Monthly Archives: March 2020

namaste.

“In Jesus Christ you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God.”       Ephesians 2:22

You did not hear from me yesterday because I spent my quiet time in yoga.  My words found themselves expressed in movement.  Although DEFINITELY not a dancer, body movement has always spoken to me – it’s the part of body-soul-mind that equally fills me. I’m a “yogi” at heart – though I don’t engage in movement of the spirit as much as I’d like these days.

At the end of each spirit-filled time, we come together and bow in honor of the spirit that we acknowledge we see in each other – Namaste. Yesterday’s “Namaste” was especially sweet for me.  Because of COVID-19, my old yoga studio two states away is offering online sessions.  And so a dear spirit friend and I decided to connect and “yoga” together through the airwaves (just like old times, though then in physical sacred space together).  Afterwards we FaceTimed with a cup of tea to get caught up on families life and love (bless you S for blessing me 🙂 ).

We all are beginning to see the blessings of this time “at-home” – though glimpses that they may be in the midst of groans and mourning to deep for sighs.  Being at-home physically does not separate us from dwelling together spiritually. In fact, I want to believe that it just might be bringing us closer together as Paul prayed for the Ephesians. So from my dwelling place for God to your dwelling place for God – Namaste.

Be Well. Be safe. Be hope. prL

reset button.

Sermon. 3.29.20. Lent 5. Lazarus. John 11: 1-45

Another Holy Encounter with Jesus that defies all pain and suffering and death and calls Lazarus to rise and come out of the dead tomb.

There are two things I want to emphasize about this text:

The first is the notion that Lazarus was given a 2nd chance. Second chances usually mean that something wasn’t right the first go-around.  So we’re given a second chance.  But what if Jesus , this death-defying Son of God, in the midst of grief and despair, raised Lazarus so that he might testify from the depths of the grave?  To give witness to this God of grace who gives new life?

In the midst of a pandemic that threatens our very existence, sending us in to a tailspin of fear and hopelessness, we might feel like we are in the depths of the grave. So much is changing in our world, moment by moment. While most of us, I pray, are safe in our homes, the world around us groans and mourns in pain:

If you would only have been here Jesus – If you would just take care of this suffering, loss, and pain we are currently experiencing…we know that you can…

But it is precisely here, that Jesus comes to us and says, “Wait! This isn’t it…. There’s more to life…and death.. than this!  Death and loss do not have the last say… Through the waters of our baptism, we die daily to our sin and are raised to new life! We are given a second chance – a new hope with which to testify to God’s unfailing love and mercy.

So, can we rise above the depths of the grave to see the life-giving work of God in our lives and in our world?  Can we let the waters of our baptism remind us that through death and dying, comes new life?

Maybe it’s like pressing a RESET button.  Many have viewed this time we are experiencing as hitting the PAUSE button.  I invite you, if you haven’t thought so already, to consider this time as a reset.  The council met last week, and we talked about roses and thorns in our new normal.  While is the midst of pain and suffering expressed, there was this over-arching theme that there was more – more quiet, more time with family, more time to sleep, more time to pursue other interests, more time to reconnect with friends and family both present and on the airwaves, more time to help the neighbor across the street. More time to hear God.  Perhaps this can be a reset time for you, for your family, for our neighborhoods, for our communities and for the world.  A second chance, if you will, to reset our lives where less gives more.

Now, ironically speaking because of the situation we find ourselves in, I don’t believe we can do that alone – the second thing I want to point out about today’s gospel.

When Jesus raises Lazarus and he comes out of the tomb, did you notice that he is bound? And instead of Jesus unbinding him, Jesus says to the community – You unbind him.  Our ability to live free to be who we are created to be, depends on the bod of Christ.  We need each other.

