Friday, March 29, 2013

Blessed Good Friday to you all.

After a magnificent Good Friday service at Advent Lutheran Church where the choir performed a stunning rendition of the Son of God Mass by James Whitbourne, communion was shared and the cross of God’s forgiveness, perfect love and undeserved grace was reverenced, I came home and read a Facebook Post by one of the most amazing Lutheran pastors who is also a wonderful friend. Her name is Pastor Deb McCann.  These are her thoughts following a really difficult week on why we call this day Good Friday.

·         Pastor Deb McCann:  its been a tough Holy Week. My brother in Houston is off the critical list and in a rehab facility, possibly for months. One of my son's best friends' father attempted suicide a couple nights ago after being out of work and deeply depressed, a day after this friend began a new job. My best friend's mother died this morning, he's an only child with no family near. One young friend is recovering from brain surgery for a cancerous tumor, another young friend found out a month ago her baby just a few months old has cystic fibrosis. Another friend is exhibiting signs of mental illness and is deeply in denial. One of my sons lost his job this week. All of THIS is why we call today GOOD Friday. Because the God of all creation dared to love so deeply that this God became one of us ... in the very mortal, painful, vulnerable flesh that we humans all share. This is the only kind of God I can trust, one who understands what it is like to be me from the inside out - not in a divine, spiritual & intellectual knowing, but from the gut, viscerally, hands on. Only a God who can cry out "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" only such a God is one I can give my life to.

Take joy in the journey my friends remembering that hope does not disappoint. Wear comfortable shoes, pray with a heart filled with gratitude for God who loves us so much that He became one of us to experience all that we experience; the good and the difficult. Remember why you love God so much and get some sleep. Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene.

I am not moved by what I see. I am not moved by what I feel. I am only moved by what I believe and I believe God.

Blessed Holy Thursday. 

Today I sat glued to my chair behind my desk as my son packed his kennel, dog, toothbrush and some other things and began the transition to his new home that he and Sarah will share.  I could not help but think about the day a few years ago when Casey moved out. I sat glued on the couch as he packed his things to move into his apartment with a friend. Things seem to change so quickly.  This morning Travis lived here and tonight he is in his new home. I gave him the speech I gave Casey and Geni: remember who you are, remember Whose you are, (I did not say don’t date skanky women) , always wear clean underwear and your key still fits the door.  And with a hug at the door I let him go. And new normal begins again.

Prayer: Holy One, tonight we remembered you with bread, wine and the washing of feet. You gave the disciples one last lesson. You modeled servanthood in the washing of the disciples’ feet so that they would understand their mission in the world. Help us to be models of Your forgiving grace when we meet others in need of fellowship, acceptance, forgiveness and hope. In Jesus name, I pray. Amen.

“Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.”
Psalm 62: 5-6

For years as I would say my prayers each night I would give thanks for the man who slept beside me and the safety and presence of the three children down the hall. Tonight, I will still give thanks for Bruce and the kids, but they no longer live down the hall. This is sort of a tough night for me. I am not sure how I will sleep without a child in the house. It seems sort of quiet right now.  The anticipation of knowing one of them will be in soon is not there tonight and that is a feeling I have not had for what seems a very long time. Forgive me friends, but tonight I am a little sad, very proud, but a little sad.

I spent most of the day at Travis and Sarah’s home waiting for their furniture to be delivered, their washer and dryer to be delivered and the Directv  to be installed. Bruce joined us and we shared a meal together. Travis looked around and said, “this is grown up stuff isn’t it Mom?”  The next time I see Travis (tomorrow) he will still be Travis, but there will be a change. He will have a new air of independence, maturity and the knowledge that he is ready to learn how to make his way in this world with Sarah.

I can only imagine Jesus as He tried to say good-bye to His disciples. These were His closest friends. He knew what the next few days held for Him and how they would react. But He talked with them, shared a meal, had conversation and then He gave them the speech. “For I gave you an example that you also should so as I did to you.” (John 13: 15) Jesus told them I have taught you all I can and now it is time for you to make your way into the world as my disciples and showing others love, forgiveness and hope.  He let them go with the hope that they would remember who they were, whose they were and tell the story of Jesus to all they would meet.

