Eastertide. The Divine Office &The Office of Midnight.

wow. who knew that there would be such a perfect treasure awaiting me in the the divine office/praying the hours. most moms worth their salt will admit to occasional if not frequent bouts of nightly wake-ups, returning little ones back … Continue reading

Eastertide. Jesus walking around.

Today we went on a looonnnggg car ride to take a look at a possible kitchen space for my husbands biz. I thought about how car rides have changed since I was a kid. Media, in it’s many forms, has made the car less of a family cocoon and more of a place to be individually entertained ( at least in our family these days).

And something about this bothers me so much even while i do very little to change it. It’s like something invisible and powerful presses slightly against my best intentions and I give in like my life depends on it.

Enter the daily office. A simple little practice ( well, in theory) where I am joining the monastic cultures worldwide to pause at regular intervals and enter in to an intentional time of reciting prayer. I have attempted this practice before and failed miserably…. Or did I? Even the attempting to draw closer to my heavenly Father, the Spirit who loves me, and Jesus my savior and friend… Even my worst attempts can bring such intimacy. Even a half read prayer is giving me new language to communicate with and about God.

And just like the way I am raising my kiddos, my absolute number one priority is that my children know they are watched and waited for… No matter what. That we learn each others language and give grace where grace is needed. Car rides are great places to do all of that, even if there is music or movies or iPod touch games or instagram photos or texting or whatever! It’s not my ideal, but we are drawing nearer to one another, observing each other, watching and learning each others language. And any one who has ever travelled in a car with children longer than 4 minutes knows that auto travel is a hotbed for grace awakenings.

So, imperfectly and less than ideal I may go, I purpose myself to journey this path of daily prayer.
Want to join me?

The Refrain for Tuesday Morning Lessons:
Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord.

Why I am observing Eastertide… the 50 days of Easter.

“We do not think ourselves into new ways of living, we live ourselves into new ways of thinking.”
Richard Rohr

I so appreciate just about everything that Richard Rohr has to say. He is a man that is not only a prolific writer and thinker (which is inspiring) but he is a man who has pursued simplicity and integration as ways to make his faith more real (which is even more inspiring). I’d like to think that is my aim as well.

So in this season of Eastertide (the days beginning Resurrection day until Pentecost) (a season I have never observed in any formal way) I purpose myself into a new way of “thinking by living”. For the next 50 days I will attempt to read through the liturgy of the hours. For those unfamiliar with this practice, I promise to share more as I go. Simply put, it is a practice of praying on the hour about every three hours throughout the day with some specific guidelines to help anchor your time. The best way I have heard liturgy of the hours described is by Phyllis Tickle who writes

“The daily offices are like small chapels or wayside stations within the days courses” (The Divine Hours/Pocket Edition).

In recent years I have fallen in love with the practices of churches that have pentecostal theology. Somehow in my formative faith, I missed the emphasis of the Holy Spirit and it’s power for transformation in much of my life as a Christian. Just a few years ago, I was fortunate to have a time span of two years where I was weekly attending church services where the gifts of the Holy Spirit were part of the teaching. Concurrently I was engaged in a Masters in Spiritual Formation program that included several courses and experiences that reconnected for me the link between healing and Christian spirituality. It was as if God woke me up into the reality that the Holy Spirit was more than a fuzzy feeling, but a Person coming to bring me the fullness of the Kingdom Jesus kept talking about to me in Scriptures.

Why do I bring this up here?

Eastertide, which begins on Easter Sunday, is the 40 day journey between Jesus resurrection and His ascension and then 10 days later, the Holy Spirit arrives. (Easter+40=ascension. Easter+50=Holy Spirit arrives).

When I think back to my own Christian life, most of it could be summarized as an Eastertide Christian. I had a deep relationship with Jesus and was well acquainted with God through His Word, but I had not ever really recognized or received the Holy Spirit as a person to have a relationship with. As long as Jesus was in the picture, the Holy Spirit could remain an ambiguous force . But an encounter with the Holy Spirit changed that for me. And that is something I wish to commemorate by acknowledging that as real as the historical appearance of the Holy Spirit was at Pentecost, I have had my own pentecostal experience. So in this season, another one of expectation and mystery, I lean in through a new spiritual path of regular intervals to pause and pray and watch for the movement of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

So perhaps in this season of Easter, you can be expectant about the ways in which the Living Jesus will encounter you? Perhaps there is a way to pray or notice Jesus that you would like to observe for this period of time?

Perhaps you would like to share some of those ideas and observations here?

Holy Week. Long Friday.

i happened to have a quick coffee with a beautiful friend who is from Sweden. she told me that what we refer to as “Good Friday”, they call “Long Friday”. I don’t know about you, but word swaps like this can make all the difference for me. Long Friday is exactly what Jesus tormented trial and crucifixion must have been.

not to make anywhere near as significant a comparison, but i was brought to mind today the delivery of my last child. it was a scheduled C-section. it was both weird and unsettling for me to anticipate the exact hour and moment of my son’s arrival into the world, as compared to my other three non-scheduled deliveries.  there were moments of dread mixed with a holy anticipation of meeting this new life for the first time. but the calculated operating room felt completely foreign to me. there was little there that made me feel natural in my own skin and i was instantly wishing i could run. i felt awkward and fully awake. i felt pain. i felt that my person hood was secondary to the procedure that was going on. and i had to keep going forward.

until my nurse midwife arrived and signaled for me to push.

i promise, no more details in this post, but suffice to say, there was a birthing moment when all of the pain and the confusion and the dread and the pressure lifted physically and supernaturally… and just like all of my other children arrived, so this new life was born.

for those who have loved Jesus for so long, this day of Long Friday is one where we anticipate with some dark dread to what’s coming. even  those of us who live in this side of the cross, it seems unnatural and alarming that such events could take place upon the Son of God.

the crucifixion is real. we can see it and imagine it and read it and know it. it is as real to us as the resurrection on Sunday. we know that there will be a transformation of Jesus life. we know that Jesus does not stay in pain or in death or in darkness. but today does not feel that way when we meditate throughout the day and into evening the gravity of Jesus alone on the cross. it is awkward and painful to watch and how much more so for a singular man, Jesus, to endure.

be we watch and we wait for new life to come anyway.

