May 22, 2013
Greetings from the land of the kiwi! The Harts are across the globe in New Zealand - about as far from Ohio as one can imagine. ...The attached photo was taken on a ferry in a fjord in the south of NZ. And yes, we met a gentleman from Columbus in a gray OSU cap! John is in an OSU wind shirt. No one else quite got it, but there were shouts of O-H-I-O across the ferry that rebounded off the mountain tops! Wherever you go across this earth, you meet a Buckeye!
It is fall here in NZ, and the days are partly rainy and the mountains mist-covered, but each day there are sun breaks when the clouds part and you can see every hill and snow capped mountain!
We are learning to wait for God to part the curtains....
Wishing each of you Son breaks,
Becky & John
Author Anne Lamott lists her three favorite prayers as follows:
1) Help me! Help me! Help me!
2) Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
And 3) WOW!
We can read through the Psalms for longer prayers or more eloquent prayers, but I have to say that these prayers really capture the heart of what we say to God, often several times a day. Coming to the Lord in our need, and in great gratitude, are fundamental to our lives as Christians. We have a God we can lean on, to whom we can come in our sorrow and confusion and pain. We also have a God who hears and answers our prayers – a Lord we need to remember to thank for his goodness. As one author writes:
“Gratitude is the luminous ground on which we plant our temporary feet.”(S. Levine)
And I love Lamott’s final favorite prayer: “Wow!” There are some days when we catch a glimpse of a gorgeous sunrise, or one of our children shares something that just fills our heart, or the Lord plants some wonderful unexpected joy in our day and all we can say is Wow!
Today is one such day for me. A good friend received great news from her latest cancer scans and my heart is full of joy for her, and thanksgiving to God.
May our hearts overflow with prayers and praise every day.
"The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it." (John 1:5)
Have you seen the amazing pinwheel display at the James? I was visiting one of our folks this week, and saw the thousands of beautiful red and gold pinwheels planted outside of the hospital, each turning in the wind and reflecting the light. Each pinwheel represents a transplant performed at the James since 1967, but to my (non-medical!) mind, this garden of pinwheels brought so many other images to my mind...The pinwheels reminded me of
...Thousands of prayers being sent to the beautiful and brave city of Boston
...The wind of the Spirit blowing through our lives
...The ways we make a difference - each can to PIN, each jar of vitamins to Honduras, each meal served at St. Johns or nail pounded at the Walls Build
...Those of you who stood up last Sunday in response to the Lord's call on your life, and the thousands of moments of faith, hope and love that will unfold from this commitment, this yes to Christ's call
...The wonderful words our confirmands used to describe Liberty in their faith statements last Sunday evening ...words like home, welcome, faith, family.
All of these are rays of light in a world that desperately needs the light.
During an extended period of illness in his childhood years, Robert Louis Stevenson was found gazing out his window one evening at dusk -- fascinated by a sight just outside his window. His nurse inquired what he was looking at so intently. He replied:"I'm watching a man punching holes in the darkness."
It was the lamplighter at work that intrigued him -- lighting the gas lamps for the oncoming night.
May our prayers and our lives reflect His everlasting light.
The season of Lent is traditionally known in the church as the season of passion. Not in the daytime soap opera meaning of that word, not in the sense of that old reality show entitled “Are you Hot?” which forced most of us to realize that clearly we are not (!), but passion in the sense of God’s passionate outpouring of love in Jesus Christ. We are in the season of passion as a church. Listen to how one pastor describes this reality: “It is not by accident that in the traditional language of the church the death of Christ is referred to as his passion. For here the very heart of God is broken for His people; here the love of God comes rushing at us with mangled hands and a wounded side; here God gives up any pretense to moderation, and loves us with an enthusiasm that is so deeply moved by our need for Him that it gets itself crucified.” (R. Thyne)
Friends, it is only when we let God get a hold of us, when we open ourselves to his all-encompassing love, that our own lives will be transformed with a passion, an overwhelming love, for Him. So that’s our challenge this Lent: To slow down long enough to take in some of God’s great love for us – a love seen in the gift of his only Son – a love that carries us from here to the cross and beyond. And then to respond to that love with all we’ve got.
The season of Lent begins next Wednesday, February 13th, with an Ash Wednesday service in the Barn Sanctuary at 7:30 p.m.
At our Ash Wednesday service, and the following Sunday, February 17th, we will be handing out small crosses for you to carry with you through the season of Lent. Our prayer is that the feeling of the cross - in your hand, your pocket, your key chain - might remind you to walk in Christ and with Christ every day.
If I had to summarize Lent in a word, there are lots of possibilities: reflection, service, sacrifice, cross, love. But to me, the word that captures my heart in Lent is simply more. In this holy season…
I try to reflect on scripture a little bit more.
I try to serve others in need a little bit more.
I try to focus on the cross a little bit more – and myself a whole lot less.
I try to live out the love Jesus poured out for us to share – just a little bit more.
May we be of more who Christ is calling us to be this Lent.
Robert McAfee Brown, in his book The Bible Speaks to You, makes a rather shocking suggestion: “Be it hereby enacted that every three years all people shall forget whatever they have learned about Jesus, and begin the study all over again.” As we stand on the threshold of a new year, I have to say Brown’s suggestion has some merits! Maybe we don’t want to forget everything, but I do think there is something powerful about beginning the new year fresh…fresh study of Scripture, fresh commitment to a new ministry, a friendship with a new brother or sister in Christ at Liberty, maybe even a fresh new seat at church! (okay, that may be going too far!)
Like fresh footprints in the new fallen snow, I urge you to begin this new year creating fresh new paths of faith and service. After all, if we are in Christ we are “a new creation, the old has passed away, behold the new!” (I Corinthians 5: 17). The easiest thing for Christians to do is to fall into a rut with our faith – in the same way that we can fall into a rut in our work or daily routines. But God is always seeking new ways to speak to us and through us.
To help you with your fresh start, we will be preaching on the life of Moses this winter. Maybe you will pick up some new insights as we reflect on his journey together.
May this new year be truly new.