Thursday, February 18, 2016

Love is an active noun.

If you have ever read my blog, I hope you have, you may know that I attempt blog my way through Lent. So beginning with Ash Wednesday I may post a reflection, or a thought, or maybe a video that has a spiritual or religious meaning I feel fits with Lent. Sometime, because of the busyness of simply being clergy I may only post a scripture verse. 

In looking over my blogs (Black Belt Spirituality and Yes We Can) I noticed that they were written in my own wilderness experience. A wilderness experience of divorce, self doubt and feelings of worthlessness. And not that they were clouded by that experience, they were definitely shaped by that. Ok, they were clouded a little bit. 

I am amazed at how walking through the season of Lent for the past few years has shaped me and given me a deeper understanding of what it means to walk through the darkness of the valley of ones spiritual life and death. Lent will continue to be a valued time of year for me, and I feel blessed that my experience over the past few Lents has given me a deeper understanding of compassion and empathy for those I walk with in my ministry. 

Ministry will continue to be a series of glorious peaks and devastating valleys. You cant invest yourself, physically, emotionally and spiritually into another’s life and not expect it to be. But that is the honor of what God has called me, us, to do. 

And I am in a season of life where God has placed in my life a woman who gets that, and chose to actively be part of it.  I have been blessed with someone who has decided to love me; and I her, despite our selves.  Fred Rogers, every generation X’ers favorite Presbyterian minister once said:“Love isn't a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun like struggle. To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now.”


I would say today, that for Lent, pray on love.  Love is an active noun. It takes work. Lent is about self reflection and self improvement in light of the active love that is the grace of God.  Unearned and unwarranted favor placed upon us by God even though we don’t deserve it. But Grace wouldn't be grace if we didn't act upon it. Accept that we have received it. And try to return the favor. 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Remember you are Dust.


Growing up as a kid, like many kids, I paid no mind the the church calendar. Unless it was Christmas. I was a kid after all. When I was in high school, I began to explore my faith. I was enrolled in a Catholic school, while being confirmed into a Presbyterian Church.  That's when I began to notice the weird (to me) practice every Lent of my classmates walking around with smudges of ash on their forehead. 

So what exactly is Ash Wednesday.  For some of my Protestant friends, yes I agree, there is no biblical directive for us to celebrate Ash Wednesday. Just like there isn't a directive to celebrate Christmas or Easter. But there is at its core a great biblical theology of creation, sin, our mortality, grace and death.  It calls us to community in our shared brokenness and the humility of our mortality. 

The last few Ash Wednesdays I have spent imposing ashes in a major Hospital in the City. The same hospital that I did my chaplaincy training and now work as a per diem chaplain as an ordained Presbyterian chaplain.  I now also impose ashes at the continuing care facility were I am a chaplain. By the end of the day, my thumb is black, coated with ashes. A visible reminder that life is dirty. That I get to walk with people through the dirty crude that is life.

What I appreciate the most about Ash Wednesday it calls us to reflect on our shared frailty and brokenness. We come together and confess our sins, as a community, and visibly display our recognition that we are mere carbon based beings that return to that dirty red clay. (That's a Genesis reference)

But that's the great thing. We follow a gracious God. A God that took on our brokenness on the Cross of Jesus. And it's the road to that cross, and the resurrection story that we begin to reflect and pray about on Ash Wednesday.  We take the time to reflect on the sacrifice and the service of our savior Jesus Christ and to attempt, however much we fail, to live a life that models his grace and love. 

As I  will say to those I met today, I say to you today: Remember that you are dust; and to dust you will return. And remember that our God is with you.