Holy Week. Washing Feet …

I so intended to write yesterday. It was a day that I sought God everywhere in the corners of ordinary and found Him.

After as hour of inspiring conversation with my soul friend, I ended our chat to find out that my little tater tot had been creating the most marvelously large mud puddle in our backyard. I am not prone to freak out over mess. Even though I knew he had pretty much ruined his sleeping shirt, I watched him drag the hose and that white shirt and his little toes through the murky muddy yard. I watched him laugh and sing a song about mud. I though about why I wasn’t mad about mud. And then it came. It was so easy to hose this little guy off.

Then the  gentle voice said “It’s not hard for me to wash your feet”.

Tears.

My little guy in all his mud with wet tee shirt and hair and smiling face. He had no idea that this might be a bad idea. Or he did. It didn’t matter. At that moment of observing my son,  I observed Jesus with a towel, at my feet, with my mud, with the muck and yuck of my everyday flaws and imperfections. “It’s not that hard for me to wash your feet”.

But I want to remind Jesus of how hard the cross was, how hard it was to endure shame He didn’t deserve, how much I still miss the simple instructions while I pursue more relevant ambitions, how I ignore the poor and reach for a place among the religious. Don’t you see what a mess I am, Jesus?

“It’s not that hard for me to wash your feet like it’s not that hard for you to wash your son, because you love him so much. And I love you so much.”

It’s that simple for me right now.

Holy Week. Preparation.

I offer something simple today because I have been absolutely amazed and refreshed and renewed and recharged by employing the tools that are given to us in the Spirit. Today I am hungry for more of God. I am hungry for more of God’s presence in my marriage, the lives of my children, and the outreach into my community.

But I realize that as clever and creative as I might possibly be on my best day… God has already given us everything that we need to live a vibrant and transformed life. He holds them out in His nail pierced hands and says ” You are worth it. I have made a way for you. You are not to fumble around like you don’t have any idea what it means to be loved, to be free, to be healed, to be provided for, to live purposefully.   And before you think that I am talking about material wealth and provision, please know that I see those as by products, not the objects of our attention and desire. I am simply offering to you …LIFE”.

Does the great news about Jesus death, resurrection and resurrected life have any affect on me? Does it live out through my actions as a mother/scholar/author/wife/church leader/daughter/neighbor? Do I live as if I know the end of my story… which is to live now and forever with the God who loves me and made me with a purpose?

Praying that every one of us will see ourselves as part of the unending story of God’s great love. How He loves us.

Ephesians 6:10-20 the Message

A Fight to the Finish

10-12And that about wraps it up. God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels. 13-18Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.

19-20And don’t forget to pray for me. Pray that I’ll know what to say and have the courage to say it at the right time, telling the mystery to one and all, the Message that I, jailbird preacher that I am, am responsible for getting out.

Holy Week.

Look hard at Jesus, especially as he goes to his death, and you will discover more about God than you could ever have guessed from studying the infinite shining heavens or the moral law within your own conscience.

You become like what you worship. When you gaze in awe, admiration and wonder at something or someone, you begin to take on something of the character of the object of your worship……When you gaze in love and gratitude at the God in whose image you were made, you do indeed grow. You discover more of what it means to be fully alive.

N.T. Wright Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense. HarperSanFrancisco, 2006.

I had an opportunity to pray with my neighbor for her migraine.  I simply laid my hand on her brow and smiled. I prayed inside, asking the God of comfort to come and give her a sound mind. I breathed in and out slowly, and she started to do the same. Her bleary eyes started to clear and she actually appeared to gain her vision. I kept my hand on her head while our collective children ran about the yard laughing and shouting.

A holy moment in ordinary life. A moment on the porch when we just need each other. A place where our children are present but not in the way and we can care for each other in a place of deep pain. Simple. Healing. Touch.

Condemning religious spirits come to me in droves during these simple acts of mercy. They try to convince me that I should be doing something more pious to let her know that I am a Christian and she should really come to church with me on Sunday. But another part of me trusts that the Holy Spirit is moving through my hands and into the deepest places of my neighbor’s need.

In the week proceeding Jesus’ death, the week on the church calendar that we observe right now, Jesus was all about the business of healing people. He was in the temple doing things that made religious people really really mad. He turned over the tables of merchants who had turned the temple into a place that it was never meant to be. He let children shout and make loud noises. He talked about His authority to do exactly what He was doing. And people couldn’t stop Him.

We know the end of the story. Death couldn’t stop God’s love reaching out to humanity through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. So in our ordinary lives, as ordinary followers of Jesus, how are we joining in His unstoppable ministry? Where are the places where we feel shut out by religious rules that Jesus has already overturned? Where do we see the Kingdom coming through simple acts of justice, grace, and hope?

Holy Holy Holy
Is the Lord God Almighty
Who was and is and is to come.