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Showing posts from July, 2020

Widening our hope scope

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Devotion for Being Apart - July 30 This summer, I will share new devotions from time to time, and invite you to browse through devotions that have been posted on this blog. Last week I stopped by the church building for the third time since mid-March. It's like a time machine.  Frozen in place from the day we walked out of it.  Dee's cookbooks are in the narthex for sharing - where we put them at her Memorial service. The Lenten "hope" bracelets are at the back of the sanctuary for people to take one on their way out of worship. And our bible people are smiling down on the empty pews from the windows.  The building feels stuffy and still, and a little sad. But one thing stopped me in my tracks.  It was our Lenten theme of hope, still speaking from the hallway wall: Our questions, with the Psalm 23 collage we did in All-ages Sunday school. So here it is. When we hung these questions on the wall, we were living in the "what if?"  We had no idea what w

How to Pray in a Pandemic

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Devotion for Being Apart - July 26 This summer, I will share new devotions from time to time, and invite you to browse through devotions that have been posted on this blog. I llustration of the prayers, done today during worship by  Susan Hense l Romans 8:26-28 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words.  And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. Amusement parks have reopened in Japan, and along with them, some new rules.  (I mentioned this in my  devotion on 7-17 ).  This rule for roller coasters is posted where you can see as you are boarding. “Please scream inside your heart.”  I first discovered it when someone shared in a tweet that said,

What are you waiting for?

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Devotion for Being Apart - July 24 This summer, I will share new devotions from time to time, and invite you to browse through devotions that have been posted on this blog. As a pastor, I have the distinct and unique benefit of also being the proofreader and theological sounding board to a prolific theologian. The section of Andy's latest manuscript that we worked through today talked about waiting. I wrote about  waiting  in a devotion back in May.  It’s July, and we are still waiting. Waiting, Andy discussed, is always waiting  for  something. There is no waiting that isn't directed at some end.  We wait for a bus, or for our food at a restaurant, or wait for an answer to our college application, job interview, or offer on a house. Because waiting is for something, imagining being stuck waiting, with no end or goal, feels awful.  He uses the example of prison - where the only thing someone is waiting for is for the waiting to be over.  Right now,

Looking more closely

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Devotion for Being Apart - July 23 This summer, I will share new devotions from time to time, and invite you to browse through devotions that have been posted on this blog. Last night Maisy called me into her room. She'd had a rough day,  feeling down and despondent for most of it.  But I could see when I entered her room that something had shifted.  Her eyes sparkled when she said, "Hey mom, I was just talking to my friend Greta, and I asked her how she is such a content and happy person so much of the time. She told me its gratitude. She tries every day to notice all the things she's thankful for. I just did it, and Mom, it really works!" "That's great, honey!" I replied. Then, in typical Maisy-style, never letting me be a bystander but pulling me into life, she said, "You try it now. Just look around and name what you're thankful for in your head." Then she watched me expectantly. So I did it. I looked around the room a

Calloused Hope

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Devotion for Being Apart - July 17 This summer, I will share new devotions from time to time, and invite you to browse through devotions that have been posted on this blog. I heard a couple weeks ago that while Japan has reopened some theme parks, to help prevent the spread of Covid-19, screaming on roller coasters is outlawed. Signs at the parks now say, "Please scream inside your heart."  Someone shared this news on Twitter with the comment, "After 6 months, 2020 finally has a slogan." Please scream inside your heart. From time to time this comes back to me and I like it, because I feel like that's what I am doing, and it makes me smile to be given permission - nay, encouragement - for this activity. We are not off this roller coaster any time soon, so please scream inside your heart. Also feels true: Screaming in each other's faces could spread infection, so please scream alone and quietly. That message I am actively resisting.  We nee

No Condemnation

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Devotion for Being Apart - July 12 This summer, I will share new devotions from time to time, and invite you to browse through devotions that have been posted at this blog. Romans 8:1-11 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  For the living reality of connection and life through Christ has set you free from the way of fear, disconnection and deadness.  For God has done what an ethical framework for a good life, weakened by our division and selfishness, could not do.  By sending Jesus, God-with-us, to share humanity with us to deal with our brokenness and division, God condemned this disconnection from God and each other, so that we might actually live in right relationship with God and each other.  We live not led by disconnection, fear and self-centeredness, but guided by our deep and secure belonging to God and each other. For those who live in the way of fear are consumed with pursuits that bring disconnection from God and eac

Four Months

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Devotion for Being Apart - July 9 This summer, I will share new devotions from time to time, and invite you to browse through devotions that have been posted on this blog. A few days ago I had a conversation with a friend who was worried about what to do with school in the Fall. She was caught imagining different scenarios, playing out the stresses and choices to figure out if school returned full time, part time, distance, etc.  Finally, she said, "It's really hard to make a decision when we don't have all the information yet."  When she said that something clicked in me. "It's not really hard." I said. "It's impossible. It's impossible to make a decision when we don't have all the information yet.  Use your energy on what's possible."   Again I am reminded of Matthew 6:34, "“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today." This week marks f

Can't seem to get it right

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Devotion for Being Apart - July 5 This summer, I will share new devotions from time to time, and invite you to browse through devotions that have been posted on this blog. Romans 7:15-25 Paul's letter just got  awkward .  The renowned teacher has been talking about God, and the church, and big ideas about faith, and now he’s suddenly talking about  himself . But he’s not saying things he's proud of, he’s talking about what he’s  not  proud of – where he feels helpless or lost. It’s a little too personal, like he’s had one too many, and the deep down feelings are coming up and, we want to say,  Paul, dude, it’s ok , and try to get him back on track to with the big ideas. Or tell him to save it for his therapist’s office.  Besides, instead of good news, this kind of feels like  bad  news.  Or like he’s telling us this bad news to set us up for some good news, but we’re clearly not there yet.  It’s uncomfortable to stop here.  Let’s get to the gospel!