Friday, February 18, 2011

Day Sixty-two

there is energy in the struggle
I could feel it
marking us with possibility
claiming us as your own

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Day Sixty One

watching for icebergs
one snow flake at a time

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Day Sixty

be perfect
I am far from that
trying to be close to you

Monday, February 14, 2011

Day Fifty Nine

A while ago I committed to 100 days of prayer through my blog. I made it to day 58 before a bit of a hiatus... well a year and a half hiatus. In God's time that is small peanuts, right? I've decided not to beat myself up about not doing it for a while, but to give myself the space to come back and pray.

knock knock
it's me
i know you are there
why do I keep knocking on an open door?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

National Council of Churches on Cordova House and Mosque in NYC

It has been some time since my last post. This is a very insighful reflection I wanted to share.


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Calling All Losers: God Wins!

Easter Sunday 2010
John 20:1-18

With the warmer temperatures, sunshine and budding flowers, we just had to be there.

The park.

From the moment the seatbelts were unbuckled; my girl’s feet hit the ground running. They raced to the top of the twisty slide, up the monkey bars and across rope ladders. From one part of the playground to another, I could hear Lily scream out to her little sister “I’ll race you.”

Fits of giggles and excitement erupt as they dashed around. The funny thing is, it doesn’t matter who wins. They both get there. They both play. They both win. Sure it is always Lily who gets there first, but normally Norah is the braver one and will go down the slide first.

Watching them I can’t help but get caught up in their enthusiasm, so it is not surprising that when working on my Easter sermon for this morning, I was first struck by how this same kind of child-like excitement is displayed by the two disciples. They seem more like children than grown men as they set out in a race, when they hear the body of the Lord has been taken from the tomb.

Though they both respond by dashing off, the motivation that compels their excited movement is quite different.

The “other disciple” also referred to in John’s Gospel as the “beloved disciple” was with Jesus through the events leading up to his crucifixion and is the same disciple Jesus entrusted with his mother’s care.

This beloved disciple serves as the faithful witness in what he has seen and how he promises to live his life, loving Jesus mother as his own.

So now given this word that the tomb is empty, he must go see it for himself. And he takes off. His arms pumping, legs racing out from underneath him, on his way to see the empty tomb.

The “beloved disciple” is energetic and optimistic, but a little tentative once he arrives. He doesn’t seem quite ready to commit what it might mean. He’s trying to understand what he is seeing. The scriptures tell us that he doesn’t wait to figure it all out. His hopeful nature overwhelms him. He sees the linen clothes lying there, and he believes.

Peter, on the other hand, is not that kind of person.

Peter may not have been the fastest runner, but didn’t hesitate at the tomb. That shouldn’t surprise us since Peter is the guy who throughout the gospels has been ambitious, excitable and says or does whatever come to mind without thinking. This, after all, is the man who jumped out of the boat to walk on water.

But it was also Peter who spent the last week running away from Jesus. Three times he runs away with the words “I am not” when asked if he was a disciple.

We can only guess what is motivating Peter to run. Whether it is his uncontrollable excitement or his guilt about his own actions from the past week, he sets out on the race of his life time to see for himself the empty tomb.

There is however, one more person at the tomb on the first Easter morning. She does not go unnoticed in the story, even though her status as a woman would have relegated her as extremely insignificant. All four of the Gospel narratives place her as the essential witness to the resurrection.

Before the two disciples even start out on their race toward the empty tomb, Mary Magdalene arrives early in the morning, while it was still dark.

She comes not with energy, optimism or guilt, but in grief.

The weight of pain and death hangs on her shoulders.

She can’t shake the image of Jesus suffering upon the cross and breathing his last.

The burden of her sadness delivers her to the tomb. She is not interested in running any race.

She does not have any pretense that things are going to be okay, no hope as she approaches the tomb. She simply comes to touch the body, to be near it, to say her goodbyes.

She exists in this cloud of suffering and grief, overcome by sadness. She can’t even recognize the risen Jesus when he is standing right in front of her. The only words she shares until this point are “they have taken away my Lord” and “where have you laid him?”

So here we have the juxtaposition of these three characters, in one gospel.

The Gospel of John places these three very different approaches to the tomb that Easter morning—knowing we all come here this day from our different places, for different reasons and motivations, and with our own unique faith journey.

Most of us did not race to get here. There may have been some fighting or wrangling of kids, or ties or hosiery. There may have been a race against time, trying to walk in the door before the bells rang at 10:00am. But I didn’t see anyone sprint through the doors. Even if anyone had, there wouldn’t have been a clear winner, just as there was no clear winner among the three at the tomb.

There is no winner named, because in the Resurrection story, God wins.

When it appears that pain, suffering, sin and death have the last word, God is the one who is raised from the dead so that we have the gift of new life. God wins.

God wins when you are the person comes to the tomb with cautious yet relentless optimism in your heart.

