Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Preparation for Receiving Ashes

Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.
Psalm 32:1

Silence is not golden. But, without the inspiration of the Spirit to confess our sins, we think it is. We think that if we cover ourselves with silence and hide in our fear driven lack of understanding that we won’t be seen as a sinner. Instinctively, we take on the mindset of Adam and Eve and think we can protect ourselves through silence and denial. But, that’s not how it works. The psalmist discovered this.

“When I kept silent, my bones wasted away…my strength was sapped.” Be it conscious or unconscious, a deliberate act or an uncontrolled reaction, a crooked choice or a simple misdirection, sin is a fact of our lives. We are all sinners. We have all fallen short. (Romans 3:3). Denial of this reality does not make it cease to be true. Placing our hands over our eyes in God’s presence does not mean we cease to be sinners. Sin is radical and pervasive and in the end it buries us. It is a fact. “The wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23)

But, heaven has come down. Christ has come and stood in our stead. He took on the sins of the world. He bore the consequences and he went to that grave of all graves carrying all sin. After He made amends for us he was raised to new life and opened the door for us to freedom through his resurrection. We, on this side of His resurrection, know to an even greater depth what the psalmist discovered. There is a cure for the sin sick soul. Forgiveness and the love that inspires it are more pervasive than sin. When God covers our sins they cease to be. We, who acknowledge Christ as God’s antidote for our deceit, can know the blessing of His forgiveness.

During the Lenten season we are encouraged as the psalmist did to acknowledge who we are as sinners. The psalmist learned from experience that sin that is not confessed buries you, but, sin acknowledged leads us into the reality of God’s merciful forgiveness that makes a new life possible. We, on this side of the resurrection know by faith that God has covered us with the life of His Son. We can now respond in faith to who Christ is and boldly approach His throne of grace. We are blessed by divinely inspired faith and its response of discipline. Our new life has been made possible by Christ’s sacrifice. Confession is our act of faith and trust. In confessing we acknowledge that we need a Savior who can bring us out of our small dark grave of sin and into the light of life. As we practice our God given freedom to confess and acknowledge our sin we also are declaring the work of God in Christ as complete. Confession is God’s means for us to discover the blessings of His love for us.

“Heaven came down and glory filled my soul. When at the cross the Savior made me whole. My sins were washed away and my night was turned to day.” 

Thank you, Father, for sending your Son to bring me out, to cover my sins, and set me free.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Word by Word

I received a CD from my son for Christmas on which I have heard Anne Lamontt speak about writing. It is entitled "Word by Word" and she speaks in her humorous, penetrating and honest way about the writers need to "just do it" and do it truthfully one word at a time. She calls all who attempt to put words together and hope it makes sense to do so from the foundation of truth. A wonderful statement that she made was, "When you start to speak the truth, miracles begin to happen."

The key is getting started. Typing the first word comes after setting aside the time and turning toward the task. Typing the first word is like putting on the gardening gloves. Here is another Lamontt image, that of writing being like gardening. I am not much of a gardener, but I understand the analogy. You put on the gloves and you begin, one task at a time ... weed, prune, mulch, water, feed, dig up, plant anew, wait. Writing like any true creative process requires much attention and patience and trust and abandonment and what you hope for is that what is true finds a voice.

I told my husband just this morning, that I write so seldom because it requires so much discipline. Then, I rambled on to compare writing to praying and then to my efforts to rehabilitate my strength, flexibility, and endurance after breaking my foot almost 6 months ago. All of these I want to do and in doing so I know I will express the truth that is within me. But, it is asks of me. One would think after circling through life for all these years that it would become easier to just "do it" and answer the call. But, it is like having your third baby without drugs. You know how hard it is going to be. You know the blissful ideology bubble burst the first time around. The only reason you continue is because you remember your joy will be off the charts ... eventually. And you can't not have that baby anyway. It is what you do. It is who you are ... a creator, a giver of new birth, a speaker of truth, a light on a hill.

I can't not write, even though the effort requires much from me ... looking, exploring, paying attention, practicing, trusting, forgiving, starting, stopping, circling. I can't not rehabilitate my foot and end up not running or biking just because it takes so much time and patience and disciple. . I can't not pray, even though it feels like all the above. 

So, word by word, step by step, pedal stroke by pedal stroke, and prayer by prayer.