The Unchosen



Sometimes I wonder if there’s a reason I am such a doubting waffler when it comes to faith. Sometimes I wonder if it’s because I am not a chosen one.
Seriously. Hear me out for a second.

The Bible is chock-full of verses and passages about “being chosen” by God. It starts in the Old Testament, of course, when the Israelites are deemed the chosen people, and it continues into the New Testament with passages like these:
“No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal to him.” (Matthew 11:27)

“Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are invited, but few are chosen.” (Matthew 22:13-14)

Both of those passages are underlined in my Bible for one reason: they scare me.

I remember the evening a couple of years ago when I read that second Matthew passage aloud to the five or six people at my table during an adult education class at my church. If you’re not familiar with the story, it’s about a man who is invited in from the street to attend a wedding, only to find himself thrown out of the reception hall and into the darkness a few minutes later. After I finished reading the story I stopped and looked up at the people sitting around my table.

“I worry that’s me,” I blurted. “I worry that I think I’ve been invited, but really, I haven’t been chosen at all. I mean, who’s to say for sure that I’ve been chosen – maybe that’s why I’ve got all these questions all the time? Maybe it’s because I haven’t been chosen by God. Maybe there’s a legitimate reason for my weak faith?”

You can probably imagine how that comment went over with my group: like a big, fat, lead balloon. No one said anything, not a single word. They stared at me, shock and horror written all over their faces, and then they quickly looked down at their Bibles splayed open on the table.
 
Want a surefire method for halting conversation in its tracks during Bible study? Mention that you worry you might not be one of God's chosen.That'll do it.
I realized two things in that moment:
One: that I was the only one at the table who'd ever wondered if she wasn't chosen.

And two: everyone had clearly decided that even if I had been chosen prior to that moment, I’d just declared myself decidedly unchosen with that statement.

I spend a lot of time reassuring myself. I tell myself that my belief in God ensures that I am indeed chosen – that I won’t end up like the man thrown out onto the street, or like the weeds separated from the wheat and burned or like the virgin bridesmaids shut out from the wedding banquet. But honestly, I don’t know. My unbelief feels bigger than my belief sometimes. And as I re-read at those two passages in Matthew, the ones I’ve underlined in pencil, I wonder if there might be a very good reason for that. Maybe I struggle to know the Father because the Son hasn't chosen to reveal Him?

What about you? Have you ever read any of those verses about being chosen and doubted whether you made the cut?

{School's out, summer is here! So I'll be taking a little break from social media beginning today through the end of next week. While I will have new posts up Monday (including the "Hear It on Sunday, Use It on Monday" link-up), Wednesday and Friday, I won't be bopping around Twitter or Facebook or even replying to comments here. But I do look forward to catching up with you all when I'm back in cyberspace the week of the 11th! Thanks for grace during the respite!}


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Hear It on Sunday, Use It on Monday: How to Define the Holy Spirit


Nana, my father’s mother, always referred to the Holy Spirit as the “Holy Ghost.” I remember her dipping two fingers into the Holy Water at Holy Cross Church and making the Sign of the Cross, “In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost” as she touched wet fingers to forehead, heart and shoulders.

Frankly it gave me the creeps.

As a child, I didn’t find any comfort in the thought of a ghost, holy or not. I often imagined it trailing after us, hovering above our heads as we made our way down the center aisle and into the pew. I was always relieved when we exited out the front doors and down the stone steps after Mass. I assumed Nana put the Ghost back when she made the Sign of the Cross again with the Holy Water before stepping into the parking lot. I imagined that the Ghost swirled back into the basin of Holy Water and sloshed around in there until the following Saturday evening, when the swish of two fingers in the cool water released it again.
As I got older the term “Holy Ghost” fell out of favor, replaced by the less threatening but no less baffling Holy Spirit. This was somewhat better. I thought of the Holy Spirit as a benign force, a little bit like an invisible Tinkerbelle or Glenda the Good Witch, spreading goodness, peace and love like fairy dust.

Those were my two impressions of the Holy Spirit: creepy and vaporous or gentle and sweet. So you can imagine my surprise the first time I read the description of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2:

“Suddenly there was a noise from the sky which sounded like a strong wind blowing, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then they saw what looked like tongues of fire which spread out and touched each person there. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to talk in other languages, as the Spirit enabled them to speak.” (Acts 2:2-4).
A noise from the sky? A strong, gusting wind? Tongues of fire?  This was not anything like the Holy Spirits I’d imagined in my childhood. This Spirit was powerful, overwhelming, terrifying.

