Monday, October 12, 2020

The Gravity of Grace

Focus on Wisdom and do not be distracted. Watch the patterns of creation,
and you will awaken to grace and tranquility.
Proverbs 3:19-22


Earlier this week as I walked to work, my attention was caught by a shaft of fall sunlight illuminating a late optimistic bloom of lavender juxtaposed against a fallen orange-red maple leaf. I was captured by the moment and called into stillness, my heart drenched by the audacity of creation that made this possible. I tried, unsuccessfully, to capture the exquisite experience with my camera.

Focus on wisdom and do not be distracted. If only it were that easy. Distraction means to draw apart, coming from the Latin trahere, to draw or drag. There is much that draws us away from wisdom. Powers that seem at times to forcefully drag us off the path of the way of love. Voices that call us to be untrue to who God created us to be. In other words, lies of the enemy. Our adversary. The devil. Who we are reminded in the First Letter of Peter, prowls around like a lion seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). One of the lies that distracts me at this time, that whispers to me as I encounter the grief and brokenness and promise and grace of each day, is that things are back to normal. That we have figured this out. That I should be able to fix…all of it, any of it.

Focus on Wisdom and do not be distracted. Watch the patterns of creation, and you will awaken to grace and tranquility. My encounter with the lavender bloom and the leaf might be seen as a distraction…or as a call into the patterns of creation, an awakening to grace. How do we recognize the difference? Do we always know when we are being drawn into deeper relationship with Christ? Do we recognize the holiness when are we being dragged into acknowledgement of our sinfulness, our complicity, our need for lament, remorse and contrition, repentance, and change?

For myself, at times I am dragged kicking and screaming to my need to forgive. I am often stubborn or just plain afraid of my need to change. And I can deny like a champion my need to repent. Sometimes, grace is the distraction, pulling us away from a dangerous path.

You and I know the call of Jesus, the way of love, is nothing less than transformation. And the peace we seek, the tranquility offered by Wisdom, by Christ Sophia, is not tame. This is the peace of God which surpasses our understanding (Philippians 4:7), transcends our ability to grasp or explain it. This is the peace that shatters contentment.

As poet William Alexander Percy wrote in 1924, which has become a beloved hymn, the disciples of Jesus were contented…

before they ever knew  

the Peace of God that filled their hearts

Brimful and broke them too…

The peace of God, it is no peace,

But strife closed in the sod.

Yet let us pray for but one thing --

The marvelous peace of God!

Can we allow the gravity of grace to pull us toward the core of creation? To slow us down? Distract us with awe? Awaken us to tranquility? Will we surrender to a wisdom that exposes and hallows vulnerability?

The peace brought by a moment of being captivated by a lavender bloom and a fallen leaf is honestly a weak reflection of the grace gifted us by God. But the invitation is there. God’s distracting invitation is all around us---in all times.



Hymnal 1982, hymn 661

This reflection was given at Morning Worship for the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church on October 9, 2020

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Tenacious

Thursday in Easter Week

Hallelujah! Praise the Lord, O my soul!
I will praise the Lord as long as I live;
I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.
Psalm 146:1

“What is at the top of your gratitude list?” my friend posts on social media. I sift through the past day and all my encounters. Phone calls, emails, zoom meetings. Facebook comments and replies. Text messages. Face time. All the ways communities persist in reaching out and gathering in. Each day calls for new abilities and offers outlets for creativity. And requires reconstructed responses for the aching need of so many.

And somewhere in the open space between need and purpose, grace keeps a tenacious hold. On this side of Easter, I grasp for joy as the women outside the empty tomb grasped the feet of the risen Christ.

At the top of my list today—my encounters with the enduring capacity to see and respond to goodness. Which can be nothing other than a sacred gift from the author of life.



Image by Susanne Jutzeler, suju-foto from Pixabay


Sunday, April 12, 2020

Undaunted

Easter Day

Let everything that has breath
praise the Lord.
Hallelujah!
Psalm 150:6

Earth shattering
the removal of the stone
to expose the empty tomb
emptied of sorrow
emptied of hate
emptied of death

emptied of that which it could not contain
joy which persists undaunted
life that cannot be quenched
love that fills every breath of creation
and calls to us, “Greetings!”

Alleluia, Christ is risen!

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Morning

Holy Saturday

You speak in my heart and say, “Seek my face.”
You face, Lord, will I seek.
Psalm 27:11



morning comes for the broken hearted
for the hopeful
for the grief-laden

morning comes for the trepidatious
the stretched thin
the determined

morning comes for the expectant
the heroic
the vulnerable

morning comes
to usher them
a step closer
to the face of love





Image by Raheel Shakeel from Pixabay

Friday, April 10, 2020

The brink

Good Friday

Our forebears put their trust in you
they trusted, and you delivered them.
Psalm 22:4



the cry in the garden
the howl in the night
the voice of denial

windswept
the fierce landscape awaits
the gift of love










Image by 3321704 from Pixabay

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Accompanied

Maundy Thursday

Teach me to do what pleases you, for you are my God;
let your good Spirit lead me on level ground.
Psalm 143:10

feet worn and weary

hardened from travel
through uncharted territory
with yet weight to bear

lifted into gentle hands
enfolded by compassion
cleansed of dust and heaviness

and set once again
on the path that saves
accompanied




Image by JLB1988 from Pixabay

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Persistent

Wednesday in Holy Week

I am shaken by the noise of the enemy
and by the pressure of the wicked
Psalm 55:3

The wilderness is not empty
of threats
or of life

as salvation draws near
the enemy deploys a din, an uproar
anything to drown out
to cut off persistent hope

as if love could be overcome
by a taunt










Image by Michael Pollack from Pixabay