Wednesday, March 2, 2011


I purchased it in the late winter of 2007. We didn't have much money for extras then, it was my last semester of seminary, and we were cutting things close.  But I couldn't resist...I feared that the picture frame would fall into the wrong hands.

The frame is made of some sort of resin material.  In the upper right corner is a cross made of three 'rusty' nails.  They look like the kind of nails used for effect during Lent.  The kind of nails we pretend were used to nail Jesus to the cross.  The frame part itself is fairly wide - a little over 2 inches all the way around I would say - and the surface mimics stone.  It makes me think of the tomb where Jesus' broken body was laid to rest.

But what gets me, what eats at me, is across the bottom, and skewed to the left.  The word 'imagine' is indented into the surface of the stone.  "imagine..." Imagine what?  Imagine... the nails pounding into Christ's flesh?   Truth be told, I don't really like thinking about Christ's passion and death.  Take me straight to the resurrection, please - its a lot less messy and painful.

But here's the really fun part, what then do we do with the space suitable for a 5 x 3.5 inch photo?  What sort of photo would one put in this gaping hole?

Rusty nails, hewn stone, imagine... I have no idea.  5 years later I continue to be at a loss.  And so, the picture that came with the frame continues to be there.  The profile of a young woman with a dangling earring - a model from who knows where on a frame that says; imagine...

Perhaps thats the problem with Lent.  We don't quite know what we are supposed to DO with it.  Fast?  Sure - I can do that - gave up french fries one year - of course that was an easy one - I was the one making fries in the fast food restaurant on campus - who wants to eat stuff you cook for 12 hours a week?
Pop?  sure...but never can I imagine giving up caffeine - I am too addicted - I need it to function later in the day.

I know someone who is giving up meat for Lent - hmmm... a farmers daughter giving up meat?  Perhaps.  Though that's about all the boys want to eat for dinner.  Last year I gave up facebook.  That was pretty tough.  I fear I am a bit addicted - but then I just substituted another multi-media drug for it - I was on Twitter several times a day checking in on 'things'.   Seems a bit hypocritical as I consider my fast for this year.  Of course, there are those who say that we shouldn't fast at all, it's too catholic to give anything up, instead we should take something on - I could go with that one.  In fact, last year I gave up facebook AND took on extra time for prayer and reading scripture.  I want to be sure that I cover all my bases you know - and do everything right.

funny how a simple picture frame can be such a challenge
Some have suggested putting a picture of a mission team in the frame.  Others have said stick in a picture of a place that you enjoy, that would be the mountains of North Carolina, with Colorado a close second.  I don't think I would want to put a picture of my four children in there - I don't want to imagine MY son or daughter nailed to a cross, dying alone, for the sake of the world.

On Good Friday, 2007, my youngest son, Justin, was hurt out on the playground by our home in Apple River.  I heard his screams from the open window and when he made it to the house, I saw that the corner of his mouth was ripped wide open.  We raced to the nearest doctor who injected Novocaine into his wounds and sent us on to Freeport - about 35 miles away.  There a doc took 45 minutes to rebuild his lip and repair his mouth and cheek.

Later in the day when it came time to walk over to the church to lead the community in the Good Friday service, I just couldn't do it.  My son, my precious son, bled in my arms that day - I could so relate with Mary, Jesus' mother.  Instead I stayed at home and held Justin in my lap (he was only 7 and would let me do that then).  Justin still bears the scars of that day, he will need some additional surgery some day and we don't call it Good Friday in deference to the memory of the day he was hurt.

I shared with one of my professors how difficult it was for me to proclaim the Resurrection story with joy on the third day.  He wisely said; 'thats what the time in the tomb is for,' I just needed to allow myself a little more time in the tomb.

imagine...  I don't want to imagine the things that we, God's beloved children, have done to one another the 2000 some years since Jesus' passion and death.  I don't want to imagine the injustices that continue even to this day.  The things that Jesus the Christ bled and died for on our behalf so that sin could once and for all be defeated.  It would be nice to imagine that we lived as if we believed that sin was overthrown, that God's kingdom is here and now.  This is what I would like to imagine - given the chance - that God's grace, mercy and love washes away all of the hurts, anger, fears and dashed dreams and reprioritizes our lives so that we would really and truly live lives as agents of hope, peace, love and joy.  (God's grace, mercy and love can overcome our hurts, fears and disappointments - but it takes a lot of work on our part to be open and vulnerable enough to receive this amazing gift.)

I guess this is what I want to imagine this season of Lent - and it doesn't have anything to do with giving up french fries, or chocolate, or caffeine, or even facebook.  It has everything to do with living as a child of God, a beloved, precious child of God.  One who is called to love God first and foremost and then love one another as Christ loved us.   No strings attached.

Can you imagine what a wonderful world it would be if we could all go there?

in Christ, together,

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