Wednesday, March 31, 2010


contributed by Shari-Anne

the miracle of seeing You
in the Old Testament stories of
two goats and a wondrous flood
in the body of a newborn

the miracle of being created
and creating because of You
the miracle of Words that
open doors and windows
and books and hearts

the miracle of solitude

let me not hide within
my skin the wonder of the universe
may your hands on my mind
be the miracle of this morning

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


contributed by Jeremy

Maybe I should have lented from stress, or perhaps from doubt.

A little under a year ago I was laid off from a job I'd held for close to four years. The timing was right - I was planning a move already when the news came, and I left a job I enjoyed with no bitterness toward anyone. I quickly applied for Employment Insurance payments and held on until I found new work just a couple months later. That new job came in the form of working with adults with developmental disabilities, a job that was richly fulfilling on many levels. It was a clear sign to me that God was taking care of me in a time of some major transitions in my life (around the same time I moved from Abbotsford to Vancouver, and got married). The job location was very close to our home, the hours were good, the job was generally stress-free, and I've always enjoyed my interactions with people with developmental disabilities, so the job seemed a natural fit for the time.

Of course it came with things that I found difficult, and I knew that the job wasn't completely taking advantage of all of my gifts and abilities, nor was it challenging me in many meaningful ways. Add to that the reality of being a part of a union that was threatening job action in April of this year, and I found myself slowly searching for my next employment step.

I began the season of lent this year with 2 job interviews, for 2 positions I was very excited about. Each promised to get back to me shortly with their decision, and I felt reasonably comfortable that I would have a new job within a few weeks. The days marched on, however, with little contact from my new potential employers, and with the potential of a strike looming in my current job, my stress began to rise. In times like these, I tend to think about my life and decisions I've made, and not necessarily in the most positive way. I wonder why I don't have a more practical college degree, why I never pursued certain promotions, and begin to doubt even what strengths and gifts I know I do have. I know I should instead look back and trace the hand of God through every step I've taken in my life - the incredibly rich college experiences I had and the lifelong friends I made there, the jobs that always seemed to come in the nick of time and that always seemed to fit me so well, the 'divine appointments along the way, and even (or especially) the way he led me to who is now my wife.

Through much of my life, the words of Jeremiah 29:11 have followed my steps. "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord. 'Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.'" It's a verse I've at least tried to hold on to, and seems to come back to me when I need to hear those words most.

So, a few weeks into lent (and after the two interviews), I finally received word from one of my two new potential employers: "We've hired someone else." Few more disappointing phrases exist in our language, and this was from the job I felt I had the best chance of achieving out of my two interviews. Clearly all hope was now lost. For a couple weeks I resumed browsing through job postings, wondering how I would ever find a job that I would enjoy and be good at, and if I was really ready for a life in my parents' basement while working at Burger King.

It was in fact, the morning after the darkest day of these last weeks... the day in which I truly thought I had no hope of new or meaningful employment, that the call came from the first of those two job interviewers, to ask if I was still interested in working with them, because they would like to offer me the job. So here I am, days away from the possibility of a strike in my 'old' job, about to start a new, presently exciting, challenging job... and true to form, it's come in the nick of time. And while it is simply a new job, and while I realize it may not be "perfect", I don't think it's too much for me to look at this as a true Ebenezer.

Thus far, the Lord has helped us. As the ending of Lent draws near and Good Friday approaches, I find myself so thankful that we follow a God who promises plans to give us a "hope and a future." Remember hope in all things.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Jesus, Prince of Peace

We prayed these prayers together at Artisan last night. Join with me in continuing to pray them this week.

Jesus, Prince of Peace

Prince of Peace,
humble riding on a donkey

disturber of the peace,
you upset bad religion
when it gets in the way of God.

upsetter of the self-righteous,
you turn questions on their head,
offering no instant answers,
but showing the way.

lover of the lost,
you say ‘forgive’
when we want to shout ‘condemn!’

host at the table,
you share your best
even in the face of our worst.

Savior of the world
…yes, even the world
which wants you
until it meets you.

