Saturday, February 28, 2015

I'll try to do better...

I'm not doing very well at my Lenten practice.  I forgot yesterday until very late, so I thought I would do two today.  I forgot again.  So, maybe I'll do one tomorrow since everything is snowed under here. 

I'll try to do better, of course I am reminded of the immortal words of Master Yoda, "Do or do not, there is no try..."  It's one of my favorite sayings that I tend to share with anyone who tells me they will "try."  Particularly, if I feel it seems to be an empty promise. 

My efforts to do better, come with all the best intentions though.  I just know my tendency to procrastinate.  What I can promise, however, is to keep making an effort.

For today though, I will leave you with this thought from St. Francis of Assissi

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.

O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.


Thursday, February 26, 2015


In many parts of the U.S., there is snow, ice, sleet, freezing rain, and all around yucky weather.  The sky is gray and the ground is hard.  I'm ready for warmer weather, buds sprouting, and sun.  Of course, we have to go through the winter to get to the spring.

As much as I want to hurry through the cold, I am reminded of words of wisdom my mother would say when I would wish something would come to pass, "Quit wishing your life away."  I did not fully appreciate this as I do now that I am older.  My children have been born, were children, teens, and are now young adults.  I have aged -- some days more gracefully than others.  I have learned, and soon I will be graduating--again.  But it isn't always just education from books and school, I have life experience as well.  I hope this all means that I have a certain amount of wisdom. 

Life is meant to be lived, one day at a time.  We should enjoy or at least experience life every day.  The ups and downs are what make us who we are, and learning from these things is what gives us life experience, wisdom.  At times we would like to avoid the pain, but it is the winter that makes me appreciate the warmth of the sun that much more.  We appreciate the ups in our life, because of the down times. 

Romans 5:3-5.  "And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us."

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

My View is Limited

I do not know many people who enjoy walking in the dark.  Most of the time we stumble around, stubbing our toes and knocking our shins.  We prefer to clearly see where we are going and any obstacles in our path.  

While we can flip a switch to light the room, we cannot do the same with our future or understanding spiritual truths. There are folks who claim to see clearly in the dark--maybe they think they can--maybe they do not know what the world looks with the light on. 

1 Corinthians 13:12 tells us "We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!" (The Message)

We may be squinting trying to see through the dimness of this world, but God sees things clearly. We will too one day, but until then we can trust in the One who sees clearly until that day when we can see. 

My Covenant

You may be familiar with the Covenant Prayer

Covenant Prayer in the Wesleyan Tradition
I am no longer my own but yours.
Put me to what you will, rank me with whom you will. 
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed for you or laid aside for you,
Exalted for you or brought low for you.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things
To your pleasure and disposal.

And now, glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit
You are mine and I am yours.  So be it.
And the covenant now made on earth.
Let it be ratified in heaven.  Amen.

I find as I repeat this prayer, a couple of lines stand out to me.  "Rank me with whom you will," "laid aside for you," and "let me have nothing."  These lines are tough to pray--God might think I'm serious.  (Just kidding.  Tell me you haven't had the same thoughts.)  I am also curious that doing is paired as a counterpoint to suffering

As I think about my ministry over the years, I find that my suffering is often associated with doing.  Either not doing something someone thinks I should, or doing something someone thinks I shouldn't.  At times it feels like a no win situation.  Being able to stay grounded in God helps keep me from being tossed about like a ship in a storm.  The Covenant prayer helps me to remember that it isn't about me, it is about God.  So be it.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Less about Me

As I mentioned in my previous post on Ash Wednesday, I should probably think about why it is so important for me to make sure others begin Lent well, while I tend to be "late" getting into Lenten practices.  It is very simply that I see Lent as a time to be less about me.  If I think more about others, then I have little time to think about me.  Yet, I want others to have a meaningful start to Lent, because it is such an important time to me.  A time to look honestly at ourselves, in all our mortality and fallibility, yet in light of the eternal promise of resurrection.  It is a time we can put aside self to grow closer to God and deepen our discipleship.  Join with me as we seek to observe a holy Lent.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Ash Wednesday

No, I am not trying to sneak this in as if it is Ash Wednesday.  I did think it would be good to reflect on Ash Wednesday and the beginning of the Lenten season as a way of getting into my Lenten practice--to blog daily (except Sundays) through Lent. 

Ash Wednesday is generally one of the busiest days of the year for me.  You would think it would be Christmas Eve or Easter or some other high holy moment in the Christian year--no Ash Wednesday.  I see Ash Wednesday as the day that sets the tone for the whole season of Lent.  Lent is a time of repentance, of reflection, of looking at ourselves and our relationship with God honestly--no sugar coating or rationalizing or hiding--just us raw and vulnerable with God. 

I find it interesting that we often do not like looking in the mirror of our souls.  What is it we see?  What is it we are afraid of?  All of this comes to the surface to be cleansed and healed during the season of Lent.  We walk through the valley of the shadow toward the day of Resurrection.  It is...intimidating.

I am so busy preparing for the evening Ash Wednesday service, because I feel that in order to set the right tone, the service should be prayed over, thought out, with a specific aim of preparing those in attendance for Lent.  It isn't that the usual Sunday morning service doesn't have a specific focus or isn't prayed over--it is.  But the Sunday morning service happens every Sunday.  The format rarely changes, it is comfortable and predictable.  It isn't that Christmas and Easter aren't intentional or prayed over--they are.  But these services tend to be traditional, so while not every week, every year there are similarities--including the scriptural text.  Ash Wednesday, however, while every year, comes with more thought of what those in attendance need to come fully into right relationship with God.  What will begin their journey in such a way that they are inspired to continue it?

For the past several years, I have incorporated a time of prayer, meditation, and reflection, including prayer stations.  I have typically had four, but this year I added six more.  In the past, I have taken these stations down following the Ash Wednesday service, but this year I have placed them in a room near the sanctuary.  These stations will be left up all Lent long, open and waiting for those who need to renew their commitment to observing a holy  Lent. 

It is my prayer, as I worked to set these stations up, making sure everything necessary was provided for, that those who visit these stations--maybe once, maybe several times--will connect with God in a real and meaningful way.  That they will begin to see themselves--the good and the bad--through God's eyes.  That they will make the necessary changes in their lives, in their attitudes, and in their hearts to grow in their discipleship and draw closer to God. 

My prayer and my practices tend to be for others and their relationship with God.  Maybe I will explore why that is in future posts.  Blessings for a holy Lent.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Time to Get Back to It

It has been almost a year since I last posted.  It isn't that I have not been writing.  I have been doing a great deal of writing--my doctoral paper is finished.  I found out yesterday I will be graduating this May.  I hope to use some of this work for future publishing purposes, so I thought now is a good time to get back to this blog.

This happens to coincide with the beginning of Lent.  I would say I am giving up school work for Lent, but that would not be quite right.  I still have to make sure that the pages are formatted just so and the other minor details associated with preparing a doctoral paper for publication.  So, I thought I would write for Lent.  I am already two days behind.  This is pretty usual for me--getting a late start on Lenten practices.  Ash Wednesday consumes my time entirely, and then yesterday--well yesterday, I was celebrating.

I will attempt to keep up with blogging daily, Monday-Saturday, for the rest of Lent.  Who knows?  Maybe this will become a regular practice, and I will continue it.  Lent is good for developing good habits such as study or meditation and to end bad habits such as over indulging or negativity.  So, my practice this year will be to offer a Lenten reflection/meditation each day.  I hope somehow God uses this blog to speak to you.  Blessings for a Holy Lent!