Lent Day 31… Love Is Little, Love Is Low

In a world so torn apart by rivalry, anger, and hatred, we have the privileged vocation to be living signs of a love that can bridge all divisions and heal all wounds. —Henri Nouwen

Last night I attended my daughter’s school choir concert. The opening song was a Shaker Hymn called “Love Is Little.” The lyrics stuck with me…

 

Love is little, love is low

Love will make our spirits grow

Grow in peace, grow in light

Love will do the thing that’s right

 

Love is tender, love is… Read More

Lent Day 30… The Space Between The Notes

Religion has accepted the monstrous heresy that noise, size, activity and bluster make a man dear to God. —A.W. Tozer

Sting (yup, Sting—as in the lead singer of the Police) once said…

Silence is disturbing.

It is disturbing because it is the wavelength of the soul.

If we leave no space in our music—and I’m as guilty as anyone else in this regard—then we rob the sound we make of a defining context. It is often music born from anxiety to create more anxiety. It’s as if we’re afraid of leaving space.

Great music is as much about the space between the notes as it is about the notes themselves.

Tina Francis spoke of this at… Read More

Lent Day 29… Like A Toddler Driving A Tractor

“Sensible people, of course, should need only about thirty seconds of careful thought to realize that getting off scot-free is the only way any of us is going to get off at all. But if all we can think of is God as the Eternal Bookkeeper putting down black marks against sinners—or God as the Celestial Mother-in-Law giving a crystal vase as a present and then inspecting it for chips every time she comes for a visit… well, any serious doctrine of grace is going to scare the rockers right off our little theological hobbyhorses.” —Robert Farrar Capon

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One of the strangest things I’ve experienced as a pastor is when good Christian people want to meet with me in order to let me know they are concerned…

We believe in grace and all that, but we think people need to hear about judgment too.

We feel like we’re not hearing enough about sin.

These meetings leave me feeling like I’m in some kind of Christian Twilight Zone where things are bent, strange, confused, and freaky.

I don’t even know where to begin.

You believe in grace and all that, but…? Are you sure you want to put a “but” after grace?

You feel like you’re not hearing enough about sin…?  For the sake of clarification, are you most concerned for yourself—that you need to be called out for the sins you’re currently struggling with, or are you concerned for others in the church—who, in your opinion, need to be called out for the sins they’re struggling with?

The freaky-Twilight-Zone part of these meetings is that they’re always concerned with the sins of other people.

They’re never asking for sermons on spiritual pride. Or on being judgmental. Or on greed or gluttony or laziness…

Oh, the irony.

I have come to recognize that my reactions to the evil I see in the world are rarely in the proper proportion, are rarely aimed in the right direction. Too often, I wield my righteous indignation like a toddler driving a tractor that’s pulling a plow through a field ready for harvest, destroying the fruit and the weeds alike. I want to be less ruinous. I want to cultivate more. —Shawn Smucker

Pope Francis, in his book The Name of God is Mercy, says:

The church does not wait for the wounded to knock on her doors, she looks for them on the streets, she gathers them in, she embraces them, she takes care of them, she makes them feel loved.

Pope Benedict XVI spoke of this… “Mercy is in reality the Gospel message; it is the name of God himself, the face with which he revealed himself in the Old Testament and fully in Jesus Christ.”

Mercy is the divine attitude which embraces, it is God’s giving himself to us, accepting us, and bowing to forgive. Jesus said he came not for the healthy, who do not need the doctor, but for the sick. For this reason, we can say that mercy is God’s identity card. God of Mercy, merciful God.

The love of God exists even for those who are not disposed to receive it: that man, that woman, that boy, or that girl—they are all loved by God, they are all sought out by God, they are in need of blessing.

Be tender with these people. Do not push them away.

 God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger…

He came to put the world right again. —John 3.17

Lent Day 28… Martha Was The Worst

Today’s post is from Sarah Condon’s book Churchy: The Real Life Adventures of a Wife, Mom & Priest

Selected portions from the chapter titled, “Martha Was The Worst” -

People do not want to chastise the lady who is just trying to get the dishes done. I get that. The last thing I want to be told is that my laundry folding is not as valuable as I keep telling myself it is.

There are many moments in my day when the only thing that gets me through hand washing a pacifier is the notion that I am doing the most valuable work. And while this may get the dishes washed, it also has St. Martha’s pathos written all over it.

Every time I talk about the story of Mary and Martha, someone tries to educate me on why I need to be more Team Martha. This has happened so many times that I want to… Read More

Lent Day 27… When It’s Uncool And Embarrassing

Pictured above: Joyelle, one of our super-cool youth leaders, making an uncool and embarrassing face. On Wednesday during our youth service, she led the prayer time… and shared about her own struggle with depression.

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To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA) is a non-profit organization created to give hope to anyone struggling with addiction, depression, self-injury, or thoughts of suicide—and seeks to help connect people to treatment centers, support groups, and other resources. It was founded in 2006 by Jamie Tworkowski.

Recently, Jamie wrote… Read More

Lent Day 26… Dirty Laundry

A young couple moved into a new neighborhood. The next morning while eating breakfast, the wife noticed her neighbor hanging out her laundry. She commented:

Those clothes don’t look very clean; maybe she needs better soap.

Her husband looked, but remained silent. For three weeks, every Monday he would hear some version of these same comments. But the following wash day, his wife was surprised to see a nice white wash on the line next door. She commented: “Look, she finally learned how to wash clothes. I wonder who taught her?”

Her husband responded quietly… Read More

Lent Day 25… The Slow Work Of God

The whole culture is telling you to hurry, while the art tells you to take your time. Always listen to the art. —Junot Diaz

Pictured above: that’s John, my father-in-law. He’s the best farmer I know (he grew up on a farm in North Dakota and came to Seattle to work at Boeing). He walks slowly—probably because of a bad hip or a bum knee… but there’s something cool about his slow walk. And even though he’s not super-fast, he grows the biggest onions and the best blueberries of anyone I know. It almost seems as if walking slowly is some kind of requirement for being a great farmer.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin said… Read More

Lent Day 24… Security Is Knowing You Are Not Alone

Charles M. Shulz, the cartoonist who gave us Charlie Brown and Snoopy, said:

I feel a constant gratefulness to God…

for His patience with me and with all of us.

I cannot fail to be thrilled every time I read the things that Jesus said, and I am more and more convinced of the necessity of following him. What Jesus means to me is this: In him we are able to see God, and to understand his feelings toward us.

Recently I published a little series of… Read More

Lent Day 23… On Care For Our Common Home

This beautiful prayer is Pope Francis’ “Laudato si” (On Care For Our Common Home)…

 

All-powerful God, you are present in the whole universe

and in the smallest of your creatures.

You embrace with your tenderness all that exists.

Pour out upon us the power of your love,

that we may protect life and beauty.

Fill us with peace, that we may live

as brothers and sisters, harming no one.

O God of the poor,

help us to… Read More