Showing posts from March, 2011

The Divine Requirements

And what does the Lord require of you? This is the million dollar question, isn't it? Listen to what Scripture says in Micah 6:6-8: " 'With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?' He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?" Like the inquisitor, I want to know what it is that I can bring before the Lord to please God.   What sacrifice can I offer?   What prized possession can I give?   What pain can I inflict upon myself to honor God? What does God want?   What does God require? God wants me.   God desires me to be a partner in God's kingdom work in the here and now.   God want

Lent - Listening for a Whisper in the Silence

H ow he longed for release from the pressure.  How he wanted all of the madness to cease. Everyone wanted a piece of him.  It seemed as though everyone and everything wanted to destroy him.  Wallowing in the mud of self-doubt and stuck in the mire of self-pity, he retreated from life; from true self; from the divine call.  A move that he thought would lead to his ultimate freedom brought him into a deep cavernous prison instead.  There he sat in the recesses of his personal darkness with head in hands.  The shadows were so thick, so ravenous they threatened to swallow his very soul.  He was certain that he would never again see the light of day.  He knew this is how it would be and how it would end. Abruptly, Light beckoned him to the mouth of the cave of self-abasement.  Walking out of the cave, he stood in the clearing completely vulnerable.  He blinked back the pain as his eyes adjusted to his new surroundings.  At that moment, a violent wind, ripped through the mountain stripping t

Lent as a time for worship

In a staff meeting last week one of my colleagues said, "It's not always easy to practice."  He was talking about our amazing Sanctuary Choir's commitment to practicing their craft even when they do not much feel like doing so.  Their practice shows in the manner in which they offer their gifts and talents each week as a part of the worship life of the congregation.  It takes a tremendous amount of discipline to live into this kind of commitment.  Even though my colleague's words were geared toward those who are practicing crescendos and dissonant chords, they are also meaningful for faith practices.  It is indeed not always easy to practice the faith.  This is especially true when you do not feel much like doing so. Getting up and going to worship is a difficult thing when you are in college.  Early classes throughout the week and late nights on the weekends make it incredibly tough.  And you lose even more of your motivation when you do go and feel as though you

Ash Wednesday - A Prayer Exercise

All around the world Christians from every walk of life went on a pilgrimage to their church or cathedral to walk down the aisle at the appointed time, wait in line near the front of the sanctuary and receive the imposition of ashes on their forehead in the shape of a cross.   What a wonderfully odd act of faith.   Perhaps you stood among those who made such a pilgrimage on Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Season of Lent. It is a time when we focus on our sinfulness.   It is a season when we are reminded of our brokenness and frailty.   It is an opportunity for us to remember that we are formed out of dust and it is to dust that we will one day return. Now before you quickly close this depressing page, consider that it is only in light of God’s incredible faithfulness and grace that we consider our sin and brokenness as well as the fragility of life.   It is God’s ineffable love and unending mercy that provide us with the backdrop before which we can safely come

Mardi Gras and Giving Something Up for Lent

In case you haven't been paying attention, Mardi Gras is this Tuesday.  There will be a myriad of celebrations throughout North America and most likely in your own town.  Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras, is the traditional day to eat rich and fatty foods before the fast of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday.  It has given birth to the magnificent and wild festivals we now associate with this day.  Quick digression - this year, Second Presbyterian Church is hosting a Shrove Tuesday (another name for Mardi Gras) jazz concert.  If you are in town, you should definitely check it out.  It is guaranteed to be an amazing concert and fantastic way to commemorate the beginning of Lent (see the ad below).  As I am sure you are more than painfully aware, Mardi Gras also marks the last day to enjoy whatever activity, food or drink you have decided to "give up" for Lent.  Giving something up for Lent has taken the place of what used to be a complete fast in preparation for Holy Week, Good Friday an

Poured Out

Look up Luke 7:36-50 (Or click here to read it online).    In this text, Luke has painted quite a scene.  Jesus has been invited to come dine at a Pharisee's home (a Pharisee was a Jewish religious leader in the first century).  While he was dining a woman came to Jesus and acted in a rather peculiar fashion.  This was a woman of bad reputation.   Apparently, everyone knew.   We are not told what her sins were.   That isn’t point.   What is important is that this unnamed woman came to Jesus immediately upon learning that he was in her town.   She had the audacity to enter into the house of a Pharisee.  She had the veracity to come to Jesus just as she was.   She came to him, but did not approach him in conversation.   Instead, when she was in the presence of Jesus, she wept.   She wept.   Her tears weren’t any ordinary tears.   No, t hese tears contained the entirety of her mistake-filled life.   Each salty drop was a new tale of bad choices and soul scars.   Each drop from her do