Witnessing to Your Prayers

Throughout life, I’ve been surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses–people who have continually shown me what it means to show love to all Gods people. My mom has been one of those incredible witnesses. Through her mental illness, she’s never let her faith waiver. She seriously would give thr shirt off of her back to anyone in need. Her example, along with the examples of many, call me to witness to the power of the cross and God’s love for all of us. Jesus came “not to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through it.”

Throughout Lent, my Lenten discipline has been to pray through my Facebook friends list. Today I wrote on the last wall. The requests that my friends and family have trusted me with is incredible. It’s hard to put into words what it means to pray for others. And in return, to have them ask me to pray for them. I’ve witnessed the power of what it means to lift these prayers up to God. There have been times that God has answered these prayers as we have requested but often it’s been in totally different ways.

To be a witness to the very depths of my friends and families prayer requests is extremely humbling. I  started this practice to remember what Christ has done for us. I never expected to be transformed by lifting up these prayers, but it’s totally what’s happened.

To watch my friends and family experience relief or joy or whatever in the midst of their lives, I’ve learned that prayer truly can and does make a difference. Are we willing to be cloud of witnesses for one another? Because in doing so, the world can become a much better place.

Children of Light

“Jesus said to them, ‘The light is with you for a little longer. Walk while you have the light, so that the darkness may not overtake you. If you walk in the darkness, you do not know where you are going. While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of light.’ “
(John 12: 35-36)

Have you ever noticed how a little light can make a big difference? A few weeks ago, I was sitting watching television when their was a big car accident near my neighborhood. The lights flickered for a moment and then everything went dark. The car had hit the transformer and knocked out all of the electricity. I opened my front door to see my neighborhood and several surrounding neighborhoods completing pitch black. I went to my kitchen and grabbed the lighter and lit some candles. Those candles gave off enough light that I could still sit and read in my living room.

Light has this amazing power to bring hope in the midst of the darkness. Light is indeed a sure sign of hope. Yet sometimes it can be so incredibly hard to find that light when it seems you are surrounded by darkness. The darkness too often overwhelmingly distinguishes the light. So are we willing to believe in the light when it is there? Are we also willing to be children of light to help spread the light of God’s love, light, and hope in this broken world?

Yet this world is so often–too often–filled with darkness. There are my LGBTBQ+ friends who yearn to see the light and be accepted in this world. There are my friends who are searching to find the light in the midst of their own battle of depression and/or anxiety. There are my friends who fear for their safety. Can we truly be children of the light and show them the light of Christ?

The truth is that too often the world is blinded by the darkness. We are afraid to show the light to others. Yet it is because of what Christ did for us that we have been given this gift; this gift of grace that opens our eyes to the hope of the resurrection and to the hope of light and life. For in dying on the cross and being raised again, Christ shows us that God indeed has the ultimate power; the power to overcome death and darkness with life and light. 

The Injustice of the Cross

Yesterday we watched as the kids came into worship proudly waving their palm branches. Cheers of “Hosanna in the highest” quickly change to the words of conviction as the crowd yells “Crucify him.” This week begins with a parade and ends with one of the most horrific acts; the crucifixion of Jesus who came “not to condemn the world but to save it.” Our hands–dirty and blood stained–because we too are guilty of not saying a word and letting Jesus die for our own sins. The power of Jesus’ life, ministry and death reminds me continually of the amazing power God has and also of the scandalous love God has for all of us.

From the parade, we move to the table where Jesus washes his disciples feet. At the table, Jesus washes all of their feet including Judas’s feet who will betray him and Peter’s feet who will deny him three times before the cock crows. Jesus should have been the last person to wash their feet. But in this gracious act, Jesus embodies God’s love and also embodies “diakonia” (service) for all the world. We too are called to pick up our basins and towels to wash the feet of all God’s people. This act also links us back to the waters of our Baptism where we have been called and claimed as God’s beloved children. In the waters of Baptism, we are washed clean.

