Lent 2015

A few weeks ago I stumbled upon The Words and find myself drawn repeatedly to them, mesmerized by them, hungry for them….challenged by them.

I’ve not yet read all of the words – at least not in this format.

I’ve chosen to do so during Lent.

Here is my reading for today.

Blessed are you who hear the word of God and follow it where it leads. In doing so, you will be like the servant who, when the master comes, is found doing right.

Blessed are you, who put your whole trust in God. Yours is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you, who are acquainted with sorrow, for you will be appointed great comfort and courage. Blessed are you, who with humility recognize your need of God. The whole earth will be yours. Blessed are you, who hunger and thirst after righteousness. You will be satisfied and filled. Blessed are you, who are merciful. You will receive mercy in return. Blessed are you, who are pure in heart. You will see God.
Blessed are you peacemakers, for you will be called the children of God. Blessed are you, who pursue salvation. You will become the citizens of the kingdom of God. Blessed are you when you suffer blame and are spoken of evilly for doing my will. Rejoice! Leap for joy! Great is your reward in heaven. In a similar manner, they persecuted the prophets before your time.  (The Blessings)

 

Going Virtual

For my entire life I’ve carried a Bible to church in the form of a physical “book” that I held in my hands and turned the pages of.

This past Sunday I experimented at church with my ipad and YouVersion.

I’ll admit – I was a bit reluctant to make the change, even if only for one day.  I like flipping through my Bible to find the passage.  I like hearing pages turn.  I like running verses and references when something comes to mind.  I like the familiarity of MY Bible and the ease with which I use it.  I can find things easily in it.  I feel comfortable with it and…yes…secure.

I’ll also admit – I liked the variety of versions YouVersion offered me and found the Sunday school lesson quite interesting as I flipped between versions with the flick of a finger.  And, my mind wandered not one time during the sermon – my eyes and attention were glued to the scripture on my ipad as I flipped between versions and listened attentively to the sermon.

It was a good experiment with a positive outcome. Will I place my Bible on the shelf and make the ipad my church companion from here on out?

Probably not.

Perhaps I’m too old school and just like the comfort of the familiarity of the scripture in book form.

Or, perhaps I know the temptation would be too great and I would sneak a peek at other things on my ipad.  😉

Mary Kay Cover-up

The book was returned to me in a small black, pink, and white plastic Mary Kay bag.

As I received it, I must have returned a quizzical look because the one returning it said, “I placed the book into the bag because I didn’t think it looked religious.”

Had she not said that, I would have thought she had slipped it into the bag to protect the dust cover.

I glanced down at the bag.  Large red letters – S WIE – were visible through the handle cut into the bag.  I knew they were letters from the author’s name but my mind took the scrambled letters, edited them and came up with the word WISE – in Capital letters…all red.

This intensified my confusion.

At first I thought it was a joke, but my friend was conversing with someone else so I didn’t inquire.  I just took it, thanked her, and moved on to my seat.

Hubby looked at me. I shrugged as I placed the bagged book on the chair beside me.

Her words returned to me: “I placed the book into the bag because I didn’t think it looked religious.”

Religious.

I slipped the book from the plastic bag and looked at the front cover.

There was a drawing of a woman’s face – bright red lipsticked lips and overdone eyes.  Perhaps that was what the woman referred to…but it was ironic that the book was placed in a Mary Kay bag if that was the case.

I had read the book, but it had been over 2 years ago. As hard as I thought, I could not recall anything that would cause me to think the book needed to be tucked into a bag and hidden for the return to its owner.

I sat and pondered the book, the bag, and my friend who had returned the book.

I wondered…did she read it?  Or, did the front cover of the book keep her from going deeper?

I placed the book into the bag because I didn’t think it looked religious.

It wasn’t a religious book, but it was written by a Christian. My friend did return it while at church, but the only people who would see her with the book was a mutual friend who had already read the book and random people she stopped to speak to.

So…what prompted the cover-up?

I wish I knew.

What I do know is that this event has made me aware of my own cover-ups. And, it’s made me question…why?

And, what happens if I stop the cover-ups?

Scary thought.

Intriguing thought.

Take note of what you cover up, what you use to cover it up, and why.  What do you think would happen if you stopped the cover-ups?

Stained Glass Reflection

As I sat in church one bright sunny Sunday morning, a flash of light captured my attention.

I glanced to my left, one row up and across the aisle, to see where it came from and noticed Ron with his tablet on his lap.

I could not take my eyes from him or his choice of Bible.  I wondered what version he used and if he found it easier than flipping through a book.

And, I wondered why the screen was so colorful. I’d not seen scripture display such beautiful, rich colors before.  Usually the background is white and the words black or dark gray.

