Friday, September 27, 2013

The unexpected

There is something that is burning to be written...something pulling me inside as if I need to say something but to be honest I don't feel as though I have anything important to write or to say aloud.  

And yet....

there is a yearning that is pulling me to the keys to express something that is lingering within my very being.

All I can really think to say is:  God you are incredible.  You are beyond my wildest dreams.  Holy and most stunning creator I am thankful that you said yes to brining me into this world.  King of All, I am astounded to find you lurking and waiting for me in the unexpected places of my life.  Rock and Sustainer your presence in my life, your longevity and breath supersede any expectation that I have in  my frail little mind.

There is a way of living and being.  

A way of leaning into a presence......
         A way of accepting that which cannot be explained.....
             A way of opening yourself to the truth of who you are and who you were created to be......
                 A way of saying that in spite of all the crazy things that I do that disappointment myself  
                 and others I can be whole and forgiven......
                      A way of letting go of the pressures of accomplishment and comparison and saying I 
                      good...I am worthy......
                           A way of accepting that revival can come and transformation is a gift.

I have been reminded it is when I take up this way of living and being that I have the 'peace that surpasses all understanding'.  When I sit in the presence of the Holy over the glamor of the world...when I accept redemption over failure....when I claim my worthiness in the midst of my brokenness...and when truly give up my own expectations and proclaim 'have thine own way Lord' is when the unexpected rises to greet me.

Yes, there has been a new seed planted within and one I commit to tending to and it is was of revival and resurrection so that I may fully appreciate all the unexpected love and grace that is given to me daily.  

Monday, September 9, 2013

Silent Night...Holy Night

This morning I found my way back to my normal routine.

A routine that includes waking up Emma, preparing my lunch, making sure that everyone has breakfast and heading to the gym.

I've been back from a pilgrimage to the Holy Lands for four days now.  I've stood in the pulpit that God has given me here at Morton Memorial UMC to proclaim the Good News.  I've walked through the jet-lag and unlike my fellow pilgrims I was 'back' yesterday. I've gone to get groceries and put them all away.  I have planned our meals for the week.  I made sure that all the laundry was washed, dried, ironed and put away.   Today should not have been any different, it should have not have been as strange as it was.

But this morning was different.  The silence of the morning, the dew still hanging on the grass and the sun slowing rising above our sweet mountain gave way to something greater.

While I was riding the stationary bike at the gym I simply put my iPod on shuffle.  I haven't been to the gym in a month now due to family vacation and the pilgrimage to the Holy Lands.  As the hills rose on the screen before me and the resistance on the bike gained strength.  I found myself struggling.  I found myself shaking my head because it was as if I had never ridden the course that I had chosen.  The songs coming through my headphones weren't helping. The songs weren't taking my mind off the hills that lie before me.

Then as the iPod made a new selection, there came the soft tone of a song that I know by heart.  It was a song that might have seemed out of place on this September morning, but for me it wasn't out of place at all.  I turned up the volume closed and eyes and I was there in the words, singing in full voice (in my head of course!!).

Silent Night
          Holy Night
                All is calm
                     All is bright

Just a few days ago, we stood in the cave of the Church of the Nativity.  A few days ago we raised our voices in the hustle and bustle of all that was going on and remembered the holy night in which Jesus entered this world.

There in the Church of the Nativity we were reminded of the pressure that must have been upon Mary and Joseph as they came into the city.  A city that was full, packed to the brim (just like we were as pilgrims standing so close we could feel the heat radiating off of one another) and full of people trying to find their routine in the midst of being the Savior being born.

This morning as I rode the stationary bike, in my ordinary place I was reminded that every night is a holy night, every day has the awakening of calmness and that every single day no matter what the routine of my life brings that there is a bright and holy star lighting the way for me.

Today doesn't seem so strange anymore. I don't have the struggle to find the calmness or the peace. I don't have to feel like a failure when the resistance begins to press in.  I don't have let the overwhelming to-do list take away the calm.  

The Star, the holiness and the calm are all awaiting me.

Today I choose to touch the Star and to stand in the holiness of the bright and beautiful morning.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Making your way home

Making your way home 

I wrote this on the way home from the Holy Lands while I was sitting in the darkness of the early morning on the plane.

Home is an interesting word. It is definitely where your heart is where your heart is where your soul is filled and where you find your foundation.

I have missed Emma  and Luke in more ways than I can count. Yet in the midst of wanting to be at home with them, I have been reminded that my home is so much broader and deeper than the two of them.

My home is found when I lean into the power of a creator that has spanned the ages.

Home is found as I push against a rock so strong that it cannot be moved. 

Home is the safety that abounds when the storms of life are ranging all around you and the Savior raises his voice to calm the seas just for you.

Home brings you back into community even in the midst of not always deserving it.

Home is the wisdom found in others.

Home comes when we offer all of who we are to a Father who embraces us and instantly offers a new set of clothes that offer warmth and protection.

Home is offered as a our name is spoken to come out of the darkness of the caves that have enveloped our lives; to be released from the things that have killed our souls and find a new life.

Home is found in our God who is so large , so incredible that he gives the promise of  many nations through the servant Abraham.  A home that expresses comes three distinctive ways of coming to him.

Home is the celebration of pentecost arising everyday as persons from around his globe come to worship, live, play and worship together.

Home is found in a Savior that says have thine own way lord.

Home is given when strangers are willing to open themselves to becoming one in Christ.