God wins when you are the person who comes to the tomb with a myriad of emotions ranging from excitement to guilt but you don’t let those stop you from seeing the possibilities of what the resurrection might mean.

God wins when you are the person who comes with Good Friday in your heart and though Easter doesn’t make that all magically disappear; the possibility of hope finds its way in.

God wins when we leave the empty tomb transformed. Believing that death has not overcome.

Suffering did not have the last word. Hatred, injustice, and sin did not win. Love did. God wins.

God’s love for us is so great and so strong that it over came death even, even in the most horrid of circumstance. We don’t have to know how it works, understand the facts and details, or even be able to explain it to other people in a way that makes sense. The disciples couldn’t, it simply says “they believed.” Believing that resurrection and new life are brought forth, hope reigns, and we live lives transformed by God’s love. God wins.

And of course, in turn, we all win. For when God wins, we too are brought to new life. Jesus was not the only one resurrected that day, we too are renewed. Mary was not the only one given hope; we too find hope in the future. The disciples lives aren’t the only one’s transformed and called to be the body of Christ in the world, we are.

Because God wins, this morning we too can come to the tomb with our mixed emotions and shortcomings, like Peter, and God loves us still.

We can come to the tomb like the beloved disciple with our overwhelming optimism that still hesitates, and God will still be waiting for us when we are ready to engage this miracle of miracles.

We can come to the tomb with our grief and burdens and God will meet us where we are with the promise that God’s love always wins.

Friends, whether or not we race to get there, the race itself has been won for us all—God wins it for each and every one of us.

God’s love wins and so we all win and turn from the empty tomb to face the world renewed, living into the hope and love we experienced here.

Transformed by the love of God, we go out to share it with everyone, proclaiming with our lives the miracle: “We have seen the Lord.” Helping others to know that they too have won in life, no matter what junction of life they stand on, no matter their personality or where they are on the road of faith.

God has won new life for each of us.

May it be so for you and for me.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

40 Spiritual Practices for Lent

On Ash Wednesday we began the forty- day season (excluding the Sundays) Lent. Most of us associate Lent with not eating meat on Fridays and the practice of “giving something up” like unhealthy foods or a bad habit. While these might be steps that connect us closer to God, they often become ends to themselves and are “shoulds” in our life instead of ways we can grow in our faith.

Lent is a time that redirects our sights, not to ourselves and the guilt we feel about our shortcomings, but instead to God, the one who creates us and calls us to bring our broken selves for healing and wholeness. Easter is when we celebrate our wholeness in Jesus Christ through baptism. The 40 day journey to the cross, fount and empty tomb is one we use to intentionally create the space for that healing process to begin.

Instead of giving up ice cream (which for most of is more of a desperate attempt to lose the holiday weight, than a spiritual practice) I invite you to read over these 40 Lenten Spiritual Practices that are designed to encourage us to draw closer in our relationship with God, both as individuals and as communities wherever and whenever we might gather.

I pray these suggestions do not become a “laundry list” of to-do items. The goal is not to “check” them off as the days in Lent pass by hoping we might then become more religious. They are an invitation to broaden, deepen and open our awareness to God’s presence in our everyday lives.
Perhaps you will choose one practice to engage in each day over the season of Lent. Or you might find it helpful to change the practice each day. Regardless of what appeals to you most, join God in this time of growth and renewal of who God creates us to be.

Day One: Ask for help. Lent begins when we recognize that we can’t do everything ourselves and we depend on God’s grace for our lives. Experience God’s grace by asking for and receiving help for something we can’t do on our own.

Day Two: Follow “Journey to the Cross” an online special devotional for Lent/Easter. Journey to the Cross features specially composed music, daily scripture readings and brief reflections.

Day Three: “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10) Turn off the TV, computer, phone and rest in the stillness. Even if it is just for 5 minutes.

Day Four: Prayer walk in your neighborhood (where you live or work). Simply walk around and pray for what you see, hear, touch, and smell.

Day Five: Prepare and cook a “simple meal” of rice and beans for lunch or dinner. Give the money you save in preparing this meal to an organization that feeds the hungry. Pray before the meal and be reflective about those for whom this is their only meal.

Day Six: Start seedlings. Plant seeds in small jars and place them in the light. May they be physical reminders that we partner with God in creation.

Day Seven: Open your awareness to those things that are destructive in the world—sources of injustice and oppression that result in destructive behaviors that hurt individuals, communities, and creation.

Day Eight: Practice the Daily Examen. One of the long-established spiritual practices in Christianity, championed by Ignatius of Loyola (a Spanish reformer and contemporary of John Calvin, who sought to reform the Roman church from within), is a discipline of self-examination and repentance Ignatius called examen. For more information:

Day Nine: Make a joyful noise to the Lord. Make music by singing a song you have memorized or put on a CD and sing along. Let your voice praise God.

Day Ten: Journey with Jesus. Read Matthew, Mark, Luke or John from beginning to end during Lent and journey with him from the manger to the empty grave.