In our current state of staying – in- place, we all might be sensing this is a very real way. While I’m sure there are those families with kids who are experiencing life together 24/7 and are beginning to be a little stir crazy –  I think particularly of those who are living alone with no human touch – whether you’re young and vibrant, or well-seasoned.  We all need touch.  As the body of Christ, we are not complete until we are all together. So let us find new ways to be together.

My prayer for all of us in this time of RESET, is to embrace it – the good, bad and the ugly.

Look for new ways to see this death-defying God at work in this world in the midst of this pandemic as we are all experience death in one way or another.

Look for ways to get creative in reaching out to each other, sharing God’s love with a phone call, a card, a digital happy hour or coffee time with friends or your pastor!

May we together, unbind each other from our own confines of fear and despair, and look to the promise of the resurrection.

Be Well. Be Safe. Be Hope. prL

heart guard.

“By this we will know that we are from the truth and will reassure our hearts before him whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.” 1 John 3:19-20

By this…. These verses are in the middle of 1 John’s message on Love.  Love that’s not a feeling, but Love that’s an action.  More than being IN love. Instead, BE love.  That’s the “this” above. Not so much in words and speech, the author writes, but in truth and action.  And then, the author writes, when we DO the love thing, we will know our hearts are rooted in God.

Our dog takes a medication once a month called “Heartguard.”  It guards her heart from diseases she might contract while being a dog, frolicking about God’s world.  I’m pretty sure I have a guard standing at the door of my heart, particularly as I’m frolicking about God’s world. It’s pretty protective of who and what gets in. Except it can be persuaded easily when it wants to be. I know this, because my body heart mind and soul are pretty connected.  And when something’s awry, my gut knows it – fear, anxiousness, guilt – when my heart knows something’s not right, my body kicks into high gear.  Then my mind wants a piece of the action and we all start negotiating. It can sometimes take days/weeks, months/years to settle the things that originate in the heart.   But here’s the thing, God is GREATER than our hearts! When all those things of dis-ease want to take over the all-of-me, I imagine a God who’s holding my heart in God’s hands, protecting, guiding, opening, and showing me truth. What reassurance.  What love. What hope.

Be Well. Be safe. Be Hope. prL

soul touch.

“Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay.  God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.”  1 Peter 4: 8-10

This morning our doorbell rang and looking out the loft window I saw is was our daughter and good friend.  She was observing social distancing and standing 15 feet down the steps from the front door.  I opened the door and there was a bouquet of flowers and strawberries.  Today’s my birthday and dipping strawberries in sour cream and brown sugar is my favorite birthday dessert tradition! We spoke briefly, then they got back in her car to drive 40 minutes back across town to start her work day, using tele-health to treat PT patients.

Continue to show deep love for one another…. in these challenging times of fear and uncertainty, loss and hardship, we are beckoned to continue to love deeply.  This morning I realized just how much my heart yearns for touch.  Physical and emotional – soul touching.  I need you, we need each other.  Now more than ever before, we are called to learn to love – soul touch -in a new way.

Ironically, the next verse calls for us to share our homes and a place to stay!  In this time of staying-in-place alone, I choose to hear those words as the home that’s in my heart.  Know that I hold you in my heart and that you have a place to stay in my heart.  May God teach us to continue to love deeply…..

Bless you, Bear, for loving me deeply. For you touched my very soul where no social distancing can keep us apart.

me.60th.flowers

Celebrating 60!

Be well. Be safe. Be Hope. prL

dressed with humility.

“All of you must clothe yourselves with humility.” 1 Peter 5:5

There’s that word.  That’s the first thing I thought when I read this verse this morning. There’s that word.  It always gets me right in the gut.  I hate being reminded of the things that I I know I am called to be but seldom am. My human response is often not one of humility.  I would have to say, rather, it’s one of defensiveness.  Whoa is me… So, God’s got me where God wants me today. Have you ever been in a situation where you’re all worked up – conjuring up all the words of defense that you’ve got (all sentences starting with “But I…”) and then God enters.  About face. Oh…right. Clothe yourself with humility, Libbie.