From Maundy Thursday, we journey to the cross where Jesus is nailed to the cross. Hanging on the cross, a crown of thorns upon his head, and nails driven into his hands and his feet, Jesus simply states, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” Then Jesus breathes his last. In the silence of that dark Good Friday, the silence pierced by the mourners gathered as Jesus dies. At Good Friday services, I often shed tears as I recall the incredible thing Christ did for me—did for all of us.

And then from that night, after he is placed in the tomb, three days later, the women come to the tomb, find the stone rolled away and the tomb empty. Jesus has been raised from the grave. Again I cling to the promises of these words from Clarence W. Hall “Easter says you can put death in the grave, but it won’t stay there.”

Easter proclaims that life not death and light not darkness do indeed have the final word. Yet there are days that it can be so hard to see light and life. Too many of those that I care about (friends and family alike) struggle with finding the light in the midst of their own darkness of depression. Too many I care about fear for their own lives as they go out into the world. Too many I care about are searching to find their own resurrection hope in the midst of life’s joys and sorrows. Too many….find themselves trying to see the light and that death does not have the final word. And in watching them suffer, I deeply want to rush to Easter, yet I cannot fully experience the promise of Easter without traveling through Maundy Friday and the darkness of Good Friday myself.

On the cross, Jesus “opens the eyes to the blind, brings the prisoners out of the dungeon; from those who sit in the darkness.” Yet in the midst of life’s hard, it can be so incredibly difficult to trust in the promise of the cross. But as Spring beckons forth, new life is all around us; new life that reminds us that God does indeed make all things new again. Or in the words of Martin Luther, “Our Lord has written the promise of the resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf in springtime.”

Yet even though I know the end of the story, I still find myself asking, “Does he have to die again?” The injustice of the cross though calls me to be one of Jesus’ disciples in the world. In the words of Micah 6:8, God calls us all “to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with our God.” In other words, it is because of the cross that we know the power of God’s scandalous love for all the world. So are we willing to proclaim in that scandalous love and fight for peace, justice, and mercy in all the world?

For in doing so, the words of the prophet Isaiah are fulfilled and Jesus comes as this profound gift that overcomes death and the grave. We confess in resurrection hope and the promise of God’s love for all of us through these very words from the second petition of the Apostles Creed: “I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only son our Lord. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell. On the third day, he rose again. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again to judge the living and the dead.”

Jesus is the very embodiment of atonement—as Jesus in his humanity–becomes at one with us. Jesus sits with us in our darkness. Jesus wipes away our tears. Jesus gets down and dirty with us and isn’t afraid to experience the depths to which we experience life. And Jesus is the first to proclaim in God’s love for us by dying on the cross. And because of God’s love for us, we know the end of the story and can proudly proclaim on Easter morning, “Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. Alleluia!” But not before first experiencing Jesus’ last supper on Maundy Thursday and the darkness of Good Friday.

I am linking up with these lovely ladies: Carol and Anita at Inspire Me Monday, Kelly and the RaRa linkup, Holly and Testimony Tuesday and Jennifer and Tell His Story.

 
 

Sunday Blessings 166

(1) Getting my prize in the mail. Thanks Krafty Kash!!

(2) Glorious Spring weather

(3) Talking to my fave on the phone

(4) Voxing with KA

(5) Starbucks Iced cinnamon Almond macchiato

(6) Enjoying a gorgeous 70 degree day

(7) Starbucks Very Berry Hibiscus Refresher

(8) Binge listening to some awesome podcasts.

(9) Finally watching Finding Dory

(10) A text from my aunt and uncle because they saw me on the news.

(11) A great meeting with awesome colleagues.

(12) A short PLN

(13) Sweet little ones wanting to share with me this am.

(14) Tackling Mt Laundry

(15) Compliments on my devotion from each other.

(16) Tons of people asking me if they saw me on the news last night.

From the Palm Branches to the Nails

Their little hands waving high their palm branches. The sound of voices singing “Crown Him with Many Crowns” permeating the air. On this day, we remember Jesus triumphal entry; riding on a donkey just as the prophet had foretold. This day changes everything as we shift from “Hosanna in the Highest heaven” to “Crucify him!”

