Monthly Archives: March 2010

You have no idea . . .

Those are the words I heard from my Boy tonight:  “You have no idea how much I forget!”

This came in response to Hannah’s declaration upon entering the bathroom after Isaac exited:  “Isaac, you forgot to flush the toilet!”  I said, “Isaac.  How can you forget to flush the toilet?!”

“You have no idea how much I forget!”

. . . . .

Um.  I reflected for a bit.  On the fact that my boy seems a little detached from his surroundings.  How his brain is always, always whirring, taking him places far away from where his body is lumbering along.  How he loses track of what he’s doing with his body, tripping here, dropping there, walking away from the task at hand . . . all because his mind is racing with a new concept, a new idea he needs to conquer or develop or simply swim around in.

“You have no idea how much I forget.”

Um.  I just might.

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Gospel parallels

I wanted you to experience the Scriptures as I experienced them this week.

I started with the Isaiah 55 passage cold, because it was the Old Testament lectionary passage. And something in it led me to the passage from John 4:5-42.

Isaiah 55:1 “Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you that have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.”

John 4:10 “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”

But the Samaritan woman doesn’t get it. She’s still thinking about actual water. The stuff that comes up out of the well they’re sitting near.

Isaiah 55:2 “Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy?”

The Samaritan woman is looking in the wrong direction, is sitting in front of Jesus, Lord, Messiah himself, and is talking about literal, wet water. Looking for something so simple as a thirst quencher, totally missing the point of the one who’s sitting in front of her. Jesus says to her, “those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.”

In Jesus, we find true satisfaction.

From Isaiah 55:2-3 “Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to me; listen, so that you may live.”

Jesus himself is offering this Samaritan woman what was promised in Isaiah so long ago:

Isaiah 55:3-5 “I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David. See I made [the promised one] a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander for the peoples. See, you shall call nations that you do not know and nations that do not know you shall run to you, because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has glorified you.”

In Christ, the covenant is opened up to the nations. Here in John we see that ever so boldly. He is offering the Samaritan woman—the Samaritan woman, the worst—the living water, the eternal life, genuine satisfaction. And he brings all this to her. Right to her. When she doesn’t even know she’s looking for it. Jesus meets her where she is and provides her need she didn’t even realize she had.

Jesus meets her where she is, but he doesn’t leave her there. He calls her on her polygamous ways. He doesn’t chastise her, but neither does he let it go unnoticed. He lifts it to her attention, she owns it: “Yes, I have no husband,” Jesus says, yes, this is true.

And the time is coming when you will worship me. When worship is done in spirit and in truth. The truth, the confrontation with who we truly are, is a necessary step in our worship. We can’t worship God while we’re hiding under some sort of mask of holiness. We must expose ourselves as the raw sinners we are.

Isaiah 55:6 “Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake their way, and the unrighteous their thoughts; let them return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.”

Maybe we wonder why Jesus doesn’t call her out, why he doesn’t yell at her, demand more repentance from her. She’s a pretty blatant sinner. And she does, very matter of factly, admit to her wrongdoing. She does not apologize, she does not show remorse. There is no sign of repentance here. But Jesus does not demand it, does not command it. Rather he goes right on to telling her about how she will come to understand the worship of the Father. Why is that? Why doesn’t he demand her repentance. Isn’t that what we always want? We want to see not simply admitting wrongdoing, from someone, often we’re not satisfied till we see some groveling from someone before we offer forgiveness, before we move on to the next step. That’s not what Jesus does here. He tells her of the day that is to come, when

Isaiah 55:8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Then there’s this almost intermission here in the Samaritan woman’s story. The disciples are wondering if Jesus has eaten, and he goes into some extended metaphor about his spiritual food, that is his doing the will of the Father and completing his work. He describes the the harvest for eternal life that he is already engaged in, whose fulfillment is yet to come.

Isaiah 55:10 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there until they have watered the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth’ it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”

God will complete the good work he has begun. His word is not without power. On the contrary, his Word is power. Where it is planted, there it will bear fruit.

John tells us (vv39 ff. ) “Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, ‘He told me everything I have ever done.’ So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days. And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, ‘It is no longer because of what you said that we believe for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Savior of the world.’”