As the plane heads across the sea returning me to my precious family and the home that awaits me I must acknowledge that I have a new home. A home that I never expected to envelope me in such powerful ways;  but now  breathes new life within my soul.  I have a home that I long for in a different way, a home that I can come to at any moment within my day and one that will surround me in grace and forgiveness   Holy One, thank you for the pilgrimage to the home of of my faith for the nourishment that you laid before me as I dined with you  Thank you for the pilgrimage home to my family who await me with open arms.  

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Death to life

Our time is quickly fading here in the land that is full of presence and peace.

Our minds are disengaging from the awe of that which is before us and turning to the things of home.

My heart is heavy today as we make our way home from Bethany and the Dead Sea.  The drive home from the Dead Sea means that tomorrow is our last day here in the land where my Savior grew into a young man....grapled with the pressures of coming of age.....the place where he wasn't afraid to reach out and touch someone to heal the brokenness that lived within them....the place where he offered to be the living water for any who would want to drink of it and never thirst again.

We have all experienced moments of deep excavation of the soul during these days here in the land of our faith.  Moments where the rock and the dirt in our lives needed to be slowly and painstakingly brushed away.  In the midst of that deep soul scraping moments that we have experienced Jesus comes to us today and offers us an extravagent love that cannot be contained.  The calling us forth from our graves and releasing us from that which binds us is breathtaking.  

Our voices vibrated in unison as we worshiped at the chapel within the church at Bethany.  Tucked away in the top of the church we raised our voices and a sense of belonging together fell upon us. Fr. Frank walks with the heart and teaching of Christ and today challenged us to open our lives to fully receiving the love that Jesus pours upon us and then pouring that love upon the world around us.  Giving of ourselves in such a way that it is intimate and sensual as the anointing that Mary offered him.

There was an offerieng of life within the anointing...there is a death ath must occur in order for us to celebrate the life in which Jesus so graciously pours upon our lives.

Where is God offereing you a new anointing today?  Where is there growth occuring where death once reigned?

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Agony and silence


The sun may have been beating down upon us but in the shadow of the Western Wall all things seem to fall away.  Our Jewish brothers and sisters were coming before their day of work or school began to pray and lift up their prayers to God himself.

I love the Wall.
I love touching the foundation of my faith.

I sat watching and listening as so many others experienced the holiness of the Wall for the first time ever.  In the listening and the watching I was drawn to a prayer book. I wanted to hold it and let the words of the Psalms flow upon me. I wanted to hold the words of Isaiah and remember the sacrifice that he was willing to make for the One that he so deeply believed in.  I sat holding a prayer book filled with symbols in which I did not understand; in which I could not read and yet there in the midst of it all was God.

The Rock of my salvation was before me.

The Strong Tower has  protected me from my enemies.

The Holy of Holies laid the foundation upon which I could build my life.

As I made my way to the Wall, to the Rock I could feel the tears welling up within me. The space was tight as people were pressed up against of the Wall.  We were all gathered in community, in one body wanting something so powerful that all we could do was to use one another for support as we leaded into the mighty strength.

The stones are worn from the millions of pilgrims who make their way to let their prayers rise like insence.

We walked the Palm Sunday road into the garden. A garden of olive trees dot the landscape and there we heard Jesus ask us why we fall asleep. As the sweat fell from my skin the words 'his sweat fell like blood' pulled me into the words in which I have the privilege of speaking as I celebrate the sacrament of Holy Communion.  The silence fell upon us over and over....the weight of the carrying the burdens in our own lives....we felt the disappoitments that we keep hidden away came pouring out.

The garden......the silence.....the agnoy

Monday, September 2, 2013

He is Risen...he is risen indeed!

As we gathered on the terrace of the dining room for breakfast a gentle breeze blew across our souls. While eating breakfast the sun shone in full glory as the orange ball crept into the sky. Coffee, awe and goodness filled our breakfast tables as we prepared for the journey down the Via Dolorsa  into Calvary By 7:00am we were praying the stations along the Via; the way of the cross.The Old City was in full swing this morning with shops opening, children rushing off to school and parents making their way to work.  Each station brought a different emotion as to the weight that Jesus carried for us as he walked the hill to Calvary. The movement through the city heightened our awareness that as the cross was forced upon Jesus' back to carry through the city the people would have been going about their daily lives.  They wouldn't have stopped, if they did they did not linger on his presence they simply noticed that another criminal was being led through the city. The Via Dolorsa leads to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.The Church of the Holy Sepulcher is the place in which we come to experience the rock of Calvary and the tomb found empty.  The darkness inside the church (you must ask your loved one about this church for it is far too much to describe within this simple blog) led us to bedrock in which the crosses would have been placed.  We climbed these steep stairs that are worn with deep indentations of where so many persons have journeyed to merely reach out and touch the spot where their Savior died.  The steep steps give way to a dark, humid area. There below a very ornate altar each of us knelt  down ever so gently and through an opening the size of the average forearm to touch he top of a bedrock.;A rock so smooth and so cool and yet filled with the warmth of a new life. Each pilgrim took their time touching the thanks for the new life. Ah...but then you go to the tomb. The slab is so cold, so smooth but there in the tiny little cave of an area you feel the presence as you lean in placing your hand upon the slab touching and sensing what it might have been like when Mary went to pay her respects on the first day of the week.  He is not there...Jesus has risen he has risen indeed!! It was a morning of much silence and personal reflection.