Saturday, February 20, 2010

Dry Places

Psalm 42

If it weren't for the honesty of the psalmist I might not admit how dry I sometimes feel, how dry I feel even today. I haven't always been spiritually dry. There have been moments, even seasons when, to paraphrase Jesus, rivers of living water have seemed to spring up from my own core. There are other moments and seasons, however, when it seems that all I have is the memory of water. And like the deer (and the psalmist), I am parched and panting.

The only thing worse than the dry season is to be taunted by the skeptic or the enemy in the midst of the drought. Bad enough when my heart secretly cries out to God "Where are you?" But sometimes my own question is echoed in the voice of the person or people who just don't mean well. "Where is YOUR God?"

There is a challenge too, though, in the psalm, an internal stubbornness that repeats in verses 5 and 11 as the psalmist speaks to himself and gives me words to speak for myself. "Why are you so disquieted?" At first, the answer seems obvious. After all, the whole psalm speak of difficulty and trial and the absence of any visible sign that God is on the case. That would be a good reason for a soul to be disquieted, right? Yet by asking the question the psalm seems to suggest that the reality of dryness and the season of drought are not necessarily reasons for anxiety, or dis-ease. And it strikes me that this may be the very lesson that the Lenten wilderness journey is designed to teach. I can be panting and hopeful simultaneously. I can be parched and praising at the same time. And there's no better place to learn that than in the desert.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Day Two - Guest Post by Reverend Charisse R. Tucker

I didn't write yesterday, but Rev. Tucker did. Enjoy. Click here Ashes - Prelude to Outpour

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ash Wednesday 2010

Psalm 51

I'm not really sure how it happened but Ash Wednesday sneaked up on me. I have been thinking about it for weeks, pondering how I would lead our congregation into the season of Lent and what I would give up and take on for the sake of the faith (and for my diet), but somehow I woke up this morning and I was not ready. No ashes for the heads of the faithful. No sermon for the service. And no energy. All I had was this J. Moss song in my head. Click here to listen to the song.

It turned out that the message of that song was the whole point - not my planning, not my pondering, not my preaching. The message of Ash Wednesday, present in the Psalm and in the song, is that we need God to pour out God's mercy. And just as the day caught me unawares, sometimes the level of my need for God's renewal and God's mercy hits me. It's not the first time I realized I need the Lord, but the awareness is so powerful that it almost feels like it's the first time. So, I pray "Have mercy on me, O Lord" - again.