Category: Devotional

Good Friday Reflection on Nails

Scripture  Luke 23:32—35 metalholes

Like sharp nails through sheet metal, through hard wood, through tender flesh – the damage pierces my soul. A word. A phrase. A look.

Some gossip.
A deed
Several deeds.
It snowballed. One thing led to another. One mistrust to another hurt. One nail to the next nail.

I hate.

I hate her.

I hate him.

I hate what was done, and what I have become. I hate my powerlessness. I hate being a victim. I hate. I hurt.

I can’t save myself.

How could I ever forgive?

How could Jesus forgive?

How do I pull these rusting nails out of my soul and offer a prayer of forgiveness?

How did Jesus do it?


And a part of me knew what I was doing. A part of me did not.

I drove those nails in.
I spoke those words that won’t come back.
I did those things that cannot be undone.
Time will not reverse for me. Although I keep praying it will.

I wonder – when others see me – do they see the criminal or the penitent?

Do they see what I did, or what I want to do?

Who do they see?

I hate.

I hate me.

I hate the situation.

I hate that God forgives but I sure can’t forgive myself.

And my victims…

Would they ever forgive me? Dare I even ask?

I don’t deserve it. Forgiveness is grace.

Unearned. Unmerited. Grace.


Oh holy God – the nails get removed, but the damage is done.

Teach us to forgive as you forgive.

The damage may or may not heal – but the forgiveness removes the nails to let the hope of healing begin.

And we are a people of hope.

Amen.

Silent Reflection
– Who do you need to forgive?
– Who’s forgiveness do you crave?

 

Spoken at to the Thuston-Baltimore Ministerial Association Good Friday Service, 2018.

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Middle of Winter Devotional

Psalm 147:7-11, 14-18 winter-nature-wallpapers-photo-For-Desktop-Wallpaper

Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; make melody to our God on the lyre. God covers the heavens with clouds, prepares rain for the earth, makes grass grow on the hills. God gives to the animals their food, and to the young ravens when they cry. God’s delight is not in the strength of the horse, nor is God’s pleasure in the speed of a runner; but the Lord takes pleasure in those who revere God, in those who hope in God’s steadfast love… God fills you with the finest of wheat. God sends out God’s command to the earth; God’s word runs swiftly. God gives snow like wool; God scatters frost like ashes. God hurls down hail like crumbs— who can stand before God’s cold? God sends out God’s word, and melts them; God makes God’s wind blow, and the waters flow.

In the middle of winter, when there is frost scattered like ashes, and snow like a heavy wool blanket; in the awful middle of winter when we have sleet and hail that hurl down upon us like hard bread crumbs and the cold is unbearable… I turn to Psalms such as these. Psalms to point out that even in the middle of winter ravens find food, owls gather to start their nests, and deer dig into the snow to find little bits of preserved grass. Even in the middle of winter, God is present. God is providing. God is loving and caring.

And when the winter passes, it will come with warm breezes God sends. Then the ice will melt, and the snow will flow into creeks and rivers. Then the land will be covered with new green grass and the sprouts of winter wheat. And we will still be in the presence of God. God is always providing. Always loving. Always caring.

I’m still not a fan of winter. I don’t think I ever will be. However, with the Psalms to guide me, I can see how our awesome God is just as present in the cold and the silence as in the joy and new birth of spring.

Let us revere – respect and love – our God who is always with us season to season and year to year. Amen.

 

Published in the Towne Crier, Feb 2018, Fairfield County, Ohio.

Superhero!

Philippians 2:5-7

Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness.

Everyone has superheroes – Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman – Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi, or Helen Keller. I have always held Mother Teresa as one of my super heroes. One of the great things about superheroes is how they inspire us and give us hope. However, if you’re like me, you tend to place these people on pedestals. They are more amazing than is humanly possible (Clark Kent literally isn’t human.) So when I learn my heroes have faults, I actually take heart and like them more rather than less. It gives me more inspiration and hope because it tells me a person with faults like myself could do these amazing things. For example, Mother Teresa worked tirelessly with the poor of India out of love of Jesus… but she also struggled with faith doubts and questions. Since I sometimes do too, this doesn’t disqualify me from doing amazing work. Indeed,  it was out of her spiritual loneliness that Mother Teresa received strength to work with the loneliest people. Passages about Jesus’ humanity – complaining to his mother at the wedding, crying over Lazarus – inspire me too. We are called to have a mind like Christ. How could that be possible for us if Jesus’ mind wasn’t human? We’re called to live our lives in Jesus’ Way. How could we if that way was beyond what’s humanly possible? Therefore, our Savior came as both fully divine, and fully human. Our God took on human flesh, and knew what it is to be human… and then showed us how to live like superheroes.

 

Published in the Fairfield Towne Crier 4-21-17

What I see…

cygnusTo be published in the Towne Crier, Aug 2016.

Hebrews 11:1-3 NRSV
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Indeed, by faith our ancestors received approval. By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible.

Every fall, I go out and really watch the stars. I lie on my back and watch long enough to see the Cygnus constellation rise and fall; and I get lost in the wonder of the universe. I lie there and think: this sky is made of molecules which I can’t see, but which I breathe. And a single molecule is one-billionth to one ten-billionth of a meter, impossible to see without some kind of magnification. Those molecules break into atoms which break into a nucleus and electrons, down to protons and neutrons, and further still into quarks- the smallest things we can measure right now. When I watch the night sky I see the great huge universe, and what I see is made of far, far more of which I can’t see.

In Hebrews, I don’t think Paul had molecules and atoms in mind when he wrote about a universe made of invisible things. Paul was writing of other invisible things God joins together to make up the universe. Things like the relationships that bind us: one quirky friend to another; and friends join as lovers to make nuclear families and households; and households gather to make atom-like communities; who make the molecules we call churches, and these tiny pieces together make the Body of Christ.

I can’t see or measure the great scale of the universe; nor the Body of Christ. But I am convinced the invisible hand of God is active on all scales big and small.