Just imagine, for a moment, what that must have been like for the disciples. Picture the force of a powerful wind, bending trees, kicking up dirt and debris, the grit stinging your eyes and coating your mouth. Picture the flames descending out of nowhere, coming closer, licking the top of your head, your limbs, your hands and feet. Can you imagine the terror…and the awe?

In the presence of such mighty force, there would be no question: you would know unequivocally that you were in the presence of something far beyond normal, something supernatural and awesome.
Although I’m not a kid anymore, I still try to define the Holy Spirit in a way that makes sense to me. I tend to try to box him in, contain him. I try to understand that which cannot be fully understood. I try to define that which cannot be fully defined. Part of me resists the powerful, forceful nature of the Holy Spirit because I am afraid of it – I don’t want to hand over control, to surrender to something so wild and untamed.  

Yesterday, on Pentecost Sunday, my dad emailed me a timely devotion written by Franciscan Richard Rohr – a telling and perceptive observation of how many of us, me included, approach the Holy Spirit and what we miss with our narrow definitions and trepidation.

We still wait behind closed doors; fifty days (Pente-cost), fifty years, five hundred years, we are always waiting and hoping, but not really expecting. It is the day we are always waiting for but never prepared for, the day of the great outpouring of fire-laden love, the day that ties all other days together.

Pentecost is actually every day, if we expect it; but, not surprisingly, this is the greatest forgotten major festival of the entire church year. Most come to church expecting no new outpouring, or maybe not even remembering an old one. 

Yet it is Pentecost, the day of the great gathering in and the great sending out. The Holy Spirit must get tired of waiting for us, always hiding behind our closed doors (from Radical Grace: Daily Meditations, day 205).

Today, my prayer for me and you is this: May we open ourselves. May we step out of our boxes and from behind closed doors, not merely waiting or hoping for a benign, milk-toast Holy Spirit that fits within the confines of our narrow minds, but recognizing and embracing Him in whatever form He comes. And may we expect, know, that He comes indeed.

How has your perception of the Holy Spirit changed over time?


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Weekend Meditation: Wait for It


Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come
and will not delay.
Habakkuk 2:3


With the lovelies, Sandra and Deidra...

 
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Why I'm Not Reading 50 Shades of Grey

I thought about it, I did. After all, 50 Shades of Grey is a self-publishing phenom – a book that sold more than 3 million copies (electronic and paperback) in the first month it was released by Vintage (and that’s not counting its previous self-published sales). Everybody is talking about it – honestly, I was starting to feel a little left out. 

So when I got my Kindle as a Mother’s Day gift, the first book I looked up was 50 Shades of Grey (there’s something wrong with that, isn’t there – that I get a Kindle for Mother’s Day, and I consider buying a sex book with it?). I didn’t buy 50 Shades of Grey that Sunday, though. I bought Jeff Goins’ book You are a Writer instead (hmmm, writing or erotica…she picks writing. That should tell you all you need to know).
I’ve read a couple of posts from the Christian/Biblical perspective about why some have chosen not to read 50 Shades, but I have to tell you, the reason I decided not to read it isn’t because I’m a Christian or because the Bible tells me I shouldn’t. I don’t know the Bible well enough to support an argument like that (I’m reading the Old Testament through for the first time right now, and I've gotten as far as Nahum– I’m on the "Bible in 900 Days" plan).

So…here are the real reasons I’m not reading 50 Shades of Grey:

1.       The writing is terrible.
I know, I know, I haven’t read the book…so how can I judge? Well, my best friend Andrea read it, and I trust her judgment.

Andrea is a voracious reader. When we were kids she’d walk two doors up to my house on summer mornings, and we’d plant ourselves on my parents’ screened porch, prop open our books and read together all day, sitting with our feet tucked beneath us on the orange and yellow vinyl cushions that covered the metal rockers. That’s what we did for fun. We read our separate books together.

So last week, when Andrea emailed me her take on 50 Shades – “Horrible writing. Frankly, it's porn. Nothing literary about it so far.” – I thought, “Ok, I'm good.”

I don’t have anything against erotica per se, but please, can we make the effort to write it well? Honestly, I think the bad prose would distract me too much from the sex anyway.