Ride On Ride On

Lord Jesus Christ,
…over the broken glass of our world,
the rumours meant to hurt,
the prejudice meant to wound,
the weapons meant to kill,
ride on…
trampling our attempts at disaster into dust.
ride on,

ALL: Ride on in majesty

…over the distance
which seperates us from you,
and it is such a distance,
measurable in half truths,
in unkept promises,
in second-best obedience,
ride on…
until you touch and heal us,
who feel for no one but ourselves
ride on,

ALL: Ride on in majesty

…and through the back streets
and the sin bins
and the disdained corners of the city,
where human life festers
and love runs cold,
ride on…
bringing hope and dignity
where most send scorn and silence.
ride on,

ALL: Ride on in majesty

For you, O Christ, do care
and must show us how.
On our own,
our ambitions rival your summons
and thus threaten good faith
and neglect God’s people.

In your company and at your side,
we might yet help to bandage and heal
the wounds of the world.
ride on,

ALL: Ride on in majesty Lord Jesus
and take us with you.

Prayers from Stages on the Way by the Iona Community

contributed by Aimee

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Walking towards the end

From John 12

Six days before the Passover, Jesus arrived at Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2Here a dinner was given in Jesus' honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. 3Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus' feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.

4But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected,5"Why wasn't this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year's wages." 6He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.

7"Leave her alone," Jesus replied. " It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. 8You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me."

9Meanwhile a large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was there and came, not only because of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 10So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well, 11for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and putting their faith in him.

The Triumphal Entry
12The next day the great crowd that had come for the Feast heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. 13They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting,
"Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!"

"Blessed is the King of Israel!"
14Jesus found a young donkey and sat upon it, as it is written,
15"Do not be afraid, O Daughter of Zion;
see, your king is coming,
seated on a donkey's colt."

16At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that they had done these things to him.

17Now the crowd that was with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to spread the word. 18Many people, because they had heard that he had given this miraculous sign, went out to meet him.19So the Pharisees said to one another, "See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!"

painting by Paul Stoub

contributed by Aimee

Saturday, March 27, 2010


contributed by Shari-Anne

He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces. He was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows. Isaiah 53: 3-4

I remember a time when I lived in a foreign country and I felt outside in a way I had never known. I was surrounded with lively people, beautiful streets, a dearly familiar sun and moon, the sounds of the accordions and lyrical voices, and yet, I was outside. I couldn’t understand all these strange words and sounds, I couldn’t read the newspaper, I couldn’t watch the television. I couldn’t visit a friend and have tea and talk about old times or a beautiful book. I had no context for my history, for my identity. It was a quiet season.

photograph by Sandra Juto

In the midst of this I learned to encounter and experience my Creator in a profound new way. He offered Himself to me as companion, as darling friend. I sensed His presence so robust in the cobblestone alleyways, under the starry sky, next to the Etruscan ruins. He listened always and made sense of my aloneness. He welcomed me in, He understood me, and I found my home in Him.

Maybe I experienced a tiny taste of what Jesus of Nazareth experienced when He was here. He was different and gentle and strong and misunderstood, rejected by the culture around Him. I am so amazed at His courage, how He boldly spoke and healed and didn’t hide away when He knew tension was growing.

Do you remember times in your life when you felt outside? Times where you said something and nobody seemed to understand, or times where everyone laughed at you? Times where you made a decision and nobody supported you. Or perhaps you had moved to a new city or a new country and you felt as if your whole world was across the sea, moving on without you?

Most of us likely agree that these feelings are so undesirable. We just want to be a part of things. I wish that every time I experienced these outsider feelings, I recognized Jesus in the midst of it. Imagine if we remember what He experienced on earth, allowing ourselves to taste the pain of His rejection in these moments. Imagine if we really remembered that He is on our side, understanding us, embracing us, and delighting in us in a way more complete than any human ever could?

