Sunday, March 31, 2013

risen

What was it like in that dark tomb Jesus?  What exactly happened when light suddenly broke into the darkness and brought you to life once again?  Did the mouth of God come down from heaven and breathe the breath of life into your lifeless body?  Or did He reach down with His life-giving hands and brush the death from you as one would wipe sleep from the eyes of a child?  Or was it like a  Father tenderly bending down over his sleeping child to plant a gentle kiss upon his forehead?  Perhaps it was more like an earthquake; a sudden jolt of power and life that hit you like a lightning bolt from on high, raising you suddenly to life once more.  And were there any words uttered in that silent grave?  Words that you had the privilege of hearing, but that we will never know about because they were words meant only for your ears: arise, my love, or wake up sleepy head or My Child, I've missed you so much!  And what was it like when the grave clothes were removed?  And who exactly did that?  Was it the angels that were present the next morning; sent by the Father to unbind His Beloved Son?  And why exactly did they fold them and stack them so neatly?  I'll bet they were smiling from ear to ear.  And O what a reunion it must have been, the Three-in-One becoming Three and becoming One once again! What was that like?  What was it like when you and the Father, and the Spirit, were reunited.  What were the looks on your faces?  What was going on in your hearts?  What a dance that must've been!  A dance we are now invited to join.  O the joy, joy unspeakable.  Let our imaginations run wild on this Easter day, as we dream about, and celebrate, the day our beloved Jesus, was raised to life again! 

Friday, March 29, 2013

good friday

the loneliness
and the pain
external and internal
physical and spiritual
are hard to watch
hard to sit with you
in the midst of
my dear jesus

and the voices
so many voices
all around
mocking
insulting
hurling

and then yours
my God, my God
the only time
you didn't say
my Father
my Abba

handed over
pierced and crushed
poured out like water
bones out of joint
heart turned to wax
melted within you

encircled by bulls
torn to pieces
by roaring lions
are they the ones
i can see
what about the ones
i cannot see
are they not
worst of all

you became sin
bore our darkness
carried our sorrows
how extraordinarily heavy
that weight must have been
the physical is horrific
but the spiritual unimaginable
what you endured
for us

thank you
seems far
too small





We have to be willing to acknowledge and expose our wounds to the healing balm that flows from the pierced hands and feet and side.  We need humbly and gratefully to accept this healing, with a gratitude that impels us to seek to sin no more.  Then our looking upon him who has been pierced will be for us a saving glance. (Seeking His Mind by M. Basil Pennington)

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

for us and by us




Before we can begin to see the cross as something done for us, we have to see it as something done by us.”
                                                                                      ~John R. W. Stott



Take this to heart and doubt not that you are the one who killed Christ.  Your sins certainly did, and when you see the nails driven through his hands, be sure that you are pounding, and when the thorns pierce his brow, know that they are your evil thoughts.  Consider that if one thorn pierced Christ you deserve a hundred thousand.
                                                                                     ~Martin Luther



My friend Ray sent me this picture today, along with the quote by John Stott.  The picture is called "Raising of the Cross" by Rembrandt.  The interesting thing about the painting is not so much that Rembrandt painted himself in the picture (identifying himself by the light around him), he did that quite often.  The interesting thing is what he is doing in the painting.  He is the one raising the cross.  What a realization!  The same realization that Martin Luther and John Stott and many others throughout the centuries have made as well.  I am the one that crucified Jesus.  So as the next few days and hours unfold, as difficult as they might be, they are made more so by the fact that we (you and I) made it all necessary in the first place.  Which is not so much meant to heap hot coals upon our heads, but to help us realize the full depths of the unfailing, extravagant love of Jesus.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

palm sunday 2013

riding in
to jerusalem
with jesus
stopping to weep
over a city
that has forgotten
who it is

what lies ahead
on this journey
to the cross
sorrow and sadness
suffering and pain
crucifixion
death
burial
resurrection

asking myself
what needs to die
with him
what must be nailed
to his cross

all that is false
the passing self
who by its constant
inner commentary
continuously proves
that it is still
very much alive
within me
and must be
put to death

come
ride with me
is his invitation
come
to jerusalem
come
die with me
that you might
be raised
anew

Saturday, March 23, 2013

here we go

They were on their way up to Jerusalem, with Jesus leading the way, and the disciples were astonished, while those who followed were afraid. Again he took the Twelve aside and told them what was going to happen to him.  “We are going up to Jerusalem,” he said, “and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles, who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise.” (Mark 10:32-34)


Tonight we prepare for the trip to Jerusalem.  And Jesus wants to be sure that we make no mistake about it, the purpose of our journey is the cross.  Tomorrow He will invite us to join Him upon the donkey's back and begin our ride.  What is it that we are being invited to put to death?  What is it within us that must be crucified with Him?  What is it that Jesus is asking of us?  What does He desire for us to nail to the cross with Him; that we might live anew?


