Monday, March 21, 2011

Supermoons and Spring

The article in CNN described Saturday's moon as a super moon. An event far rarer than the "blue moon" that occurs once every two and a half years on average.

"Saturday's full moon will be a super "perigee moon" -- the biggest in almost 20 years....'The last full moon so big and close to Earth occurred in March of 1993,' said Geoff Chester with the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington. 'I'd say it's worth a look.'"

Of course, in Wichita, clouds covered the sky and I missed it. That is, until Sunday morning as we were driving west to come for worship at West Heights. There in the dark morning sky hung a huge moon. The dawn had hardly broken and so it was not competing with the rising sun. The moon hung bright and huge low in the western sky and it took my breath away.

While the scientific explanation of the super moon is fascinating and just the sort of thing I love to read, the experience of the moon was far more satisfying. I had been disappointed that I couldn't see it on Saturday evening. What a gift Sunday morning to see the bright and full moon in all its glory. To top it off, Sunday was the first day of spring. The days will now be longer than the nights and nature will burst forth with flowering life.

All of this is to say, that super moons and spring are a reminder to me that life is a gift and a blessing. It is easy for me to go from one task to the next and not pay attention to what is going on around. If I pay attention, I can see life breaking forth in the buds of the trees, in the greening of the grass, in the spring flowers as they unfold into yellows and reds and oranges and and pinks and purples. Even though super moons happen rarely, full moons happen each month. Sunrises and sunsets happen each day. I can open myself to the "awe-some" moments around me, or I can ignore those bits of grace that come each day.

Journeying through Lent in preparation for Easter offers me an opportunity to be more aware of Divine Love and Grace, to be more aware of the people in my life and the beauty that surrounds me. As spring continues to unfold, I am choosing this day to notice the beauty, the love and the life as it sprouts around me. By noticing these gifts I hope to remain

Graced to Serve

Monday, March 14, 2011

In disaster and in faith dwelling in the Mystery of God

Last week I heard Barbara Brown Taylor lecture on "Learning to Walk in the Dark" and "On being a Christian, Now". For those who know her work, it would be redundant for me to say she is an incredible word smith. She paints pictures and experiences and invites the listener in.

On Saturday morning her focus was on walking in the dark. That walking by faith and not sight invites one to discover which way the winds blow. Walking in the dark opens up new senses for us and new ways of experiencing God.

My favorite phrase she used was "we need to allow God a certain amount of privacy." The ways we think or speak about God are "provisional" because we cannot know God fully. As she pointed out, God comes often in ways that disguise the Divine Self, a burning bush, a pillar of fire, in a still small voice. Even the name for God, "I Am who I Am" is pretty unrevealing.

I am remembering these words as the horror continues to unfold in Japan. Already there have been preachers who have claimed the earthquake and tsunami are God's judgments for _______ and you can fill in the blank. I saw a facebook post that said this:

Sept 11th (NY) Jan 11th (Haiti) and March 11th (Japan)....Luke 21:10-11Then Jesus said to his disciples : "Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes', famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven. 'Jesus says for behold I come quickly, [so... ask yourself are we ready?] [Sad to say Many won't repost this msg

I don't know where this person found it, they are not the kind to create this kind of post. However, it brought back Barbara Brown Taylor's point, "We need to allow God a certain amount of privacy." In my opinion, it is the height of arrogance to look at this world and the natural and unnatural disasters and state "what God is doing". Jesus said, "no one knows the hour or the day", and yet people state God is judging/punishing and attempt to speak for a God who is transcendent and greater and more mysterious than we can possibly imagine.

The world is a fragile and finite place. Bad things happen, and the response of people of faith is to do what they can to alleviate suffering, not to make blanket and trite statements about who "sinned" or didn't "sin" as the case may be. Perhaps remembering the words of psalmist makes a great statement of faith, than checking to see if one is "ready" out of fear. "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult." (Psalm 46: 1-3)

As I pray for the people of Japan, for all those who are offering aid and help and the response from around the world, I will give to United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) because 100% of my gift will go to Japan to help relieve suffering. I will find ways to combat judgments and condemnations, for in the end, I believe that God is greater, more loving and more amazing than I can possibly imagine. And in having faith in that God of love I remain

Graced to Serve.