Monthly Archives: July 2017

more than down dogs, cat cows and savasana.

 May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light. Colossians 1: 11-12

I’m rediscovering my yogi this summer.  Until I moved to Denver a year ago, I had practiced yoga consistently for a number of years.  In fact two of my dearest friends are yoga sisters that I met on the yoga studio floor. But when I moved to Denver, through the whole transition of new call, new house, new town, new grocery store (that took me 9 months to embrace!) new friends – my yoga practice suffered. I couldn’t find a studio I could bond with… I couldn’t find the rhythm in my day…. but most importantly, I believe, I didn’t have my yoga sisters with me.  Sisters who in our bonding relationship, encouraged one another, challenged one another, supported one another, and ached and sweat together! Yoga together made me stronger and knit the ties between us so that we shared much more than down dogs and cat cows and savasana.  We shared life and love.

The entire first chapter of Paul’s letter to the Colossians is one of encouragement (actually the whole letter is!).  It’s like Paul is a yoga instructor of the faith, instructing and guiding us in the faith, while at the same time acknowledging how tough it is to be a follower of Christ.  Yet he promises and paints a picture of reward for all the hard work – having strength and patience through it all.

There is one part , though, that I especially am drawn to today: Be prepared to endure all things with patience. Just as the yogi in me is being slowly retrained and strengthened, physically and spiritually, I also know that in all things of life, I am called to embrace life with patience, as I slowly train the muscles of my heart and soul to follow the path God is leading me on.

And on the days when the “mat of life” is calling my name and my body is slow to respond, let me know that God is working with and through me – strengthening me here and now and for the days ahead.  And for that I am to be thankful. And for my yoga sisters? I am forever thankful for their love and compassion, encouragement and support; for we are each made stronger in the other.

How about you? Where is God building your strength and for what?  And who are the ones encouraging you along the way?

Dedicated to my yoga sisters.

 

moments of excellence.

 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near.  Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

 Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Philippians 4: 4-8

My husband, Mark, and I will be married 36 years next week.  Ours has been a life full of joy, surprise, adventure, sadness, worry, laughter, a little yelling (on my part :-|), peace and quiet, confusion, thanksgiving, defeat and celebration, humbleness and pride, hardship, accomplishment, misunderstanding, and understanding; but most of all, it’s been a life full of gratitude.

And it all started with Philippians 4: 4-8.  We chose this text for our wedding – believing it to be a guide for our days ahead. To be honorable to each other, to love each other and the world around us justly, and to share God’s love with each other with a contrite heart and a gentle spirit.  We promised 36 years ago to turn to the Lord in all matters, those worth rejoicing and especially those that bring on worry; to pray together and to find those things in our lives for which we can be thankful for at all times.

Simply put, we promised to live in the Lord.

Paul in this text is calling the Christians of Philippi to live and love together in the Lord, and to support each other in the doing.  In all things, no matter what, Paul says, in prayer and supplication…WITH THANKSGIVING… make your requests known to the one who created you, redeemed you, and empowers you to love and live in the Lord. And from there, will be moments of excellence, worthy of praise….. whatever it is.

May today be an excellent day, worthy of praise.

btw- we also choose this text because one day some 38 years ago, two blue airmail letters crossed over 10K miles of ocean – one headed to Hong Kong, the other to a small school in Tacoma, WA; each bearing the words of Philippians 4: 4-8, intended to be shared with the one loved on the “other side” – for that day at that moment. Little did we know it was intended for each day since.. 🙂

Dedicated to that one loved for 38 years.

 

Super heroes for God.

Brothers and sisters, join in imitating me, and observe those who live according to the example you have in us. Philippians 3:17

We have all been asked over time – who are our mentors, who taught us the faith, who are our heroes?  And there’s always some extraordinary individuals that rise to the top, who exemplify the things we want to be noted for in our own lives but haven’t yet achieved; who ultimately we call our super heroes.

Paul was one such individual.  And he had his own story to tell- warts and all. But he led his life striving to be who God created him to be.  And so he walked the earth , telling his story and inviting others to use his life as an example to learn how to follow Christ.

