Sunday, March 27, 2016

Easter Sunday, 2016

He is risen! 

My sins had crushed You to the point of death. A soldier slashed your side for that last drop of salvation’s blood and water gushed out. 

Living water - setting me free, alive with graced reconciliation to the Father and to my rightful Home. 

Father, set my soul sailing
 Like a cloud upon the wind.
Free and strong to carry on 
Until the journey’s end.

Each mile I put between the past 
And the future in Your hand
I learn more of Your Providence 
And I find out who I am.

I want to thank You for the gift of Your Son,
 And for the mystery of prayer,
And for the faith to doubt and yet believe 
That You’re really there.

The mysteries of Your Word are the questions of my days.
I search them now to understand the wisdom of Your ways.
Jesus walks before me and clearly marks the path 
To guide me to the Father and to peace at last.

I want to thank You for the gift of your Son,
And for the mystery of prayer,
And for the faith to doubt and yet believe 
That You’re really there.
Yes, you’re really there! 

From the recording, “Joni’s Song” (1982)
Sung by Joni Eareckson Tada

Saturday, March 26, 2016

A Meditation for Holy Saturday

The women, along with John, had followed Him all the way and now, as Friday was easing out into Saturday, Mary found herself cradling the Son of God in her arms, dead and mangled. 

What could have been racing through her mind and memories? Was there even room for them amidst the horrors she had been witnessing?

Perhaps an echo broke through of the angel Gabriel’s words thirty-four years earlier. “Greetings, favored one! Do not be afraid for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High . .” 

Her womb was fertile with Spirit life and Incarnation, deep in darkness where life grows and is birthed. . .

Now this. . .a lifeless form, a soul pierced as had been foretold by Simeon when the babe, Jesus, was brought to the Temple to be dedicated to the Lord. 

How do any of us face a crisis of grief, let alone a mother who has born a child within and then experiences terror at the foot of a Cross that rips him away from her? 

We know the outcome that was unfolding over the three days. Those at the foot of the Cross did not, even with anointed words echoing . . .Messiah. . . Son of the Most High. 

It was the soul piercing that was felt, that was real, that was agonizing.

Her babe, her son, the Son of the Most High was taken and placed in a darkened tomb, not unlike the gestation darkness when Mary was told she had found favor with God. Favor? 

Yet we know, and Mary came to know, that the favor of a new incarnation was being birthed in the soil of Saturday. Those outside the tombing wept. God the Father readied his Beloved Son to break forth. Abundance was yeasted from the terrors of the Cross. All that had been foretold would have its appointed time. 

I am asked, as was Mary, to sit in the soil of Saturday’s gestation as new life is readied. He is Risen and so am I risen with Him. 

Over and over again with each loss, with each hope unfulfilled, I can wait for the favor of my Savior who knows the appointed time being readied from the seed of life that formed me and has kept me. 

Mary came to know. I have known. 

Am I willing to wait, with a “soul magnifying the Lord, and a spirit rejoicing in God my Savior” for what has yet to be fulfilled? With the recollection of what Mary experienced, and what God has promised, I can say, “Amen”.

Friday, March 25, 2016

A Meditation for Good Friday

When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four parts, one for each soldier. They also took his tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from the top.  So they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see who will get it.” This was to fulfill what the scripture says, “They divided my clothes among themselves, and for my clothing they cast lots.” And that is what the soldiers did.  John 19:23-25

Jesus's clothes were his only remaining possession.  What do I feel for him, stripped of everything? 

First I am thinking of the seamless tunic - a tunic meant to cover a person with no infringement of seams but purely whole. You were stripped of that mantle so, in saving me from death and sin, I now have the mantle of your Presence that covers me, covers as it has removed the barrier of  my sins and failings. 

You were humiliated when stripped bare of all worldly possessions so that You could bravely bear the sins which possess us all. My sins, all sin, covered You and crushed You for you had no earthly barriers at the time of crucifixion. 

You broke each barrier that ultimately keeps me from reconciliation to the Father, your Father, our Father, my Father. 

