Sunday, March 31, 2013

Stations of the Cross: Station 15 - The Resurrection

“But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away.  As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.
  “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen!


He is not here. See the place where they laid him.  But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’”


Mark 16:1-8 
Art by Lindsey Leigh - 2006

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Stations of the Cross: Station 14 - Jesus is Buried


 “Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus… With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away.  He was accompanied by Nicodemus… Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it…the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.”
                                                
   John 19:38, 41, & 42 



Cold
Barren of life 
Buried in a
garden tomb.
Like a seed fallen to
the ground.
Waiting to rise.
Rise again.
Lord, help us rise again
after dying with You.
Like You, Jesus
I will rise again. 

Art by Lindsey Leigh - 2006

Stations of the Cross: Station Thirteen - Jesus is Taken Down from the Cross



“But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead…one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water.”
John 19:33 & 34  







Taken from the cross.
You died trusting in
Your Father’s care,
faithful unto death.
Why cannot we trust?
Why is it so hard?
By your death, Lord
Give us an unfailing
trust in You,
knowing that Your
death was not the end. 
Art by Lindsey Leigh - 2006

Friday, March 29, 2013

Stations of the Cross: Station Twelve - Jesus Dies

 


“Jesus said, ‘I am thirsty.’  A jar of wine vinegar was there and they gave him wine.  Jesus said, ‘It is finished!’  With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.”
John 19:28 & 30





 
It is finished.
Death’s finality.
Certain.
God’s servant,
 crushed in sorrow.
Pierced for our offenses.
Shall we not stand
 watching, Lord
mourning the sins
You bear,
rejoicing in the pardon
You bestow?
Art by Lindsey Leigh - 2006

Stations of the Cross: Station 11 - Jesus is Nailed to the Cross



“carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha).  Here they crucified him, and with two others.”
John 19:17 & 18







Nailed to the cross
Hands and feet  
You paid for sin
 Past Present Future
Limitless love

For me
The world
 The ultimate sacrifice was paid.
My sins? My faults?
My life?
Is it only You hanging on the cross,
or me as well?  

Art by Lindsey Leigh - 2006

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Stations of the Cross: Station Nine - Jesus Falls the Third Time



“I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint…My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death.”
Psalm 22:14 & 15







Like water poured out completely.
As a dry dessert.
Your strength gone.
You fall again, as if to the dust
 of death.
By your third fall, Lord
give us courage before
our trials, sufferings  and pain.
Give us patience to go on.
Help us in our need.
Lift us above our weakness.
Art by Lindsey Leigh - 2006 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Stations of the Cross: Station Ten - Jesus is Stripped

 
“They stripped him…and knelt in front of him and mocked him. ‘Hail, king of the Jews!’ they said.  They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again.”
Matthew 27:28 & 30






They divided Your garments
and cast lots for Your clothes.
Stripped of all dignity.
Humiliation
Shame
You had nothing of Your own.
By Your despoilment, Lord
clothe us in Your grace and mercy
which is rich beyond words and
all earthly possessions.
Art by Lindsey Leigh - 2006 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Stations of the Cross: Station Eight - Jesus Meets the Women

 
“A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him.”
Luke 23:27









Women wept as You passed
You comforted them:
Weep not
 for me but for Your
 children.”
May the grace of
this meeting
be kept alive in our hearts, Lord.
Let us weep for humanity.
Those that suffer.
Those that are alone.

Art by Lindsey Leigh - 2006

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Stations of the Cross: Station 7 - Jesus Falls the Second Time

 
“But I am a worm and not a man; scorned by men and despised by the people.  All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads:”
Psalm 22:6 & 7







 Can God fall? 
mighty God
whose hands uphold
all that is?
By Your second fall, Lord
remember how weak we are.
Remember our
helplessness.
Remember our human frailty,
and come to our
Assistance when we fall as well.

Art by Lindsey Leigh - 2006

Lenten Reflections: We


"Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us." - Romans 8:34

"Father, forgive them,..."

Were these words uttered for those laughing at the foot of the cross? Was it intended for the Romans, the Pharisees, Pilate, those who turned their backs on Christ? Was it is reference to the Judas, Herod, Caiaphas?  Those being crucified on His left and right? The Really evil ones? The scum?

"Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing." 

Divine irony stretches over 2000 years, and falls on us today. 

Or does it slap us in the face?

They didn't know what they were doing.

