Day 39: save now

16 04 2011

Save BIG. Big savings. Save now. Save 10%. Save 50%. Save more than the other place. Save by doing ______ now. Save, save, save… savings. Even before our economy went downhill, our culture loved savings. And we still do. But I wonder if we would truly understand the significance of shouting out, “Save us now, Son of David!” As Jesus entered Jerusalem, the bystanders shouted, “Hosanna!”, which means “Save now…”

We in this century can look back to that era and recognize that Jesus’ audience wanted saving from the Roman superpower. So it’s easy for us to say, “Wow, were they wrong!” But what do we hope to be saved from? And how much are we hoping to be saved from? Sometimes I think that we’d be happy if Christ would come and save only 25% of our lives, and that’s a big enough “savings”… because it would be too difficult for Christ to save our whole life. Too much work on our part.

Though God is more than a slogan, or a gimmick, we know that God does save. BIG. Now–and whenever we give our hearts to him.

“Hosanna!” the crowd called out. Save now!

Alright… Jesus might say. Hang on a few days, and you’ll get your saving. 100% salvation, for all who believe.





Day 36: teamwork

14 04 2011

teamwork

Teamwork is not a strange concept to us these days. I don’t think it’s been a strange concept for ages, actually. Though certainly a couple decades ago, I think (?) there was greater impetus among corporations, etc. to have employees learn more about teamwork. The church has been in the business of teamwork for centuries (though not always successfully).

When Jesus sent the disciples off on their donkey-fetching-errand, (Matthew 21:1-11, again) he sent two of them out, as a team. My guess—and this is totally my guess—is that either one of them could have done it alone. But Jesus may have hoped they would learn and grow together, by having minister together. Clearly, by the Gospel accounts, the disciples didn’t always work well together. No surprise there. They were human, after all. But look at the result of their growth and learning and faithfulness!

I am grateful for the teamwork experiences I have had in my life—especially the positive ones. I am grateful for the fact that I’m a co-pastor, and with my husband. I give thanks for the staff and ministry teams here at Christ Covenant Church. I am blessed by the friends and family members in my life who have been in my life. And I am grateful to God for giving me these people, teams, experiences, and ministry.





Day 35: needed

13 04 2011

needed

Lord and donkey–those are two words that I would not typically think go together. But then again, Lord and sinners, Lord and manger, Lord and cross, Lord and empty tomb….none of these word pairings fit our stereotype of what a Lord might be. Yet, Jesus doesn’t fit our normal stereotype anyhow. Never did, never will.

This Sunday’s Palm Sunday gospel passage, from Matthew 21:1-11, illustrates this even more. Jesus sends two disciples on an errand to get a donkey. If it’s not shocking enough that the Lord sent for a donkey, Jesus instructed his disciples to tell anyone who asked about it, “the Lord needs it.” Needs? If Jesus is Lord, why does he need anything? can’t he snap his fingers and have things appear? A regal horse, perhaps, instead of a lowly donkey? Why send the two disciples?

It’s part of the Christian faith that I both appreciate and am puzzled at, at times: the fact that God needs people. Including me. God needs us to help carry out the mission he began while Jesus was on earth. Talk about risk-taking. It seems much easier to do things oneself, than to leave it in the often-erring hands of humans. But then again, this is the same God who pairs words like Lord and manger, Lord and cross, Lord and empty tomb, and Lord and donkey.

These phone book pages help me think about the bigger world beyond my circles. The names and organizations listed on these pages (including Christ Covenant Church) represent God’s bigger kingdom here on earth. And even that, this phone book, represents only a small portion of the earth. And though at times it might seem ridiculous that Jesus Christ needs and uses each of us who call him Lord, it is the reality of following this humble King.

God’s blessings as you discern where God needs you to participate in his kingdom. And God’s peace and strength, as you faithfully follow.

Imagine the possibilities, if all of us who call ourselves followers of Jesus Christ, responded in faithful obedience….





