Friday, March 29, 2013

Go Home. There is Nothing More to See.

Good Friday at St. Pauls Church. The Stations of the Cross.

Station 1 Pilate Condemns Jesus to Die
Station 2 Jesus Accepts His Cross
Station 3 Simon Helps to Carry the Cross
Station 4 Jesus Speaks to the Women
Station 5 Jesus is Stripped of his Garments
Station 6 Jesus is Nailed to the Cross
Station 7 Jesus Cares for His Mother
Station 8 Jesus Dies on the Cross

Scripture readings and devotional readings brought Jesus journey and mine together, weaving history  together with the present. Happenings of more than 2000 years ago, events written down soon after, relating to people all through the ages, teaching, rebuking, training in righteousness for more than all of my yesterdays, finding relevance in my heart tonight (again).

Responsively we read:
We adore you O Christ and we bless you
Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Finally we prayed: O Lord, I cannot comprehend the depth and breadth of your love. There are not enough words in all languages together to describe what your love means to me... O Lord, we long for newness, for hope, for renewal, for life where there is now death. Out of this darkness bring to us the light of a new dawn. O Lord have mercy on us.

O Lord hear our prayers. We hope in you and trust in your mercy.

The old rugged cross before us, lights extinguished all around us, the pastor carried the last candle to the back of the church and said:

We hope for the dawning of a new day. We hope for God to bring newness out of endings. But today...Go Home. There is nothing more to see. Jesus Christ is dead.

(Adapted portions from "A Service of the Stations of the Cross"
by Dennis Bratcher Copyright 2011)

My heavy heart pounding, emotions raw with sympathy for Mary, the mother of Jesus. How could she possibly bear that scene? My love went out to my Savior who endured the pain and humiliation of the cross for me. So final, it seemed to me, so final.

But this is only Friday. I know that Sunday is coming. Sadness will be cast aside and gratitude will take its place.

Maundy Thursday

Our church had a very moving Maundy Thursday service. I didn't know what to expect...I've heard there can be footwashing ceremonies at those. Like, I know, Jesus washed his disciples feet at the last Supper, but honestly, I'm not looking for a footwashing experience. I mean, culturally that just isn't a thing these days. Back then your feet got dirty, they needed washed -- it's more akin to taking off shoes at the door, if you ask me. And most of us have perfectly clean socks under our shoes, so... no need of footwashing. I guess the point is to have a humbling experience by letting someone else wash your feet. I don't know about humbling, it seems more like embarrassing to me. And those really are two different things. No worries, I was assured ahead of time there wouldn't be any footwashing. But there would be "stripping of the altar". Hmmmm, another mystery.

At the end of a very worshipful church service complete with communion, the choir sang a dramatic rendition of Psalm 22 -- My God, My God... While they sang lights were gradually turned off, all but the lighting up front. Then in complete silence teens, one by one, entered the stage area and took everything, one item at a time, off the altar and the podium. As each object was removed another bit of light was extinguished until we sat in darkness. Except for the backlit picture of Jesus praying in Gethsemane the sanctuary was dark. Finally, a wooden cross carried down the middle isle was placed at the front. We sat quietly in the dark. I contemplated that old rugged cross, a replica of the one my Savior died on to pay the penalty for my sin, on a hill far away and a long time ago. I thought on that until it was time to leave. We were invited  go in peace, and asked to go in silence.

Maundy Thursday, Good much suffering and sadness, a somber time. Yes, but -- Sunday's coming!  

I didn't know the meaning of the word "maundy" and found this on Living Lutheran website.

“Maundy” comes from the Latin “mandatum;” it is from a verb that means “to give” or “to order” — command. After Jesus and the disciples finished the Last Supper and walked toward Gethsemane, Jesus taught them a new commandment — “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another” (John 13:34).

Kind of an appropriate scripture this week, not only in preparing for Easter, but also in light of the issue of marriage equality before the Supreme Court. Not a lot of love going on between Christians and gay people, many of whom are also Christians. But Jesus said to love one another. No. Actually, He commanded us to love one another. Just as he loved us.

Easy enough to say, hard to do, and harder still to show. But the proof is in our actions. It's looking for and acknowledging the good in people. It's affirming other people's worth and seeing that their needs are met. It's doing unto others as you want them to do to you. All religious arguments aside, it's wanting others to be treated fairly. And that's why I'm in favor of marriage equality. I'm not selling out my faith, the Bible, or God's laws. If you think I am we could have a conversation about that sometime. But...