So I’ve been sitting here talking with Jesus.  My Spiritual Director during my Silent Retreat a few weeks back, would say to me when I expressed how I was feeling, or what I was grappling with, “Have you said that to Jesus right here?”  or “How do you think Jesus would respond to that right now?”  Not the WWJD campaign, but, really, “What would Jesus do?” What would Jesus say?  The Ignatian way of Spirituality is one that seeks to know Jesus’ presence in me, beside me, around me, right here, right now. (That’s my layperson’s definition in a nutshell). So here’s the thing.  When I let Jesus in, I don’t have to clothe MYSELF with humility, Jesus does the dressing. Jesus is saying to me, “I’m clothing you with humility. Now love with humility.”  May I be humility today.  May I be Jesus. May I be hope.

Be well. Be safe. Be hope. prL

 

 

 

 

Humble Master, there is nothing we can do to earn salvation. Therefore, take away our pride and false securities so that we may humbly trust in your guidance and care. Shape us into who you would have us be. Amen.

ceaseless prayer.

“For this reason, since the day we heard it, we have not ceased praying for you and asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding…” Colossians 1: 9 

Epaphras, a co-worker of Paul, had been spending time with the folks of Colossi. And they’re on fire for Jesus!  Epaphras reported this to Paul and so Paul responds with a letter telling them that he is praying for them as they grow in the faith. I just love that.  Somebody praying for somebody else’s spiritual wellbeing – seeking wisdom and understanding. I have a new prayer partner.  We’ve been friends and colleagues for many years, and we have prayed together over time, but now we are intentional about spending time listening to each other and lifting each other up in prayer.  She’s a long state away, so before everybody else was “Zooming around the country,” we had started Zooming twice a month, sharing our lives and prayer concerns, and lifting one another up in prayer over the air waves.

Today is our scheduled prayer time.  She texted yesterday and said, I hope we’re on because I need this prayer time with you!”  I’ve known for a long time that I/we can’t go through life alone.  We need each other for support and comfort, for keeping our hearts and souls rooted in Jesus. And it just plain feels good to know someone’s praying for you.  As we were praying one evening, another friend of mine prayed, “and we pray for those who are unable to pray for themselves.” Amen. Amen.  For the times when I am unable to pray for myself, bless you for praying for me.  And when you are unable to pray for yourself, know that I am praying for you.

Continuing with Paul words following the above verse, here is my prayer for you today:

…so that you may lead lives worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, as you bear fruit in every good work and as you grow in the knowledge of God.  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.  He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Colossians 1: 10-14. 

Be Well. Be Safe. Be Hope. prL

be that witness.

 “God has not left himself without a witness in doing good—giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, and filling you with food and your hearts with joy.” 

In the past 2 weeks, I have tried to practice my part in flattening the curve and have only left to house 2 times each week – one to go to church to record worship, and the other to the store.  I’ve been bragging (mostly to myself!) that we are well stocked and ready for the long haul with food and supplies.  I’m ready to honker down. Then yesterday, this sense of scarcity overcame me and I said to Mark, “I have to go to the store. We need more food.”  After surveying the options, we decided it would be ok so long as I took particular precautions. An hour later, I came home with 5 canvas bags FULL of food.

So this is my testimony, and not the witness that God is referring to above.  I came home ashamed and guilty.  My cupboards are loaded to the max because I needed the assurance that I would have all the ingredients I need to make our favorite healthy meals.  I have forgotten that GOD PROVIDES.  God is the One who is doing the good. God is the One who sends the rains SO THAT there is and will be a harvest. God is the One who fills me with ENOUGH.  And God is the One who brings joy to my heart – and I am are here to be that witness to this good and faithful God.  I am here to be hope.

So this week, I will be that witness and head out one time and go over to church to drop off hope from my abundance and contribute to the Food Drive happening on the patio.