Sometimes it’s so hard to remember the Invisible in these moments. As we anticipate Easter and Jesus’ death and resurrection, my prayer is that I and we as a community can take our eyes off of our own outsider feelings, our self-consciousness, and lift our eyes and ears to heaven, to our King, who suffered so we could be healed, who died so we could be free.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Returning Home

Rembrandt van Rijn, The Return of the Prodigal Son

Thought I'd continue meandering down the musical pathway that Melanie started Wednesday and which Lance continued yesterday :).

A few years ago I wrote a song for Lent. It was part of a project called Keeping Time, Vol 02, a collection of hymns, spirituals and original material on the themes evoked by the liturgical year, recorded by my jazz trio and a couple of guests. Below are my reflections on the song, which were included in the liner notes of the recording. If you'd like to have a listen, click here, then on the song's title, "Returning Home", in the music player on the right.


Lent is a time of coming to ourselves, of realizing the distance we have put between ourselves and God. ...Henri Nouwen said, “The spiritual life starts at the place where you can hear God’s voice.” As Jesus so wisely said, it takes ears ready to hear to really listen, and eyes ready to see to really perceive. Coming to ourselves prepares us to return home, regardless of how home is understood.
Kenneth T. Lawrence, ed. Imaging the Word Volume I

Stirred by the truths in Nouwen’s The Return of the Prodigal Son (inspired by and named after Rembrandt’s painting), I set out to compose a new song that would somehow convey what “returning home” sounded like. After I finished it and played it, I was moved to tears. I don't know why, exactly. Maybe I was a bit more fatigued than usual that morning. Maybe the emotions came because this was the last piece written for this recording – a sort of ‘composer’s homecoming’. Maybe the images and memories evoked by the title of the piece just had a way of tugging at my heart in some uncommon way. Maybe it was because my wife, too, cried the first time she heard it. Who really knows why a particular piece of music grips us so, while another leaves us unmoved? Probably a question best left unanswered.

contributed by Nelson

Thursday, March 25, 2010


This is Arvo Pärt.
Pärt is an Estonian classical composer who has been composing since the 1970's. Often utilizing simple harmonies, single notes, and large amounts of space, Pärt prefers a pure, minimalism in his compositions. This slow, meditative approach is captured in something he calls tintinnabuli - which Pärt describes as being like "the ringing of bells". One of the first pieces Pärt wrote in this tintinnabuli style, was Fur Alina which was composed in 1976.

Fur Alina appears very simple. The score is only two pages long and the majority of the notes found in the piece are whole notes. There are only 15 bars of written music and there is no time signature given. For a tempo marking, the following is written: ‘Ruhig, erhaben, in sich hineinhorchend’, which roughly translates into ‘peacefully, in an exalted and introspective manner’. The song is played with the piano pedal down, save for the last 4 bars, creating a floating and expansive sound. Everything about the piece, from its composition to performance, invites the listener to dwell - inside the notes and in the silence.

In describing his process of tintinnabuli, Pärt said:
"Tintinnabulation is an area I sometimes wander into when I am searching for answers—in my life, my music, my work. In my dark hours, I have the certain feeling that everything outside this one thing has no meaning. The complex and many-faceted only confuses me, and I must search for unity. What is it, this one thing, and how do I find my way to it? Traces of this perfect thing appear in many guises—and everything that is unimportant falls away. Tintinnabulation is like this. Here I am alone with silence. I have discovered that it is enough when a single note is beautifully played. This one note, or a silent beat, or a moment of silence, comforts me."

I think Lent might be a bit like tintinnabulation - a season we wander into, looking for answers, hoping that everything that is unimportant will fall away. Drawn out of the clutter and noisiness of our lives, in the silence we can be comforted and know that it even one note beautifully played, is enough. Listen to Fur Alina here

"Silence is disturbing. It is disturbing because it is the wavelength of the soul. If we leave no space in our music—and I'm as guilty as anyone else in this regard—then we rob the sound we make of a defining context. It is often music born from anxiety to create more anxiety. It's as if we're afraid of leaving space. Great music's as much about the space between the notes as it is about the notes themselves.” - Sting

* Artisan will be listening to Arvo Part's Passio on Good Friday - all 70 minutes worth! See for more details.