Do we realize the truth of this story–that the blood of Jesus is on our hands and our children’s children? Too often we gloss that part of the story over. We forget how guilty the crowd and even us are. Yet the reality is that we are just as guilty. We so easily like Peter and Judas deny and betray Jesus. Does Jesus not come to die on a cross because of our sins? Is he not the one who dies because God loves us that much?

As he rode into the city, people were still asking, “Who is this?” Did they truly not know or where they protesting? In a matter of moments, Jesus was handed over and we stand as he is nailed to the cross. The cross–a wooden beam–a reminder of God’s scandalous love for all of us. But how often do we jump from Palm Sunday to Easter without experiencing the depth and truth of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday?

Every day the world wakes to the brokenness of the world. This morning, we woke to the news of the church shootings near Cairo, Egypt. It is in moments like these that I see myself standing at the foot of the cross; with Jesus blood dripping from my own hands. How can we treat each other like this? Why can we not let each other worship peacefully? God is continually calling us “to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with our God.”

From the palm branches to the nails to the empty tomb, Christ fulfills the prophesy and reminds us that he is indeed a prophet; a prophet sent to overcome death and the grave; a prophet who continually awakens the world to God’s grace, mercy, forgiveness and love; and a prophet who tells us to tell and retell this profound story.

“Hosanna in the highest heaven. Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.”–Matthew 21: 9

Yet are we willing to share the message of this prophet knowing that he comes to flip over tables and turn the world upside down?

A Covenant of Peace

We live in a broken fractured world. There are divisions all around us. There is war and not peace. There is racism, sexism and all sorts of isms in this world. There are walls–visible and invisible built around us. I yearn for the days that there is no wall and there is no division.

How often do we think Jesus is standing right next to us? I remember a seminary professor saying, “When you think Jesus is standing right next to you, he is more than likely standing on the other side of the line.” In reading scripture, there are definitely times I’m almost certain Jesus is standing next to me. But when I put myself in someone else’s shoes, it helps me to see their perspective and try to understand where they stand.

I yearn for peace and justice. So I cling to the promise that God gave us; a covenant of peace for all people. A covenant of peace that breaks down the walls of injustice. A covenant of peace that stops war from breaking out. A covenant of peace that opens our eyes and ears to see and hear God’s love in this world. A covenant of peace that breaks forth and is risen from the grave. A covenant of peace that we as God’s people can cling to today, tomorrow and for years to come.

The Cross and God’s Love

I am linking up for Five Minute Friday.  The FMF is hosted by Kate Motaung on her blog Heading Home. Today’s prompt is “enough.” I love spending time with this crew. They bless me beyond words. We’d love to have you join us.  Just hop onto Twitter on Thursday evenings and follow the #fmfparty. Hope to see you there! 

“Where you there when they crucified my Lord….Where you there when they nailed him to a tree…where you there…sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.” 

God’s love for us is so wide and so deep that it is enough for God to send God’s son not to condemn the world but in order to save it. 

In the darkness of Good Friday, Jesus is nailed to the cross. Blood dripping from the places where the nails are pierced into his hands and feet. A crown of thorns dug into his scalp. A single tear as he instructs his mother to care for and love his beloved friend. Jesus then breathes his last. The silence pierces the darkness as the crowd watches in amazement. Jesus has been crucified.

We know the rest of the story. We know that on that Easter morning, the women come to the tomb and found the stone rolled away and the tomb empty. God had the power to overcome death and the grave. In the resurrection, we cling to the promise that God’s love is enough and as we trust in resurrection hope.

Resurrection hope is something that I find myself grasping to during these final days of Lent. I watch the news and see wars and so much evil unfolding. My eyes turn away from what I see; I can no longer watch. It is beyond enough; too much in fact. And because it is beyond enough, I find myself standing at the foot of the cross crying out; crying out that God’s justice, mercy and peace reign. Crying out that love not hatred has the final word. Crying out because of God’s scandalous love that sent God’ son to die on the cross for each and every one of us. 

