Thursday, June 30, 2016

earthly spirituality



I'm not above this. Any of it. Not the clutter, not the scrubbing of kitchen floors, not the making of dinner again and again and again.

Life in the Spirit doesn't raise me above these little things.

On spirituality- a quote from John Kleinig:

When I speak of spirituality, I do not envisage something extraordinary-- a superior way of being a Christian that is open only to a religious elite or a more advanced stage in the spiritual life.  I have in mind what is given to every faithful person.  Christian spirituality is, quite simply, following Jesus.  It is the ordinary life of faith in which we receive Baptism, attend the Divine Service, participate in the Holy Supper, read the Scriptures, pray for ourselves and others, resist temptation, and work with Jesus in our given location here on earth.  By our practice of spirituality we are not raised to a higher plane above the normal, everyday, bodily life, but we receive the Holy Spirit from Christ so that we can live in God's presence each day of our lives as we deal with people and work, sin and abuse, inconvenience and heartbreak, trouble and tragedy.  We are not called to become more spiritual by disengaging from our earthly life, but simply to rely on Jesus as we do what is given for us to do, experience what is given for us to experience, and enjoy what is given for us to enjoy.

John Kleinig, Grace Upon Grace, p 23.  (Buy this book!)

Sometimes I wish being Christian meant checking out of everything and finding some nice happy place of inner peace and sunshine.  Sometimes, I wish it meant being above the mundane, earthly, repetitive things I must do to serve my neighbor in this place. But God insists on meeting me here, in this noisy house, in my vocation.  His grace does not call me to escape from life, but equips me, draws me deeper into my work on earth by teaching me to love and serve those around me.


Jesus, be with me today in the noise and the bickering and the headache and the mess.  Equip me to work and play, to love and care for these little bodies and souls.  Point them and me to You for strength and joy today, and teach us to see and rejoice in our daily bread.  Amen.

updated from 6/30/11

Monday, June 27, 2016

celebrating Aggie

It's time for her routine MRI. Time to trace around the scars again, hers and mine.
They'll look in her brain for signs of that tumor.  I hope they find none.

I'll look in myself for signs that I could handle any bad news that could come. I already know I will find none.  Not inside, that is- only outside. Only in Him.

A moment ago I said to her, frustrated, "What in the world are you doing?!" She was swinging her body around in the living room, (I can't quite call what she does "dancing," exactly,) and papers were flying off the piano, when she should have been practicing.  "I'm celebrating mama. I just played that hard song through twice!"

Celebrate, dear child.
Celebrate, and remind me and all the world that this fragile slice of life is worth celebrating.

I look at the calendar and do the math. Has it really been almost 7 years since her brain surgery?

We have new friends now, friends who did not know her when she teetered on the cliff that falls down into eternity.  Yet she is really no more a miracle than any other child. Each one here today is here because God sustains; each one a gift of grace, a gift for a moment.

But God knows how this child, especially, shines bright joy into our lives, and her very brightness highlights the shadows.




Father,
Hold tightly to your Aggie-Sue-Cook-Peter-Pan.  Sustain her smile, her generous heart, and her body, according to Your will.  Thank you for the gift that she is to all who know her.  In the name of Jesus, who loves her even more than I do,
Amen.

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UPDATE: MRI all clear!
Celebrate!!!
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If you don't know her story, start here:

http://www.weakandloved.com/p/hows-aggie.html

Saturday, June 11, 2016

weak prayers, resting

The architecture of a church points me upward, reminds me of God's majesty.
I am small, God is big. This is most certainly true.

I feel my smallness mightily this week after a depression flare, a reminder that I do not control a single thing that really matters.

I kneel in the pew after communion.

My prayers are weak, quiet, uncertain. I don't know what I even need. I only know that I have need, I am need, I am a huge black hole of need that doesn't even know what to ask for. My thoughts are tired. My prayer is weak.

There in that big church, I am small, and my God is big. But he's not too big.  He's not so far up there, not high in the sky where he can only hear loud prayers or confident prayers.

I know this because I know His Word.
He is near to the broken-hearted, to the crushed, to the tired in spirit.

My God is not way up there, waiting for me to assemble a good prayer and shoot it up to him.
He is with me, even me, even here.

What words do I pray that day after I receive His body and blood?  Were they profound, lengthy, or holy?  I remember only a quiet "thanks" and a weary "help me." But He prays with me and for me, right alongside me.

I imagine him there with me, on the creaky kneeler, His feet like mine resting on the torn coloring pages under the pews. I imagine Him letting me lean right on Him in my weary praying. His arm is around me for comfort and support. His other hand rests on my praying hands, and He prays with me and for me.

He sweeps my prayer up into His; he takes my prayer and amplifies it, sanctifies it.

He untangles all my tangles, and He knows exactly what I need.  He sees me with clear eyes and looks upon me with the love of the Father. He lives to advocate for me, and He does this even when I am too weary to pray.

My weakness takes refuge in His strength.

In His arms, surrounded by His prayer, I wait in safety.

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But you, O Lord, are a shield about me,
    my glory, and the lifter of my head. (Psalm 3:3)


He is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him,
since he always lives to make intercession for them. (Hebrews 7:25)

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For more on depression click here.
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