Sunday, November 6, 2016

Saints

In an attempt to pray and capture the swirling thoughts and feelings of my sleep-deprived brain; feeling the sting of missing worship at my church on All Saints Sunday, yet giving thanks for the new life I cradle in my arms - I offer these imperfect, yearning words.   


Today.
A one month old swaddled in sleep.
Today.
All Saints Sunday.

Rare quiet moments
To wonder
On the joys and sorrows of life
The tug-o-war playing out in my heart
For life gone by
For life beginning

There is laughter
There are tears
In both.

The passing of time,
How life does change in one year
One month
One week

The close of one chapter
That beckons a new beginning
Whether we want it
Or not.

The whisper of a saint’s final breath
Lingering in the starlit space
Waiting to fill the lungs
Of a newborn’s cry

And the quiet thanksgivings
The bittersweet goodbyes
For those who lived well
Loved hard;
Touched the world with
Kindness and grace

These rare quiet moments
Are yours,
Ours

Swaddled safely in the God
Who is yesterday, today
And always.


Saturday, July 30, 2016

A New Day

Isaiah 44:1-5; Joel 2:28-29

I have been doing a devotion titled "40 Days with the Holy Spirit" by Jack Levison.  Forty days has taken me all summer.  Today I read two entries in the book, days 35 & 36, and in my reflection time I wrote in the last page of my current red, softbound journal.  One that I started last summer in June.  It's totally not a big deal to end one journal and open another for the first time - but I like to think it is.

Today I read and thought about how the Holy Spirit knows no boundaries.  Duh, right? But how we forget it.  The lines in the sand that we draw to keep us in and them out, the Spirit drenches in holy rain. Soaking us all - all flesh - with the blessings and promises of God.  Words I wish I wrote say for today's reflection say this:
"Horizontally the outpouring of the Spirit extends to all flesh - not just a single people group or state or nation or continent...the words all flesh crush the rigid shell of nationalism, for all flesh elsewhere in the Jewish Bible includes animals (Gen 6:19) and all of humankind (Gen 6:12; Deut 5:26; Psalm 65:2; Is 49:26; 66:23). The prophetic promise of the outpouring of the Spirit breaks every artificial boundary, every self-imposed border, ever pretense to privilege.  The Spirit also drills vertically deep into society, from top to bottom, from distinguished men to their nameless female slaves...There is a remarkable leveling out of society, a devastation of privilege, an obliteration of all barriers, whether of money, age, gender, or status in society."
Jack Levison, Forty Days with the Holy Spirit

Lines in the sand, drenched away by the Holy Spirit.  A vision that sounds warm and fuzzy, but in reality is anything but.  

Today I will go to a parent orientation at the place where Abbey will start pre-school in a few weeks. My baby girl is growing up.  And in the meantime the baby inside me continues to move and dance and kick in my belly - I cannot wait to meet Michael Cayce.

On this day in late July 2016, as I make an ordinary closing of a journal an important moment for my life and spiritual journey, I want Abbey & Michael both to know this (if they ever read it):

On Thursday of this past week, a historical moment was made in our country. Whether you like her or not, Hillary Clinton became the first woman in our nation's history to accept the nomination for presidency by a major political party.
Abbey & Michael, both of you can achieve anything you want.  Both of you can set goals for yourself and reach them.  Although, there will be hardships, failure, and pain along the way.  I hope and pray, through the good and bad times, that you continue along a path that molds you into the beloved people you are created to be. But I ask only this: that you work toward your goals and dreams with compassion. That you remember the message of our faith - from Noah to Moses to the prophets to Jesus - God's spirit drenches all of us with the goodness and blessings of God.  Do not step on others as you walk the path of your dreams.  Rather, reach out a hand to carry others along, and to be led by those very different from you. 

For the Holy Spirit truly does soak us with generosity and compassion and transformation whether we like it or not - if only we let it.  

And all of us - all flesh - are loved by God, the Creator of the world, whether we allow it or not.  

So we might as well, children of God, dance in the pouring rain of the Holy Spirit and give thanks for a new day.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

A Prayer for National Day of Prayer

This year, as part of our community ministerial association, I participated in the National Day of Prayer.  I joined several other pastors in this community as well as hundreds around the country to pray for topics such as U.S. military & government, families, churches, education, etc.  My topic of focus was the media.  I thought I would share my prayer here as well.  As the political climate gets hotter and hotter in America, the media has such a critical role.  And I worry more and more every day as to what kind of world Abbey and Baby Bruce #2 (as well as the countless children & youth I care about) will grow up in.

O God of all living beings,
God who touches the world with creativity and color; who equips your people with the gifts of imagination, talent, and inventiveness –

Continue to listen to our prayers today.  As we pray for our great country, we remember all the avenues of media:  from entertainment to news; from the screens of our televisions to the convenience of our smart phones. 