There are some things in the Bible that are difficult to understand yet some commands are absolutely clear. Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love the Lord with all your heart, soul, strength and mind. The second is like it, love your neighbor as yourself. Add this Maundy Thursday verse from John 13:34, the last commandment he gave his disciples " one another.  Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another." That's clear. It's the filter through which all of our actions must pass. If we get that right the rest will fall into place.
By this shall all men know that you are mine...
if you have love for one another all the time.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Making the Most of Winter's Last Hurrah

A happy sentinal stands guard at the neighbor's house. Aren't they delightful? (I'm going to name them Audie, Biddy, and Mommy -- I thought it was Daddy, but the mittens are kinda girly.) These poor snowpeople have been dusted over time and again in the past week. Brrr....

But's spring. Green grass is itching to throw off this wet white blanket. Spring peepers want to sing. Daffodils can't wait to bloom.
Don't judge. It isn't a case of child labor.
She's actually putting snow back on the sidewalk.
                                                                                    And so very proud of her accomplishment!
Even the dog is wondering if it isn't time for winter to go away.
And crocus valiantly try to do their part.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A Novel Idea

The novel is “…a perpetual quest for reality..." Lionel Trilling, Literary Critic.

That phrase, "...a perpetual quest for reality, grabbed my attention. At first it tickled me, but then I found it disconcerting. Gosh, I pick up a novel to escape reality.    

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Happy St. Patrick's Day

I know it's St. Pat's Day because we've got snow to prove it. It's not green, but it's coming down steady just as expected mid-March in these here parts. I almost put away my skis this week, then remembered, March 17 is yet to come. But, not to fret! It's winter's last (hope, hope) hurray -- the St. Patrick's Day snow.

It's not terribly cold outside, but cold enough, and the snow is perfect to ski. So out I went to commune with nature before getting dressed up and heading off to commune with others inside a delightfully warm old-fashioned church building. And in both places, indoors and out, alone or with people, there is God.

The snow is still falling and collecting on tree branches, the walkway, the cars. It's beautiful and I wish to be content, though I'm wrinkling my nose at the thought of brushing off the car and driving in snow. That's what Tom would be doing if he weren't at work this weekend, putting on the banquet portion of his school's annual Broadway Dinners, a thirty year tradition I believe. This spectacular dinner show raises funds for the excellent music program at General McLane. Hugely supported by school district and community, Broadway Dinners outgrew the school facilities several years ago. The current venue is just down the road from school, which entails trucking place settings and cooked food in vans back and forth with the help of lots of volunteers. It's quite the undertaking, and my husband comes home exhausted but pleased with a job well done. (He really is a man of many talents.) Meanwhile the church who gives up her facilities for the long weekend sets up to worship elsewhere. A testimony to the support this school district gets from the community!
Is that a rabbit foot? Or am I just thinking rabbit because I went off on a trail. No matter. I must go clear off the car and head to church. I'm always running out of time, but here's my spin...I'm making the most of every minute. Believe that and I'll tell you another!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

A Dusting of Snow

My husband and I agree, we'd rather have a cold snowy March than and cold snowy April. Last year we enjoyed fabulous weather in March and then in April, not so much. In fact, not at all. So looking out at this white fluff today is okay with me. Sort of. Kind of. I remain hopeful for a warm, spring-like April. And, there are signs of spring -- a patch of purple crocus, green daffodil spikes poking up, and the occasional warm day. Warm enough the ladybugs and wasps are waking up.

Question, who swats at a wasp while holding a full cup of steaming coffee? That would be me. Coffee cup in left hand, I pick up the fly swatter with my right, slip off the chair and away from my computer (belatedly thanking God for little bits of good sense), and then identify the freaky buzzing around the light above my head. Yep it's a wasp, so I take a swipe at it, only making it mad. Whoa, coming at me. Boom, boom, boom goes my heart, and my arm pits prickle. Swoosh, swoosh, swoosh goes the swatter. Slosh, slosh, slosh goes the coffee, until I hear the little click indicating I connected with the scary little beast. Oh dear. I apologize to the wounded little fella as he limps off; he probably wasn't going to hurt me anyway. Only then am I aware of coffee slopped on my hand, splattered on pajamas and carpet, begging the question above. Who swats a wasp with a cup of coffee in hand? Really. Who does that?

Lucky for me the carpet up here in the loft is tight looped varigated shades of tan. I scrubbed it up, no one will notice once it's dry. But the coffee smell lingers...on my sleeves. Nothing the washing machine can't help me with. Now, let's see. I had something profound to blog about. I wonder what it was? No matter now, time's up.

RIP Mr. Wasp.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Off to Church

As I prepare for church I think of people everywhere gathering together this morning to worship God. People of faith will come together not only to honor God and pay homage to him, but also to encourage one another and build each other up.
While God is our strong tower, church is our earthly fortress. I hope you have a place of refuge, a place that welcomes you, where you feel buoyed, protected and safe. May our churches inspire us toward love and good deeds, and lead us to stand against injustice.