We know exactly what we do.

We lie. We condemn. We spit. We strip. We beat. We whip. We nail. We laugh. We walk away. 

And yet, "Father, forgive them," still applies. Echoed from the cross. Reaching the ears of God the Father.

Lent brings us face to face with the reality that yes, we are forgiven, but we know exactly what we do. We have history on our side, thousands of years of trial and error, and yet we still crucify Him. We still spit on Him. He still beat Him and laugh at His pathetic weakness. In many way, Lent is a mirror. A mirror that reflects through 2000 years and thousands of mile. All the way to Roman America. Lent reveals to us the very uncomfortable reality that we are no different than those that Jesus let off the hook on Good Friday. We are one. Unity, even when it sucks.

Lord, thank you for your forgiveness, even when we know exactly what we're doing. Help us to receive Your forgiveness with open and humble hearts. Help us to give the same forgiveness to each other, even when we know perfectly well the destruction we do to Your Kingdom. Amen


Friday, March 22, 2013

Stations of the Cross: Station 6 - Veronica Wipes Jesus' Face


“whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me…anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward.”
Mark 9:37 & 41  






 Jesus, You struggled in agony.
 But one woman,
breaking away from fear
and the angry crowds,
kindly washed
 Your bleeding face with her
 thin veil.
Something so simple.
A towel. A cup of cold water.
 A loving word. A touch.
Lord,
help me value such small
 things, so great when given
in Your name. 

Art by Lindsey Leigh - 2006

Lenten Reflections: Forgiveness


"Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” - Luke 23:34


Forgiveness. Not always easy. Not always fun. Not always accepted. 

Forgiveness sometimes sucks.

Forgiveness is not easy because forgiveness relinquishes control. To forgive, we have to let go and letting go doesn't come natural to us. We are obsessed with controlling ourselves, others and every situation that intersects our relationships with each other. 

"Trust in the Lord....."  Sure! As long as I get to keep control over every aspect of my life, no problem!

Forgiveness. Control. Power.     

"I refuse to forgive you!"..... Because if I do, she wins.   

"They don't deserve forgiveness because of what they did!"..... Because they need to suffer as well, and if I refuse to forgive them, they'll suffer too.

"How can I refuse him for what he did to me?"..... If I do, I'm weak. I'll feel weak. I'll be perceived as weak. 

Refusing to forgive gives us control, right? It gives us power. We feel strong. And we need that strength to carry us through the pain inflicted on us. 

"You hurt me, now I'm going to hurt you!"

Really?

When we refuse to forgive, it's as if we pour salt on our own wound and expecting it to hurt someone with no wound.

Who really suffers from our lack of forgiveness?

Him? Her? You? Me? Them? Us?

Refusing to forgive doesn't just effect the offender, but the offended as well. It effects those around us and those not even involved. Refusing to forgive effects the collective. The community. Unity is destroyed.

There can be no barriers in unity. There are no barriers in the Kingdom of God.

The Kingdom of God is forgiveness, not holding on to hurts and pain.

The Kingdom of God is unity, not division.

The Kingdom of God is release, not control.

The Kingdom of God is not conditional, but limitless.

As we make our way through Lent, one of the aspects that we focus on is forgiveness; not just the forgiveness that we freely and graciously receive from God, but forgiveness of others. We can't truly embrace Lent while refusing to forgive, and we can't embrace Lent without receiving it as well.

Lord, as You have forgiven us unconditionally, enable us to forgive others unconditionally. As we give forgiveness, help us to receive it as well. Help us to realize that refusing to forgive does not give us control, make us strong and put us above the offender. The pain is only multiplies and unity destroyed. Help us to build unity through unconditional forgiveness for one another. Amen       

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Stations of the Cross: Station 5 - Simon Helps Jesus Carry His Cross

          
“As they led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus.”
Luke 23:26




Simon, coming in from the  fields
pressed to carry Your cross. 
He heard Your cries.
 He felt Your pain.
 Did he sense who You really were?
 That You were more
 than a mere man?
 Have I been pressed
to carry Your cross as well? 
My own cross?
My own suffering?
I’ll walk by Your side, Lord
I’ll carry the cross
until it is finished.
Art by Lindsey Leigh - 2006 

Lenten Reflections: Realistic


"Surely I was sinful at birth,
    sinful from the time my mother conceived me." - Psalm 51:5


The Psalmist came to know what we ignore.  He embraced what we reject. 

