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Showing posts from March, 2013

Maundy Thursday - Abandoned

They couldn't just stay there.  
They had to leave.  They had to get as far away as they possibly could.   It felt as though their very lives were at stake.  
The things he had said, the things he had done, made all of the wrong people upset at  precisely the wrong time.  
You have to understand, they had to leave.   As a result an already impossibly dark night was plunged even further       into darkness.
It is easy to wag our finger in accusation and shake our heads in disgust when we think of the actions of those first followers, the men who left the side of Jesus when he was condemned, beaten, mocked, and crucified.
How could they not stay, we wonder, with their friend, their leader, their mentor, their savior in this hour of greatest need?  Where was their dedication to the one whom they had pledged to follow even to their own deaths?   Where was their sense of commitment?   Had all their talk of devotion and solidarity been washed away in a sea of cowardice? 
How could they have done tak…

A Child, Ashes, and the Incarnation

Her parents call her Peep.  She is a wonder to behold.  A beautiful little girl.  She has fantastic red hair and eyes that light up a room when she smiles.  She is always on the go.  

You must know that Peep loves the baby Jesus.  Her mom told me that everytime they are in the church Peep wants to go find baby Jesus.  On Christmas Eve, Peep went up to the front of the chancel following the children's Christmas Eve service so that she could hold baby Jesus and kiss him on the cheek.

I have known Peep's mother since she was 17 years old.  That was 23 years ago.  We have seen a lot of life in those 23 years - tragedy, victory, joy, laughter, tears, death, marriage, birth.  One thing I learned about her mother is that one of her favorite worship experiences is Ash Wednesday.  She loves the beauty, simplcity, and solemnity of the service.  She loves going up to take communion by intinction and receiving the imposition of ashes on her forehead as a reminder of the grace of God as well…

New Narrative - Stories That Bind Us - Bruce Feiler

Here is a wonderful article on the importance of family narrative.  Author Bruce Feiler argues "if you want a happier family, create, refine and retell the story of your family’s positive moments and your ability to bounce back from the difficult ones. That act alone may increase the odds that your family will thrive for many generations to come." 

The importance of narrative within a family, congregation, or group of any kind cannot be overstated.  For more on the power of narrative, click the "New Narrative" tab above.  Also, you may be interested in "A Lesson Learned at the Kid's Table". 
Would love to hear what you think about Bruce Feiler's article or any of the posts you find here.

Unexpected Tide

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Iniquity
written upon the shores of life in deep bold letters;
written with failing hand.  
Sin after sin, failure upon failure
recorded for all to see and for him to ne’er forget. 
His back aches as he stoops yet again to scrawl another shortcoming into the white-hot sand.  

This arduous undertaking continues throughout the day and on into evening. 
As fatigue grows in his legs and lower back, he soon finds he is unable 
     to stand.  

Undaunted, 
his list continues to grow while he crawls down the seaside 
     on weary hands and knees. 
Exhausted eyes grow heavy.
An uneasy slumber 

    descends.   
What seemed like moments later, 
the penitent one 
is startled awake by the splash of the tide against a fatigued body.  
A struggle to rise ensues as he curses into the wind for even a brief rest could not be granted.  

Standing, stretching to relieve a tightened back in order that the laborious work might continue. 
As sleep is rubbed from tired eyes, the traveler looks down at his feet.  Astonished …

Lent: Fear in the Desert

I fear
I am
lost
in this desert;
desperate for
a sign of
rain,
hope,
self.

I fear
I am
in this desert;
desperate for
a hint of
peace,
humanity.

I fear
in this desert;
desperate for
a taste of
joy.

I fear;
desperate for
a glimpse of
divine.

I fear;
desperate for
life.  

Getting Out of the Way

I was surprised today.

Tuesdays are a day full of meetings for the members of the staff at Second Presbyterian Church.  Most of these meetings are full of information sharing, brainstorming, and planning.  It is a necessary part of being a member of a large complex staff structure.  On those rare occasions when the entire staff is gathered together in one place, some specific goals must be met and chief among them is communication.  Therefore, meetings can be long and full of words and paper.

Today was different.

The Season of Lent is designed to give us all the space to think about where the depth of our soul cries out to the depth of the Spirit of God.  In the midst of our meeting today, the co-leaders invited those gathered to share moments where they have witnessed "deep calling to deep" as the author of Psalm 39 writes.  Our lives were blessed this morning by stories of a high school young woman who was challenged to consider the presence of God in the midst of her d…

Giving Thanks - International Women's Day

At the close of this International Women's Day, I wanted to write about several women who have had an impact on my life.  This is meant to be a representative list of the women who have courageously stood up, spoken out, led the way, encouraged the downtrodden, molded the lives of the young, and loved unconditionally.  Thank you is not nearly enough.

1. Bertha Shivers Rosell is my paternal great grandmother.  She lived much of her young adult life in Texas around the turn of the 20th century.  When my grandfather was a young boy, her husband left her and disappeared from view.  She continued on with courage and faith.  Through the hard scrapple times of the 10s and 20s in rural Texas, she raised a young boy into a man on her own.  Her devotion, faith, love, and toughness left a legacy that lives on in the lives of many members of my family and beyond.
2. Verlee Ethel Fones Walters is my maternal grandmother.  She was the matriarch of my family for decades. Auntie Bee, as my cousi…

New Narrative - Great Is Thy Faithfulness

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I was given a gift yesterday.

As a part of worship at Second Presbyterian Church im Indianapolis, Indiana we sang two of the great hymns of the church.  The congregation stood and sang in full voice "Be Thou My Vision" and "Great Is Thy Faithfulness."  I love both of these hymns.  The music is wonderful and the lyrics have a theological depth that is not matched by many other hymns.

As meaningful as singing these great hymns can be, that in and of itself was not the gift.  As my voice joined in the singing of "Great Is Thy Faithfulness", I began to look out into the congregation.  I noticed that many of the people, old and young alike, were singing this hymn from memory.  They did not need the assistance of a hymnal to proclaim these wonderful words of praise.  It had long ago become a part of their faith consciousness.  What a glorious sight it was to behold.

And then... And then...my eyes landed upon a scene that I will not soon forget.  A mother was…