contributed by Lance

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


contributed by Melanie

I love spring. I love how everything that has been lying dormant and seems dead, suddenly comes back to life. Daffodils come up, camelias, rhododendrons, tulips, even dandelions, start to bloom. It always brings to mind ideas of ressurrection, new life, second chances. The other day I heard a song that really resonated with me and I thought I'd share it with you. I usually go through worship songs and tear them apart word by word, since that is what I was taught to do in Worship school (haha) but for once I just pulled out one line and didn't worry about the rest. What I love about this song is the line that says "for You and You alone awake my soul. Awake my soul and sing." This is my prayer in this "season" of my life - I have been waiting for a personal springtime in my own life for what feels like a very long time. I get glimpses of spring, but I feel as though there are areas of my life that are still lying dormant. Hopefully not dead, just sleeping. But only Christ can do it. Only He can bring my heart back to life again. Spring is a yearly visual reminder for me that resurrection is possible and real. That winter doesn't have to last forever.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Mystery is a truth which lies beyond us. It can be entered into, explored, inhabited even; but it can never be exhausted or fathomed. Our age dislikes intensely the idea of mystery, because it directly exposes our limitations.

Cardinal Basil Hume

contributed by Aimee

Monday, March 22, 2010

There Are Days

There are days

when I believe in

the reconciliation of old walls,

in stone fences giving up

to the weather,

when calla lilies

are white flags

and all the grass bends

to the southern wind,

days when doors open,

the table set for tea,

telegrams arriving

that say I am loved

just as I am,

when I loosen my grip

on the cup, set it down,

turn up my palms,

and they bloom like crocuses.

-Jean Janzen

contributed by Robin

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Swallowing Grace

contributed by Terri

In past Lent seasons I have been incredibly unforgiving of myself. I have strictly followed what I have given up. I remember one year giving up chocolate and popping a chocolate timbit into my mouth in the staffroom at work only to spit it out seconds later after realizing what I had done.

Grace is a difficult thing for me to receive and in some areas difficult for me to hand out. Sometimes I wonder if I can truly be a gracious person if I am unable to receive the grace that has been so freely given to me? I have a hard time receiving from others, trusting in others and I at times find it particularly tough to receive help and grace from my heavenly Father. I love my earthly father dearly. However, my relationship with him has sometimes made it problematic for me to trust in what my heavenly Father says He will do.

This Lent season I have been meditating a great deal on trying to receive God’s abundant Grace that is given to me over and over again. This year instead of forcing myself to spit out my sacrifice I have been trying to swallow it. I have used my sacrifice as a time to remember what Christ all so willingly sacrificed for me. He gave it all for me and would have done it had I been the only one on the planet. That is hard for me to swallow. So this Lent instead of following the rules as rigidly as I usually do I have tried to receive and swallow the Grace that God gives so lovingly. With each time I have failed, instead of spitting out the Grace that God has for me I have chosen to swallow it and enjoy its sweet taste.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:15-16)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Incomplete

contributed by Aimee

As Easter approaches I have been thinking about being saved. Easter is not a big deal if you don't need (read: don't think you need) a saviour. If I can handle things myself... Read a few self-help books... Smooth off my own rough edges... then I don't need Good Friday and I don't need Easter.

As a Christian I would never actually think that I don't need a saviour, but my actions betray me. There is something - for me - that is very very hard about needing. Needing to be saved implies a deficit within me. An area where I don't measure up. And I don't like this, not one bit.

But there are two choices here.

Number one: I can ignore the plain fact that I am imperfect and deeply broken and go ahead and try to save myself. This results in ceaseless, futile, frustrating reaches for perfection. Devastation. And then eventually I realize I need to be saved - not by myself, but from myself!

Number two: I can accept the truth and rejoice that I am not left to save myself, but that Jesus has already done the work and offers grace. Not stiffly and begrudgingly as I sometimes do, but with unconditional love, and joy.

I don't really know why this choice is so hard.