Day 3: so it won’t be obvious

12 03 2011

Day 3: so it won't be obvious

“If you ‘go into training’ inwardly, act normal outwardly. Shampoo and comb your hair, brush your teeth, wash your face. God doesn’t require attention-getting devices.” (The Message).

I love this paraphrase of the familiar: “when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face” (TNIV). Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase helps me think about why I do the things I do. There shouldn’t be any concern that I might stop washing my hair. At least not voluntarily. That’s not going to happen, barring some obvious message from God.

But are there other things I might –even subconsciously–want to call attention to? Do I even do some things “for God”, while hoping people take notice? And if I do, what steps can I take to shift focus from me to God? What about you?





“the Jesus pile”

19 12 2010

Today’s Gospel text is Matthew 1:18-25, the birth of Jesus. Verse 18 begins, “Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way…” (NRSV).

Here at our house, the birth of Jesus begins like this photo: all the Jesus-es (?)in a pile on the bookshelf. Kajsa has loved playing with many nativities this season. Loved it. I have a couple fragile ones up high where she can’t reach, but for the most part, I’m discovering that our nativities are child-friendly. For the first few days I had them out, Kajsa was playing with Mary and Joseph, too.. who were frequently going to meetings.

the Jesus pile

“They’re very busy” she told me. So “Grandma and Grandpa” (other Marys and Josephs) and sometimes some animals were keeping Jesus company.

Then she turned to categorizing the nativities… all the Mary’s lined up in a row, Josephs, animals… shepherds… and this week, she left all the Jesus-es on a shelf. I asked her one day where a certain Jesus was, when I noticed he was gone. “Oh” she said, “He’s in my Jesus pile.” and she pointed to the shelf.

The birth of Jesus took place in one way, but has continued to influence many languages, cultures, socio-economic systems…. etc.

A child’s perspective can be so refreshing, even in a season that already brings wonder and joy and awe…





a sign, please!

10 12 2010

John the Baptist reappears in this Sunday’s Gospel text, from Matthew 11. This time, John’s in prison, has heard about what the Messiah is doing, and sends someone to ask Jesus, “Are you the one, or should we keep waiting…?” From our viewpoint, knowing what we do about Jesus and John both, this seems a bit strange. Wasn’t John the one who was so in tune with God’s Spirit? Was he confused? Having a “senior moment”? Doubting, since he was trapped, in jail…? Wanting his disciples to seek the answer for themselves?

If I were him, I’d want a sign. A big, clear, neon sign (all the lights working, by the way…), with a big neon arrow, pointing to Jesus, saying,  “This is, 100%-guaranteed, God’s Son, the Messiah, Jesus Christ!”

I’m not sure what John’s thoughts were, when sending someone to ask Jesus for clarification. And if I once knew, I have forgotten. But I sympathize with John the Baptist, an obvious “let’s get to work” kind of guy, who was stuck in jail. Hearing reports, perhaps… wondering… lots of time to think and let your mind wander. It’s like those familiar seasons of waiting. And even if we might KNOW what is true and we might know that God’s promises are true, at times we still want a sign.

The other day Jim, Kajsa, Abby and I took our walk down to the baseball field below our church. Jim found this baseball… a sign of a season gone by, and a season to come.

baseball

Except for a forgotten base, now partially covered with sand, there is little sign of a current baseball season. But the baseball, found on the frozen ground beyond the field, reminds us of a season to come.

Often I feel as though the only “signs” we get from God are like the found baseball. Initially there’s an excitement at the find.. oooh, look! a baseball! Then the reality that the season is over…and the next promised season is not yet here. Completely.

Someday, God might shock me and give me a clear neon sign, complete with an arrow pointing to the direction I need–or think I need. In the meantime, I’ll find hope in the signs of God’s kingdom, God’s presence, God’s light in this season: the people of God bringing about God’s kingdom here and now, in our daily lives.