Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Ran across a quote in another blog (Andrew Sullivan's on the The Daily Beast) that I thought was profound.  It speaks to the complicated process of loss, closure and grieving.  Here is the post from Sullivan's blog:

Jody Lynee Madeira unravels it in Killing McVeigh, a new book about the execution of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh and the aftermath:
First, closure is most affirmatively not what contemporary culture says it is -- absolute finality, in the sense of such colloquial phrases as "over and done with," "dealt with," "put behind one's self," "let bygones be bygones," "forgive and forget." Closure is not a state of being, a quality, or even a realization. If closure exists at all, it must be as a process, a recursive series of adjustments that a self makes in response to external, often institutional developments. ... At some point in our constant procession through response and readjustment, we come to a state of awareness that can conclude an event in our lives. This point marks are awareness of an ongoing stasis and is an ending of sorts, even if it is not a "happy" one, even if sorrow, anger, trauma persist. From this perspective, one's ability to state that there is no closure is itself a closure.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

So you thought Romans was just too theological!

Paul's letters to the Romans has some pretty deep and theologically challenging passages. Grace and works., why the Jewish people of his time of which Paul was one didn't respond as he hoped to the gospel message, just to name two. So it's a book that sometimes scares people off from reading it.

But right in the middle of the book Paul moves from the complicated arguments and theological struggles to a beautiful series of verses that sound more like Proverbs.

Romans 12:9-21 Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord." No, "if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Simple, straight forward, powerful kingdom ethics. Live life this way and the ripple effect will be tremendous. A high calling for which I know I need abundant grace to even come close.

Take one of these phrases and try living it for a week and see how often it is a struggle but also notice how much difference it makes in your life and the lives of others. Lent is approaching. This makes a great daily set of verses as a companion to take to Jerusalem and the cross.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Why are you cast down my soul?

Psalm 42 has some beautiful imagery. The thirsting soul who is like a deer wandering in the desert seeking water. The thundering river cataracts calling to the deep loneliness of the soul. The overwhelming feeling of despair and the cry for God who is the only rock where there is refuge in the midst of the emotional deluge.

The other lectionary passages for the day remind of reasons and solutiones for our loneliness: Genesis 3 tells of rebellion done for the seeking of pleasure and the inevitable blame game that follows. John 1 sends us a prophet to remind us we need to repent of our rebellion. Hebrews 2 reminds us that we hold a great mystery to whom we can turn when we do feel so alone.

Loneliness can be overwhelming. It can also be a reminder that God does not leave us alone. The Spirit is closer than we realize even when our souls are pierced.

When my soul is cast down, O Lord, remind me of Your Presence.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New beginnings

Psalm 98 tells us to sing a new song to the Lord! The first day of the year brings all sorts of plans in the lives of many for changes and new beginnings. Each morning can even bring hope for a new day and plans to make needed improvements.

God's radical gift of grace to each of us in the ultimate in starting over. It is outlandish. Past sinners are forgiven. We stand loved and accepted fully by God. Too often we don't believe it for ourselves or others, but it is really that amazing.

As you begin 2012, understand that God's love for you is beyond measure. God's grace is overwhelming. This can be a new beginning no matter the past.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Praying for Peace

It's a good season to pray for peace. Those of us who call ourselves Christian serve the one who came to bring peace. Heard recently on an NPR report that research shows that the percentage of life loss to war and violence is declining in the world -- even if media reports don't always reflect that. Our troops are coming home from Iraq. Let's pray Afghanistan is soon as well. And let's pray for those regions.

My son shared a Youtube link with me that I really enjoyed. Matisyahu is a Jewish reggae musician! Good message! Enjoy as you pray for peace.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Patient Advent

I am not by nature a patient person. And yet there it was in one of the lectionary passages this week (2 Peter 3:8-15a) -- God waits on judgement because God is patient and awaits the changing of human hearts. And those words in Peter are not written to the world at large, but to people in the church. God is slow in coming for judgment to give the readers of the letter a chance to repent.

So if God can be patient, I suspect God expects the same of me. God wants me to be patient with others who seem to make the same mistakes over and over (yea, I know, look in the mirror). God wants me to be patient with family, with friends, with the person driving too slow on the highway, with the tired clerk at the store, with the customer rep from the cable company, with the interruptions that delay the sermon being written.

It's very hard to do this time of year -- be patient -- and yet that is what God wants.

Monday, November 28, 2011

An Advent Bucket List

I was reading an Advent devotional last week when I ran across a question that is commonly asked but it struck in the setting of preparing for Advent. "What would you do today if you knew Jesus was coming back in the next 24 hours." I suspect we have all been asked that question. Evangelists love to to use it as a challenge to those who aren't followers of Jesus. But it's a worthwhile question to ask Christians as well.

I immediately thought of the film The Bucket List. The movie centers on 2 men with terminal cancer who set out to do all those things they wanted to do in life but put off. What if we as Christians carried Advent bucket lists -- things I want to do in service to God's reign in the world before either I meet God or Jesus returns?

Many of those items might be very small and that's good -- Jesus spoke of the power of yeast and mustard seeds. Some might be the larger projects that will take consistent time and commitment and that's good also. What would you put on your Advent bucket list?