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Archive for March, 2010

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. – Isaiah 53:6

Sheep really are silly and stupid.  I once spent a summer near a sheep farm.  Going astray is apparently what they do; it’s in their very nature.  Yet straying out of stupidity is not the same as iniquity.

The part about each of us turning to our own waythat rings of iniquity.  My way is the “right” way and I am more than willing to instruct (force) you in that way.

Then there are the times I must do it (whatever it is) differently, just because being different makes me unique.  We are like sheep, silly and willful.

It boggles my mind that one man would carry the burden for all this silliness… one amazing man who loved us more than life itself.

JW – Well. I know I don’t have the answer.  Nope, I admit it.  I also don’t know what to say about this meditation.  Can I get away with ‘I agree’?  Can I get away with ‘I’ll pass’?  I really don’t know the answer.  These days, I’m not sure I’m supposed to know the answer.  Perhaps that’s one of the components of acceptance.  Now for the hard stuff…

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Wash me through and through from my wickedness, and cleanse me from my sin.  For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. – Psalm 51:2-3

Wash me throughly, it says in the King James Version (the Bible I grew up reading).  We’re not talking bubble bath, not a gentle cleansing with Ivory Snow.

No, when we are sinful, we are soiled… needing to be spotted, soaked and scrubbed with a stiff brush.  Cleansing is such an inocuous word.  It sounds easy.

But cleansing is not a gentle action.  It takes work, it takes “elbow grease”.  It uproots wickedness from the fiber or our beings.  it’s not bleach that does this, but blood.  And not our own blood.

Knowing our need for cleansing is the first step.  Accepting the radical gift of how that happens takes a little longer.

JW – First reading the above, I started getting a little defensive; thinking ‘God must think I’m a murderer’!  Further down I got it, realizing I was categorizing and rating my sins.  Oops!  So much for sticking to the point of the whole deal.  Sister Joy’s last two sentences made me feel warm, loved and ok again… even if it isn’t easy.

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Almighty God, whose most dear Son went not up to joy but first he suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified… – from the Collect for Monday in Holy Week, Book of Common Prayer

I am very glad not all weeks are holy.

Even though we read the Passion Gospel yesterday, we now begin the countdown of the actual events.  In our community Monday is our sabbath, our day off.  But in Holy Week Monday is called desert day.

I think Monday through Wednesday in Holy Week should be called desert days because nothing much happens, at least not liturgically.  Certain events are recorded, but we don’t know when they occurred.

When was Lazarus raised?  When did the mysterious woman of Bethany anoint Jesus with expensive perfume?  When did he raid the temple?  Any one of these events could have been the last straw.

JW – As we come to the end of this time of reflection, we’re going to go into shock, mourning, and a state of awe… in that order and very intimately.  No one in history has attended a memorial service and celebration of life, that is still in progress.  As alive today, the events of two thousand odd years ago, so too the message.  For me, it’s as if God was saying with Jesus’ life and death, “Ok, it’s time to give you the tools you’re going to need from here on out”.  I certainly used the ‘last straw’ line more than once, usually when I was delivering yet another lecture.  I also said many times, ‘Gee, you didn’t come with instructions’.  I was wrong.  We did.  I’m so grateful that I’ve been reminded simply and beautifully, during this Lent, what they are.

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…in your tender love for the human race you sent your Son our Savior Jesus Christ to take upon him our nature, and to suffer death upon the cross, giving us the example of his great humility… – from the Collect for Palm Sunday, Book of Common Prayer

In some other denominations, Christians allow Jesus to have Palm Sunday –  the entire day.  Not ours.  We wave palms and march around the block singing hosanna to the highest and within twenty minutes or less we read one of the entire Passion Gospels.

It’s been explained to me.  I understand the drama, the juxtaposition of fate that can befall us at any time.  One minute you’re the flavor of the month, and the next they want to crucify you.

Still… why are we in such a hurry to steal his thunder?  There are four more days of work to do.  Jesus will continue to tread the razor’s edge and plots will be hatched against him; it all comes down on Thursday night, not today.