Needing - the thing I have so much trouble with - brings me closer to Jesus. Ignorant independence leads me away.

As Nelson said in yesterday's post - God help me choose well.


Lance Odegard

With all of my wrongs all of my wickedness/
The repeated harm I’ve done I put it on the Son/
I enter the light empty my pockets in His sight/
For this is how the crooked are made to stand up right/

This is my glory - that I still need a Saviour/
This is my glory - that I can’t out grow grace/
This is my glory - to know the hunger and the bread/
This is my glory - to feel the incomplete/

With all the lights out and the covers pulled up tight/
My wife beside me sleeps as I stare wide at the night/
Eternity calls, whispers loud inside my chest/
Echoes with the weight of loneliness/

This ache is a burning ember/ this ache is a flashlight/
this ache causes me to re
member/ this ache is a homing device/
This long longing stretching out from inside us/
It is the rope we need – hand over hand we trust

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Stronger Man

contributed by Nelson

Luke 11:14-23 (NLT)

One day Jesus cast out a demon from a man who couldn’t speak, and when the demon was gone, the man began to speak. The crowds were amazed, but some of them said, “No wonder he can cast out demons. He gets his power from Satan, the prince of demons.” Others, trying to test Jesus, demanded that he show them a miraculous sign from heaven to prove his authority. He knew their thoughts, so he said, “Any kingdom divided by civil war is doomed. A family splintered by feuding will fall apart. You say I am empowered by Satan. But if Satan is divided and fighting against himself, how can his kingdom survive? And if I am empowered by Satan, what about your own exorcists? They cast out demons, too, so they will condemn you for what you have said. But if I am casting out demons by the power of God, then the Kingdom of God has arrived among you. For when a strong man like Satan is fully armed and guards his palace, his possessions are safe—until someone even stronger attacks and overpowers him, strips him of his weapons, and carries off his belongings. Anyone who isn’t with me opposes me, and anyone who isn’t working with me is actually working against me."


I’ll be honest. Anytime a passage about Jesus casting out demons comes up, I get nervous. I don’t know exactly why that is. Perhaps I am sometimes guilty of leaning toward the one ‘extreme’ C.S. Lewis talks about avoiding – the one that doesn’t think demons exist. Maybe I’m so careful to avoid the other extreme (the one that sees a demon behind every bush) that I overcompensate. I suppose we do that all the time. We carry misunderstandings, fears, one-sided judgments and in the interest of staying ‘balanced’ in our perspective, we stray too far the other direction. Life really is about balance; holding tensions that are often unresolved.

And yet the gospels speak of the demonic and Jesus’ power over these ‘strong men’ in very concrete, matter-of-fact terms. Crowds were divided, just like we are. Some were in awe. Some didn’t think Jesus was legit. Others wanted him to prove himself further: 'Do another one!'

What does Jesus do? Knowing all their thoughts, he addresses the naysayers first, pointing out how ridiculous it would be for Satan to cast out Satan. Then he says that if he IS legit, then there is a new administration–a new order–in town. It’s here. Present tense. Get used to it. He uses an analogy of a strong man being beat out by a stronger man. It’s pretty easy to get that. Everyone can tell when opponents are mismatched. There is language of armed guards, physical attack and all-out battle (which, I remind myself, demonic oppression and divine deliverance in fact are: a fight for control, to the death; whether that be physical, spiritual, emotional, physchological, what have you). And finally Jesus demands allegiance. ‘If you’re not with me, you’re against me.’

In other words, if you’re not following me, you’re following someone (or something) else. If you’re not worshipping me, you’re worshipping something else. If you’re not listening to me, you’re listening to someone else. If you’re not receiving me, you’re receiving someone else. If you’re not joining me (in gathering), you’re scattering.

I resist this sharp either/or-ness, and I blame that resistance on grace. I blame it on my biblically-grounded belief in the relentless pursuit of God for his people. How do I balance (there’s that word again) this passage with the ones that talk about us running away and God chasing after us? What about the story of the prodigal? The lost sheep and coin? The cross of Christ himself? We stray all the time ('prone to wander, Lord I feel it...') but we’re told that God’s heart is always to draw us back.