Crushed with the weight of my sins, the Father turned away from You, his beloved Son. You died in the agony of that separation so I could regain wholeness. 

You were stripped of everything so that I could be clothed again in the Glory of my original relationship to the Father. 

Yet, first, the agony had to be endured as all agonies on this earthly journey have to be endured. 

You made a way for me to move through them. You continue to walk the journey with me because You have walked the path before. Amen. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Orcas Island Postscript to WinterFest - Part 5

Sunday Morning Service, March 6
This was the end of WinterFest events.

Earl was to preach the sermon. 
We found out upon our arrival that he had been called home for a family emergency. We gasped and then prayed. Positive news came to us later that day.

Jeff and Brian were there to lead worship and Dick was well able to preach an amazing sermon using the text Earl had chosen.

Be Thou My Vision

Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart,
be all else but naught to me, save that thou art;
be thou my best thought in the day and the night,
both waking and sleeping, thy presence my light.

Be thou my wisdom, be thou my true word,
be thou ever with me, and I with thee Lord;
be thou my great Father, and I thy true son;
be thou in me dwelling, and I with thee one.

Be thou my breastplate, my sword for the fight;
be thou my whole armor, be thou my true might;
be thou my soul's shelter, be thou my strong tower:
O raise thou me heavenward, great Power of my power.

“C.S. Lewis Timeless Words for a World in Crisis”

Sermon Topic Scripture
"We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit." 1 Thessalonians 1:2-6

Key points/reminders in sermon.

Among the quotes that had come forth from Earl in reading Lewis was this one: “He knew his apostate”.  In context of that statement, the word, “apostate” meant that Lewis knew the audience to whom he wrote and in knowing that focus, he could stay in focus in the texts he penned. 

The message to us is that we look to the call God has on each of our lives and work toward accomplishing it - “be Thou our vision” will help us focus. 

The call to use our gifts is a daily one.

We are to be aware that spiritual warfare is real. We will run into obstacles. Keep focused but don’t let the reality of the warfare rule. Lewis addressed this beautifully in “The Screwtape Letters”. 

Aim at heaven and you’ll get earth (what Christ gives us on earth). Aim at earth and you will get neither.


Sunday Evening
Vespers Service

As I stayed on Orcas Sunday night, I was able to attend this beautiful service. Jeff stayed on to provide worship for us and Brian turned to his Associate Pastor role to preach the message on the text of the Prodigal Son.

As Rembrandts rendering of this scene is one of my favorites - a print of it hangs in my home - that it was the image on the Vesper bulletin and a framed print also on a stand for display, I immediately settled in to be inspired. 

A number of songs were sung in worship and prayers recited but Jeff’s song, “Home Again", set the tone for the message Brian brought to us. Vespers ended with much to ponder.

I was then blessed by time with Dick Staub who offered  his insights and some caring direction about my “soon to be printed” book! 

Monday, March 7
This scene, from my deck, greeted me on the morning I was  gearing up to catch the 12:55 ferry boat home.

Indeed, I had a lot to "think through and treasure"  and a thankful heart made full from all that occurred during this WinterFest.  Amen! 

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

WinterFest - Orcas Island - Part 4

Saturday, March 6
Morning Worship and Lecture

It was one beautiful sunny day!
This scene greeted me from my deck.

. . .and this scene greeted me arriving at Orcas Island Community Church! 

Our time together was then committed in worship to all that God had planned for the day.

Trinity Bell
Lighting of the Candle

I Arise Today

Psalm 108
"O God, my heart is fixed; I will sing and give praise, . . .
 Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens: and thy glory above all the earth;

Worship Bulletin 
Cover Artwork: Morning Colors
by Ellens

Merely Christian: A Compelling Invitation to a Larger Hope

I only "thought" I could cull from my notes taken as I listened to Earl speak. He says so much and says it well and I have a few notes but know where to head to find excepts he read in my own copies of Lewis' books. 

But they are not going to be "here". There is plenty for you to see of the amazing WinterFest God gave to those of us who were present.

I finally just gave in and listened and enjoyed the journey Earl took us on. 

