Come on in

Full disclosure: This is a re-post from a few years ago, on a previous blog.

Enjoy.

 I meant to get the house dusted.

Or, at least, the places you see when you first walk into the house.

But….I didn’t.

I did get most of the post-vacation laundry done.

The groceries re-stocked in the fridge.

The counters in the kitchen wiped off.

But I didn’t get the dusting done.

And there were people coming over.

But it was okay.

Instead of bemoaning it, I wrote “Welcome!” in the dust on the hall table.

And you know what? I meant it.

Because the women who came through the door weren’t here to see how clean my house was.

They came with only the expectation of meeting with other women, of hearing and being heard, and of maybe having a good cup of coffee.

(Oh, and child care for their offspring for a couple of hours. Crucial to the above expectations–especially the “being heard” part.)

Although it didn’t require me to pick up my Swiffer duster, it did require me to lay down something else.

Opening my house to others sometimes requires laying down my own expectations of what that might look like.

What impression I think I need to make.

The (mostly self-imposed) pressure to have everything “just so”.

I ask myself: what feeling do I want people to walk away with?

That everything in my home was beautifully decorated and pristine and each item was artfully placed?

Or that it was a place where they felt welcome and comfortable–and listened to?

I love it when my house is totally clean, and everything is in its place, and it’s a place of beauty.

But if I only let others in–to my house, or to my life–when nothing is messy?

I will never let others in.

So I write “welcome” on my dusty table, in my messy life. And I mean it.

Come on in.

Let’s write on each other’s lives.

 

consider Lent

This week is Ash Wednesday.

The first day of the season of Lent, leading up to Easter.

Growing up, that didn’t mean much to me. We didn’t pay much attention to the church calendar.

That was for Catholics. Or Lutherans. Or some others like that.

As I have grown older however, the importance of Lent in regards to Easter has grown as well–both personally, and in my understanding of it for the growth and maturity of the Church.

Maybe you don’t share that belief or understanding. That’s okay.

But I’m going to lay out why I think Lent is important, and why we should consider observing it.

Lent is about remembering our Lord’s sacrifice for us, confessing how little we appreciate and value it, thanking Him for it, and focusing on it, to prepare ourselves for the highest day of celebration in the church calendar–Resurrection Day, or Easter.

How do we do it?

We read and contemplate lenten readings.

We pray.

And we may fast.

Sometimes I hear objections to Lent as being “too legalistic” or “too Catholic”.

It isn’t meant to be legalistic. The giving up of something during the forty days of Lent (not including Sundays, which are “feast days”–a Sabbath from your fast, if you will) has to do more with reminding us of Christ’s sacrifice for us. Each time that I forgo that cookie (or tv show, or checking Facebook, or whatever), I am reminded that my life does not consist of these things, but is hidden with Christ in God (Col. 3:3). I’m dying to my flesh, just a little bit, in order to live to the Spirit.

It’s also a reminder of who my savior is. What do I go to, when I am lonely/depressed/anxious/angry/worn out/impatient? Do I go to my pseudo-savior (food, internet, exercise, work, sex, activity)? Or do I go to the One who truly saves, who understands, who can meet my needs fully, and in whom I can trust and rest?

As for it being “too Catholic”, I would say, yes–it is catholic. But with a little “c”. Catholic as in universal, the holy catholic church as the Apostles’ Creed puts it–the whole church, the whole world, the unity of believers, all over the globe; treading the same road of remembering the cross, and longing and anticipating his joyful resurrection day celebration.

So, consider Lent. Think about what God might desire for you to give up (and not in a “this makes me feel good about myself because look at what I’m giving up and sacrificing”, a way to feel superior to those who aren’t fasting from anything, or merely a box to check off on your to-do list for the day).

Or perhaps, God is calling you to add something. A time of prayer before you start your day. Memorizing and meditating on a verse of Scripture. Giving more of your money to someone who needs it more than you. Inviting someone who can’t reciprocate to come over to your house and share a meal with you.

