Showing posts from February, 2012

Lent - A Season of Letting Go

I hold on tight. "A fighter always does." So I have been told. "Don't give up.Show a little guts." Many have urged.
I hold on tight. To show courage. Fight the good fight. I cannot give up. I am not WEAK.
I hold on tight. Out of fear. Frightened by that to which I cling. If I don't hold tight, I lose control.
I hold on tight. My grip painful. Hands tired; knuckles white. I fear I cannot hold on. I fear.
I hold on tight. A new voice beckons,


Toward the end of the Gospel of John, as Jesus is moving toward his crucifixion, he prays for his disciples. As a part of this beautiful prayer, Jesus entreats, [20]"I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, [21]that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. [22]The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, [23]I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. [24]Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.

[25]"Righteous Father, the world does not know you, but I know you; and these know that you have sent me. [26]I made your…

New Narrative - Ashes, Dust, and Mortality

Wednesday, February 22 was Ash Wednesday. Many of us gathered in the sanctuary at Second Presbyterian Church, and churches around the world, to hear the Word of God proclaimed, to partake in the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, and to be marked on our foreheads with ashes. 
It is a strangely wonderful sight to see pilgrims of all ages, sizes, and hues waiting in line to receive the mark of the cross in ash and to be reminded of their frailty and mortality. The minister drags her thumb through the ashes, looks each person in the eye as she gently traces the cross on their forehead, and says, "Remember, that from dust you were formed; to dust you shall return."
Yes, what a strangely wonderful site.

This message is a message of truth and a dose of reality we all need to hear and experience. This is especially true in a time when we spend so much energy, imagination, and money trying to convince ourselves that it just isn't so. If we work hard enough, if we pay enough money…

Lent - The Beginning of a Journey

Today is Ash Wednesday.

This is the day that signifies the beginning of the forty day journey toward the cross for Christians around the globe. This is the day that begins the Season of Lent.

Lent is a journey. It is a journey of repentance. It is a journey of penitence. It is a journey outward. It is a journey inward.
Throughout history, Christians have marked the season of Lent by fasting - abstaining from something in order to help set this season apart from others. The fast has taken on many forms throughout the centuries. In many cultures, including ours, the fast has become the tradition of "giving something up for Lent". This "fast" is often used as a symbol of the penitence and repentance of the season. The fast of the season has been and continues to be a helpful spiritual discipline to countless Christians around the world (If you decide to practice this spiritual discipline during the Season of Lent, please make sure that you use a resource like those list…


This Sunday, February 19, is Transfiguration Sunday on the church calendar. This is the Sunday we focus our study and worship on the transfiguration of Jesus.
The Lectionary text comes from Mark 9:2-9... "Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus, 'Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.' He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, 'This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!' Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus. As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no…

New Narrative - The Art of Being

In our culture, we have mastered the art of doing. Just look at our schedules. They are overflowing with things we need to do...
Pick up the laundry;
Go to the store;
Clean the mud room; Meet with so and so; Do such and such.
The list seems to go on and on. And we meet ourselves coming and going.
The lives of our children are much the same... Study for the test; Pick up my room; Go to the gym; Read for English; Meet so and so; Do such and such.
Schedules and agendas are a part of life. They are necessary. They keep us organized and focused.
The struggle is when our schedules begin to crowd out living our lives.
The problem is when doing gets in the way of being.

When we go on retreats with students from Second Presbyterian Church, we always build "free time" into the schedule. Every retreat several students approach one of the adult leaders and ask, "What are we supposed to do now?"
We are often greeted with a blank stare when we respond, "Go, have free time. Be with one anoth…

Walking Together and Building Bridges

Recently, I had the opportunity to travel throughout Israel and Palestine with a really good friend.  It was my first time there, and it was overwhelming. This trip had been a dream of mine for an incredibly long time. In fact, my father, grandfather and I had dreamt for years that we would take this journey together. They are two giants in my life. They are my mentors, my teachers, and people who continually called me into deeper water. They both entered the real presence of God several years ago.  Therefore, I went on this trip carrying them with me in my heart and my mind. Their teachings and example have played a huge role in bringing me to this moment in my life. Their presence and memory impacted the way in which I experienced much of what we call the Holy Land.
Many of the experiences in Israel and Palestine were transformative.  However, one moment in particular continues to haunt me three weeks after my return.
One late afternoon, as my friend Tave, an additional traveling comp…

New Narrative - Positive Risk Taking

Part of being a teenager is taking risks.
Risk taking gives an adrenaline rush. Risk taking is a way of testing limits. Risk taking can help teens discover who they are.
Often the risks are rather innocuous... Trying a new food or learning a new instrument.
Signing up to participate in the local talent show. Asking out that guy/girl to whom you always thought you would never have the courage to speak.
Other times, the risks are indeed "risky" behavior that can prove to be very dangerous and perhaps even life altering...
Taking your hands off of the wheel while driving at a high rate of speed.
Putting the pair of socks in your backpack without paying for them.
Saying yes "just this once" to that which you had always turned down.

Part of being a teenager is taking risks. Young people may believe that risk taking is a necessary part of growing up.  They may feel as though risk taking is the only way to really feel alive.
As parents and mentors, we can provide the opportunity…