So this week, as we journey from Jesus triumphal entry to his last supper to Good Friday to Easter, may we cling to the promise that God’s love is enough as Jesus comes to break all barriers and show us the ultimate power of God’s love. And as Jesus utters those words “it is finished,” may we know that it is finished as Jesus fulfills the prophesy as he lives, dies, and then is resurrected. 

“Alleluia! Christ is risen. He is risen indeed.”

Stumbling

“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” These words make me tremble and full with fear. They at times seem so impossible, but they aren’t. When we are able to do this, all of us are changed.

I wonder what Jeremiah thought of these words. In our text from Jeremiah 20:7-13, we know that Jeremiah trusted in the Lord. “Therefore my persecutors will stumble, and they will not prevail.” The Lord sees the heart and the mind.

What does the Lord see of our hearts and minds? I hope that the Lord sees me doing my best “to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with our God.” I know that there are days that I’ll fail at this. But more days than not, I want to be seen as one of Jesus children who continually tries to shower love on all Gods people.

God loved us so much God sent Gods one and only son into the world for us.

God’s Wonderful Works

“Sing praises to the Lord, call on his name,
Make known his deeds among the peoples.
Sing to him, sing praises to him;
tell all of his wonderful works.”–Psalm 105: 1-2 (NRSV)

This Psalm starts out so beautifully and then it ebbs and flows throughout the text. At the very end, it returns once again to joy and what God does for us and provides for us. I cannot help but think of one of my favorite verses from another Psalm; Psalm 30:verse 5 “Weeping may come for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” Weeping will come, but joy also will come again too.

It is just that in the midst of the swarms of locusts, it is hard to see. I have been swarming the gates of heavens myself with prayers lifted for so many friends and family that are struggling. I want so much for them to be able to see the light instead of the darkness. Yet I know that I just have to be patient. I have to continue to shower love on them. They will one day see the light again.

Often it is hard to trust in that promise, yet God does work among us. God sends people into our lives to walk this journey of faith with us. God wraps us in God’s love, grace, and mercy. God sent God’s one and only son into the world because God loves us that much. God sent God’s son not to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

God calls us to be God’s hands and feet in this broken world. Knowing that God works among us, I cannot help but continue to pray and tell the story of what Christ has done for us. I cannot help but lift my voice for those who have lost their voices in the midst of life’s hard. So today, if you are feeling voiceless and like you cannot see the light in the midst of the darkness, I am lifting my voice for you. And one day soon, together we will all be able to sing the praises of the wonderful work God has done for us.

In the Blazing Hot Fire

A few summers ago, I was attending my favorite continuing education event in Estes Park, Colorado when the Fort Collins fires took place. Walking through the streets of downtown Estes, one could see the smoke plumes rising from the fires in Fort Collins. It was a haunting sight to see the beautiful Rocky Mountains enveloped by the smoke from those fires.

Another summer, while in Estes, a fire broke out in the Estes Park area. Some friends and I had been downtown and left to go change for supper. On our way back into town, we found the entrance to Estes blocked off from incoming traffic. They were not going to let any others put their safety in jeopardy.
Fire has this all consuming power to hurt us. A fire can easily get out of control and burn someone. A fire can take away our most treasured possessions in a second. Last night, I was reading Kara Tippett’s book “The Hardest Peace.” In the book, she shares the story of how when they first moved to Colorado, the High Park fires started. In seconds, they had to pack up what they could and leave from their new home. Luckily, they were able to move back into their home. But Kara still found herself cleaning the smoke damage out of her home.
Today in Daniel, we read the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (or as the Veggie Tale’s movie affectionately call them Shack, Rack, and Benny). These men are thrown into a blazing hot furnace; seven times hotter than what it should be. In the fire, a fourth man comes to free them. From the text we know that this fourth man has the appearance of God. The three men (Shack, Rack, and Benny) come out of the fire with not a single burn on them.
In this story, I am once again reminded of the power of God. That God is with us in our brokenness. That God is willing to get down and dirty with us. That God is able and will stand in the blazing hot fires with us. God calls us to be God’s servants; servants who too will stand not outside the fire, but are willing to stand inside the fire too.