Be Well. Be Safe. Be Hope. prL

(Go to http://www.epiphanylutheran.net for info on our Food Drive on behalf of FISH)

 

a new vision.

Sermon for Sunday, 3.22.20   Lent 4. Man born blind.         

Read John 9: 1-41

This is a story about a blind man who sees, and a seeing people who are blind.

While the folks in the story tried to pin the man’s blind state as being sinful (either he or his parents) this is a story about being blind to the ways of God.

Question: Is your vision darkened or blinded right now? In the midst of this altered existence, Are you having a hard time seeing God?  It’s ok if it is.  We are human and we see through human eyes.

But I’m wondering if we can encourage one another to look through a new lens – which is the lens of the cross – look to the cross my friends – and there you will see a God who washes all the muck that covers our lives and gives us new eyes to see and believe  – Eyes of the heart to see that God is indeed active in our world. Eyes of the heart that can believe in a faithful God.

And you know, that might be all we can do right now – rest on God to provide a clear vision for us and for the world.

To see with eyes of the heart is to remain faithful to God. So when God calls us to go and be cleaned from the muck covering our lives, we trust in God to take care of the pain/suffering/ illness/ brokenness/ uncertainty/hardship in our lives and in the world – we trust that God will wash away the muck.

Here’s the promise: when the muck is washed away – we see what God sees and desires:

Lives that are meant to live in peace and where justice prevails.

Lives that give eye-witness to the Son of God and all that God has done for us.

Lives that allow others to see the glory of God revealed in us.

Like the blind man we are eye-witnesses to the love of God. A contemporary song some years back included these lyrics: “Break my heart for what breaks yours”   With 20/20 vision – we are given the ability to see what God is doing and what God can do.  And we are given the honor of joining God to heal the brokenness/blindness of the world. I pray that God might open the eyes of our hearts for such a new vision.

Be Well. Be Safe. Be Hope. prL

surpasses all understanding.

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7

That’s where I’m at today.  The events of our world and how we’re called to respond to them, in large part, surpasses all my understanding.  I remember growing up in the church and at the end of every sermon, the pastor would say the above text, “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen. ” I remember thinking “Ok. That’s a rap. We MAY think we know what Jesus is telling us in the Bible, but ultimately it’s all a mystery that we can’t understand. But God’s got this! Then I’d go on my merry way.

In my more mature years, sometimes that’s not enough.  I want to know WHY things happen – why we face hardship and loss. I mean if you can take care of it, God, why aren’t you?  Then I read the words “will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” And I realize that I need protection.  I need comfort.  I need a God that’s there for me – guarding me from loosing heart, loosing trust, loosing confidence that God’s got this.  Because the reality for me is that God is much bigger than I can even fathom (or certainly understand). So much so that I don’t have words that can adequately describe this God.  This God who guards me and ultimately gives me hope.  Ok.  God’s got this.

Be Well. Be Safe. Be Hope. prL

in God’s shelter.

“The Lord will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent.” Psalm 25: 2

Today when many of us are sheltered-in-place, either government enforced or self-imposed, these words might ring differently.  In these past weeks and days, many of us have been stocking up and setting up shop – moving our workplace to home, kid’s setting up to learn remotely and parents putting in place things that will keep them busy, subscribing to Netflix, purchasing Zoom accounts, purchasing games, books, music for entertainment from Amazon (make sure you wipe your pkgs down!)…. We need to make sure we’re ready to do this shelter in place thing with ease and comfort so that we can contribute to “flattening the curve.”

Our world is different today.  And tomorrow will be different from today. So, what if we looked at this time differently – a time where God “hides” us from trouble in GOD’S SHELTER!  What might God’s Shelter look like for you? My prayer for you and your loved ones is that it be living-giving – a time to press the “reset” button instead of the “pause” button.  Time to reconnect Body, Soul and Mind, while hiding in the shelter of God.

Be Well. Be Safe. Be Hope. prL