Monday, June 29, 2009

Summer Lovin'

I love summer. I love the sun; I love the water. I love getting to swim every day if that warms my heart. I love the lack of stress and the ability to sit down and strum on my guitar for an hour without feeling like I'm wasting time. Add all of this to the fact that I get to see Chris just about every day and you've got a wonderful time of year.

Maybe I am just naturally a summer person. Maybe there is something about a lot of sunshine that brings me into my own. Who knows? All I know is that I really really love this time of year.

That's it. Nothing of substance. Just wanted to share how much I love summer :)

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Vocals Sometimes Fail Me

Another Women's Bible study will begin at my church this fall. Again, I'm excited about it albeit apprehensive. This is the first time we are conducting study on a Sunday evening. Here were my thoughts:

1. Women's Study usually forges some pretty strong friendships and relationships. The atmosphere generally allows for people to share personal struggles or feelings and this generally forges a pretty deep bond. We learn together and we learn about each other.

2. Some women cannot come during the week due to other commitments. I know many women who work long hours--from time to time, I am one of those women. Mondays can and have gotten a little laborious for me. I get into my classroom by 7 am and I wasn't getting home until 9 pm. It was a LONG day. But, like me, many women have already set Sunday aside for church and fellowship time. Therefore, it didn't seem a stretch to provide study on that day, too.

3. If they are going to be there anyway, might as well join study. Self explanatory.

4. Maybe the husbands will have the opportunity to form a strong bond with one another. Sometimes smaller groups allow for better interaction.

I suggested it to my church board realizing that this will be a trial and error sort of thing. Maybe it will work. Maybe it won't. Who knows at this point?

So when a lady approaches me today and asks to move study up, I was a little dumbfounded. I understood her reasoning--she really wants to be with her husband in church--and I appreciate it. She also wants to keep the church body united.

It was never my intention, however, to "divide" the church body. I was just hoping to give some women a chance for a better connection--if at all possible. And I needed a way to streamline the scheduling. I don't want to complain because I have a pretty sweet schedule, but the school year can be pretty hectic.

With my thoughts in mind, you think I would share a few of them...or that I would at least not be bothered by her comment regarding unification. But I am. I feel like (even after she said this wasn't the case) that she believes that I have no desire for unification in our church. The truth is this: I need this for a connection. I need to connect with other people on a deeper level. It is not enough for me to share a pew with them, and the good majority of our meetings don't always allow us the depth of conversation that Bible study allows.

So my voice failed me. Why does it always happen at the most inopportune of moments?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Blood and Redemption

Jesus, in the Bible, is so human. Too often, I have turned him into some sort of other-worldly superhuman who relies on his divinity to survive the chaos we know as human existence. His “human-ness” (not to be confused with humanism) is possibly best seen in the garden (Matt. 26:39-46; Mark 14:33-41; Luke 22::39-46; John 18:1). It takes every gospel account to put together an adequate picture, but the different perspectives are often easily dismissed as nothing more than part of the puzzle of the cross.

Mark and Matthew provide more descriptive language (even though this “descriptions” falls decisively short of the emotion of the moment), but Luke’s account, mostly matter-of-fact, includes a paralyzing medical diagnosis—’His sweat became like great clots of blood dropping down upon the ground” (Amplified).

English, as a language, is sadly lacking in its descriptiveness. I may never be able to explain agony, distress or depression to a person who has never lived them, but when someone sweats blood, it’s hard not to wonder what sort of stress must be placed on a body to achieve that sort of physical reaction. That question led me to a conclusion: At the most, a gospel provides us with nine verses to share Jesus’ emotional (and human) predicament. Too often, I’ve glossed that text failing to realize that Christ was clearly laying his feelings bare—”I would like to have a different plan, but my job is to follow—not lead.”

I wonder if there were other times like this that aren’t recorded in scripture. When the sun set, and Jesus laid down and was alone with his thoughts, I wonder if there were moments of sobbing and begging the Almighty to turn things around. I hesitate to believe the garden is the first place Jesus asked to give that cup back. The truth is that the situation is not unfamiliar to many. Who will ever be capable of counting the number of tears that have been shed as godly men and women have asked—begged even—for one cup or another to pass from their lives? With many, you will rarely see the agony they face. The reality of the cup is daily; the hurt (maybe even feelings of betrayal) likely comes when everyone else is asleep, or as we’ve seen through familiar scripture, when everyone who has been asked for support sleeps. I guess sympathy is hard to come by when there is no precedent to draw on. How can night be explained to a person who has only seen daylight?

At the end of these scriptures, Jesus agony is just beginning. That scene is so poignant for me. I can’t believe I was so willing to pass right over it n the same way I would read a menu (“Chicken fingers—en, I had those LAST night.”). Christ didn’t keep on keeping on just because he knew His Father’s Will. He agonized over that circumstance. Suddenly I understand Paul’s admonition: “I want to know Him in His sufferings,” because now I realize that resolution may not mean twenty minutes at an altar followed by a potluck (Phil. 3:10). I want to understand how Christ was able to dislike the plan enough to beg for it to change, and still give himself over completely the hands of one who created that plan. I guess sometimes it requires self-sacrifice and the agony of a cross.

After Luke’s pronouncement of sweat and blood, the IVP New Testament Commentaries states that in “a literary sense, the shedding of blood is already beginning. A deep dependence on the Father sometimes comes with great pain.” It’s the simplest way to sum up one of the most difficult concepts I’ve ever faced. It’s a promise of pain—dying to self wasn’t meant to be pleasant. But the theme of blood is also coupled with the concept of redemption.

I had never considered the fact that my redeemer had to die to self before he could accept His Father’s plan fully. Why should my journey be any different?