April 12 Easter Sunday
Sonlight flickered and
Our hearts felt the light go out
Our dark uncertainty crept into the tomb beside the blessed Hope.
not knowing how to breathe, all creation waited
not knowing how to trust, some of creation scattered
not knowing how to live, all creation hoped
Earth turned in the slowest suspense.
Then the warm God-glow overtook the death chamber and
like a newborn baby, all of creation was reborn by the love of the Sacrificed-Son!
Gasping and crying out, their joyful voices joined together to say–
The Light is here!
Our Savior has not been defeated!
Our God indeed dwells among us!
We have not been forgotten.
We have been wholly forgiven.
Our God reigns!
April 12th: Easter Day Almighty God, who through your only-begotten Son Jesus Christ overcame death and opened to us the gate of everlasting life: Grant that we, who celebrate with joy the day of the Lord’s resurrection, may be raised from the death of sin by your life-giving Spirit; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Growing up in Southern California means I spent a fair share of time around olive trees. The nearly indestructible trees thrive in the Mediterranean climate and were once used as landscaping at banks, businesses and backyards. These knobby little trees are unique, easy to care for, and really messy! As an elementary school kid, I played tag underneath the olive trees at my church. I loved sliding on the deep purple skins and pits– disregarding how dirty my shoes became. The benches beneath the trees were not exempt from the mess either and if I wasn’t careful the backs of my shorts would get sticky and stained too. The church eventually re-landscaped and replaced the trees, and over time, we forgot about them, as the purple stains faded from the concrete and benches and our memories.
Jesus spent quite a bit of time under olive trees too. It was one of his favorite places to meet with his father. This habit probably left his feet purple from walking amongst the trees and I bet his tunic showed stains too. It makes me smile to think of his knees being purple and sticky. The purple stains he bore must have made it easy to see where he had been too.
Where have you been, and what kind of stains are you covered in?
His love beckons us to walk with him to the cross and rise with him in his resurrection.
His grace wipes away our sin-stickiness.
His compassion cleans and cares for our suffering-scarred hearts.
His countenance upon us gives us peace.
Turn and come–the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit will stain you with their love and cover you with grace.
April 5th: Palm Sunday Almighty and everliving God, in your tender love for the human race you sent your Son our Savior Jesus Christ to take upon him our nature, and to suffer death upon the cross, giving us the example of his great humility: Mercifully grant that we may walk in the way of his suffering, and also share in his resurrection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
In high school, I had a boyfriend whose parents, Carol and John liked to eat out at really nice restaurants. They always took all 3 of their teens and often invited me to go too. This was such a fun evening, but as an only child with a much older father, it was also foreign-to-me. They often chose places with extravagant menus and even ordered mock-cocktails, appetizers, and dessert! Carol always made sure to tell me that the menu was an open book to order from, but because I didn’t wanted to offend them or overstep my bounds as a guest, I always scanned the menu for the kids selections or the cheapest items and then ordered from one of them.
I was offered prime rib and risotto, and I opted for chicken strips or a cheese quesadilla.
There were so many incredible dishes that were offered to me, but I chose to eat out of inferiority and fear rather than out of the truth that Carol and John were inviting me to sit at their table and fully participate in the feast.
As children of God, co-heirs with Jesus, we have been invited to a spiritual feast that is far beyond anything we have ever eaten or can even imagine and it is overflowing with the very best! This Jesus-food has the power to strip away our messed up mantras and unhealthy appetites and replace them with joy and food that brings health and delight to our souls.
Sin has messed up our taste buds.
Fear has caused us wonder if we will have to pay for this ourselves later.
Lies have made us feel like an impostor.
God himself has promised us that there is a permanent place at his table of grace waiting for us.
Let go of the sin.
Let go of the fear.
Let go of the lies.
Together, let’s step up, sit down, and fully dig into his feast.
March 29th: The fifth Sunday in Lent
Almighty God, you alone can bring into order the unruly wills and affections of sinners:Grant your people grace to love what you command and desire what you promise; that, among the swift and varied changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
On the cobbled streets of Jerusalem, carts of warm chewy bagel-bread are a welcomed and delicious respite for the weary worker and the tired traveler. The Jerusalem bagel, with it’s toasted sesame seeds and unique long shape, is a wonderful shared street food. In the Middle East bread is not only a staple, it is often foundation to the foods served with it. Pita, rolls, flatbread and bagels are all uncomplicated, nourishing, easily available and incredibly enjoyable. In the collect today, Jesus calls himself the bread of life– the true bread that came down from heaven and gives us life.
