Friday, March 11, 2011

A Little Light Over Here, Please?!

O send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling. Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy; and I will praise you with the harp, O God, my God. 
- Psalm 43: 3-4
Lent - it’s not a season of the church year that I look forward to...and I don’t think I’m alone in that. I feel like Lent is the ‘black sheep’ of the church-year family, like people go out of their way to avoid thinking about it or acknowledging it or we simply don’t understand what it is really all about.  I’m trying to approach Lent in a different way this year...
Usually Lent is approached with a solemnity that is quite appropriate for a time of fasting, prayer and meditation.  But it is usually more than solemnity that we have - we often approach Lent with a solemnity mixed with anxiety, fear, trepidation and despise. Because, after all, isn’t Lent all about giving up those things that we love the most; chocolate, wine, cookies, pasta....
I’m approaching Lent this year as a season of searching - I’m not giving anything up. As a matter of fact, I’m adding something, a spiritual discipline, meditation. Now, before those of you who know me well laugh hysterically at the thought of me trying to sit still and quiet ALONE for any lengh of time, hear me out.  I’m going to try meditation so that I can focus in on God’s voice and God’s light during my time of fasting, prayer and preparation.  I’m going to spend time in silent solitude and try to see the light and the truth that is guiding me down this path called life.  Along the way I may experience some ‘noise’ or some ‘darkness’ but that is ok, because I know that God will lead me back to God. I know that my path, while sometimes curvy and hilly, is a path that leads to God’s grace and goodness.  
I pray that during my Lenten journey I am able to learn something about myself; I don’t know what it might be because if I knew it I wouldn’t have to learn it, right? I also pray that God will reveal something new to  me...something about the path that I am on. And I pray that what I learn and what is revealed will cause me, on that glorious Easter morn, to praise God, my exceeding joy and give Him thanks and praise for a safe and spiritual Lenten journey.
May it be so with you, as well.
Let us pray:
Guiding God - I pray your blessing upon your children as we begin our Lenten journeys.  Guide us with your light. Grant us courage to continue the journey, even when it’s rough, and bring us to an everlasting joy.  Amen.

Friday, March 4, 2011

You Want Me To Do WHAT?!

For the love of God is this, that we obey his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome, for whatever is born of God conquers the world. And this is the victory that conquers the world, our faith. - 1 John 5:3-4
There are many things in life that weigh us down; jobs, responsibilities, health concerns, money troubles, relationship issues...the list could go on and on.  Yet the one thing we let REALLY get us down is following God’s commandments.  When the disciples asked Jesus Teacher, what is the greatest commandment in the law? (Matthew 22:36) Jesus answered them simply: LOVE.  Love the Lord your God, Love your neighbor.  
The commandments are love, as God first loved us. Nothing crazy or grandiose.  Nothing that requires any special tools or large amounts of cash.  Just love. Love without limits, without conditions, without expectations.  The greatest gift we receive is God’s daily, unending, limitless love. 
The 2nd greatest gift we receive is the gift of the commandments. We often see the commandments as burdens; as things meant to make us feel guilty or to so constrict our lives and actions that simply ‘living’ is out of the question...however, the exact opposite is true.  God’s commandments give us a road map on how to live our lives.  They guide us in our relationships with God and with each other. They remind us of what is important: God and His desire to love and bless the whole world and our ability to get along with one another and live fruitful lives.
Imagine a world where we were able to let go of all the burdens that weigh us down so that we might love one another...
Paul pleads, in his 1st letter to the church at Corinth:  You must get along with each other. You must learn to be considerate of one another, cultivating a life in common. (1 Cor 1:10) Human disagreements, fights and arguments are not anything new. They were as common to the ancient world as they are to us today. Why is it that when we look to our neighbors we see natural enemies rather than natural friends; we prefer to draw lines of us vs them rather than see each other with the same love and grace that God looks upon us with.  
I urge you, friends - we cannot solve all the worlds’ problems of fighting and violence, but we can start here...with us.  Recognize the great gifts we are given in God’s love and in the commandments - and then simply live and love one another.
Let us pray:
Gracious God - there are things in this world that weigh us down, that burden our lives and keep us from keeping your commandments.  We lift all that to you now, trusting in your grace and mercy.  In our new found freedom, make us bold to love; to love you above all else, and our neighbors as ourselves.  Amen.