JW – Soon, I’ll be hearing what above, I just read.  Jesus was human, Jesus lived, Jesus died.  God loves us, sent Jesus to prove it, and, explained it:  Jesus would be humble, and he was.  What does that mean?  Humility was described to me not long ago in this way:  it is not thinking less of yourself often, it is thinking of yourself less often.  We all mark Jesus’ life and lessons in different ways and I truly love where I do that, and how.  But what’s important, at least for me, is really something different.  We are all the same, and I am asked to try to follow Jesus’ example every day; no less than Herod might have done so long ago, today and next Thursday… had he been listening.

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Just as I am, though tossed about with many a conflict, many a doubt… – from “Just As I Am, Without One Plea” by Charlotte Elliott, Hymn 693, The Hymnal 1982

Just as I am…

In the end, that’s really all we have… just ourselves.  No amount of intelligence or status or achievement or worldly possessions means diddly-squat to God.

No amount of conflict or doubt will hinder our chances of life hereafter either.  Rather, it’s what we did with what we had to work with, that counts.

Did we honor creation and work to make the world a better place for our children to live?  Did we show compassion to the stranger?  Did we love the other as we loved ourselves?

JW – Nothing like a little “Whoa!” to start the day, huh!?  If it weren’t for the twelve steps of AA, I wouldn’t be in a position to talk about this at all, much less comprehend.  For me, the above is a bit ‘just in time’.  Not long ago, I didn’t know who I was or where to look.  The last line of each verse of this hymn is “O Lamb of God, I come, I come”.  I have one plea… I only need one.  What a day!  Enjoy!

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friday, march 26

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer. – Psalm 19:14

Writing forty-seven meditations has been an act of faith and arrogance.  Forty-seven, because this booklet includes all of the Sundays, plus Easter.

I have always been an artist and I blog, but I have never published, nor am I known for my literary talents.  I am a nun.

Yet one of the outward signs of a religious is the willingness to go out on a limb for God, to say yes when asked to do something we’ve never done before.

All that seems to matter is the faith that if it is God’s will, it will get done, and it will be okay.  What has God asked you to do that seems too difficult, too much?

My prayer is that perhaps in one of these meditations you will find whatever it is you need to say “yes”.

JW – I’m glad Sister Joy used the word arrogance above.  These days, I’m grateful to be less and less comfortable talking about myself; more specifically, good things I may be doing.  But we all need affirmation, or think we do, and we look for it in many ways.  The other day I emailed Canon Carolyn musing that I wasn’t sure what I had given up for Lent, other than a little time blogging.  Her reply; that we can take something on for Lent.  Oh!  And here is Sister Joy telling me this morning that how well I’m doing isn’t very important:  I just need to do it.  Interesting to realize that I wanted affirmation; I didn’t need it.  Duh!  Interesting, this journey out of the desert.

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Pour your grace into our hearts, O Lord, that we who have known the incarnation of your Son Jesus Christ, announced by an angel to the Virgin Mary, may by his cross and passion be brought to the glory of his resurrection… – Collect for the feast day of The Annunciation, Book of Common Prayer

The  Annunciation… how strange to celebrate the promise of Christ’s conception in the midst of Lent.  Yet today we celebrate one young woman’s courage to say “yes” in spite of all the implications.

The angel announced, didn’t ask her to volunteer.  Oh, and would she mind being mother to the human incarnation of God?  Not to mention the very real possibility she would be branded as a slut and stoned to death for it?

She could have said no.  But she didn’t.  Ecce Ancilla Domini.  Behold the handmaid of the Lord.  She was too young to take up the cross her son would one day carry.

But she did.

JW – I love this!  Here is the story; now let us watch it unfold.  We are here in the darkness; in Lent.  What we were promised is about to happen.  Pour your grace into our hearts, O Lord… Perhaps He poured it into Mary’s heart first.  She certainly comes across to me as strong, focused, calm… and accepting:  ‘I know what’s going to happen, and I’m ok with it’.  Today she might have been that crazy mom who trusted her son completely; who let him go completely; who calmly bandaged his knee imposed no curfew and gave him a Harley on his sixteenth birthday… instead of a Saab.  Because she knew.  And what do we hope for most when we are in the darkness?  Light.

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