Friday, February 24, 2012


The Lord will keep you from all harm— he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore. - Psalm 121:7-8  (KJV)

I  believe this Psalm, Lord help my unbelief.  Many who have had calamitous occurrences happen in their lives might argue with the initial declarative -- "The Lord WILL keep you from all harm...."  We all perhaps can roll through a list of many people, some of them in just the past day or two, for whom the Lord did not appear to be keeping a particularly close eye: car crashes, gun shots, fires, wars...  Yet, Christianity is not a religion or faith for simpletons and cavemen.  Christianity is not the practice of superstition, with prayers and talismans, necklaces for rear view mirrors, and magnetic fish for bumpers that keep us safe.  We do  not believe in a capricious god who acts as we want him to if we offer the right behavior, the right alms, the right magic words, the right faith. The end of the verse says it all -- "the Lord will watch and forevermore."  We are eternal beings, given the awareness and consciousness to foresee eternity.  We are spiritual beings with hearts made for union with the One True God, "God from God, Light from Light, True God from True God." (Nicene Creed)  We are cared about forevermore.  No matter what harm may come to our bodies, the dust of which we have our earthly substance, our eternal souls dwell with God and will never be harmed.  That Covenant was established with Abraham, and reaffirmed through Jesus Christ.  Life is hard.  It is filled with many over-the-top stressers, pain, misery, suffering, and injustice.  But against the backdrop of eternity, we endure only for a blink of an eye before we behold the glory of an everlasting home
Help us O Lord, not to fall into a sappy sweet superstition that falsely promises nothing but blues skies and rainbows.  Help our unbelief when times are difficult or hard.  Remind us of our everlasting home in you and with you that exists forevermore.  Because Christ died, we also may live.  Amen.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Ash Wednesday

For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.  Psalms 30:5 (KJV)
This verse pretty effectively points to the nature of God's forgiveness.  So many people go through their days feeling a nagging presence of guilt.  The possible sources for guilt arise from all kinds of places and all kinds of acts - both of commission and omission.  The nagging can end though.  A simple act of confession/repentance is all that is needed for the wrong (i.e. God's anger) to pass away and be forgotten in a moment.  Passing from guilt and shameful worry we cross a threshhold into a life surrounded by God's favor and love.  Guilt may haunt us in the night but it need not impair our joy that comes in the morning.

Ash Wednesday is the beginning of the Christian Church's observance of Lent.  Lent is a period of reflection and contemplation for six weeks leading to Easter.  On this day there are worship services in most churches where the call to confession and repentance are made manifest.  These tend to be somber services and at their conclusion ashes are imposed upon the forehead of the all the attendees as a sign of one's repentance.  I would encourage and invite you to take advantage of the more "formal" structure of confession and repentance offered through these special worship services today.  They provide an intentional way to do some personal interior "house cleaning" and through the old liturgies of The Church move you back into the joy of the Lord's favor.

Come now, and let us (pray) together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.  (Isaiah 1:18)  Amen.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Don't Let Your Complex Show

Wilt thou be angry with us forever? Wilt thou draw out thine anger to all generations? -- Psalms 85:5 (KJV)
When things don’t go well in our lives we might be prone to ask, “What did I do wrong to deserve this?” The subconscious answer that rises to the surface often might be, “God must be angry with me.” Immediately we embark on an expedition searching for how God might be angry with us. Usually we can find a few things of worthy mention. The real question is, however, are our bad days caused by God being angry? Do we have a God who smites us for every little thing we wrongly do or don't do? I think not. Consequences of our wrongful actions, of course, play out; God, however, is faithful and just and forgives, forgives, forgives. The Psalmist's lead-in to this verse is filled with the praises for God's forgiveness. Just because we can't feel it at some particularly difficult moment, or want to blame God for our troubles does not make God angry with us forever.

The place to retreat to when times are hard and you're feeling life is laying into you unfairly is into a faith space. Reaffirm the rock of your faith - the ever present covenant God made with you, to love you and to send Christ to be your salvation. In verse 8 the Psalmist's answer to his question of God's anger toward us is: "He promises peace to his people, his faithful servants— but let them not turn to folly." Don't go to the silly place that God hates me and has it in for me, I'm just going to go off and eat worms. Instead, affirm God's promise of peace and claim the everlasting love freely given for you and all the generations.

When life is a struggle O God, let me find the stalwart anchor in your Spirit. Grant us the peace, patience, and endurance to last through this time of trial and break out on the other side of it wiser and brighter and more connected than we've ever been. With Christ's help, Amen.