That’s a tall order.  To live a noteworthy life.  To live a life that others look up to.  To live a faith-filled life where we’re called somebody’s hero. But God desires nothing less for us and believes in nothing less of us.  We are ALL exemplary individuals because we have been splashed with the waters of baptism – owned and claimed by God for nothing less – to be the people that we were created to be – super heroes for God.

May we all continue to “press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14)

 

new paths.

All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his decreesPsalm 25:10

Traffic-Signs-RM227-lg

So I use google maps exclusively, with the exceptional Siri inquiry.  Moving into a new city a year ago with traffic mayhem pretty much 24/7, I consult GM nearly every time I get into the car, whether I know where I’m going or not.  GM is my life saver.

 

 

But there’s just one problem – while I get to my destination with very little glitches, I sometimes don’t know where I actually am.  I know if I’m North/South, East/West – but where I actually am in relation to my surroundings is often questionable.

The Psalmist is asking the Lord for guidance and deliverance.  And one of the things that s/he is sure about, is that following the way of the Lord will promise God’s steadfast love and faithfulness.  That’s covenant keeping, and life saving. Trusting that in all the places we go, God will provide, surrounding us with steadfast love and faithfulness.  Yet covenants are not a one-way street.  Covenants are made between separate entities, coming together, intersecting along the way.

During these Summer Sabbath days, I find myself covenanting in new ways with the One who created me.  It’s a journey of  letting myself be guided on new paths. Yet because of the promise I know exactly where I’m at – surrounded by God’s love and faithfulness. Always.

My prayer for you is to let God be your guide, trusting is God’s steadfast love and faithfulness – even when the way seems unclear.

peace.prL

Signed. Sealed. Delivered.

You were marked in Christ with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit. Ephesians 1:13 (NIV)

signedsealedI remember one of the first times I wore a clerical collar.  I went quickly from being honored and humbled at the same time, to self-conscious, to forgetting I even had it on. All in one day.

In the beginning of the day, it was daunting to consider the responsibility that the collar represents – the actions that it would demand, and the attention that I would get just by wearing “the collar.”  But as the day went on, the “awesomeness” (daunting or not) of the collar began to fade.  I realized this while on my way home from a long CPE shift at the hospital.  A driver had cut me off on the highway, and I instantly reacted with feelings of anger and I wanted him to know (in my passive aggressive way) that I didn’t like that. Now lest you be concerned that I’m a “road-rager,” this was but a fleeting moment, ending when my finger got caught in my collar!  I instantly remembered who I was and with that came, “Who’s” I am. Marked in Christ.  Signed. Sealed. Delivered… And that matters.

Now this is  a story about a collar, but each of us has been marked in Christ in our baptism. Collar or no collar – we are Signed. Sealed. Delivered….. by God for the sake of the world.

And that mark never goes away.  So no matter what we do or don’t do, God names us and claims us with the promise of the Holy Spirit.  And our response?  “I’m yours!” God calls us to remember our baptism daily – to go out into the world with an oil cross traced – etched – tattooed on our foreheads and on our hearts as a way to remind us to imitate Jesus and to show God’s love – to name and claim Jesus out in the world – To say, “You’re mine!”

So what if from when we woke up in the morning until we laid our heads down at night, we journeyed through our day consciously aware that we are God’s peeps, marked with Christ and promised and ordained by the Holy Spirit to be Jesus’ hands and feet in the world, for the sake of the world?  Would that change how you act, where you go, what you do, who you encounter, how you encounter them?

May we embrace God’s marking, calling (singing) out, “Signed. Sealed. Delivered. I’m yours, God!”

peace. prL

Clarity.

54DBC13C-2823-4C7A-8D71-88D829A35D43Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4: 29

One of the reasons that I enjoy the book of Ephesians so much is that Paul is real. He’s talking to real people, with real struggles, and he understands them because he’s been there too. So he’s frank and honest and tells it like it is.  And for what reason? To build up the body of Christ; to share a word of GRACE for all to hear. And I’m one of those who needs to hear today!

It’s true, at least for me, that it can be so easy to just blurt out any and all things on my mind, without taking the time to ponder their intent or lasting impression on the one my words are breathed upon.  This being the case, I know that I have missed many an opportunity for building up, but instead, my words have torn down relationships.

