Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Holy Wednesday--No Longer My Own

I recently learned of singer/songwriter, Adam Wheatley, and I can't seem to stop listening to his cd's. Depending on the day, I usually find one that I keep playing over and over. This doesn't happen to me very often. In fact, the last time it happened, it was Todd Agnew's Better Questions CD. (Which is still a favorite.) Well, last Friday, I heard Adam's song "Roses and Nails" again...and again...and again...and again...I can't stop listening to it, and I'm not sure why. (Except that it's so powerful and good and true and...) It says:

I saw my life as I had planned it, so I took it from the Giver's hand.
Then I buried it deep in the ground.
I trusted men instead of conscience.
I put hope in what my eyes could see.
Then You gently reminded me that it's easier to sleep than to dream.

So lay me on a bed of roses or lay me on a bed of nails.
Rest will find my eyes weary, searching for a place to land.

The illusion of a better story has fed me lies and called me friend.
I have overcome the smoke and the ashes to settle into You again.

So lay me on a bed of roses or lay me on a bed of nails.
Rest will find my eyes weary, searching for a place to land.

What other source can I find that leads me to a freedom and life.

So lay me on a bed of roses or lay me on a bed of nails.
Rest will find my eyes weary, searching for a place to land.

Yesterday, I was cranky. I had myself on my mind way too much. But today. Today is a new day. God's mercies are NEW EVERY morning. I've been reminded (thankfully) that it's still not about matter how much I try to make it so. Today, I'm thankful. I'm thankful for fellow believers (past and present) who remind me of what's good and important and real.

So, today, I listen to Roses and Nails, and I pray John Wesley's Covenant Prayer:
I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed for thee or laid aside for thee, exalted for thee or brought low for thee.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, thou art mine, and I am thine.

So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven.


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Holy Tuesday--Feeling Cranky

I don't feel good today. I've been coughing and hacking for three days, and I'm finding that I'd rather be about anywhere else. Sometimes I wonder if my efforts are all in vain, and I ask myself "Am I really making a difference?"

As a church worker, much of my time is spent planning events (Mission Trips, Sunday School, Youth Group, Confirmation, etc) to partner with parents in the spiritual formation of the their children. The problem, it seems, is that the rhythms of life no longer move around the church. There was a time when most businesses were closed on Sundays and students NEVER had practices or games or any other school activity on Sundays. Even Wednesdays were quiet outside of church activities. This made it easy to plan and coordinate schedules. That's no longer the case, and now we're too accustomed to getting whatever we want whenever we want that we'd ever be able to adjust to not getting gas or groceries on Sundays. I've lamented with friends in ministry for years about this, but nothing changes.

I don't get why it's okay for the drama teacher to say you can't miss rehearsal or you're not in the play, or for the coach to say if you miss practice you don't play; but, it's not okay for God or the church to place any demands on our lives. It's a double standard, and I'm afraid our faith is getting the short end of the stick.

In response, I believe the church is watering down the Gospel...and that's no good for anyone, least of all the Kingdom. We have to stop worrying about making financially supporting members, big buildings, new screens, new pews, church buses and the biggest Vacation Bible School. We need to start making disciples. Being a Christian is not a "Get out of Hell" free pass. To say, "I'm a Christian" is to live like Jesus Christ, that is to love one another.

And loving someone isn't about being nice. Loving someone is active, humbling, and self-sacrificing. Loving someone is a choice. It's not something magical or something we fall into. Love is intentional. God created us on purpose. God chooses to love us. And God is active in the world--not just on Sundays and Wednesdays. Every day is sacred.

Maybe our 24/7 lifestyles are actually good for the church, because it's going to require more intentionality on the part of Christians. Maybe I should stop lamenting and start loving, because good or bad, this is the way we live. So, if I can get myself off my mind long enough, I can love others. I can intentionally practice my faith--in worship, in Bible study, in prayer, in life. And the church needs to provide multiple opportunities for worship and study--recognizing that all days are sacred.

To that end, we have no less than 8 worship opportunities between today and Easter at the UMC in Chillicothe, plus small groups, and a fellowship dinner. I'm imagining your church is offering multiple opportunities also. After all, it's Holy Week...but aren't they all?

Monday, March 29, 2010

A Confession, Holy Monday 2010

I've decided to try to blog everyday as part of my Holy Week preparations. Blogging helps me to explore my thoughts and reflect on my relationship with God. Lately, I've been nearly overwhelmed with thoughts. I imagine I have enough material for weeks of conversation running through my mind right now, yet at the root of all these thoughts is living faithfully.

Faithful(a): steady in allegiance or affection, reliable, true to fact or standard

Lent is supposed to be a time of intentional devotion--giving up, giving out, taking in. Pastor David Israel talks about creating margins in our lives, he says, "I'm choosing to think about fasting as what I gain rather than what I give up. When I fast, I am creating space to be in conversation with God." Well...if this is what Lent is about, I must confess. This Lent, I have failed. I have been steady in my allegiance to schedules and calendars and commitments in the name of God, but not so steady in my actual allegiance to God.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me...a sinner.

In spite of my failure, God is faithful:
Psalm 33:4
For the word of the LORD is right and true; he is faithful in all he does.

Psalm 36:5
Your love, O LORD, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies.

Psalm 86:15
But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.

Psalm 89:1
I will sing of the LORD's great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations.

Psalm 89:8
O LORD God Almighty, who is like you? You are mighty, O LORD, and your faithfulness surrounds you.

Psalm 92:1-3
It is good to praise the LORD and make music to your name, O Most High, to proclaim your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night, to the music of the ten-stringed lyre and the melody of the harp.

Psalm 108:4
For great is your love, higher than the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies.

Psalm 115:1
Not to us, O LORD, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness.

Psalm 143:1
O LORD, hear my prayer, listen to my cry for mercy; in your faithfulness and righteousness come to my relief

Lamentations 3:22-23
Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

Romans 3:3-4
What if some did not have faith? Will their lack of faith nullify God's faithfulness? Not at all!

1 Corinthians 1:9
God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.

1 Corinthians 10:13
No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

1 John 1:9
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Thank you, God, that my lack of faithfulness will not nullify Yours.