Sunday, December 12, 2010

Jesus is in the boat!

A month ago I was asked to prepare something to share during advent lighting. All the members on worship commission took a Sunday to share about joy. I got assigned "joy in suffering".   Now that's a tough one. How do you sum that up in 3-5 minutes? I've been musing and praying for God to show me what to say.

Then last week, I found myself staring down at my friend as she lay in ICU, critically ill.
Two days later, we learned she was beginning to improve, but in my morning prayers, I suddenly remembered the story of Jesus calming the stormy seas, and it seemed like I actually heard the words, "Jesus, is in the boat!"  Not two hours later, I learned another friend had a stroke. I made my way to the hospital to visit. On the way in, I ran into a friend who had her son at the lab for testing for a feverish illness. On the way back down in the elevator, I ran into my cousin who informed me my second cousin had just been admitted for a blood clot in her lungs. So, back up the elevator I went to visit her as well.

Really, Lord! Don't you think this is enough?

The next day, we prayed as the spouse of another coworker was in the cardiac cath lab waiting to see if open heart surgery was needed.

Lord, wake up! This boat is going to sink!  Please calm this storm.

Finally, last night, I sat and wrote out the words for my advent sharing, entitled: yep, "JESUS IS IN THE BOAT!"--a dramatic paraphrase of Psalm 46, Mark 4, and Joy to the World:

"Shhh! Jesus is sleeping in our boat!" (whispered, in the voice of a disciple)
It's been a long day, a long week,
We're taking the boat across the lake--away from it all!

God is our Refuge and Strength, a very present help in times of trouble. (Psalmist declarative voice)
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change,
And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea.
Though the waters roar and foam,
Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride.

The waves have been rocking the boat for hours now, (disciple voice-emotional)
A huge, huge storm is upon us!
The sails have been slapping back and forth,
The waves are coming over the sides of the boat,
We're taking on water, threatening to sink us!
--Yet still, the Christ, he sleeps in our boat?! (exasperation, disbelief)

There is a river whose streams make glade the city of God. (Psalmist voice; declarative)
God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved.
The nations made an uproar, the kingdoms tottered.

Then, finally, we woke Jesus, 'Lord, wake up! Don't you see we are about to go down?  (disciple voice-desparation)
Don't you care, we are about to sink!'

Then He stood, arms stretched out to the winds and the waves, and He spoke,
"Peace, be still."
And the wind died down.  And the waves calmed.  All became still.

He raised His voice, and the earth melted. The Lord of Hosts is with us. (Psalmist voice)
The God of Jacob is our stronghold.

Then, we fell at His feet, 'Jesus, you are the Son of God!  The Son of God is in our boat!'  (disciple voice-confessional voice)

Jesus is in our boat!  (my voice, amazement, louder)
Jesus is in our boat!


He's come.  He's come to make His glories known, as far as the curse is found.
Peace, be still.  The Son of God is in your boat.
These are tidings of great joy!
Amen.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Harvest

Have you ever stopped to think how exhausting harvest time is? All the canning, freezing, gathering, butchering, cleaning, wood-chopping... all before the snow flies. Before winter's cold fingers wrap around each day and the land lies dormant, waiting until springtime for life to sprout forth once again.  In fact, all the seasons are equal in length, three months each, yet winter seems so much longer.

We work excitedly from the first growing blade of green sprouting grass to the shortening days of fall to plant, water, tend--all to pluck  from the vine at just the right moment. The pinnacle of the all the seasons is the harvest. The climax, the long awaited fruit of the vine, ripened to perfection. We celebrate it and give thanks.

Then we chop, slice, grind, cook, freeze, crush it--the fruit of our lives.  It sustains us even as we are exhausted by its procurement. But upon our fullness, at the end of the harvest, we are saddened the life circle has come to an end. But has it?  I dread winter, but know that it is necessary.  There is a time for everything and winter reminds me that there is a time to rest, sleep, lay dormant, hibernate--to wait for life anew. To trust in its coming.

Harvest time reminds me of Christ's word's in John 12: 24:
 "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit." Jesus spoke these words right before he foretold of his death.

Wine cannot be made without crushing the grape, nor bread without crushing the wheat--and the wine and bread give life just as Christ gives to us.  And when we partake of the wine and the bread, we remember Christ's gift of life to us.

So, even though I was outwardly exhausted this week from all the harvest, I was reminded of its blessing that brings life to us. And I was glad that Jesus used the simple seasons in His creation to show us how He works in our lives spiritually.

I wonder, is the harvest gathering time really the pinnacle after all? Or is it  really the life that springs forth from what has fallen to the ground and dies? Resurrected.

What fruit is ripe in your life?  What grain must be crushed to bring life in a time of winter?

May God give us wisdom to recognize our seasons, and patience to wait for new things.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Day One

I start this blog today with trembling in my heart and soul. I start, thinking I should be blogging you know---if I'm to be a successful writer. After all, everyone is supposed to have a platform and be accessible to readers. So I work on this digital pen-pal all afternoon and go to one of my favorite blogger sites to see if I can add the first link to his blog. But alas, I find Chip MacGregor has just posted his last blog.  He's going for the quiet life.  I applaud.

So, what am I doing here?  I mean, what am I doing here?

Or should I ask, what will I be doing here?

I'll endeavor to write only the thoughts I feel impressed upon my spirit to share.  So, if all is quiet on this western front, empty words won't fill these pages.  Words are powerful.  I hope to gain their honor and respect when I use them, especially when talking about the Word that was in the beginning---Who dwelt among us.  Immanuel.
Good night,
Anne