Friday, March 23, 2018

Through Stained Glass: A Mid-Week Reflection-Life and Death

a tree gives glory to God by being a tree. a dog, in this case, Silas,
gives the Creator glory by being a dog. So, too, we give glory
to God by being, you guessed it, ourselves.
this photo is taken during a recent hike at the
Campbell Creekside Outdoor Center for Environmental Education at LC.

Friend, you are loved.

Strong or weak…
            Wise or foolish…
                        Faithful or floundering…
                                    Young or ol…seasoned…
                                                Doubtful or certain…

No matter what, you are loved. No judgment. No condemnation. No expectations.

So much so, God in Christ came to offer you


The gift of

Here is something else we must remember.

Paul mentions it,
Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. 35Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36As it is written,
‘For your sake we are being killed all day long;
   we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.’
37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

God loves you.

Let go of whatever it is that prevents you from believing this simple truth.

Name whatever season you are in or whatever part of this journey called life or faith or salvation, and know that Christ is present with you.

Take hold of the good news illuminated by the Spirit or ‘Spark of Universe’ that dwells inside you, and live freely as yourself.

It’s why God created you.
            It’s why Jesus rescued you.
                        It’s how the Spirit reveals the Triune God in your life.

God is big enough to handle the entirety of who you are…

                                    Who we are…

                                                            It’s the reason why you are


Join us Sunday. There’ll be a parade, palm branches, and proclamations of God’s presence in our lives…even with the cross of Good Friday in the distance.

Until then, rest in the assurance that in life and in death, we belong entirely to God. 

Friday, March 16, 2018

Through Stained Glass: A Mid-Week Reflection-Devastating Destruction

I took this photo last night, somewhere between
Petersburg and Lincoln--a town right in the middle.

1In those days when there was again a great crowd without anything to eat, he called his disciples and said to them, 2"I have compassion for the crowd, because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat. 3If I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way - and some of them have come from a great distance."



This word feels as devastating to enunciate as its meaning.

Sometimes winter is destructive. The season can annihilate hope, rupture our peace, and darken our joy. The darkness causes pause, which we sometimes fill we unhealthy habits. Despite all the frustrations that may accompany winter, it is a remarkable season. Environmentally speaking, winter eliminates many damaging insects and germs. Also, this is the time of year when plants (and even some animals) go into a type of hibernation where they build up all the good energy needed for new growth. As much as we may not like the winter and seek refuge in warmer parts of the country, it provides the necessary cycles of death that eventually lead to life.

Sounds familiar, yea?

In many ways, this happens to us, too. In worship, we have been letting go of our baggage and expectations that may prevent us from experiencing and embracing God’s love for us. We are dying to self so that we may live, which is what Lent is all about.

For the last five weeks or so we have been reading about the presence of God in the person of Jesus. We have learned how Jesus was the heart and face of God. The incarnation of God, the glory of God, was and is good news for us. Especially those of us who have had a hard, long winter. All this talk about death and 'dying to sin' has left us wanting the death-defying gift of resurrection.

I’m here to tell you it is coming. The Light of Christ will soon emerge on the other side of evil, and offers, though it hasn’t ever gone away, the gift of life.

But we must be patient. We must honor the seasons and trust the slow, often unnoticed work of restoration happening within and around us.

Our faith is the same way: we must trust the patient, often hidden work of God happening within and around us.

As we inch closer to Easter, let us continue to allow Lent to do its thing. Let us stay in our disciplines of fasting and prayer as we follow Christ into the wilderness. Let us continue to accompany Jesus though it might mean we confront our brokenness. Let us keep on our journey towards embodying the same love gifted to us by God.

We are nearing the homestretch, friends.

We might be tired. We might ache a little. Chances are, we are becoming restless and irritable. All of which is okay.

Just remember, like the crowds who were hungry and tired from following Jesus throughout his ministry, Jesus sees us. And he’ll do the same for us as he did for them in their exhaustion: when Jesus could have sent them away and back home, he had compassion on them and gave them food for their journey, rest for their souls, and hope for their hearts.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Through Stained Glass: A Mid-Week Reflection-Divine Dreams, Lent's Life

Hey, how is it going?

'It' being your Lenten journey.

Are you feeling the withdrawal yet from giving up caffeine? Are you battling the urge to watch just five minutes of Fox News? How is the prayer/meditation time going?

Is the wilderness as bad as you imagined it would be?

Hey, you're not alone in this journey. In taking up our crosses, we do so together. When I wander from mine, it is my prayer you will lead me back and help me pick it up. When I begin to set my sights on being more relevant than reverent before God, I want you to remind me to get behind Jesus, not in front.

Remember, Lent is not only about us becoming more aware of our brokenness. It is also a time when we must emphasize the love and acceptance God still has for us, despite how many times we fail to pick up our crosses and follow Jesus. It is true, Jesus sees our suffering. And it is also true, Jesus sees us in our moments when we are adversarial like Peter, preoccupied with our interests and possessed with our ideals. Christ listens when we do our best to create him in our image and force him into our likeness. Jesus, however, took on our humanity, just as it is, with all its bitterness and fearfulness, and gave it back to us just as his humanity is, transfigured by the beauty of his living, filled full of his joy. In Lent, we recall how we are first a people of the resurrection, going on always, always giving back to Christ's life to the world.

Though we may walk through the valley of the shadow of death, arriving there by our own doing or not, God is with us-meeting us with the whole power of the love that has overcome all death's valleys.

Hey, you're doing great. The work, and yes, it is work, you're putting in is transforming your heart. Trust the process of Lent, this time of renewal and grace. God is moving towards you. You don't have to resist or earn this gift. Let God clothe you with goodness and mercy; allow Christ to touch the wounds of your heart; and receive the Spirit's gentle caress, one that is as gentle as the daffodils springing forth outside your window.

Jesus told Peter to trust him. To do so, Peter needed to turn his attention to divine things. When we listen to Christ's command, it is then we will see Christ's compassionate and healing presence in our midst.

We are on our way, friends. The wilderness is getting more wild with each step, but each step brings us closer to the heart of Christ and one another.