And the Samaritans came to realize, as Jesus had told the woman, that the place of their worship, whether the Samaritan’s center of worship, or the Jews, would no longer matter. What would matter is the worship of the living Lord, in spirit and in truth. The Lord is the Lord of all: Jew, Gentile, Samaritan, all the earth. And the living water he brings is the source of Life for the restoration of everything.

Isaiah 55:12-13 “For you shall go out in joy, and be led back in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall burst into song, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress; instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle; and it shall be to the Lord for a memorial, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”

May we all shed the baggage that is standing in our way of being completely engulfed by those living waters. Whether it be the stuff that doesn’t bring true satisfaction, or our own sinfulness. May we live into the broadness of God’s mercy that extends to all the ends of the earth. May we trust in his ways that are not are own, that are infinitely better. May we stand out of the way, as God plants the seeds of his Word and brings forth the fruit of faith. May we serve to nurture that life. And may we join all of creation in worshiping God in spirit and in truth: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

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God is good

and sometimes I just feel it. With eyes that well with tears for no particular reason.  Just knowing.  Out of nowhere.  He’s there.  In spite of me.  He’s there.

I need to be productive today.  Run some errands with Ruthie, I think.  Visit a friend in town.

But I think we need lunch first.

Still feeling . . . something.  Not sure what . . .

You know what I’ve been thinking about lately?  Remember–if you’re one of my friends who’s been reading here for the long haul–I had that stretch where I could feel God taking me somewhere, pulling me to the next step, not really understanding how or why?  Part of that was this push to start the ordination process up again after years of dormancy.  But that was just this one bit of this pulling forward.  A year ago (February 14, 2009), I described it as a “stirrings zone. . . .  God stirring me up, prompting me, poking me.”  I’m glad I wrote it down here.  Because I’m realizing now, that I’m arriving there, that place he was leading me.  Or at least part of there.  Or partway there.  Or something.

This job I got, leading worship every Sunday.  It opened up in October, a full two years before what I saw as the earliest possible time for me to get a job.  A full year after I started the whole ordination process back up again.  I could have pushed the process faster if I had tried, but I didn’t try because I didn’t see how I could possibly take any sort of call before Ruthie would start school full-time in 2012.  Now I’m kind of kicking myself, because this current job, maybe, just maybe, could have been something different if I had pushed harder to get all my stuff done.  But I trust it will work itself out.

I’ve been talking with some friends (and Bible study companions) lately about how, exactly, a person goes about hearing what God is calling her to do.  And I lack good answers.  I really do.  I don’t know how I felt those stirrings a year ago, how I felt those pushes a year and a half ago.  I really don’t.  I just did.  I wish I could say how.

What I do know, is that God is big enough to make up for my misunderstandings, for my lack of hearing.  I know that I can plow forward on the wrong path, but God is big enough to scoop me up and set me down on the right path.  I trust that.  And that empowers me to follow where my notions lead.  I’ve followed many, many dead ends.  Many.  But still, I keep ending up in these places where I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I’ve ended up precisely where God wanted me to be.  Sometimes the detours have been long, sometimes very, very short.  But always, I get to where God wants me to be.  As a result, I should never be afraid to say, “I was wrong,” and I should always be following each path with a bit of humility, knowing that I may or may not be hearing God correctly.

Sometimes I think we don’t know we’re going in the right direction until we arrive.  I suspect the Israelites during their forty years in the desert can relate to that.  They were wandering wandering wandering, at times knowing they were going precisely God’s directions, at other times, not so much.  But when they arrived:  Yes!  This is where we belong.  This is where God has brought us, where he was bringing us all along.

Today I thank God for the comfort of knowing he’s big enough to cover my mistakes, to redirect my mistaken paths.  I thank God that he’s big enough to send a big fish if necessary, all to get me where he wants me to go.  And I give thanks for the peace that comes in knowing I’ve arrived.  At least for a time.

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feeling empty . . .

(reflecting on Isaiah 55 and John 4:5-30 in a stream-of-consciousness, likely useless to anyone but me kind of way.)

