth of the prodigal son who sat in the mud with pigs.
Times we wondered, "Can it get any worse than this?",
Only to have that rhetorical question answered not in the way we wanted.

For the past, for this present moment, for the …

Word Wednesdays

Image
On Monday...I invited you into a moment of nostalgia, reminiscing and reliving your life like watching the old reel-to-reel movies.
And amid the moments that bring smiles to our face, most of us have moments of disappointments and shattered dreams.  Most of us don't start our stories by saying, "Well, I was born awesome and I have just gotten better every day."  And those who do, I don't find very interesting.  The traces of grace in my life don't always come when the lights are on and laughter is easy.  The traces of grace are the threads that refuse to snap, keep holding me, even when all my resources are gone.

Amid the kickball stories of summers ago...are moments of brokenness.

These include moments of individual brokenness ~ I say something bonehead that hurts another, I do something less than brilliant...in those moments of exhaustion or frustration or when I have processed the pain of an experience so I pass it along to the next available person.

These in…

Music Mondays

Image
I am fan of singer songwriters whose lyrics evoke images...and John McCutcheon "Water From Another Time" does that in spades.  I love the line about the quilt his grandmother made of scraps and then he waltzes in his dreams.  The deeper power of this song is that it can awaken YOUR memories.

I didn't grow up on a farm...but the words remind me of summer nights in Cedar Rapids, IA.  When the lightening bugs briefly illuminating before your very eyes only to quickly extinguish...when winter days were a distant memory...when all the neighborhood kids gathered in our backyard for a rousing game of kickball.
I still remember that first base was the post on the patio.
Second base was the lilac bush.
Third base was the metal clothes line poll.
Home was our cement sidewalk from the backdoor of the house...so there was NO sliding safe at home.

I still remember the garden my parents planted outback...and ironically the corn that never grew there.  I mean...this was Iowa...I thoug…

Prayer Friday

Image
How do you craft a prayer?
Is it only with words?

Maybe a prayer can pour forth from a paint brush,
Colored pencils,
Chalk on the street that will wash away with the next rain.

Maybe prayer can be brought to life with scissors,
Colored papers,
Various shapes of many sizes that are pieced together.

Maybe prayer is silence, sitting still to listen.
God's first language,
Before the song of creation began, God was and God still is.

Maybe prayer is noticing and naming what you see,
Feel,
The good and bad and ugly that is part of this thing called, "Life".

Maybe prayer is more than what we can categorize or compartmentalize,
A constant reaching,
As a deer longs for water, so the Psalmist sings, so does our heart.

How would you define prayer?
How is it with your soul?
And what prayer might God be singing to you today?

May these words invoke for you more than a trace of God's grace in these May days.

Blessings ~~

Word Wednesday

Image
Doubt.

That part of our mind that questions what is real.  The part of our gut that raises it's hand when certainty commands all the spotlight.  The moments we realize that truth that, "If you are always the smartest one in the room, you are in the wrong rooms."

Doubt.

So often we have been taught and told that faith and doubt are opposites or even in opposition.  You can only have one, like when you had to choose what flavor sucker you got from the doctor.  But maybe doubt and faith need not be adversarial but advisory to each other.  Doubt can be questioning.  The root of questioning is, "Quest".  Our questions take us somewhere.  Our doubts invite us to go some place.

Doubt.

But often we think that the road trip doubt wants us to travel can't lead anywhere good.  Or we think that we have to cling to faith with our fist so tight that our knuckles turn white.  Faith isn't a possession, faith is often a journey.  Faith is like a flowing river.  Faith, …

Music Mondays

Image
Today, I invite you to open your heart and life right now to Carrie Newcomer singing, "Sanctuary".  I encourage you to listen to the inspiration for the song.  She talks about how sanctuaries are those safe spaces and places where we go when heartbroken and our souls ache.  Sanctuaries are more than the physical location of worship with pews and hymnals.  Rather, there are "altars in the world" to borrow the title of Barbara Brown Taylor's book.

As you listen, I want you to ponder prayerfully two questions:
1. Where and from what do you need sanctuary right now?  Perhaps as the pandemic and self quarantine continues?  Perhaps from relationships that are more broken than Humpty Dumpty?  Perhaps from trying to inhabit your own skin?

2.  Where and how might you find sanctuary right now?  Is there an altar in home in these days?  A sacred site you can go to daily as our church's are not holding weekly worship? 

Listen...lean in...and let God's spirit move …

Prayer Friday

Image
Please pray with me...

God whose first language is silence,
We come to You after a month of staying home,
Social isolation and distancing,
Separated from those who love,
And unable to offer hugs.

God whose promise meets us in all times and places,
We know You heard Your people's cry in Egypt.
We know that You responded to Hannah's prayer in the temple.
We know that Your love could not be contained so crept into the world in a stable, of all places.
Meet us this day, once again surrounded by these same four walls.

God, whose truth can never be fully explored or exhausted,
Help us remain open when frustration starts to set in.
Help us keep reaching out when we are tired of phone calls or the technology doesn't work.
Help us be creative in times when we feel isolated, even alone.
Meet us this day as we move into the month of May.

We are aware now, more than ever,
That we are not in control or in charge or that all our clinging can't stop the coronavirus.
So, hear the pra…