The purpose is to retrain our focus on Jesus. When I refrain from grabbing an M&M, it’s an opportunity to remember that my life is more than meat and drink (or chocolate!); my life is in Christ, and I say a prayer to God, thanking him for that fact, and that he sacrificed much more for me. When I give up soda, and drink water instead, I thank God that He is the living water, and I will never thirst because He satisfies me. When I give more of my money away, I remember that Jesus cares for me, much more than the sparrows (for whom he also provides); I can trust him to take care of me and provide for my needs.

(Not convinced? More and better explanations of Lent can be found here (The Journey to the Cross), and here (Why Bother With Lent?).)

Consider your Savior.

Think about what good thing you may wish to give up for a short time, in pursuit of the ultimate One.

Consider Lent.

(note: this is a re-post of mine from a previous blog)

confession

 

 

Confession is speaking truth.

It is telling what is true about us.

Sometimes that is telling the truth about things that we are happy to share with others, because they are things in which we delight.

We confess our love for R&B.

We confess our passion for citrus-y desserts.

We confess our addiction to The Walking Dead.

 

Confession is also speaking truth about things that we are not so excited about sharing with others—aspects that generate shame and guilt.

We resist confessing them, hoping that, by hiding them, they will somehow disappear.

Instead, they grow in the darkness. Their roots dig down deeper, their tentacles grab on more tightly.

Sin loves the darkness and isolation. The more we keep our sin private, the more we keep it covered and away from others, away from the light, the more it grows in its power over us. It uses the shame and guilt to make us even less likely to bring it out into the light, because (it tells us) others would turn away from us in disgust.

And nobody wants that.

But the truth is that there is freedom in confession. Confession is truth, and the lies that are told about confession are just that—lies. When we confess our sins, we bring them out into the light. There is freedom in confessing our sin to another believer who is trustworthy, and knows the freedom of confession as well. The power of sin dissipates in the bright sunlight of the gospel. It bleaches the sinner clean in the truth of the love of Christ.

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Confession to our brothers and sisters is a two-way street. As we confess our sins to our brothers and sisters in Christ, they confess the gospel truth back to us.

We confess to the sinner (whom we see as not a wretch unlike ourselves, but a fellow, forgiven son or daughter): here is the truth about you.

You are forgiven.

You are loved.

You are holy, because He is holy, and you are in Him.

You are a royal priesthood.

You are chosen.

You are beloved.

You can never be kicked out of the family.

We speak the Word of truth, and confess it, one to another. We have failed, and will fail. But he is faithful and just.

“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. “ 1 John 1:8-9

“…and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32

“If we are faithless, he remains faithful–for he cannot deny himself.” 2 Timothy 2:13

We remind each other of these things (2 Tim. 2:14). We encourage one another and build each other up. ( 1 Thess. 5:11) As we confess the truth about our sins and about ourselves to each other, we also confess the truth about the One who has taken care of it for us, the Spirit who is walking with us, and is in and through us, every day.

We confess the truth through the praying and singing of Psalms.

We confess that we deserve the curse.

We confess that because of his mercy, Christ has taken the curse for us.

We confess that we live in freedom, to pour out his mercy to others, because we are beloved and forgiven.

Confession has to happen, to bring out the blessing and the truth of the confession of what God has done in Christ for us.

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The church recognizes that we not only need to confess to God privately, and to a trusted friend and believer, but that we are strengthened and helped by confessing things corporately, as the body of believers: locally, globally, and spanning the generations of time. Those who have gone before us have written creeds and confessions for us to repeat, to say, to agree with—to confess the truth together.

So at church, we confess our sins together, in a time of confession, both silently and corporately. And then we confess the historic truths of our faith, together.

 

I believe in God, the Father Almighty,  Creator of heaven and earth,

and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord:

Who was conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary,

suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.

 He descended to the dead.

On the third day He rose again;

He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty,

and  He shall come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church,

the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins,

the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.

Amen.

 

Light is brought to bear on what was hidden. Shame is uprooted and banished; guilt is taken away.

Our roots are more deeply grounded in the truth of the gospel, and the light of truth shines down on us.

We confess this truth.

We are set free.

something new

September often seems more like the “new year” to me–the beginning of school, the subtle shift in the weather. And so it seems appropriate that I start my new blog in this month.

I will be posting about things that I’m thinking about (hence the title), and I invite you to come think about them with me.