Sunday, September 13, 2015

And the Sermon title was Don’t answer “fine,” to the How Was your Week Question

My eyes are fixed on you, O my Strength; for you, O God, are my stronghold. Psalm 59:10

When these things begin to take place, stand erect, hold your heads high, because your liberation is near at hand . . . So with you when you see these things happening: know that the kingdom of God is near. Luke 21:8

Oh Lord, who else or what can I desire but You? You are my Lord, Lord of heart, mind, and soul. You know me through and through. In and through You everything that is finds its origin and goal. You embrace all that exists and care for it with divine love and compassion. Why, then, do I keep expecting happiness and satisfaction outside of You? Why do I keep relating to You as one of my many relationships, instead of my only relationship, in which all others are grounded? Why do I keep looking for popularity, respect from others, success, acclaim? Why, Lord, is it so hard for me to make You the only one? Why do I keep hesitating to surrender myself totally to you?

Help me, O Lord, to let my old self die, to let die the thousand big and small ways in which I am still building up my false self and trying to cling to my false desires. Let me be reborn in You and see through You the world in the right way, so that all my actions, words, and thoughts can become a hymn of praise to You.

I need Your loving grace to travel on this hard road that leads to the death of my old self and to a new life in and for You. I know and trust that this is the road to freedom. Lord, dispel my mistrust and help me become a trusting friend. Amen Henri Nouwen, A Cry for Mercy

And really the road is never easy. I thought about that once again up Sentential Peak. And now I can do the vuelta in one hour rather than how it used to take me one hour and forty minutes. But it is still uphill and sweaty. And like Peter, I need to wash my feet every day.

And the sermon last night was a reminder that every “ordinary” moment is actually significant, marked by glory, infused by the grace of God. And even as the world lights up in destructive flames about us, we can stand tall, our eyes fixed on Him; our liberation from the old way of seeing things is ever present, because He is about the business of transformation.

Manuel was listing all of the new thinking he has had this week: hiking trails along mountain streams, family dinners, Fantasy Football, Rocks and Ropes climbing, high school Friday night football games, head-banging rock concerts in the blazing Saturday afternoon sun, and oh yeah, bummer, losing one’s cell phone. And I too, have had a full week this week, thinking about life.

And good old book club Richard the Third decided to take his life in his own hands and run the show. 
And thus I clothe my naked villainy
With odd old ends stol'n out of holy writ;
And seem a saint, when most I play the devil.

Am I so very different than him, full of schemes and plots to cling to my false self? 

It surely isn’t about the pitted road or circumstances. Eve listened to the whispering of the Evil One even in the Garden of Eden. I thought about that too.

And Sue sent me her prayer for me: May the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Because His peace is not like that of the world. And His peace is not reasonable or logical or quantifiable. We do not arrive at His peace on our own strength.

He is my strength.

May my eyes be fixed.

And Ann Voskamp asked this week, How often do we cup our hand to our ear and listen for heaven’s song over our lives?

And I was reminded of the arrival of Aslan’s song in The Magician’s Nephew: A voice had begun to sing. It was very far away and Digory found it hard to decide from what direction it was coming. Sometimes it seemed to come from all directions at once. Sometimes he almost thought it was coming out of the earth beneath them. Its lower notes were deep enough to be the voice of the earth herself. There were no words. It was hardly a tune. But it was beyond comparison, the most beautiful sound he had ever heard.

And sometimes, well, a lot of time, I weep during worship songs at church. And it is a mixture of a beautiful sound with a not-so-beautiful sound of me shaking my fist at God and asking if all of these sweet lyrics are really true. Sometimes it is a melody of faith, like My heart will choose to say, and sometimes I choke over those nicely rhymed words on the glowing stage screen and nothing comes out. Mistrust rolls in like a heavy fog, in a thousand big and small ways. And the metaphors ring hollow, and me, the big glob of clay, wants to hop right off that Potter’s wheel.

But good old John D’Andrea reminded all of us gathered once again in our living room that it a story. His story.  Calling all peoples unto Him.

And this morning, once again, I join the prayer of Henri and the community of Christ and plead for mercy: Let me be reborn in You and see through You the world in the right way, so that all my actions, words, and thoughts can become a hymn of praise to You.

A hymn of praise.

And sometimes that hymn sings loudest chasing Everette across the soccer field.

So be it.