Funny…

Today is St. Patrick’s Day, and a lot of my friends are posting on Facebook about green beer, and going out to the pub. But one of my friends posted something that just cracked me up. It’s an old clip from The Muppet Show. It’s silly and it’s frivolous and it’s fun.

Sometimes during Lent, people get the sense that laughter is not ok. That we are meant to be downcast and heavy hearted for the entire journey. But I don’t think that’s realistic. Life is weird, friends. It can have you crying one minute and then giggling like a fool the next. Real life is kind of messy that way – emotions don’t stay in nice neat categories, they spill over each other and weave through each other.

And life is the richer for it. God made us to laugh (and to cry, and to feel all the other things we feel), and though there are times when it is inappropriate to do so (which makes whatever is funny all the funnier…don’t you think?), for the most part I think God delights in our laughter.

So watch and laugh my friends, and when you do – try to feel God’s delight.

A cheerful heart is good medicine,
but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.
Proverbs 17:22 NLT

Living…

tramonto sul mare

Tonite I had the opportunity to watch a movie with my GRACE Group. The theme of how to live life well was prevalent in the film, and it’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately.

Lent is a journey from death to new life – we start on Ash Wednesday, acknowledging the fragility of our lives, the ease with which we sin, the sacrifice of Christ which was necessary for our salvation. And then for 40 days we walk toward Easter – that morning when life triumphed over death. The grave was empty and the world made new. My colleague/friend/teammate Geoff is fond of saying you can’t really GET Easter unless you’ve done the full journey. You have to have Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, a long silent Saturday before you get to celebrate the Resurrection.

Slowly, I’m coming to the belief that you have to have journeyed properly through Lent. Not just giving up chocolate or swearing. Not just singing some of the hymns that are written in minor keys (goodness, the Lent section of our hymn book is a tad on the dreary side, isn’t it?). Not just acknowledged Lent with your lips.

But actually walked that whole journey. You have to have stood, slightly awkward with a smudgy cross on your forehead, aware of your sin, on Ash Wednesday. Thought, acted, prayed and read your way through the weeks of Lent. Each day with the cross looming on the horizon. Each day with the thought and question of what it all means. Taken Communion on Maundy Thursday. Wept on Good Friday. Tried – knowing it was impossible – to get back to what the disciples must have felt on that long, quiet Saturday.

Only then, can Easter Sunday really be celebrated. Because Easter is something like life. You cannot fast-forward through it to get to the parts you like. You cannot simply have a montage and a cool song to deal with all that will happen on the journey (don’t you sometimes wish life was a movie?). You cannot understand the ending unless you’ve experienced the beginning and all the (sometimes boring) bits in the middle.

Living well doesn’t happen suddenly because you wanted it to. It happens slowly, over time. It is the result of a thousand little decisions. It is the choices you make in front of others and in private. It is the meal you shared with others and all the ones you ate alone. It is the failures that lead to an eventual success. Living well is more than the sum of its parts – it is all the parts themselves put together that somehow make a good life. And if you take your eyes off the goal, it is so very easy to get lost.

Jesus said,

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.
John 10:10 NRSV

Jesus came that we might live well. That was his purpose – to give life. And he contrasts it with the thief’s (read: enemy, Satan, evil) purpose.

During this season of Lent, may we take the time to think about how we are living. May we journey through each day with the cross looming on the horizon. May we draw closer to the One who came to give abundant life.

Sabbath came early…

A friend asked me tonite if she had missed my blog entry from last night. I said, “No, the Sabbath just came REALLY early this week!”

It has been a busy week of meetings and the meetings have been tough ones, and I am tired. So last night I got home from a meeting, looked at the computer and thought “not possible.” I just couldn’t bring myself to sit down and write. I just needed a break.

Sometimes Jesus needed a break, too. He would go off on his own to pray and to think. Then he would come back to his ministry with renewed energy. He knew how important rest is when you are weary, and he didn’t apologize for taking rest when he needed it. I like that about Jesus. And not just because I’m an introvert at heart, and my time alone is precious to me. I like it because I think it is spiritually healthy – to balance times of work and times of rest, times of togetherness and times of solitude.

As I work on my physical health this year, I don’t want to leave my spiritual and emotional health in the dust. I want to seek balance in all areas of my life. Because I believe in One who came to give life and give it abundantly. And it is not possible to have an abundant life if you’re all out of balance.

Logically, or emotionally?

Today Koski went to get spayed by the Vet. On the one hand, this is a perfectly routine procedure and tonnes of dogs have gone through it before without a hitch. On the other hand, THIS dog is MINE. And that seems to make all the difference. I didn’t sleep at all last night. I cried when I drove away from the vet’s office this morning.

Logically, I understand that the risks were low and the likelihood that she’d be home with me by the end of the day was high. Emotionally, I was a bit of a wreck (not a terrible wreck, but it was stressful).

And that’s the reality of life, isn’t it? At least for my personality type, it is. I say this all the time: logically I know that….but emotionally I worry/fear/feel that…

One of my colleagues pointed out to me this week, that the fear and worry is a monster that is always hungry. And worrying about an issue just feeds the monster and makes him bigger and hungrier. I asked her what the solution was, then. Because the “just don’t worry” theory doesn’t really work.

And she said the wisest thing. She said, “Find a scripture that brings you great comfort, repeat it to yourself whenever you feel yourself beginning to worry.” So simple. So wise. The word of God chases away our fear and discomfort. The monster cannot survive when we don’t feed it.

So I have chosen a couple of scriptures to help me starve the monster:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD.
“They are plans for good and not for disaster,
to give you a future and a hope.”
Jeremiah 29:11 NLT

Don’t panic. I’m with you.
There’s no need to fear for I’m your God.
I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you.
I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you.
Isaiah 41:10 MSG

If you make the LORD your refuge,
if you make the Most High your shelter,
no evil will conquer you;
no plague will come near your home.
For he will order his angels
to protect you wherever you go.
Psalm 91:9-11 NLT

You may choose different ‘starve the monster’ scriptures. But if you are one who finds it easy to worry, easy to feed the monster, I urge you to choose some and to memorize them and meditate upon them. Starve that monster. It’s a better way to live.

What a privilege…

It is hard to put today into words…there have been so many great moments and I think most of them (from the outside looking in) would appear utterly mundane. But from my perspective, they have affirmed once again that God is at work in our world and that I have the privilege of being there to see Him at work.

In prayers and insights shared today, in a quiet compliment, in the chance to serve, I found the deep blessing of God and abundant life that Jesus promised.

So this is a short post to simply express my gratitude to God for all the good gifts in my life and for the privilege of this call to full-time ministry.