So if I am to be about building up the body of Christ, I know that I need to spend time in being built up myself. When I spend time in  prayer, meditation, scripture, and intentionally listening for God’s voice and guidance, I am given a better clarity of what it means to imitate Jesus in this world and in my life… so that [my] words may give grace to those who hear.

Sitting on my desk today is a candle given to me by a young couple soon to be married. It’s called Clarity.  My prayer for today is that God grant each of us clarity to separate the evil from the good in our hearts – so that we might be drawn to loving acts of kindness, mixed with words of frankness and honesty, to be about the work of building up the body of Christ .  peace. prL

“Oh.. this ol’ thing?”

You were taught to put away your former way of life, your old self, corrupt and deluded by its lusts, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to clothe yourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4: 22-24

My mother taught me how to dress.  I always thought of her as a fashionable dresser, who loved to make sure everything coordinated – even and especially when she and my dad went out to socialize or go to church, his clothes always matched hers, down to the tie!  She followed all the fashion etiquette – you know, no white shoes before memorial day, and no white pants after labor day!  She sewed many of my clothes growing up, and taught me to do the same for my daughter.

I grew up in Hong Kong, and the reason I tell you this is that British fashion etiquette is a whole new ballgame.  Shorts weren’t worn out in public, and to this day, I still get dressed up to get on an airplane.

So I’ve always taken pride in what I wear, even to the point of not offending anyone with my choice of attire.  Clothes make a statement, either covering up what’s underneath, or they enhance what’s already beautiful. And even though I was taught to be fashionable and respectful at the same time in my attire, I was told that what mattered most was what was inside.

Paul is writing to new Christians; Gentiles who’s hearts are learning to love and imitate Jesus. He’s encouraging them to purge the things in their closet that represent their old way of life and instead to put on a new creation, one that will bring compliments of righteousness and holiness.

Just like getting dressed is a daily event, so is the need to purge the old way of life and put on the new.  We are reminded in our baptism that this is indeed possible. That because Jesus died and rose victorious over sin death and the grave, we get to wear something new everyday – righteousness and holiness!

Have you ever noticed what you feel like when you’re wearing something that is new, and feels good, and fits so well? It can put an extra skip in your step, a hop in your jump, a smile on your face – it can just plain make you want to do the dance of joy! But one thing it will not do: make you say, “O, this ol’ thing?”  Cuz there’s nothing old about it – God makes us new each and everyday, clothing us with righteousness, and giving us the opportunity to spread holiness in the kingdom.  And when we fall short, that’s the beauty of it all: we get to purge the closet once more, and be adorned by the Creator with something new the next day. May we wear it with pride.

Dedicated to my faith fashion consultant, mom.

A routine day…. and God.

Mary said, “He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.” Luke 1:51

I read this text early this morning, and decided it would be good for me today to walk through my day, and anticipate and seek out the strength of the Lord.  In other words, pay attention to God’s work in the world I encounter, and then reflect on it later in the day.

Using St. Ignatius’ Prayer of Examen, I recounted God’s presence today in a listening ear who allowed me to be me – expressing my hopes and dreams, and my fears and failures. God showed up in two young hearts in love – preparing for a life together and sharing that with me. I encountered God in colleagues who shared their daily struggles and joys. And God’s love came in the form of a furry grand-puppy who exudes God’s unconditional love – well not entirely…. treats are always involved.  And God brought an old friend back into our life, and connected me with each of my kids today.

So, that’s all nice and “routine,” but what about the “strength of God’s arm?” and the “scattering of the proud?” I mean, where’s this majestic God who brings the proud down a few notches, so the lowly can rise?  The Messiah, the Savior of the world whom Mary, soon to be the mother of God, proclaimed has finally come!

I checked CNN to see if perhaps during my routine day, all had been righted in the world; that indeed the lowly, the outcast, the immigrant, the refugee, the hungry, the poor, the captive, the marginalized have finally all been elevated and rescued, and the rulers of the world who want to make their own rules that benefit them and them only, have finally been scattered.

