Sunday, March 1, 2015

Lenten Reflections: Second Sunday of Lent

"Open my lips, Lord,
    and my mouth will declare your praise.
You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
    you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
    a broken and contrite heart
    you, God, will not despise."


Psalm 51:15-17


There is a profound dichotomy in Lent. Points of light shrouded in darkness. Our week is a dark and cluttered hallway. Sunday is the light beckoning us forward. 

During Lent, we take pause to reflect on the sin in our lives, and yet we open ourselves up for times to rejoice. On Sunday, we turn our focus to the expectation, hope, joy, and restoration brought about through the transforming work of Christ; both individually and corporately. We come together in unity, realizing that we are on this journey together. Sunday is the light. Tomorrow the dark will return. We enter another dark hallway, filled with the junk that is our life.  

Sin reminds us to rejoice. We look to the light. 

Rejoicing reminds us of sin. We look to the darkness.

Today we rejoice. Today we bath in light. Tomorrow we walk back in the dark to reflect once again on the filth that lies within. Another long hallway awaits us, with yet another dim light beckoning to us from the end.  Just enough to illumine our way. 

Today we rejoice. 

Today we feast.

Tomorrow we lament. 

Tomorrow we fast. 

Today we embrace.

Tomorrow we sacrifice. 

Lord, today we embrace the presence of your Spirit. Today we celebrate. Today we rejoice. But as we continue our journey of Lent tomorrow, fill us with anticipation of the hope we have in You through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen    

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Lenten Reflections: Humility

"But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples deserted him and fled." - Matthew 26:56

Humiliation

We began the Lenten season together in humiliation. Ashes marked our foreheads, humiliating reminders of our sin and morality.

Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust. 

Humiliation

Despite His divine nature, Christ chose the path of humility, not humiliation. Similar word origins, but very different perspectives. And in doing so, He disarmed His enemies, even the enemy of death, the corporate enemy of all. Humility didn't comfort Him. Humility didn't make His path any easier. Humility didn't embrace Him. Humility left Him alone. Humility rewarded Him with spit in His face, a back torn to the bone and a cross in which to hang on.
   
In His humility, Christ shows us that we have a choice: humiliation or humility. The choice lies within us, although the world may see no distinction. While we may choose to walk in complete, nothing guarantees that we will not stand humiliated. The result of humiliation or humility is from our perspective. 

Do we walk our spiritual journeys humiliated or humble

Lord, as we make our way through this second week of Lent, we come to you with the choice; to walk though the remainder of Lent as humble, or humiliated. Through the power of Your Spirit, enable us to face the world as humble servants of the living God, sometimes alone and deserted, but complete in You. Amen 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Lenten Reflectons: Healing

"But Jesus answered, “No more of this!” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him." 
Luke 22:51

When we come to Christ, we come for healing. Whatever the manifestation of our pain, whether physical, emotional or spiritual, healing lies at the center of our need. When we suffer, our attention is directed to the source of our pain, and with precision targeting, we fixate our desires on one thing: healing. And our prayer rises to the ears of God, "Please, Lord. No more of this!"     

"No more of this!", we pray to the Lord

No more violence.

No more dredging.  

No more accusations.

No more more fighting.

No more pride.

No more death.

No more humiliation.

Lord, hear our prayer

"You can say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one." - John Lennon  

We hope for a world in which "No more of this" will be and unnecessary cry. We declare these things, but words do not make them true. The enemy stands ready and waiting to respond with delight, "Yes!  MORE of this!  Much MORE of this!" 

Sin drags us down, and we resolve to ourselves that we are just dreamers. 

Lord, we come to You in need of healing. We're broken in body, mind and spirit. Messed up from the day we were born. Yet You, in Your love, grace and mercy, can mend all wounds, heal all of our hurts and repair all relationships. Come, Lord, and heal all that hemorrhages in our lives. Amen            

     

Monday, February 23, 2015

Lenten Reflections: Violence


"But one of the men with Jesus pulled out his sword and struck the high priest’s slave, slashing off his ear. “Put away your sword,” Jesus told him. “Those who use the sword will die by the sword."

Matthew 26:51 

These words of Christ are much more inclusive than they may appear. Swords don't have to be drawn. Fists not need be clenched in anger. Words can cut far deeper than any physical weapon. The verbal battles that we wage can often turn more violent than entire wars. And the wounds that are inflicted are far worse than amputated limbs, shrapnel scars or paralyzed bodies.

Violence is violence.

Physical. Emotional. Spiritual. 

The antithesis of God's Kingdom.

"Love your enemies", but only if they look like you, sounds like you, smells like you, believes like you, and above all else, agree with you 100%. 

When we put conditions on loving our enemies, we create something that's not really love at all. Love has no conditions. Love cuts through the differences. Love breaks down walls that divide. Love transforms.

As we journey together through Lent, let's remind each other that our words can do more damage than the sword. Let's encourage one another by our words, rather than tearing each other down. And let us remember that everyone is worthy of our love, even the most despised of enemies. In fact, they may need it more than our closest friend.

Lord, You were met with violence of deed as well as word. Help us to do away with all violence in our lives; whether physical, emotional or spiritual. Pacify our actions, words and hearts that we may live in peace with all. 

In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen                

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Lenten Reflections: First Sunday of Lent

"Show me your ways, Lord,
    teach me your paths.
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
    for you are God my Savior,
    and my hope is in you all day long."


Psalm 25:4-5

Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust.

The path that we find ourselves on is filthy. Let's step off for just a while. 

As we look back over the first week of Lent, we see that the ashes are still settling. They settle on you and they settle on me. They settle on everything around us. The ashes mock us as we stand naked; humiliated at the broken and dirty nature of our existence without Christ. They remind us of death, and that it stands ready to eagerly greet each one of us for services rendered. But pride is quick to build a false facade that shields us from the realities of the mess that we are. And pride fuels the fire that makes a fist and declares, "I'm better than you!" Rather than picking up a broom, we fight over the mess that the ashes have made.

Break time.

But don't be so quick to pull out the cleaning supplies! We're just beginning our journey and there's plenty of  filth to come! You think we're dirty now? We're going to need plenty of soap when this journey's over!

Today is Sunday. Today is the first Sunday of Lent. Today we stop and rest. Today we leave the cleaning until tomorrow. Put your broom down for now. Today we feast!

This is a filthy journey, but let's not forget that Christ leads the way, and in Him there's no room for the ashes of Wednesday. No place for filth. 

Through Christ, through His Spirit, He reveals to us a path that is waiting of each of us. It's not a path of dirt, rocks and dying earth. It's a path of life, perfection and peace.

We're are on this path together.

We're on our way to Resurrection, and by the time we get there, we'll have no need to carry these ashes with us any longer. Today is a prelude of what's to come. This Sunday is temporary. Easter Sunday is eternal.

May you find your peace today. Tomorrow we will continue our journey, and trust me; it's going to get worse.

Lord, today we rest. Today we find our joy in you. Let Your love cover us this day. Let the joy of heaven rain down upon us and give us peace. You are our compassion. You are our peace. You are our joy. Comfort us in the mess that we're in and give us strength, endurance and perseverance for the journey that's ahead of us. Amen.