Sunday, March 31, 2013

Reflections From The Garden Tomb...

Sometimes I close my eyes and I am back in The Garden Tomb, outside the city walls of Jerusalem, where 2,000 years ago, Jesus stepped from the grave and changed the world forever. I can still see blossom blowing in the wind, and rays of sunlight streaming on dancing tulips.

I can still hear the chorus of birds as they fly over a tree that somehow grew in the shape of a cross.

And most of all, I can still feel the undeniable peace and presence of the risen Christ.

And I know with absolute certainty that no stone could keep Him in that grave. No guards could keep Him in that tomb, because just like the sunrise over Lake Galilee, nothing can stop it. The darkness of the dawn is always overcome with light.

And what an utter privilege we have to pass on to our children what we know to be true...not just on Easter Sunday, but on every day of the year...
He Is Risen! Alleluia!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Triumphal Entry.

It was after 6pm. Most of the people on the bus were sleeping, dreaming of the unbelievable experiences we had shared during the past three days in beautiful Galilee. My own mind was flooded with images of plunging under the cold waters of the River Jordan as I remembered my baptism; of watching the waves on Lake Galilee and realizing that Jesus had walked on them; of quietly praying in the church at the Mount of Beatitudes; of seeing shepherds leading their sheep down green hillsides; of collecting pebbles on the shore of Lake Galilee where the resurrected Jesus cooked breakfast for his disciples. My overriding impression of Galilee was one of peace...a place where I could connect with the One who walked there.
And into these memories, these dreams, music began to play over the loudspeakers in the coach. I opened my eyes to see lights twinkling in the distance, and the impressive silhouette of a golden dome peeking above city walls. We were riding into Jerusalem, as the song played loud Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Lift Up Your Voice and Sing... and I couldn't help but think about Jesus, who rode into that same city, 2000 years before. We were leaving the peace and calm of Galilee behind, and were about to enter the hustle and bustle of this incredible city, with its many vendors, and peoples, and distractions, and noise.  No wonder Jesus wept over Jerusalem...a place where he would be betrayed and where he would breathe his last. And I wonder if Jesus cries over our cities too...and the hustle and bustle of the distracted lives we lead.
And so this is my myself, and all who read these words. Where is your Galilee? Where is that place where you can connect with the One who walked for you? Find it this week. Go there often. Reconnect deeply with the author of life. It will impact your ministry and truly make it a Holy Week.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Change in the Air

Change is in the air. I felt it this morning as I walked around our neighborhood. Even though snow remains, and mounds of white still linger at the end of driveways, the inevitable is true...Spring is on the way. The snow will not last. One day soon it must give way to buds, and blossoms, and warmth, and new life. And the ice that stubbornly clings to the sidewalk and makes me lose my footing will not endure. I simply need to slow down, step more carefully, keep my eyes focused on the path I walk. But I will not turn back. I keep on going.
A change is in the air for the United Methodist Church too. And if you who read are one of those serving in one of our smaller churches, of which there are many...take heart! We are resurrection people. We believe in new life, new hope, new growth, new possibilities. And the obstacles that sometimes make us lose our footing will not endure. We simply need to slow down, step more carefully, and keep our eyes focused on what Jesus calls us to do. But we will not turn back. We will keep on going, for the mission to which we are called is far too important to abandon. And the power that is at work in those who believe is far too great to be squandered. And so we read our books, we attend our Vital Church Initiative sessions, we pray...all the while relying on God, who will melt the ice, and make straight the paths under our feet. Spring is on the way.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Walking on Water?

I have just returned from visiting the Holy Land and Egypt- a two week guided tour- an amazing adventure that filled my mind with a myriad of emotions and experiences. People ask me, 'What was the highlight of your trip?' It's a question that is difficult to answer, but out of all the places I visited, all the holy sites I saw, all the paths I walked, all the stones I touched, and all the churches I prayed in, I would have to say that my most memorable experience was not part of the guided tour. The time I remember most took place at 5.30 am on the shores of Lake Galilee...where my husband and I sat to watch the sunrise...
I perched on the edge of a rock, notebook and pen in hand. I watched birds fly through orange sky. I inhaled the scent of pure Galilean air. I closed my eyes and listened to waves pounding the rocks below. I felt their droplets splash cold on my face. I gazed out over this famous lake and realized something I had never thought of before. In this very place, Jesus did not just walk on amazing and unbelievable feat in itself... Jesus walked on WAVES!! And in that moment of clarity, my heart and my mind surged with a new appreciation of who Jesus really is, and what He can do. And I knew that the only reason He could walk on waters that moved, and rose, and swelled, and quaked, is because, like all created things, those waves lay beneath His feet. All things lie beneath His feet.
Tomorrow I will lead a workshop where we will talk about the challenges of children's ministry in the smaller church. They are many. But they are only waves beneath His feet. And just imagine... if we could harness His power, if we could be brave and step out of the boat, then maybe, just like Jesus, we could walk on waves too.