Feeling empty.

Feeling like I need to do something. Something. Something.

Feeling like I need to write. Something. Anything. But I don’t know what.

I need to write a sermon. Need to preach God’s word. Need to get out of the way, let God talk to the people in front of me on Sunday.

Beat. Beat. Beat. What do I have to say?

Living water. Water water water water water. Source of life. Essential Ingredient. Key to life. All life. Water water water.

One source. Only one source.

What sorts of dams are we building? Dams not to store, but to prevent flooding. And even the storing part. We store it, it stops being living. It has some movement in it, but mostly, still. Grows moss. Grows gunk.

Living, moving, healthy water. Water water water.

I want that water. I want that water. I need that water.

And it’s there. And it’s free. And it’s abundant. And it’s there.

But I can’t keep building up piles of junk in front of it. I can’t keep building dams. Dams neither to prevent flooding nor to store. The water that comes into me must flow out to be healthy, living water.

Junk. Junk junk. Unintentional dam-building. Piling up my junk in front of the water source and losing out on the water that’s there. Satisfying myself with the scum that eeks out from the bottom of my pile of junk.

Break down the junk. Tear down the pile. Tear down the dam. Tear down that which stands in my way of being caught in the rush of the living water.

What is my junk?

My sin. My pride. My “I can do this!” My spite. My disobedience. My impatience. My lack of love. My utter lack of love. Not that I have no love, but I have these great big gaps of emptiness. Empty of love. Empty. Holes. Without love, breeding junk and death and destruction and mayhem . . . my junk piled in front of the water. The water. The water. That revives. That sustains. That is life. You simply cannot have life without water. Nothing. Even a desert has water.

Other junk? Distractions. Stuff. Stuff. Stuff. Good stuff even, but stuff nonetheless. Stuff I suck dry, when it was never wet. Stuff with no water. No life. Yet stuff nonetheless. Piled up.

Tear down the walls. Tear down the junk. Root it out, dig it out, tear it down.

Let the flood come rushing through. Until there is nothing but water. Save that which is cleansed by water. And that which grows, born of the water.

Rush into every crevice. Fill the empty places. Bring life where there is death. Bring life where there is decay. Bring water where there is muck and mud and even Kool-Aid. Bring life. Living water. The real stuff, the good stuff, the stuff of life.

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I missed two days.

With good reason.  I had two days of barely being home.

On Monday, I ran away from home.  Yes.  Yes I did.  I had a dentist appointment, and I just decided (by prior arrangement with the man who stayed home with his kids) to spend the day out.  We were coming off a crazy weekend that included a 12-hour day for Ry on Saturday, and the five of us attended 13 worship services combined.  Ry led two, I led one, we both attended three.  Isaac attended three, while Ruth and Hannah attended two.  All that’s to say, Monday came and I was beyond beat.  So I ran away from home.  And I remembered that I need to go see movies as a part of my mental health regimen.  It’s the only time my brain and thinking just shut off for two hours.  I get lost in the story.  It’s a mini-vacation.  Glorious.

My day-away-from home also included yummy Mexican food at this restaurant I just adore.  Everything about the place is wonderful.  The tables, the atmosphere, the service, the food, the Margaritas.  Everything.  Perfect.

So, I hit the end of Monday ready to face the week.

Then on Tuesday, I had my two Bible studies to lead:  10 to noon and 7 to 8:30, and in between went to a mini-retreat for the local ministerium.  It was lovely.  Lunch and grown-up conversation, and some great food for thought.  And I also had an hour of physical therapy for a lousy neck and a big Dr. Seuss’s birthday thing at my kids’ elementary school.  Add up those hours, I was home for half an hour between 9:30 AM and 9 PM.

So, it should come as no surprise that I did not write during those two days.

Also it should come as no surprise that I have nothing fun or thoughtful to say today.  I think I’m still worn out.

Tomorrow is my put-the-bulletin-together-or-bust day.  And my get-a-good-start-on-that-sermon day, too.  I blinked and it’s Thursday.  That’s rather scary.  Another week.  Whooosh!  Gone.

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