Did you notice that Jesus didn’t call himself cake- to be eaten only on special occasions or maybe Wedding Cake- to be eaten once at the beginning of the bridegroom and bride’s relationship or even dough- the almost bread- eaten only after we let it rise, bake it, and put forth our own efforts?
No, Jesus called himself simply bread–the bread of life. Then he offers himself to us to be our bread of life– He is our easily accessible-nourishing-shared- daily-uncomplicated-weary traveler food.
Oh yes, Jesus forever feeds the soul-hungry weary traveler. All we have to do is gratefully open up our hands to receive him. Praise be to God!
March 22nd: The Fourth Sunday in Lent Gracious Father, whose blessed Son Jesus Christ came down from heaven to be the true bread which gives life to the world: Evermore give us this bread, that he may live in us, and we in him; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
We are a vulnerable, foolish, and short-sighted people who need protection not only from he who longs for our destruction, but also from the assaults we commit against ourselves. In pride, we choose to turn away from the protective authorities you have ordained and arrogantly stand alone. With envy, we look at the divine blessings of others and disapprove of our own gifts. We fear self-proclaimed deficits, so we embrace gluttony as our right. We have disregarded the dignity of ourselves and others and celebrate greedy consumerism. We encourage the growth of our selfish and unhealthy desires and repackage them as having a passionate lust for life. In the name of injustice, we usurp the Creator’s sovereignty and indulge in vengeance, allowing our wrath to run free. We are a generation of spiritual sloths who choose to be fed with worldy-watery-entertainment over the deep soul-banquet we have been invited to.
But you Lord.
You compassionately weed out our self-centered sickness.
You create a fire-break of mercy.
You nourish our roots with your grace.
Then you choose to grow us through the love of your Son.
March 15th: The Third Sunday in Lent Almighty God, you know that we have no power in ourselves to help ourselves: Keep us both outwardly in our bodies and inwardly in our souls, that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
Sin’s wasteland rarely starts out looking bleak. It silently enters into my life and takes my green leafy growth and dries out a small ignored branch. It’s easy for me to look away from the slow and subtle color changes occurring–from tiny deaths accumulating under my feet–as I keep myself distracted and oriented towards the superficial image that I want others to admire.
Oh sin, left untreated, you dastardly creep into all of my hidden places, bringing with you a full-fledge fall.Lent calls us to step away from distraction and with eyes of self-love, acknowledge all of our disease and decay to the Master Gardener of Mercy. His hands are tender and his clipping is swift.His compassionate eyes see what we work so hard to hide. His arms help us carry away the crunchy remnants of old self-interest and shame. His words water our roots, unceasingly flowing and feeding.We have not been left in a hopeless winter. Glory has arrived. Our God-spring is doing its deep work beneath our surface. We are healed because we are his.
March 8th: The Second Sunday in Lent O God, whose glory it is always to have mercy: Be gracious to all who have gone astray from your ways, and bring them again with penitent hearts and steadfast faith to embrace and hold fast the unchangeable truth of your Word, Jesus Christ your Son; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
March 1, 2020
So often I step toward sin and away from God by living out of victimhood, that shadowy place where my rights and desires seem to be growing at a genetically modified speed. As my SELF grows to giant status, my love and desire for God and his way of love are forced to shrink. This is always the beginning of living out of weakness, smallness, and deficit—out of my broken pieces. God however, never intended for us to live in the shadowy-lands, even our own self-created ones. He didn’t leave Jesus alone in the wilderness to be tempted and to figure it out on his own, and he hasn’t left us either. Come save us Come save us Father, we are a sinful people who often walk right into temptations or stumble upon rocks that we can see, knowing that they will ensnare us. Come save us Come save us from our tempter and from ourselves.
The Collect for March 1st: The First Sunday in Lent Almighty God, whose blessed Son was led by the Spirit to be tempted by Satan: Come quickly to help us who are assaulted by many temptations; and, as you know the weaknesses of each of us, let each one find you mighty to save; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.