He is so animated with joy and expression when he speaks, getting a good photo was also hard. This one I posted came the closest to his being "still" in the moment I clicked the shutter button!! 

WinterFest - Orcas Island Part 3

I am continuing to blog my WinterFest journey after returning home on Monday, March 7th! 

It was impossible to do more postings after the actual event began. I was trying to keep up with all that was happening, jotting down notes during the lectures, trying to journal - simply needing to let it all soak in.

I do want to bring you to the event and  I "think" I can through some photos and quotes. That is my hope! 

The short version is that it was simply an amazing three days and I came home exhausted, overwhelmed, and equally grateful.

March 4

I mentioned in my last blog entry, after the Friday evening lecture, what a delightful presence Earl Palmer brings to his teachings. After 50 years in ministry, he "retired" as Senior Pastor of University Presbyterian church in Seattle, Washington in 2006. He has far from retired, continuing to teach and minister. His scholarship, theological background, wide interest in the arts, among other giftings, is a joy to experience. By conference "end", I wanted to rush home and re-read all the Lewis' books he shared within the context of his lectures. His enthusiastic highlights, deep insights and exuberant readings had us all enthralled. 

It takes a team to plan such an event.

In acknowledging these gifted men in the photos below, I do not want to skip a thank you to those at the Orcas Island Community Church who made that environment one of gracious welcome. The church decor, the refreshments at each break and fellowship in the community room added a wonderful touch for all of us who gathered.  I met the most amazing, friendly people - both those visiting Orcas for the event and those who call Orcas and this church their home. 

Dick Staub: Pastor of Orcas Island Community Church
Founder and Director of The Kindlings, a relational movement seeking to rekindle the spiritual, intellectual an artistic legacy of Christians in culture. Thank you, Dick, for overseeing the moments of the days we gathered, for sharing your insights, and covering it all in prayer and God's guidance. You are so appreciated!

 Rev. Earl Palmer in the center
Our worship leaders, Jeff Johnson (Ark Music) and Brain Moss, musician and also the 
Associate Pastor at Orcas Island Community Church. 

I've shared my appreciation for Earl. Jeff and Brian gifted us by filling the environment with the music from their hearts. Through their talents our own hearts were drawn into a place of worship in song. I have known Jeff and his music for years - often have it playing to fill my home with the reminder of God's presence. Brian is a wonderful leader, as well, and a new "voice" to me. Together these men helped us get our focus where it belonged - on the One who had gathered us together at this special time. I know each life was touched. 

Next posting - 
the Saturday events, including our morning worship! 

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Journeying on Orcas Island - Part 2

March 4, 2016 

It was a blustery day but I bundled up, took my walker for stability and ventured out to get some exercise - to breathe in the fresh air. The way was bumpy and, at times, rutted with work being done on the Inn’s property. 

I crossed the highway and looked back 
 such starkness as spring awaits its coming  
much as we long for those first blooms to awaken us! 

But wait!

 Looking down amidst the dry and the needed restoration - new life is waking! 

And around another bend - more sunshine emerging and some fragrance in hyacinths. I asked the groundskeeper if I might pick a few blooms for my room and he gave an enthusiastic “yes”. 

I journaled the joys that are 
already greeting me here on Orcas!

I’ve a website to start designing. 
What will light my path? 
I do know the burst of creativity that only God can bring, 
 be it along a worn path, a well tended garden, or a soul that waits in the silence to hear His quiet whisper.

Oh, yes! 
Today some glimpses are blooming of what is to come! 

. . . and blooming!! 

I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud
by William Wordsworth

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;  
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

from my journal entry (evening) March 4
after experiencing our first lecture by
Rev. Earl Palmer

Such a delightful man and speaker and a joy to share with him at the reception after the lecture. We spoke of mutual experiences and people from C.S. Lewis’ home (The Kilns). Earl heads to Oxford this summer to do the Study Week with our beloved friend, Kim Gilnett. 

I told him he may find my heart still settled there!

Oh, to share, to be embraced by this group of kindred souls, to “belong somewhere”. 

Thank You, Lord. How faithful You are! 

To be continued. . .