His own guilt. His own sin. His own filth. 

He owned what we refuse to buy. 


Ashes 
         to 
             ashes. 
                       Dust 
                               to 
                                   dust.

We are dust. Remember the ashes? 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

"Hey, bro. You've got dirt on your forehead."

"Really? You should see my soul!"  

 While we walk in the fog of the unrealistic, the Pslamist embraced the realistic. 

We are dust. We are filth.

But through Christ, the realistic is embraced and made clean. He doesn't see us though unrealistic eyes. He sees what is real and understands who we are. He didn't ignore our sin; He came to take it away. He came to clean us up. 

The reality of Lent is that Christ didn't come to this planet to judge the filth that we already knew we were covered with; He came to embrace the filth, live in it and give us realistic eyes. He came to bring Heaven to Earth. 

I'm filthy. You're filthy. But through Christ, we come together in complete unity; pure and clean in His Kingdom. The world's kingdoms are dumps, but together we transform this world into a playgrownd. 

Lord, help us to be mercifully realistic in our relationships with one another and with You. Help us to embrace the filth, realizing that through You, we are clean. Help us to transform this stinking dump into the Kingdom that You always had in mind: Heaven on earth. Amen   

 

     


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Stations of the Cross: Station 4 - Jesus Meets His Mother



"Simon said to Mary, His mother: This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that all will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed .  And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”
Luke 2:34




 I can only imagine
Your Mother’s deep love for You, Lord
and imagine her grief at
watching You suffer and die. But it
 is beyond my imagination,
beyond comprehension,
  to contemplate her realization
 that You were her Lord and
 Savior, and the unspeakable
joy of witnessing Your glorious
resurrection.
Art by Lindsey Leigh - 2006

Lenten Reflections: Unrealistic


"...Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things...and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life." - Matthew 16:21

Reality has become relative.

Voyeurism has created a reality that is not real at all. 

Expectations become unrealistic when realty is twisted and warped. 

In a culture inundated with reality TV and social media, reality has become more unrealistic. So much of life is lived with an unrealistic view that when faced with actual reality, we reject it as false. 

Reality was unrealistic to Jesus' disciples. 

Messiah was not a warrior with a sword, but a servant to all.

The Savior of the world was not a King with a crown of Gold, but a poor man, rejected by many.

Redemption did not come with war, but defeat.

Salvation was not found with prestige, but with rejection and isolation.

Freedom did not come from the spilling of the blood of enemies, but in loving them, and treating them better than yourself. 

Reality is sometimes more unrealistic than what we perceive as real. 

What is real is sometimes more abstract than what is clear. 

Lent can seem very unrealistic as we journey through it. We find ourselves walking a dark path, filled with the dirt and filth that is our life, only to be confronted with the light of resurrection. Death leads to life. Sin leads to salvation. Rejection leads to redemption. Darkness leads to light. 

"But take heart!  

We're almost there!  The unrealistic will become reality!

Lord, as we make our way through Lent, we see that much of our lives are lived in the clouds of an unrealistic perspective. What we think is reality is sometimes not real at all. But in You, there is nothing but reality, truth and clarity. Enable us to see life more clearly and more realistic, knowing that it may mean for us to see life more abstract and unrealistic. Amen        

   

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Stations of the Cross - Jesus Falls

Station 3
Jesus Falls

He “made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death - even death on a cross.”
Philippians 2:7 & 8


How strange to see You fall
as anyone does who cannot go on.
When we feel that we cannot take another step.
And yet You rise again,
to take the few steps more that You can.
Jesus,
give Your grace to me
when I fall and
cannot rise on my own.
Lift me to my feet
That I make walk beside You again
Art by Lindsey Leigh - 2006 
 

Lenten Reflections: Expectations


"Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." - Matthew 5:48 

Do we expect to be perfect? Or is this an unrealistic expectation from God?

It's not even 9am, and I've already blown this concept. How about you? How are you IMperfect today?

Greed? Lust? Selfishness? Anger? Hatred? Bitterness? ___________?

Our sense of entitlement can lead to negative expectations.

Negative expectations don't make us better, they make us flawed. Negative expectations put the focus on ourselves, not others. Not God. Not the Kingdom.  Positive expecting makes us perfect.    