But maybe these two realities are not at odds after all. Perhaps this either/or talk is in fact an expression of God’s pursuit of us. Could it be? Maybe this is one way of Jesus saying, ‘Look. The choice is yours. It always will be. But believe me, you wanna be with me, not against me. The alternative is to be on the losing team. Because–regardless of what you decide–I will overtake the strong man. I AM the stronger man. Choose me now, and you’ll be glad you did. Don’t choose me, and I’ll find ways to stay after you. I won’t stop pursuing or loving you, even if you reject me.’

See, when we hear the words, ‘Anyone who isn't with me opposes me’, we immediately assume that means Jesus is now against us. Wrong:

But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners…For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. Romans 5:8, 10 (NLT)

Jesus told us to “love our enemies” (Luke 6:27). He wouldn’t tell us to do something that he didn’t model himself. God’s heart is oriented toward those who are against him. That’s the good news. But heed the warning implicit within that very good news. This passage reminds us that there is an enemy who is fighting hard for our souls. He is not ‘out there’ somewhere, but rather much closer and much more subtle than we think. He is constantly hot on our tails. When it all comes down, we have a daily either/or decision to make. We can choose to fight in the corner of a strong man, or we can choose the stronger man.

In this Lent season, God, help us--help me--choose well.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Decluttering the Wardrobe

contributed by Lance

If one of the things Lent is about is decluttering the distractions, then I need decluttered speech. I need words and more specifically, ways with words that are simplified. This is because I am a liar.

These days, the lying doesn’t happen in the point blank ways it did, say when I was a teenager.

Mom: Lance, I was doing laundry and found these in your pocket [lifts up a packet of Players cigarettes].

Lance: [pause] Oh geeez [said with exaggerated exasperation] Phil!!! He’s always getting me to hold on to his smokes. It’s so annoying because he forgets to get them back from me right?... and then…this happens. Sorry mom, I’ll make sure he quits doing this.


Dad: [at the kitchen table during Sunday lunch] Why are your fingers so orange?

Lance: Orange? [looking at hands] Oh, I was just eating cheetos.

Dad: [unimpressed stare]

Lance: A lot of them.

Now, the lying is different. I’ve grown up. I’m more refined (debatable) and so is my lying. It’s not so much about telling bold face lies as it is telling partial truths, giving edited accounts of an event. Sometimes it’s about leaving out the shadowy parts in order to put myself in the best light. Sometimes it’s about being intentionally vague when exactness needed. Sometimes it’s embellishing minor details until they become the main points. There are just so many ways of using language to conceal and dodge the truth. And I’m fairly good at most of them.


If you don't know the kind of person I am

and I don't know the kind of person you are
a pattern that others made may prevail in the world
and following the wrong god home we may miss our star.

For there is many a small betrayal in the mind,
a shrug that lets the fragile sequence break
sending with shouts the horrible errors of childhood
storming out to play through the broken dyke.

And as elephants parade holding each elephant's tail,
but if one wanders the circus won't find the park,
I call it cruel and maybe the root of all cruelty
to know what occurs but not recognize the fact.

And so I appeal to a voice, to something shadowy,
a remote important region in all who talk:
though we could fool each other, we should consider—
lest the parade of our mutual life get lost in the dark.

For it is important that awake people be awake,
or a breaking line may discourage them back to sleep;
the signals we give—yes or no, or maybe—should be clear:
the darkness around us is deep.