2.       It’s the kind of entertainment that doesn’t add anything to my life.
I’m not reading Shades of Grey for the same reason I don’t watch much reality TV: it doesn’t contribute anything good to my life. Now before you roll your eyes and assume I’m plunked in front of NOVA or Mother Angelica every night, let me explain.

I’d like to tell you I don’t watch Real Housewives or Tosh.O or Chelsea Handler because it’s crap or crass or in poor taste, but that wouldn’t be the whole truth.

The real reason I don’t watch those shows is because part of me enjoys them. I get a lift out of witnessing someone else’s bad decisions; I laugh at other people’s misfortunes; I’m secretly relieved that at least my life isn’t as pathetic or as messed up or as downright embarrassing as theirs.

And then I come away from those shows feeling a little bit gross and a little bit guilty for enjoying entertainment at someone else’s expense.

I also simply don’t feel very good about myself when I watch reality TV. I’m not saying I need to have a spiritual or intellectual experience every time I turn on the television or read a book (I watch House Hunters, need I say more?), I  just don’t want to come away feeling more depleted and emptier than when I started.

Although I can’t be sure, I suspect I’d finish 50 Shades of Grey feeling the same way. I simply don’t think I’d feel good about myself. I'm leery that it would leave me with that empty, oogy feeling. 

In the end, I decided bad writing combined with feeling like that isn’t worth the $9.99.

What about you? Will you read 50 Shades of Grey (I'm not judging, I swear!)? And if no, why not?

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The Long Bike Ride


It stops me in my tracks halfway down aisle 7 in SuperSaver: the sweetish, baby-powder scent of Pampers. Suddenly I’m catapulted back four or five years, to a time of diapers, clean bottles stacked precariously in the dish rack, pacifiers, Good Night Moon and pastel-plaid blankets littering the coffee table, couch and floor.

I don’t miss it.
Maybe that sounds startling. And it’s true, most mothers pine at least occasionally for the touch of that soft, new skin pressed against their cheek, wisps of fine hair beneath their palm. Perhaps I don’t because one of my boys was terribly colicky and acted more like a howler monkey than a sweet infant for the first six months of his life. Or maybe it’s just that I love where we are right now with our boys -- still a ways from the sulky teenage years, but old enough to converse about something other than Elmo.

I like being with them. They teach me. They help me see.

...I'm over at Nancy Franson's place today. You know Nancy, right? The coolest feather-boa wearin' girl east of the Mississippi? No? Well then get on over there and check her out - she's zany in all the best ways!

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Hear It on Sunday, Use It on Monday: Hope in a Text



I’m about to submit my May column to the Lincoln Journal Star. It’s entitled “What I’ve Learned from Not Publishing,” and it’s a positive examination of how I’ve grown spiritually despite – or perhaps because of – the challenges I’ve faced along this writing journey.
I meant every word I wrote, of course, but what I didn’t say was how hopeless it all feels sometimes. There are days when I want to give up. There are days when I see people I respect and love making the kind of progress I yearn for, and I succumb to jealousy and bitterness. There are days, like last week, when I said to my husband at dinner, “Today I feel like I’m at the bottom of a deep well, and I’m trying to drag myself out inch by inch and am getting absolutely nowhere.”

At 8:43 p.m. that same day, as I sat tucked into one end of the couch, Noah on the other end, both of us with our noses buried in our books, I heard my cell phone chime from the depths of my purse. A text. I didn’t jump off the couch to retrieve it. In fact, I forgot about it until the next morning, when I flipped open my phone in the midst of school-morning bedlam to read this, from Jennifer:

“Praying Isaiah 50:4 over you and your writing tonight: ‘The Sovereign Lord has taught {Michelle} what to say, so that she can strengthen the weary.’”

I had spoken to Jennifer earlier that afternoon – on the bottom-of-the-deep-well day. She had called to ask me for advice, and instead ended up listening as I unloaded all my writing and publishing frustrations into her ear.

And then later that night she sent the text, praying encouragement for me.

I thought of Jennifer, the telephone conversation and that text yesterday as we read these verses from Ephesians.

“I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better,” wrote Paul to the Ephesians. “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you…” (Ephesians 1:17-18).

That phone call? That text at 8:43 p.m.?  Jennifer was my Paul that day, encouraging and strengthening me, and reminding me of the hope God has especially for me. She opened the eyes of my heart.