Day Eleven: Circle of gratitude. Before meals invite everyone around the table to share one thing they are grateful for that day
Day Twelve: Call or visit someone who is lonely. This might include an elderly shut in, stay at home parent, someone who has recently lost their job or a grieving widow.

Day Thirteen: At the end of the day ask yourself “Where did I see God today?” Make a list.

Day Fourteen: Caring for others as ourselves take acts of truth-telling and confrontation. Abstain from laughing at jokes or comments that are hurtful to others. Share with that person your commitment to caring for God’s children.

Day Fifteen: Keep a prayer journal (can be on the computer or in a paper notebook). Include prayers of joy, concern, and questions. Write down the prayers offered to God for yourself and for others.

Day Sixteen: Remember your baptism. Place a bowl of water in a visible place in your house. Touch the water and remember that we are linked to Christ and the Christian community through the waters of

Day Seventeen: Write a letter to God

Day Eighteen: When attending worship or other gatherings of your faith community pay attention to how the music, liturgy, conversation, and fellowship time affect you. Be open to how God speaks to you through community.

Day Nineteen: Prayer on the move. When in the car be intentional about turning the radio off and not talking on the cell phone. When you are alone in the car, use that quiet time to be in prayer.

Day Twenty: Jesus didn’t “convert” Christians, he formed disciples and sent them out to continue the formation process. Reflect on ways you have been shaped by the teachings of Jesus and shared them with others.

Day Twenty-one: Find a psalm or a hymn text that is meaningful to you. Write the words out and study them. Choose a different portion of the text for each week of Lent and memorize it.

Day Twenty-two: If you consider yourself a spiritual “dropout” reach out to someone you trust and talk about your feelings.

Day Twenty-three: Practice random acts of anonymous kindness.

Day Twenty-four: Pray the scriptures by using the ancient art of Lectio Divina. For more information:

Day Twenty-six: Think of persons who haven’t heard from you in a while. Give them a call, or send them a card. If there is something that needs mending in your relationship, take the first step.

Day Twenty-seven: Find ways to live more simply, sharing God's good gifts with others by protecting the environment and supporting local farmers. Read stickers and labels to see where your food is grown. Make efforts to buy food grown within our community or state.

Day Twenty-eight:
Learn the names of individuals contributing to the leadership of the local community. Offer prayers for them. Express your appreciation for their service.

Day Twenty-nine: Make a prayer wall at home. Put up a large piece of paper and encourage family members to write or draw pictures of the prayers of joy and concern they have for that day. Pray together for each person and for the prayer they have expressed.

Day Thirty:
Slow down and observe the Sabbath. Whether Sabbath time is one hour in a day or a 24 hour period, take time to intentionally stop “working” and spend time in worship, prayer, and family time.

Day Thirty-one: Follow your breath as it leads to God. Simply observe your breath. Inhale and exhale slowly, recognizing that breathing is a life sustaining and God-infused action.

Day Thirty-two: Fast. The purpose of fasting is to support our prayers and heighten our awareness of a most basic human need. Paying attention to our hunger can help us connect to our thirst for God and the emptiness we feel. Fast one day or one meal to join our physical needs to spiritual ones.

Day Thirty-three: Spring cleaning can be more than a way to get rid of “stuff.” Along with asking yourself “what don’t I want” also practice asking “what don’t I need?” Invite God into these questions and explore together a journey of letting go of the excess in your life.

Day Thirty-four: Light a candle. Pray as it is lit “Lord thank you for the gift of your Light in the midst of all darkness. Let this candle be a symbol of our faith in your presence among us.”

Day Thirty-five: We follow Jesus and journey with others whose heritage has left a path before us. Reflect on your faith journey and remember the names of those in whose footsteps you are following and who is on the road with you now. Find a way to share with them your gratitude for journeying with you.

Day Thirty-six: Find ways to recognize people as children of God. Make eye contact with the grocery store clerk. Smile at strangers.

Day Thirty-seven: Try fasting from a different kind of hunger, consumerism. Choose one day in Lent, or one day each week to prayerfully explore consumer spending habits and how we often buy more than we need. Refrain from making purchases on that day.

Day Thirty-eight: Death is inevitably part of the Lenten journey as we tell the story of Jesus death on the cross and find assurance of our new life we have because of the resurrection. Take this time to remember those who have new life with God and be strengthened by the witness of their lives. Take our photos of family members and friends who have died. Talk about these people with your children or share their stories with a friend.

Day Thirty-nine: Learn and practice the traditional practice of praying the Stations of the Cross. Ask a friend who attend a Catholic church if you might attend a Lenten program with them that prays the stations, or visit:

Day Forty: Practice resurrection. We are the people of resurrection and hope, called to live passionately and compassionately with others, to defy death, to forgive, and to bring others back into the community, to do something that is life-giving, that fights death and needless suffering.