—William Stafford

“…we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church…Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy. So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body.” [Ephesians 4:14-15; 21-25 NLT]

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


You did not proclaim solemn beliefs
Preach with big words
Or even give me sound advice

You did not look taller than me
But you lay on the ground
At my level, by my side, very close

Your arm rested on my chest
On my heavy heart
As a lifting power

Your breath caressed my cheek
As long as it took
To quiet my own breathing

poem from Here I sit, by Rene Fumoleau
contributed by Elli

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

An excerpt from A Cry for Mercy: Prayers from the Genesee, Henri J.M. Nouwen

O Lord, this holy season of Lent is passing quickly. I entered into it with fear, but also with great expectations. I hoped for a great breakthrough, a powerful conversion, a real change of heart; I wanted Easter to be a day so full of light that not even a trace of darkness would be left in my soul. But I know that you do not come to your people with thunder and lightning. Even St. Paul and St. Francis journeyed through much darkness before they could see your light. Let me be thankful for your gentle way. I know you are at work. I know you will not leave me alone. I know you are quickening me for Easter - but in a way fitting to my own history and my own temperament.

I pray that these last three weeks, in which you invite me to enter more fully into the mystery of your passion, will bring me a greater desire to follow you on the way that you create for me and to accept the cross that you give to me. Let me die to the desire to choose my own way and select my own desire. You do not want to make me a hero but a servant who loves you.

Be with me tomorrow and in the days to come, and let me experience your gentle presence. Amen.

contributed by Kenton

Monday, March 15, 2010


contributed by Robin

I have to confess, I have a hard time with Jesus being human. I comprehend his divine aspects without too much trouble, but my brain can’t seem to grasp that my saviour was once an eating, laughing, walking, talking, pooping person (and yes, I probably will mention poop in all of my posts). I think I put up this mental barrier because I feel guilty for not being more like Jesus. You see, it’s easy to feel okay about not being more like God, so much of God is a mystery that I can’t even imagine what it must be like to be Him. Not being like Jesus, that’s tougher, because I can actually imagine what his ‘human’ experiences on earth were like – I know the soreness of feet that have walked in sandals all day, the frustration of trying to teach a friend who just isn’t getting it, the look of those broken by poverty as they ask you for help, the taste of a meal enhanced by the company of new friends. So, to avoid feeling that Jesus did a much better job with his life than I am, I mentally avoid the acknowledgement such similarities between us - which is easy most of the time. There have been a few times when my efforts have been thwarted unexpectedly, Jesus gently pushing at that sore spot in my heart that doesn’t want to compare myself to him.

Most recently this mental barrier was broken by a painting by Caravaggio. I was sitting in Art History 102, focusing on staying awake as the instructor rambled through her PowerPoint on 17th century Italian art. My brain was idling, the caffeine in my morning cup of coffee not having kicked in quite yet. Then Entombment flashed on the screen, and I froze the way a cat does when it spots the bird in the tree. I guess the piece worked as Caravaggio intended, the drama of the stark contrasts between dark and light, the altar on which Jesus is being laid extending out toward me, the haggard face of Nicodemus...suddenly I was there, burying one of my best friends.

And I was ANGRY! Even though I know the empty tomb awaits on Easter morning, I sure didn’t feel that way. I didn’t feel that it was my sin that Jesus died for, or that this was all a part of God’s plan to redeem Israel. I certainly wasn’t thinking about the divine aspects of Christ that I normally find so easy to understand. Instead I was burning for the injustice of my friend being treated like a common thief and for no good reason. And I was mad that now I’d have to leave him there in a hurry, without proper burial rights because it was the Sabbath. I was thinking about the people who did this to Jesus in 4 letter words. A few hot angry tears jumped to my eyes.

I was glad the classroom was dimly lit.

To me a dead Jesus is the most human Jesus. He was a man, a really good man, the best man, and on that horrible day his heart stopped beating, no breath went out from his lips and he was left cold and alone in a tomb. And his friends and family were devastated. No one was really thinking about what Jesus had said about his death, they were too overwhelmed by hurt, anger, and sorrow. The thought of my name never crossing those lips again, those eyes never dancing with laughter, those hands never reaching out to someone I would never we so often say, you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.

I’ve been thinking of this painting a lot during lent: reconnecting with those feelings, thinking that the best Easter was the first Easter - when humanity reached its lowest lows and highest highs. Like a birthday or an anniversary, the remembrance is never as powerful as the original experience, but this painting helps me connect with that feeling that Jesus is human, and taken away, and that makes that empty tomb on Sunday so much sweeter.