As I began to write this blog, I struggled to find what I would “give up” for Lent. How does one prepare for Lent when they are already intermittent fasting for health, gave up sugar and drink decaf coffee?! Maybe wine but we rarely drink the cheap stuff, so that already limits our consumption. After practicing this season for many years now, I am running out of ideas. Scouring my soul to find any sort of vice that I could lay down for a season feels rehearsed and lackluster.
I never thought the PNW as windy until my husband and I bought a canopy. Rainy? Yes. Sometimes snow? Can you say snow-pocalypse 2017? But windy? Not so much. Yet as we entered into this winter season with all the restrictions with COVID, we still wanted to see our friends and so bought a lovely white canopy on Amazon. The moment the package arrived, I was elated! We were going to have a place for connection, a place to host the people we love and invite new friends over.
O Christ of peace, be near us, we pray.
Be an ever present source of calm
in these uncertain times,
Revealing to us our idols of calm,
Leaving them now at the manger’s feet.
Empty our full cups of fear and anxiety.
Let them be poured out completely,
Leaving no space but the space you fill;
More room for your peace
More room for you, O Christ.
That’s how he came.
He didn’t come loud and proud. He didn’t come with armies and swords. He didn’t come claiming his right to rule even though he was already the Ruler of all. He came common and undesirable. He could have come conquering but instead he came swaddled, lying in a manger.
Small, quiet and fragile, he came. The all powerful God now utterly powerless. Subject to sickness and death, dependent for care. The Divine, the Limitless now limited by skin and bone.
This is our God, emptied. He came empty so that we could be emptied.
Ten years ago, we thought it “cute” to cook our own Thanksgiving meal. We were newlyweds, living on a youth pastor’s salary, rent free in the church parish which happened to have a great kitchen. My husband’s family was just a quick drive away but with everyone in law enforcement at the time, holiday’s were rarely celebrated the day of. Which was a big deal for me because I am a day-of kind of person. I like to celebrate things on the day they were meant to be celebrated, so we decided to celebrate just the two of us.
I know today is racked with anxiety, dread, excitement, you name it – our emotions are high and running for the hills. So before we have any answers about the turn out to this election, here’s what I will be doing to prepare for the outcome, I hope you will join me.
At this moment I am looking out at a smoke-filled sky. The smell of a historical forest fire season lingers faintly in my house. A few moments outside to play fetch with our German Shepherd is almost too much. Even with three cloth masks, the smell of the smoke is overwhelming but this poor girl has to run, even for just a couple minutes. She is now happily asleep next to me as I write this. Just a few short weeks ago, we wrapped up the resilient faith guest blog series. This has certainly been a summer full of faith even in the midst of such turbulent times. The passage from Hebrews has been rolling around in my soul since we heard from our last guest writer…
Over the past months, I have found my thoughts continually coming back to this idea of reshaping. As news headlines on an almost a daily basis remind us that we are moving into a “new normal,” and while businesses, schools, etc.. restructure how they have always done things, it is a constant reminder that the world is being reshaped around us. Because it is so very present, I find myself not left with much room to escape a question I think I would benefit from asking myself more often “in this moment right now, what is God wanting to form in me? What are the situations and circumstances in my life, by which God is at work in my life through his Spirit so that the best version of myself will emerge?”
…It appears I have always been trying to fit God into a box yet somehow, I could not get him to stay there. I wanted a nice tidy belief system but my foundation of a faith that always is overcoming could not withstand the crises that hit.
“You preach God at me, the least you could do is your job.”
The sentence hung in the air like a bell rung, it’s pitch lingering long before it is silent… Though muttered under her breath, it stabbed deep inside my soul as if she said it straight to my face. A co-worker of mine was struggling with someone in her department and was halfway venting to me and halfway to herself. It was a powerful judgement to bring forth in that moment and though I do not know the whole story, it’s a warning we should all heed because faith resiliency leads to faithful work.