Take joy in the journey remember that hope does not disappoint. Wear comfortable shoes, pray with a grateful heart and get some sleep. Love you all, Bruce and Gaylene.

I am not moved by what I see. I am not moved by what I feel. I am only moved by what I believe and I believe God.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Happy Wednesday! 

Today I did what will be my final advising for classes at Brite. I spoke with my adviser telling him to make sure that every t has been crossed and each i has been dotted. As I watched him fill out the remainder of my advising sheet began in the Fall of 2007 I noticed that when he finished all of the spaces were filled up. If all of the classes will make then I will be set to graduate in December.  I am so very excited and, as my daughter would say… just mildly terrified.

Prayer:  Holy One, we make one more step towards the cross with you. Even though you told Your disciples You were leaving three times before, they did not quite understand. The good news is that because You are God on foot and through the Resurrection and the power of the Holy Spirit You will never leave us or forsake us.  Even when we have lost one so close to us or a job we really loved, we become ill, or whatever loss we have experienced You are never out of our reach because You are God of promise and hope.  For that we give thanks. We love You Lord.  Amen.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD you God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Deuteronomy 31: 6

On Saturday Travis and Sarah were honored with a wedding shower. At the end of the shower we decided to take pictures with family. As we lined up and grouped for the pictures I was reminded that these pictures used to hold a lot more people. Several members of our family have passed on leaving we who remain.  And I must admit it made me sad in the midst of this most joyous occasion. I missed the mother who raised me and the son I raised. I missed the uncles who always kept us laughing and the Mamo who beamed with pride and whose heart would almost burst with the love she had for all of us. And then tonight I remembered that life goes on. That day I was witness to the beginning of a new generation of family. These two honorees are grounded in faith, love and a powerful sense of family. They will be the ones to continue the family traditions and lead us into new traditions.

It is possible to rejoice and to be sorrowful. The Holy Spirit empowered Paul to be joyful in the midst of hardships and adversity. God can do the same for us if we just look and listen for God’s leading and voice. We must be willing to let go of what makes us sad. I don’t think that means we are to forget, but we are to surrender our ownership of what is causing us sadness and grief so we can see the blessing. The way we do this is to focus our attention fully on God trusting that God will never leave us or let us go.

Take joy in the journey remembering that hope never disappoints. Wear comfortable shoes, pray with a heart filled with gratitude and get some sleep. Love you all, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni, Travis and Sarah.

I am not moved by what I see. I am not moved by what I feel. I am only moved by what I believe and I believe God.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Happy Tuesday! 

Okay, I am better tonight. I wrote a scripture based paper in response to the reading I had to do for class concerning atonement. One of my statements simply said that Christ without the Cross would not have cause for resurrection. Without Christ and the resurrection we would still be killing livestock and wandering the desert.

Prayer: Holy One, we continue to journey through Holy Week. Sometimes this week can seem overwhelming with rehearsals for special music, several extra worship services and family gatherings to come. Let us take a moment and think through the steps of this week and remember that You, LORD, are at the center of all the preparations and it is You on whom we need to place our focus. Let us listen to You when we are stressed. Calm our minds so we can hear Your voice all the time.  Thank you Lord, we love You so.  In Jesus name, Amen.

“You will see Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.”
Jeremiah 29: 13

God is not only with us, God is in our every experience and circumstance.  God is never the author of evil, but when we experience tough times God is fully able to use the bad things for good. God may not remove our suffering, but does redeem it and give it meaning. God invites us to be courageous and to search for God’s abiding love and unfailing Presence in whatever we are experiencing. 

God did not remove the suffering of the cross from Jesus, but used that horrific suffering to reconcile us back unto Himself and offer an everlasting relationship with extraordinary meaning. Holy Scripture claims, “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.”  Search for God and somehow God will make the blessing of His Presence in the toughest of times.

