Saturday, March 30, 2013

Holy Saturday

Jesus at the tomb    Vladimir Borovikovsky 
There is nothing in scripture that tells us what Jesus' followers did on the day after the crucifixion.  As Jewish folk it was their Sabbath.  So they most likely stayed put, and prayed and I'm sure there were tears shed, and stories told...and if they are like me when I spend time in darkness, they did everything they could to remember every tiny detail.

Spending time in the tomb is risky business.

Spending time in the tomb calls for intentionality.  We would rather life be all sunshine and puppy dogs.  But that isn't really real.

Spending time in the tomb of despair, disappointment, grief, has its own clock.  For some it is short lived, for can seem to go on and on.

Spending time in the tomb is authentic to our human experiences.  Even God, after tearing the temple curtain in two spent time in the tomb.  

and sometimes, on occasion, we need to confront whatever is causing us to be in the tomb with some holy humor.

After the winter that will not end, amidst snow piles and frozen ground...I am wearing sandals... I have been waiting patiently and today enough is enough.

praying for peace as you journey through this Holy Saturday.

in Christ, together,

Friday, March 8, 2013

in honor of Tippy, the garage cat

I was raised to never name a barn cat.  Clear and simple.  You can feed them, try to catch and tame them but never give them a name.  Barn cats don't usually live more than a year or two, so my dad's advice made sense.

Its not that we named Tippy, not exactly.  It was the neighbor who brought him home after he climbed up under the hood of her car and caught a ride to a nearby town.  "Here's your kitten, we named him Tippy.  He sure is a lucky cat."

More than a little scared Tippy 'the lucky cat' got extra attention from then on.  He grew into a beautiful grey cat, his tail tipped with white.  Soon just about everyone on our corner of Apple River knew his name.

Miss Sally was none to pleased when Tippy grew bold enough to visit her yard, a block away, to lounge under her bird feeders.  I remember how he stretched out, his tail flicking in the air as he watched and waited.  The church ladies were none to pleased either when Tippy and his momma and siblings hung around the kitchen door on Swiss Steak Supper night.  Cats will be cats after all.  Tippy was always a friendly cat.

Ethan and Tippy
When it was time to move, Momma cat and Tippy's siblings were farmed out to new homes. Tippy was loaded in the pet carrier for the 6 hour drive to Spirit Lake.  He's Ethan's cat, we don't want to move without him, plus he's a great mouser!  When we arrived at our new home we were afraid he'd disappear so we tried to keep him locked in the garage for a couple of days.  We needn't have worried, Tippy always made his way home in time for dinner.

Soon Tippy was making the rounds in our cul-de-sac.  One day he followed us about 1/2 mile down town to Spenser's Underground.  You have no idea how hard it is to walk home carrying a cat who would much rather be on his own, but we were afraid he'd get lost.  What were we thinking?!  Tippy had it made, as far as I was concerned his mission was simple - keep the mice away -and he did so like a champ.  (This is why I like 'garage cats')

One more move in 2010, another annoyed neighbor, and here we are...I thought he was done for last winter when he disappeared during both of the blizzards, but as soon as the wind died down he reappeared - ready for food and some attention.

Tippy was territorial, there would be nights I'd hear him duking it out with another cat in the neighborhood.  After one of his fights last summer he came home with a chewed up ear, it gave him a  tough guy look but he was a charmer.  Whenever we were outside he was always there jumping on our laps, checking out what was cooking on the grill and loving all of the attention.  What a lucky cat.

Every morning when I let the dog out, and in the evening too Tippy let me know in no uncertain terms that I was late feeding him.  We talked it out and he always forgave me.

Tippy was to celebrate his 9th birthday this spring.  But his luck ran out when he dashed into the path of a passing car.  This evening as I was digging his grave, on the south side of the parsonage underneath the crab apple tree, I thought about how he enjoyed sitting out in the sun.  His tail wagging luxuriously.  This sunny spot seems like a fitting resting place for a lucky cat who got a name.

Rest in peace, Tippy

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

knitting in the midst of Lent

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.  These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.  Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.  (Deuteronomy 6:4-9)

Over the noon hour I was privileged to offer the devotions at Heritage United Methodist Church's midweek Lenten lunch.  Nearly 100 people were gathered for great food and fellowship.  I'd say 99.9% of them were affiliated with a church in our community and most were older than I.  
As I thought about what I could say to these faithful sisters and brothers in Christ, many of whom are retired and approaching their twilight years, I was nudged by the Holy Spirit to speak about usefulness and how we continue to have a purpose to and for God and one another.  Here's the gist of our conversation - perhaps you need to hear these words today as well...

I have been a knitter since I was a little girl.  I know how to knit and purl, how to cast on and how to pick up stitches.  My specialty is fast one skein of yarn projects - such as scarves.  I have made a prayer shawl or two - but that takes two skeins at least.   About a year ago a friend encouraged me to try knitting a pair of socks.  I am now in the midst of knitting my third pair!  

Knitting socks isn't too complicated, once you get over the fact that you have to use four needles and you have to follow a pattern.  Problem is, I'm not too good about following instructions.  I began my first pair of socks with the intention of making tube socks, then this same friend insisted that I dive right in and make a heel.  Yikes!  To make socks with a heel says that you mean business.  

I went out and bought a book, the Big Book of Socks no less, and even with step by step instructions I was still in a panic about turning a heel.  So Jen typed out instructions talked me through it, promising  that the whole process would be fool proof.  And, she's right...if I follow the instructions the socks turn out perfect.  But, each time I have a sock on the needles I have to dig through my emails to review Jen's 'knitting for dummy's instructions'.  I'm in the middle of making my 6th sock and I am already double checking Jen's words of wisdom as I approach that magic moment when it's time to turn the heel.

God, through Moses, knew that we were/are stiff necked and willful people.  So, he taught them a prayer - a way to pray - that would remind them of who God is, and whose they were...the prayer is called the Shema and it goes like this:

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.

Say this over and over again, God taught them.  Instruct your children in what it means to live into this prayer, when you are at home, when you are traveling, day and night I want you to remember these words... Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.

And so, the Israelites did.  Each morning when they woke up and each evening before they went to bed they said the prayer - to remind themselves and their children what it means to love God fully.  This is much like I depend on Jen's instructions to turn a heel, or my children have depended on me to teach them how to drive...speaking of driving, I'm having a hard time wrapping my mind around my youngest having a learners permit!

God wants us to live into our blessedness, and here is where it gets interesting.  God has given us gifts so that we can be teachers like Him.  Some of us know how to knit, others how to cook or clean or wood work or play bridge.  The thing is, are we teaching others what we know or are we expecting someone else to do it?  The sad fact is that there are skills that are being lost because we aren't sharing what we know.  This applies to our faith journey as well as how to make the perfect cinnamon rolls!

So think of something that you are really good at.  Go ahead - think about it, write it down even - what you are good at...whether it's a craft, or baking or mopping the floor - whatever it is...what are you really good at?

Then I want you to ask God to use you to teach and walk alongside someone who needs or wants to learn this skill.  We have been given gifts to use them - so let's get outside our comfort zone and use our gifts already! There are so many ways that we can make new friends and build up the kingdom of God if we would just stop and think about how I can use what I can do really well to God's glory.

So, what say you?  How are you going to live into this prayer during this season of Lent?

in Christ, together,