Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Dissonance

Ever notice how you can only tolerate so much conflict, disagreement, difference of opinion, etc.? What is it about dissonance that is hard to bear? There have been some hours this week when the discord of life leaked over into just about all imaginable areas...like a piano untuned in a drafty, damp attic.

And yet, when life is rolling along all smooth and perfect, it seems like we can't quite tolerate that, either.

It seems like we need some balance. A lot of harmony and resolving chords spiced up with just a measure of dissonance to challenge our mindset here and there. If the parenting life is running smooth, church is humming along and the finances are good, work needs a few dramatic twists.

But if the balance is off, I feel like autocorrect kicks in and I wade into dissonance or seek out harmony like birds navigate instinctively during migration. Kind of a self-leveling ability.

This week I am trying to balance the good with the crazy, a dicey mix striving for musicality.

In Kolkata, in Victoria Gardens, the beautiful building surrounded by flowers and reflecting pools took center stage while literally 100 yards away, o. The other side of a hedge, trash was everywhere...within the park. Dissonance.



Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Weight of Grace

Today I find myself drowning in the weight of the past.

What is hard is living beyond where I have been, embracing now, embracing my worth, embracing God's call and work in my life in spite of my flaws. It is a strange spot to be in just two days past Easter. Grace, it seems, is a gift freely given and not so easily received.

Yesterday, I presented some information about India with a few folks from my trip to India. Sathi Clarke explained that one of the objectives of the trip was to have the experience of receiving hospitality because the act of receiving is an important act. It is a discipline that relates to grace in many ways. Grace has to be received. Like a gift, a hot meal in a stranger's home, a cup of tea with a new friend.

But it is so hard. It is hard to believe that I am lovable and worthy. It is hard to believe that I can be forgiven for the past and am free to move forward toward a new creation. Because I have been recreated. That's what Easter is about, right? New creation...

I am having difficulty staring into an empty tomb and believing it impacts me directly. I am having a hard time today reaching out with an open hand to receive the gift of grace.

In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven. In the Great Thanksgiving, this is one of my favorite acts, followed by the passing of the peace. It is a time when we reach toward one another specifically and as community to share the love and forgiveness, and ultimately then, the peace of Christ.

Today, two days after Easter, I want to receive that grace. In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven. Glory to God.

Monday, April 1, 2013

In Between Times

Can we arrive at end times never knowing how to live in the in-between well?

In class today, we were talking about the church, about what it should be. We seem remarkably able to speak about how to do it well, right, better, different.

I find myself becoming more and more impatient with this conversation. In the grand scheme of things, it seems easy to "should" all over the church. And yes, we need vision because without vision, the people perish. But it would seem we also need some work in the practical skills that move us "on to perfection."

This seems like a pretty good Eastertide conversation. I mean...here we are between the resurrection and end-times, some 2000 years later, still trying to interpret the parables and hopefully get it right.

Do we want to get it right? Or are we afraid of what might happen if we do? Do we have enough faith in God to trust that there is a better way? A kinder existence?

How do we love people more and judge people less? How do we let go of our earthly connections to free up resources, live simply so others may simply live? Rely on our creativity to find joy rather than expecting to be entertained?

I want to experiment in the next year with moving practically forward, where each "next step" is the right "next step." I want to help people grow toward God in practical, life-giving ways. Want to join the fun? What are the easy ways we can implement today to make the church more useful, more relevant, more outward facing, more life changing? What are the ways we can serve more, gripe less and avoid getting bogged down along the way?

I would love to hear from you. What is the next best step we can take?