But, from where I sat, this one had brilliant blue, royal purple, bright yellow, bold red, verdant green….

Curious and, I’ll admit, a bit mesmerized, I continued to look at the colorful display.

Then, it dawned on me – what I was seeing was the reflection of a stained glass window as the sun kissed it and shown through.

Scripture that attracts, dazzles and mesmerizes – now there’s a thought. And, a far more interesting thought it is than Scripture bound by black and white, hidden and confined within the covers of a book.

How much more appealing would Scripture be if it lives and speaks and dances in living color?

Paul, the writer of much of the New Testament, understood the need for Scripture that was more than written words on paper.  He spoke of living tablets that display Scripture for all to see, and hear, and understand.

Imagine what it would be like if everyone who professed to follow Jesus reflected his light as clearly and as beautifully as Ron’s tablet reflected the colors of the stained glass church windows.

What difference would it make in the lives of those around me if MY life openly and beautifully reflected Jesus’ beauty, justice, equality, mercy, grace, patient understanding, peace, joy, love, acceptance, purity, humility…?

I am silenced by that question – and deeply humbled, for I know my life is more like the Scripture bound by two covers, written in black on white pages, and kept closed until someone opens me.

What of you?

Are you a tablet openly reflecting beauty? Or, are you a closed book dealing only in black and white, bound by two covers: law and tradition?

Before you answer – think about it.  You might be surprised by the answer.  I know I was.

…known and read by everyone. You show that you are a letter from Christ…written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. (2 Corinthians 3:2b-3 NIV)

Judge and Jury

In church this past Sunday morning, as the pastor preached from John chapter 7, my mind wandered over verses visible in my open Bible.

Chapter 8 of John caught my attention – the first 11 verses are about the men who brought the woman to Jesus who was “caught in the very act” of adultery.

I could linger here, but I won’t.  The point I wish to make comes a few verses later in the chapter.

“You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one.”

John 8:14-20, ESV

We who claim to follow the Way of Jesus, who profess to be disciples of Jesus, who wear the tag “Christian” need to remember that Jesus did not judge.  And, we shouldn’t either.

I think of conversations I’ve heard, and of those I’ve initiated, and participated in – and I remember judgments passed, condemnations declared, fingers pointed and words whispered.

We need to remember the words of Jesus to the woman’s accusers

“Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” John 8:1-7, ESV

and, to the accused woman

“Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” John 8:11, ESV.

Easter – The Beginning and The Ending

Easter has ALWAYS been one of my favorite times of the year.

  • candy
  • chocolate
  • new, scratchy clothes (ok…that’s negative, not a plus)
  • baby chicks
  • Spring
  • flowers
  • pastel colors
  • Easter eggs
  • coloring eggs
  • Easter baskets
  • Ham
  • baked meat skins
  • Easter egg hunts
  • Easter songs at church
  • anticipation of CANDY
  • Aunts and Grandmothers who each gave us certain types of candy
  • biting the ears off of the chocolate bunny
  • spending time with family
  • hearing the story of Jesus’ resurrection and believing with all my heart that he did and that he did so for me – and for you

Easter signified newness and the beginning of so much

  • new life (physical as well as spiritual)
  • new religion
  • new way of living
  • the beginning of the end of our school year
  • the beginning of warm days and happy times outside
  • new flowers, colors, baby animals
  • the first acceptable day for stylish women to wear white shoes / carry white purses
  • barefoot season
  • relationship(s)

Easter also brought an end to things.

  • winter clothes were put away
  • dreary colors faded
  • waiting and wondering what the “Easter Bunny” would leave us
  • the sadness that accompanied Good Friday and the silence of Black Saturday
  • old ways
  • the old life
  • focus on death and dying, sin and hopelessness
  • cold rains
  • sequestered play
  • depending on my good works and right living to please God

This year Easter brings an end to my Lenten fast.  I am free to eat ketchup now. As much as I want, as often as I want.  The question is…do I want it?  Will I eat it?  And, if I do…why will I?  Because I can?

And, is “because I can” a good enough reason for indulging myself?  If it is, perhaps I’ve not learned as much from this fast as I hoped to.

I will tell you that prior to Easter morning, I set my huge antique wicker laundry basket in the living room floor so the “Easter Bunny” could easily find it should he/she/it decide to bring me ketchup for my basket this year.  After all, Easter baskets are small and bottles of ketchup are much larger than most chocolate bunnies or candy eggs. You understand my thinking, I’m sure.

Will I eat ketchup today? My fast is over and I am no longer bound to deny myself ketchup.

No…I won’t eat ketchup today.  Do I want to?  Oh, yes.  I do.  But, I will wait until tomorrow…. Or the next day.  Or, perhaps the day after.  There’s no rush.

I have enough ketchup to last me a long, long time.  🙂