Well, it didn’t happen that way today.  So I went back to the text, looking for signs and answers.  And I realized something else; perhaps it’s me.  I’m the proud, the one who needs to be brought down and my thoughts scattered. And when I examined my day once again, I realized that indeed, today was just such a day.  It’s like God took God’s strong arm and swiped across my desk and my daily schedule, sending my agenda flying, and instead, provided moments of sweet intimacy – God tended instead, to the matters of my heart.  God laughed with me, cried with me, led me to ponder God’s word, and drew me into prayer, and God used a routine day and those whom I encounter to bring me near to God.  In God’s mighty love, God re-aligned my thoughts, my prayers, and shared my fears and struggles. God lent me God’s yoke.

And so on this day, I humbly sing with Mary,

“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.”

 

A living prayer

Devote yourselves to prayer. Colossians 4:2

I took a class on prayer while I was in seminary the first time around.  Sounds kind-of odd, doesn’t it?

Now you might think that we studied all the GREAT prayers of the Christian Faith.  You might think we studied all the components of a GREAT prayer.  You might think we studied the many GREAT ways we can address the one we’re praying to.  You might think we learned a few public speaking skills to “perform” a GREAT prayer.  Maybe.  But not really.  But here’s what I learned:

To listen…to and for God.

To see God present in my everyday life.

And then, to make my life a prayer.

I’ve been pondering this for 20 years. To be a living prayer.  God wants so desperately to be a part of my life.  Scripture tells us that God created us to be in relationship with God. Period.  Every moment of every day.  Now I’m not talking about the Benedictine practice of daily prayer or any other spiritual discipline of “scheduled” prayer (although those are wonderful disciplines).  I’m talking about living, breathing, engaging the world with a heart that speaks to God and listens to God. A life that reflects a deep abiding with the Spirit.  For this is my prayer!

Now I am well aware that I fall short of the glory of God many moments of my day.  But I also know that my God walks with me, picks me up, laughs with me, cries with me, and sets me on my feet…again and again….as I strive to be a living prayer.

My prayer for us this day is that we experience God’s tap on our shoulder, as God says, “Wanna chat?”

peace. prL

 

 

Remember.

Remember the days of old, consider the years of all generations. Ask your father, and he will inform you, your elders, and they will tell you. Deuteronomy 32:7

Today we celebrate 241 years of remembering when our country became an independent country.  We remember the sacrifices that were made, and we remember the visions that were dreamed by our ancestors, the first immigrants. And we acknowledge the deep privilege we have been afforded but did not earn, to be able to call ourselves Americans.

Last week along with others from our congregation and a visiting youth group from MN, we heard the story of Bianca, an undocumented immigrant who at the age of 15, fled (or actually, was sent by her family as a matter of survival) from the gangs and violence of her country to America. Her family sacrificed and compromised their lives so that she could have a better life.  She told of her life-threatening experiences to cross the border and then what life has been for the past nearly 20 years in the US.  Being detained and treated as a criminal, eventually gaining status to stay, but always being reminded that she does not belong, even to the point that she has a black dot on her driver’s license that tells everyone – I’m undocumented and don’t belong.

Bianca’s 10 year old daughter follows Bianca and others around from place to place as Bianca tells her story.  But that has only been recently.  You see, with the state of our country’s affairs when it comes to who’s welcome and who’s not in this free land, Bianca and others like her, feel compelled to tell their story – to put a face to a name;  to put a face to a label – Undocumented.

The text for today comes from Moses song – a song that the Lord put on Moses’ lips to teach to the Israelites so that they would remember where they came from, the generations that went before them, and how the Lord has led them through to this promised land of “milk and honey.”  It wasn’t anything that they had done, its wasn’t anything that they had earned.  As a matter of fact, it was in spite of what they had done, that the Lord still fulfilled his promise to them.  And this song, the Lord said, was to remind them of their story, in the midst of their forgetting and going their own wayward way, which the Lord knew would happen again and again.

I need to be reminded each and every day of the mark that the Lord has made on me, child of God.  The mark that names me and claims me to be who I am created to be – to love and serve my neighbor and to be welcoming to all people in the name of Jesus. The mark that reminds me who’s I am.

So, yes, today we celebrate freedom.  But not all of us experience freedom in the same way. I choose to celebrate my freedom, being reminded by Martin Luther who wrote in the Freedom of the Christian:

A Christian is an utterly free man, lord of all, subject to none.

A Christian is an utterly dutiful man, servant of all, subject to all.

  May I remember each day to live this life of freedom, bound to the other. Have a blessed 4th.   peace.prL