Has anyone been your Paul lately, encouraging you or reminding you that God has a hope planned especially for you?

With Jen and the Soli Sisters:
 
And with Jennifer on Wednesday:
 
 
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Weekend Meditation: Be Silent before Him


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One Fish...Two Fish

We picked up six minnows for 15 cents each at Petco and gently poured them from the plastic bag into the black tub. Noah pulled a metal chair across the concrete patio and sat hunched over the water garden, silvery scales glinting as the fish darted beneath the water hyacinth.

Ten minutes later all six were dead, floating glassy-eyed and white-bellied like sardines on the surface.   

Noah carried them in a garden trowel to the bird bath tucked up against the oat grass in the back yard. "Why waste good food for the birds?" he reasoned. Later he reported they were all gone but one, who was missing its head.

The next day Brad and Noah came home from Petco with two more fish – this time an orange goldfish and a black googly-eyed creature with a feathery tail. He named them Gills and Arrow. 

That night he and Brad emptied a third of the water from the tub and hauled it into the sunroom. The temperature was expected to dip into the 40s, and Noah was worried about his pets.

{Let it be known, I had a plastic tub filled with outdoor water plants and fish in the middle of my sun room. Not exactly the House Beautiful aesthetic I aspire to.}

About noon the following day I stepped away from the computer and peered into the tub. Gills the goldfish skirted into a shaft of sunlight. Google-eyed Arrow was nowhere to be seen. I grabbed a flashlight and shined it into the murky depths. Arrow had sunk to the bottom, where he lay on his side next to the brick. He wasn’t moving.

I jiggled the tub with my knee. Water sloshed onto the doormat, and Gills panicked, flitting from side to side, but still, Arrow didn’t move. Not willing to slide my hand into the dank water to touch the slimy black scales with the tip of my finger, I reached for a badminton racket and lowered the handle slowly to the bottom of the tub. I gently poked the immobile fish. He didn’t move. I poked him twice more.

I dreaded telling Noah when he got home from school. The kid had lost two grandparents, Big Blue (his snail) and six fish in the last 18 months, and now another loss, on top of all that? What if this was the breaking point, I fretted. What if this one sent him reeling into depression? My anxiety and dread intensified as the clock clicked toward 3:30. I wrung my hands and forgot to pray because I always forget to pray at times like these.

At first he didn’t believe me. “Maybe he’s just resting,” Noah suggested, brown eyes round, brow knit. I put my arm around his thin shoulders as we walked toward the mini-van. “No, I don’t think so, honey. He didn’t move at all.”

Noah held out hope for Arrow until he saw the state of the fish for himself. And then he fetched the trowel from the garage, gently plucked the tiny, limp body from the water and buried him in the backyard between the bee balm and the day lily. 

“I think I’ll just stick with Gills and see how that goes,” he mentioned at bedtime as I pulled his comforter up to his chin. “One fish seems like enough for now.”

I think I may have to add Gills the goldfish to my prayer list.  

So tell me, have you ever prayed for a pet?

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Pushing the River




“Faith does not need to push the river because faith is able to trust that there is a river. The river is flowing. We are in it.” – Richard Rohr

I watched an ant a few days ago on the back patio. He carried something green – at first I thought it was a sliver of leaf, but when I crouched on my hands and knees to get a better look, I saw that it was a piece of shriveled bell pepper leftover from our dinner the night before.

The ant navigated the patio’s perils, plunging into the deep cracks between the pressed concrete, circumventing the floral seat cushion that had blown off the metal chair, all the while carrying his pepper. I wondered what he would do when he reached the base of the metal chair that spanned his path, looming like a flood dike. He stopped, considering the impediment for just a second before turning and scaling the wall backwards, now dragging instead of carrying the pepper. At the top he righted himself, scurried down the other side and continued on. The last I spotted the ant, he’d entered a jungle of tangled vinca vine and was galumphing toward the lady’s mantel. I wondered where he was headed and how long it would take him to get there.

Just recently my friend Andrea and I talked for a bit on the phone, and we laughed at how laborious this faith journey sometimes feels. “Sometimes I wonder,” she said, “am I supposed to work this hard at having faith? Shouldn’t it be easier than this?”

I say yes…and no.

The truth is, sometimes we have to be the ant – pushing, pulling, grappling, persevering. Single-minded and intent on moving forward. Forging new paths, stumbling blindly, re-emerging.