We ask you to open our minds to be thoughtful consumers of information.  We ask for the ability to stretch our eyes and our ears to look for the good things that are happening in our country; to not be so overwhelmed by the negative that we become bitter and complacent.  Rather grant us the awareness to respond to the plight of the poor and the suffering, which make the headlines, and grace us with the awareness to respond to the plethora of stories that never make the paper.  Remind us that your love does indeed bless the large cities and small towns of this country.  Empower our media outlets – from movies to the major news stations – to focus on the stories that bring healing, unity, compassion, and justice to the people of this country.  

O God – your son prayed that his disciples would be united as one people in your love made known in Christ Jesus.  And so we pray that, though we may disagree with our neighbor, though we may have different opinions depending on which media outlet we prefer, though we differ in culture, race, and background – we pray for the ability to focus first and foremost on our shared humanity and on the love that you place within us.  We pray for the courage of our media to deliver honest and fair information.  And on a day in which we also remember the 6 million deaths of Jewish people to the hands of the Nazis, we fervently pray our media not engage in the types of propaganda that once provided the fertile, deadly ground of the Holocaust. We pray our media will not divide us into people of anger and resentment for our fellow American, but rather inform us, educate us, and enlighten us to see all the people of this country – and this world - as our brothers and sisters; all of us wanting the very best for one another. May the information we seek every day be the stories we live out on the streets of our neighborhoods – stories of justice, of compassion, of peace, and liberty.


We pray in the name of Jesus – a man of peace; a Lord of love, Amen.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Birdsong

Perhaps it is the birds, who paint their voices in the skies
that shows us where you are
When we look but cannot see.
When we listen but do not hear.

You are near, you are far.

Your love stretches the movement of their song.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Lent Week Six

"Prayer is not asking.  Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition, and listening to His voice in the depths of our hearts."  Mother Teresa

Six weeks ago was Ash Wednesday.  The ashes are no longer buried under my fingernails.  Haven't been there in a while.  Gone are the days when Lent crawled by.  This year it sprinted.  It ran like something was chasing it...(maybe Donald Trump was after Lent, too).

I'm not sure if I've changed much since the Wednesday of six weeks ago.  Have you?  My mind races today, too.  Scattered and jumbled like the pieces of a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle.  Like those annoying puzzles where the majority of pieces are slightly different shades of ocean blue; it seems near impossible to ever find two that fit together, let alone 683.

What has this season done for me?  For us?  For our churches?  For our communities?  For our world?  Do we even really know....or care.....or really, and I mean, really pay attention?  It's fun and easy to see the tiny purple flowers budding on the trees.  Makes us feel happy and gitty as we put on shorts and sunglasses and kick Winter in the butt.  But are we really paying attention to what it all means for us?  Or....could mean for us?

We ask a lot of God.  I know I do anyway.  And then my mind goes all turbo speed while God just might be talking back.  Things-to-do....things I want-to-do....things I need-to-do....things I think-I-need-to-do.....blah blah blah....

Meanwhile, God, you sit here patiently.  Waiting, listening, sighing deeply, waiting for me to turn and look at you.  To stop and breathe you in.  For real.
I'm not asking anything of you. (I'm not saying it's not tempting to just ask because that's what I do most of the time anyway).  It's easier to ask - keeps me in charge of what I want and what I think I need.

So I'm not asking anything of you today, God.  I'm just trying to put my heart in your hands.

I'm just trying.... to shut up.....and put my heart in your hands.


 

Monday, February 29, 2016

Comfortable

How comfortable are we with the silence?
When it sticks into our conscious like the cut of a blade

Piercing our already noisy day with the shrill of quiet
Does it hurt?  Does it sting?  Do we wonder

What do I do?
Now what do I say?

I must pick up something quick, fast
This cannot be right.

How comfortable are we?

If the silence is where God truly dwells
I fear we are too comfortable

To let it last for long.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Two

For Abbey - February 19, 2016, on her second birthday.

"Two"

I held out my hand and yours clutched around my finger.
We stepped out onto the empty street
Each step a careful new beginning;
Unchartered territory.

Looking down we watched our shadows lead us,
not knowing or caring where they took us or how long it would take.

The sun was bright and the wind quick,
A breezy reminder that winter still lingered somewhere in the clouds.
We stretched out our arms wide
You were so little you almost sailed away;
And clenched my finger tight.
I would have sailed with you.

Up in the sky a bird was gliding from barren tree to barren tree.
Her wings too big and the trees too bare, she could not hide from us.
And you squealed with joy.

We crossed the yard and waved to cows munching dry grass.
You attempted their language; they replied with blank stares.
Still, you smiled.

A big and simple day.
Winter's reprieve, if only for a moment,
Let a girl explore her world through brand new eyes,
And let her mommy do the same.