You told yourself you would accept the decision of fate.  But you lost your nerve when you discovered what it would require of you: then you realized how attached you still were to the world which has made you what you were, but which you would now have to leave behind.  It felt like an amputation, a “little death,” and you even listened to those voices which insinuated that you were deceiving yourself out of ambition.  You will have to give up everything.  Why, then, weep at this little death?  Take it to you—quickly—with a smile die this death, and become free to go further—one with your task, whole in your duty of the moment. (Markings by Dag Hammarskjold)

Sunday, March 17, 2013

becoming, part 2


Thank you, O God, that spring always follows winter, that Easter always follows Good Friday, that resurrection always follows death!!!  We thank you that death does not have the final word; life does.  We praise you, O God of life!!!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

stretch out your hands

when you were young,
you used to dress yourself
and walk wherever you wanted,
but when you are old,
you will stretch out your hands...
                          ~John 21:18



stretch out your hands
a call to a new way of being
to a new posture
and a new spirit

not seizing
not grasping
not determining
not even reaching

this is a different kind of
stretching out of our hands altogether
one in which agenda
and independence
must be abandoned

one marked by
a courageous willingness
a trust-filled vulnerability
a total surrender

stretch out your hands
requires all
it is our true answer to
do you love me more than these



Tuesday, March 12, 2013

becoming

 





















there is something
beginning to poke its head
through the soil
that has been becoming
all through the long cold winter
but is just now
finally ready to show itself
to burst into the fullness
of all that it was meant to be
now free from the comfort
and confines of the rich dark soil
the struggle to become has ended
it stretches out its arms
to touch the life-giving sunlight
dancing in the fullness
of the intent of its maker
finally free to be
all it was dreamt to be

Friday, March 8, 2013

forgotten

As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. Psalm 103:14-15


I've been thinking a lot lately about the spiritual value of being forgotten, and how forgotten creates some of the most fertile soil possible for the life of God's Spirit to grow within us.  It is the soil of humility, and dependence, and trust.  In fact, it is soil that is so fertile that fruit just seems to spring abundantly into being from within itSo much so that it is a wonder I still resist it at almost every turn. Why is that?  It would seem that because of its fecundity (nice word, huh?) I would want to dwell in the soil of forgotten as often and as long as possible; but of course the reality is that nothing could be further from the truth.  In fact, my default mode is to run away from it rather than embrace it; even though the chief fruit of forgotten is something that my heart most deeply desires--freedom. Freedom grows abundantly in the soil of forgotten, if we are willing to take up its invitation to do a wonderful work within us, rather than allow it to be a source of angst, or insecurity, or fear.  Forgotten, when embraced, brings about freedom; both freedom from and freedom to. Freedom from having to prove myself. Freedom from trying to make a name for myself. Freedom from jockeying for position. Freedom from having to matter. Freedom from having to be the point. Which results in freedom to love God. Freedom to belong only to Him. Freedom to serve Him completely. Freedom to genuinely love people without needing anything from them in return. So not only does forgotten produce significant fruit within me, it also is incredibly fruitful for the Kingdom.  Therefore, maybe forgotten is not something to simply embrace, but something to actually pursue.


Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget, I will not forget you!  See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands...Isaiah 49:15-16

Thursday, March 7, 2013

the death of a self

For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin--because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.  Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we also live with him. (Romans 6:6-8)


It is easy at times to get mixed up and start believing that I can actually rid my life of sin by trying to eliminate it at the surface rather than dealing with it at its core.  When I try to take my actions, behaviors, or patterns and simply try to stop doing them, I am fighting a losing battle.  I can cut them off at the surface, but since they are rooted much more deeply, they will grow right back.  Paul knew this well and reminds us of it right here in Romans 6; that if we really want to rid our lives of its "slavery to sin" we must do it at its core.  We must crucify the old self, rather than just trying to crucify our sinful behavior.  This crucifying of the old (false) self involves a much deeper work.  It involves naming that self, recognizing where and how we have believed that that is who we truly are, and determining to kill that false name(s) we live by in order to truly believe, and be convinced of, and live according to, the new (true) self (name) that God has bestowed upon us.  This false self, whatever his or her name may be, must die; it must be nailed to the cross with Jesus.  Then, and only then, will this body of sin be done away with, and we will have the possibility of no longer being slaves to sin.  That is the dying that we are invited to during this Lenten season; dying to (old) self that we might live (anew) to God.