It’s easy for me to get complacent in my faith. I pray only when I’m really desperate. I neglect the Bible. I don’t think about serving, and I get lazy in my efforts to live out God’s kingdom here on Earth. Faith requires intentionality for me, because otherwise it’s too easy for me to forget about God. I literally have to “practice faith,” to integrate faith into my daily rhythms and routines.

On the other hand, though, I think one can be too intentional in faith. When faith becomes too much work, I know I’ve tipped the scales too far toward intentionality. As a person who tends toward structure and routine, it’s easy for me to rely too much on the format, the scaffolding, and not enough on God himself.

Sometimes I realize that I’m practicing how to have a relationship with God, rather than actually being in relationship with him.

So I guess it just depends.

Sometimes I need to step back, to live in and be in the process – not pushing, not planning or strategizing, not moving the journey forward myself, but rather, being part of the journey. Knowing, trusting, that I'm in the flowing river, whether it feels like it at the time or not.
And sometimes, like the ant, I have to push and pull and climb. I have to do a little work in order to avoid the stagnant pool that sits around the next bend.
What about you? Are you ever the ant, pushing your faith? Or do you usually feel like you’re in the river, flowing?

With the lovely Emily...


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Hear It on Sunday, Use It on Monday: Even on the Raving Lunatic Days

Mother's Day gifts from the boys {and proof that they still love me, despite the occasional raving lunatic days}


“Would there be anything I could do that would get you to not love me?” Noah asked me the other night as we were tucked under his comforter, watching the pine tree boughs wave against the moon. “No, absolutely nothing,” I assured him. “Even if you did the worst thing you could think of, even if you were in jail for your whole life, I would still love you.”
Yesterday morning, Mother’s Day, Rowan asked me nearly the same question. And I answered the same: “I love you guys every minute, every day, no matter what.”

“Even the lamp day, when you got super mad…did you love me the same that day, too? Or did you maybe love me a little bit less?” Rowan persisted.

Ah yes, the infamous lamp day. Not exactly the parenting moment I wanted to relive during the first 20 minutes of Mother’s Day: the day Rowan hurled a pillow across the living room and broke the lamp, mere hours after my mom had bought me a new lamp to replace the other lamp Rowan had broken more than 8 months before. The day I’d morphed into a maniacal lunatic.

I’d gripped the lamp base white-knuckled in my fist and raised it over my head, shaking it and raving incoherently. My mother stood speechless next to me, paralyzed along with the boys by my bellowing outburst. I ordered the boys to their rooms while I swept up the fragments, ranting about how they’d spend the entire day behind closed doors. My mother followed suit, retreating to the basement guest room as I crashed around the kitchen, slamming the box of fresh donuts into the trashcan and fuming aloud to myself while the boys howled in their bedrooms.
Not exactly indicative of the kind of overflowing love Paul talks about in his letter to the Philippians:

“I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep growing in knowledge and understanding.” (Philippians 1:9)

As Pastor Greg preached about how parents must practice sacrificial love, tough love and gracious love, I thought about how much I'd failed as a mother on the lamp day. I thought about how I’d spread fear, how I’d burned with anger, overflowing not with love, but with bitterness and resentment; how I’d epitomized gracelessness. 

But as I slumped in the pew, I also thought about the conversation that had taken place in the kitchen on Mother's Day morning, and the answer I’d given Rowan when he asked if I’d loved him less on the lamp day. “Even though I was really mad, and really disappointed about the lamp, and even though I really yelled a lot, I still loved you just as much,” I assured Rowan. “My love wasn’t even a tiny bit less. Love stays the same no matter what.”

My answer seemed to satisfy Rowan as he slurped the remainder of his milky cereal. And you know what? Later, after Pastor Greg's sermon, I realized that my answer applies to me, too. No matter how disappointing my behavior, no matter how God may grieve my raving lunatic lamp days, he still loves me just the same, not even a little bit less. No matter what.

How does God's limitless grace make you feel {especially on those raving lunatic days}?

With Jen and the Soli Sisters...

 
 
Welcome to the "Hear It on Sunday, Use It on Monday" community, a place where we share what we are hearing from God and his Word.

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Weekend Meditation: Fully





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10 Lessons from My First Week as a Full-Time Writer


1.     Anticipating a major career change is much more stressful than making the actual leap.

2.     A short haircut may be in my future, as clearly I am going to wear my long hair in a ponytail every single day (and really, what's the point of that?).