"God, I expect you to do this for me!  I deserve it!" = SELF

or

 "God, I expect You to do this! Because You are good!" = GOD

"I expect you to make me happy! I deserve to be happy, dammit!" = SELF

or

"I expect you to make me happy! Because of who you are!" = OTHERS

Expectations, or demands? Joyful anticipation, or selfish lingering?

Negative expectations are an inner driven motivator. Real expectation comes from the external goodness of God and the world around us. 


What we think we deserve and what we come to expect, from ourselves and from others, can easily become one and the same thing.

Fair? 

Right? 

Healthy? 

When we feel entitled, the natural progression is to expect that which we feel entitled to. This becomes unfair to ourselves and others. It's not right. And it's unhealthy to our relationships.

As selfishness is the motivator for entitlement, arrogance breeds expectations.

Lent is the perfect time to meditate on the concept of negative expectations, because it opens the door for us to see just how arrogant we can be.

As we move closer to Easter, let's commit to negatively expect nothing from others, but to EXPECT the best IN others. Let's refuse to negatively expect God to change us because we are entitled, but EXPECT God to transform us because of who He is.

Lord, we expect an awful lot from You and others. Not all of our expectations are positive, in fact, most of them arise from a selfish arrogance. Help us to learn to expect from an outside perspective, not inner. Help us to expect because of the goodness in others and You, not selfishness. Amen. 

Monday, March 18, 2013

Stations of the Cross - Jesus Carries His Cross

Station 2 

Jesus Carries His Cross  

“So the soldiers took charge of Jesus.  Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgatha).”
John 19:16 & 17






Led to Calvary,
carrying the cross
By Yourself.
Alone.
Abandon. 
Yet was the cross only Yours,
or was it mine to carry as well?
Jesus, by Your cross
make me strong and able
to take up the cross that I
 must bear each day.
I meditate on the wood.
The weight.
The pain.
I carry it with you, Lord.
I won’t let go.
Art by Lindsey Leigh - 2006  


Lenten Reflections: Entitlement


"....they crucified Jesus...and they cast lots to divide his clothing." - Luke 22:33-34
 
"Mine!"

Even the youngest of children have an entitlement mentality.   

We want what is OURS.  We want what we deserve. We want what we earned. We want to keep what we've worked for. 

"It's mine!"

A sense of entitlement permeates the culture that we live in. One of the disadvantages of a Capitalistic society is that it has the propensity to create selfishness. And one of the after effects of selfishness is a false sense of security. With the tightest of grips, we hold on to what is OURS. Our "stuff" makes us feel safe.

The poor remain poor.

The wealthy remain wealthy.

We keep what's ours.

Christ lived a life of poverty. He came into this world with nothing. He left this world with nothing. Even after His last breath was breathed, the last few possessions were taken from Him.

While His example was one of humility, selflessness and sacrifice, Western Christianity has not exactly followed His lead. Our possessions become weights around our necks that keep us from fulfilling what Christ has called us to do. A culture of over-consumption has made even the poorest in America wealthy by the worlds standards.

Instead of building God's Kingdom for all, we have chosen to build little kingdoms for ourselves.

If we could narrow down the main message of Lent, it would be sacrifice. We sacrifice in order to share oneness with Christ, while reflecting on the sacrificial life that He lived. We sacrifice so that our hearts become more open to sin; sin that was covered over by sacrificial death.

Nothing is really OURS to begin with. When we see life from this perspective, OURS becomes THEIRS. THEIRS becomes GOD'S, and in divine irony, GOD'S becomes OURS.

Lord, in a culture  of consumption and possession, we find it difficult to let go of what we feel we are entitled to. In doing so, we don't reveal Your Kingdom, but build kingdoms for ourselves. Help us to let go of the entitlement mentality and focus more our releasing more of what we have. We thank You for Your blessings and ask You to help us take better care or what You're given us. Amen  


 

 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Stations of the Cross - Jesus is Condemned

Station 1
Jesus is Condemned

“‘Here is your king’,  
Pilate said to the Jews.  But they shouted, ‘Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!’… Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified.”
John 19:14-16


“Behold your king,” says Pilate.
“Away with him,” The people shout.
And they sent you to your death.
Lord Jesus, Word made flesh,
Light for this dark world,
Light my path
In times that I feel alone
Rejected
Condemned
As this journey begins,
As you stand before me,
 condemned by the world,
may love compel my every
 step, as I walk with you
Art by Lindsey Leigh - 2006