Take joy in the journey remembering that hope does not disappoint. Wear comfortable shoes, pray with a grateful heart and get some sleep.  Love you all, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni, Travis and Sarah.

I am not moved by what I see. I am not moved by what I feel. I am only moved by what I believe and I believe God.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Happy Monday and blessed Holy Week to you all! 

I am in need of some prayer. I am reading a book for one of my classes that seems to promote the idea that Christianity needs to be reconstructed leaving Christ crucified out of the center of the faith. It is written by an author who does not believe that Christ had to die for the atonement of our sins. Every red flag in my soul goes to full attention as this is not what I believe. It is particularly difficult to read this type of reading during Holy Week when each day brings us closer to the cross. I have to do a brief writing about this text and I am struggling.  Please say a prayer for me that I can be faithful to my beliefs and the gospel while working on this assignment. Thank you.

Prayer:  Holy One, in Jesus’ name I enter Holy Week through Your Holy Word.  Even though there are those who do not believe in atonement theology and salvation through the sacrifice on the cross, I believe. I ask You, Lord, to help me read and make a faithful response that honors You and the sacrifice You made for the forgiveness of sins and life everlasting. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

“Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

Psalm 46: 10

“Take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.”

Ephesians 6: 16

As I began this reading yesterday I knew right away I was going to have difficulty. I even lost some sleep over this. There are a couple of reasons why. First, I have never questioned atonement.  It is deeply embedded in my faith that Jesus chose the cross to atone for my sins and forever stands between God and me pleading my case before the mercy seat at the feet of God.  
Second, if Jesus did not choose the cross as the final atonement for my sins then I have to ask, “Why bother with this Christian life?” When Jesus breathed His last on the cross with the words “It is finished.” He was not just announcing His death. He was staking the claim that no other sacrifice need be made because this was the final sacrifice for sin and forgiveness for all eternity. To my way of thinking if this single act does not occur then we are still living in Old Testament times.

What I have to remember is that this reading is not within my control. I must remember that God is sovereign over my life and I must ask for guidance and understanding through these readings. God also calls me to task in this area to state my case for Christ crucified in response to this author in scripture-based writing that upholds my faith beliefs.  Again, I ask for prayer that I will be able to write such a text.

Sometimes the evil one assaults us in all kinds of ways and all kinds of places. When these times come let us rest in the truth of who we really are; Children of God and brothers and sisters to Christ; children in whom God delights.

Take joy in the journey of faith remembering that hope does not disappoint. Wear comfortable shoes, pray with a grateful heart (and for me tonight), get some sleep. Love you all, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni, Travis and Sarah.

I am not moved by what I see. I am not moved by what I feel. I am only moved by what I believe and I believe God.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Blessed Sunday to you all. 

Today began for me at around 6: 30 AM and finally landed me back at home around 8:00.  One of the highlights of my day was assisting in worship at the Juliette Fowler Home in Dallas. Today was Palm Sunday and palm fronds were given to the residents who attended the worship service.  The congregation was made up of folks from Rush Creek adult and youth from the baptism class, elder folks from residence and a few staff members.
Given the late hour I am going to share the communion meditation I offered today during worship.

Meditation:  Today is the remembrance of the Triumphal Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem…and I thought about a donkey. Thirty three years earlier it was a donkey which brought Jesus (and Mary) to the town where He was born. It was less than a triumphal entry for a child king. And today it is a donkey which carries the King of Kings and Lord of Lords through a parade of palm leaves, lots of people and walking over cloaks and into the city where Jesus will teach His last lessons and say good-bye to His closest friends over a meal of bread and wine. 

Jesus invites us to come to the table any way we can get there. We are all welcome at the table of the Savior to be filled with forgiveness, love, grace and fellowship with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Come…all are welcome.


“The LORD make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you.”  
(Numbers 6: 25)

Take joy in this journey through Holy Week. Wear comfortable shoes, pray with a heart filled with gratitude and get some sleep.  Love you, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni, Travis and Sarah.

I am not moved by what I see. I am not moved by what I feel. I am only moved by what I believe and I believe God.