3.    Having writing work now does not mean I won’t lie awake at night worrying that I won’t have work later.

4.    Mascara will no longer play a featured role in my morning beauty routine. Lipstick still will.

5.    I will need to ramp up the exercise program to balance the effects of daily afternoon tea and lemon biscotti.

6.     Cleaning the bathtub grout is highly enticing when facing a major writing assignment.

7.     I still have trouble defining myself as a Writer – evidenced by the fact that I called myself a “stay-at-home writer” when chatting with my sister on the phone this week (“What the heck does that mean? Call yourself what you are – a writer,” she said. Duly noted.).

8.     I need to allow myself a half-hour of transition between writing and the time the kids get home from school so I can act like a human being rather than a zombie.

9.     Email, TweetDeck, Facebook and the Internet need to be entirely shut off (not merely minimized) for any real productivity to occur.
 
10.   There is no better feeling than finishing a day of writing and thinking, “I get to do this all over again tomorrow!”
Ok, your turn...tell me 3 (or 10!) things you learned this week!

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Let Us Proclaim the Mystery of Faith


Let us proclaim the mystery of faith…
The words rang out singsong, a little off-key, echoing across the altar, tumbling down the stone steps and the center aisle, awaiting our response.

We sang our prayer back to the priest on cue, our voices monotone with the droning organ: Christ has died. Christ has risen. Christ will come again...

I never thought much about those words, neither the proclamation the priest sang at the altar, nor our answer from the pews. I simply repeated the required lines, yawning and shifting from foot to foot.

Just recently, though, more than 25 years later, I’ve come back to them. 

I fill the dishwasher, toss errant sneakers and flip flops into the shoe basket by the door, raise the matchstick blinds over the living room couch, singing the old familiar words as I work. 

Let us proclaim the mystery of faith…  
My voice rises and falls. I dig deeply, remembering the cadence of the priest’s voice, practicing to match the tone just right as I throw muddy socks and stained tee shirts into the washer, as I dump a basket of warm clothes on the bed, as I butter bagels hot and yeasty from the toaster oven.
My kids glance warily at me over their books, leery of the chanting. They're not entirely surprised their mother is acting like a monk, but not entirely comfortable with it either.

I don’t much like mystery. I prefer answers, concrete, black-and-white answers. I like to know the beginning, middle and end…even before I’ve begun -- to know where I am going and exactly how I am going to get there. I would have made a great urban engineer or city planner. Except that I can’t navigate my way out of a one-way alley, even with the GPS lady chastising from the dashboard.

The thing about faith, though, is that very little of it makes sense. At least to me. My kids lob questions at me that I can’t answer. I read about inexplicable tragedies that can’t possibly compute with my understanding of God. I can’t even wrap my mind around the very basic tenets of Christianity, like the resurrection and eternal salvation. It’s all simply beyond me.

It used to really bother me, that there was so little I could know for sure about God and Jesus. But I think I might be beginning to lean into it a little more, to rest more comfortably in the not knowing.

It seems I might finally be ready to proclaim the mystery of faith.
“People who’ve had any genuine spiritual experience always know that they don’t know. They are utterly humbled before mystery. They are in awe before the abyss of it all, in wonder at eternity and depth, and a Love, which is incomprehensible to the mind.”
-- Richard Rohr
What about you? Do you proclaim the mystery of faith? Or do you fight against it a little bit? 

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Hear It on Sunday, Use It on Monday: The Vine



As Pastor Sara lifts the bread high, the boy in the plaid shorts with the crown of whorled blond hair climbs onto the padded pew. Grabbing his dad’s shirt with one hand, he raises the other hand toward the ceiling, fingers splayed like a small, creamy starfish.
The dad knows what’s next – clearly this is a weekly routine. He lifts the boy until his flip-flops rest on the back of the pew in front of him. Clenching a fist-full of polo shirt, the boy straightens tall and steady, feet firmly planted on the back of the pew, his father’s arm encircling his waist like a lasso.  And then the boy watches, steady and solemn, as Pastor Sara lifts the cup of wine toward the sky.

The little boy with the blond hair knows instinctively what I so often forget. He reaches, he climbs, he clings. He rests steady, comfortable and secure in his father’s arms.
He knows and accepts what I can never seem to remember: that apart from his father, he can do nothing.

“Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. “  (John 15:4)


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