Monday, January 28, 2013

The Wee Hours

I couldn't sleep...might have been the coffee at 8 pm. I haven't been drinking high test lately so my caffeine tolerance may be lower. Or, maybe it's just that I have a lot on my mind. If anything, on nights like this, that's what keeps me from drifting off. It doesn't happen often and the cause doesn't have to be difficult stressful thoughts.

Tonight, for instance, I'm reliving Sunday morning's worship service. The liturgy at our new church is finally growing familiar -- familiar enough to rehearse it. It's becoming part of me, and I don't have to work so hard to follow along. The words and tunes flow from my heart as well as my voice, from memory, at last.

There are no contemporary choruses and very few familiar hymns. Collectively we recite prayers that I haven't prayed in church for years, confessions of sin, confessions of faith, creeds, and the Lord's Prayer. At least four sections of scripture are read, and communion is celebrated each and every week. This weekly communing with God, alongside fellow believers, is good for my soul, just like the balm of Gilead, soothing, healing, refreshing.

But reviewing it, recalling and reveling in it, is not at all...sleep inducing.

Quietly, in soft, cozy pajamas, slippered feet, and big fuzzy robe I trekked downstairs to make a cup of cocoa. On my way to the kitchen, before the light was turned on, I could see outside. Three big dark shapes against the white bright snow, deer frolicking on the front lawn. A beautiful sight in the moonlight. Worth the inconvenience of insomnia, seeing creatures of the night enjoying their wakeful time. Perfectly natural for them, not so natural for me. I sip hot cocoa and watch them until a yawn sneaks up on me. This is a good time to return to my snugly warm bed and be grateful for it. So very glad to crawl between flannel sheets and not to be bedding down in snow.


Monday, January 21, 2013

Watching the Inauguration

No words, so I'll share the words of Zack Hunt at his blog The American Jesus

And if you're struggling with all of the goings on take some advice from Rachel Held Evans
#6 was particularly helpful to me (I say with a smile and a wink)

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Break the Hate

First, recognize the Hate.
So easy to see in others. So easy to see directed at others.
So easy to justify, rationalize, me.
Impossible to break without recognizing -- Hate.

What is Hate? The opposite of Love?

Love is patient. Love is kind.
There is no room to be envious or boastful when you love.
Love is not rude and doesn't insist on its own way. Rather than demanding rights, it looks out for the rights of others.
Love is not irritable and resentful.
Love is never happy to see wrong or participate in wrong, instead it is overjoyed with what is good and true and pure and right.
Love keeps no record of wrongs.
Love bears all things, believes all things and is full of hope.
Love endures all things.
Love never ends...once grasped, it becomes part of us and it will not leave us.

As for hate, not so. Hate can be smothered by love, done away with. Hate can be broken down, broken to pieces and swept away.

I'm counting on it.

I have a long way to go. I cannot yet admit that I hate. But I do. I hate injustice...which is so very noble of me. It's a virtue. But my virtue is my vice. Hating injustice and unjust behavior translates to hating people who are unjust, hating the bigots: racists, religious extremists, hypocrites, dogmatists, legalists, chauvinists, homophobes, political fanatics, who are terrorists in their own right.

I hate people who hate people.

And there I am -- grouped alongside them.

First I have to recognize it.
So easy to see in others.
So easy to justify in myself.

Dear God, it's time to break the hate. Starting with the hate in me. 

Monday, January 7, 2013

Guilt, Shame and New Year's Resolutions

New Year's Resolution # 1 -- Blog more often. FAIL TRY AGAIN
New Year's Resolution #2 -- Read my Bible everyday. FAIL TRY AGAIN
New Year's Resolution #3 -- Exercise. FAIL TRY AGAIN
New Year's Resolution #4 -- Eat better. FAIL TRY AGAIN

ENOUGH! Oh the shame of it all. I didn't expect to start the new year under-the-weather. When I woke each morning of January after a rotten night's sleep, I did not reach for my Bible. Instead I reached for a tissue and some ibuprophen. I didn't bound downstairs, fire up my computer to write a blog, or strap on my skis for a glide around the back field. I sure didn't fix a steaming bowl of oatmeal with walnuts and raisins. Instead I stood in a hot steamy shower and then collapsed on the couch -- calling it a day before even starting my day.

And suddenly, the calendar says 7 days of January have passed. Sheesh.

Feeling better now. Took down the Christmas decorations...well, 1/2 of the decorations. Packed for a trip to Arizona. Checked the weather in Phoenix. The forecaste is 70 degrees, which sounds absolutely glorious. So good that I'm sure to get back on track with those darn resolutions.

I've been inspired to make one more resolution -- more important than the others. I want to use Scripture, apply it to my life to change me. I don't want to use it to judge others. Pfffft...that's so easy and natural. And I swear, people think they are I think I am being a better Christian by showing off how well versed and knowledgable they are I am by juding everyone else's sins. I've been asking myself as I come to the end of reading through the entire Bible last year (another failed resolution, but hey, I might nail it by February 2013), what is the purpose of God's written down words?

I believe it's to show us how awesome and mighty He is... and that we simply don't measure up. Try as we may, even the best of us isn't good enough. Only God is good. But for some reason, known only to Him, he loves us and wants us to love him, so he made a way. The point of the Bible is to show us it's not by our works, it's by His grace that we are saved. Does the Bible tell us how we should then live? Yes it does. It says Love one another as I have loved you. It says Don't judge. It says Repent. It says Rejoice and be glad. It says Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. It says You can't do any of that on your own strength, but be of good cheer, Jesus came to make a way, and with Him, through Him, in Him all things are possible. We can do all things through Him.

Trusting in that, my new New Year's resolution is to not judge anyone other than myself. Not shame anyone (even myself), but humbly walk with God. He has shown us the way to please Him (Micah 6:8): love mercy, act justly, and walk humbly with your God (i.e. follow his example).

I can do that. It may take a little reminding, a bit of chastising, and even a little guilt, but I can do that. Not on my own of course, but with His help, I can do that. And when I FAIL I'll just hit the strike through and change it to TRY AGAIN. He just keeps giving me do-overs and second chances. What a God he is!