Tiny Dart Frog

Poison Dart Frogs are some of the tiniest and beautiful creatures on the planet; they are also incrediably deadly. So, why call this blog "Tiny Dart Frog"? It goes back to the old adage - good things come in small packages. We are all created exactly as God has intended - unique, strong, and beautiful.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

I'm trying this again....

I'm trying this again...
What's 'this' you ask?
Kicking the habit...not being an addict...

As I write those words I'm keenly aware of the highly-charged liquid 'heaven' which is coursing through my veins.  It's one of my 'allowed' Diet Mountain Dews.

Yes.  I'm addicted to Mountain Dew.
Maybe you think I'm tossing 'addicted' around lightly, but I'm not.  I can drink 9 of them a day.  Now... I may not finish all 9, but I certainly pop that many tops.

Nine.  Mountain.  Dews.
Yes, I believe this makes me an addict.
No, I'm not a smoker; I'm not an alcoholic; I'm not a binge eater (although I've had my battles with not eating enough, which is a whole other kind of addiction); I'm not a drug user.

I am a socially accepted addict.
I don't know if this is good or bad, I just know it to be true.  What I say frequently to people to 'justify' my Dew habit is, "Well, there are worse vices I could have."

And that's true.  I'm not going to miss work because of the Dew - heck, half the time I feel like the caffeine helps me get to and through work.  Mountain Dew isn't going to make me throw-up from drinking too much of it, nor is it going to affect my weight (I drink diet... If I didn't that would be a whole other story).

There are things that are more unacceptable than my addiction.
But the truth is:
I'm basically drinking formaldehyde.
My insides could probably glow-in-the-dark under a 'black light'.
And... well, you've probably read the same reports I have, the ingredients are linked to: cancer, thyroid dysfunction, liver failure, tooth decay, bone loss....

UGH!  I have to stop there.  There's more.  A list, a multitude, a plethora, an abundance of things 'wrong' with Mountain Dew.

And yet.... I've frequently called it: the nectar of the gods.
I love it.
I crave it.
It calms me down when I need a fix (Yes, it has caffeine, but I've been drinking it for so long I no longer get a caffeine buzz).
It makes the world spin 'right'.

It's my breakfast.
Ok, you get the picture.  I am an addict.  I'll go to the grocery store at 11pm to get a 12 pack if I'm out, but I won't do the same if we're out of milk.

I vacillate between wanting to quit and not having the stamina to quit.
And, well, I tried seriously to quit once before.  And I did.
For two months I quit.  Mostly.  I was down to one a day and I felt like I could live with that.

And then...  life got crazy, the world started spinning fast, and...
I grabbed my fix.

Plus, I'm the 'Mountain Dew' girl.
People give me gifts of Mountain Dew.
People give me T-shirts with Mountain Dew insignias.
People give me chapstick flavored like Mountain Dew.
People wonder why I don't have a can in my hand when I walk into a meeting...
I'm the 'Mountain Dew' girl.  It's my identity.

Um, stop right there. 
It's my identity?!  THAT is precisely what's different this time.  It isn't my identity.  

See, I've always understood it as part of my identity.  Who would I be if I didn't drink the Dew?  But I've been thinking about it differently recently.
Mountain Dew is a demon.  At least it's my demon.

Now, before you think I'm a total zealot, let me tell you my 'working definition' for a demon.

A demon is anything other than God that tries to tell me/you who I/you are.
Mountain Dew is a demon because it tries to tell me that I am the Mountain Dew girl and Mountain Dew 'owns' me.  

A demon, for me,  happens to look like a shiny aluminum can adorned with neon green splashes.
And well...  it sorta has taken hold of me.  

But, (and I am aware of how corny this may sound)... I am trusting that God's got a stronger hold on me than any silly demon.  And yeah - God's got bigger things to worry about than Mountain Dew, but knowing that my identity is actually 'Christine Louise' - Child of God...

Helps me to tell that demon in my head to go the hell away.  
I'm gonna drink my cold water and like it (Ok - wishful thinking)...

Go away devil.
I'm God's.

Writer's note: 
I don't know where I theologically stand on an external devil (and his legion of demons) raging against the world.  But, I know there is darkness in the world and plenty of evil.  I've also seen those with mental health problems or those who have made major mistakes in their lives labeled as 'demonic' or 'possessed' and thereby presumably far from God.... And this is a mistake of the church.  I don't believe anyone is too far from God... 
All I see in the Bible is Jesus doing battle with demons, throwing them out... 
So, my official stance on demons is:

Jesus is battling them, however they look.  This seems solidly Biblical. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Driving with my 16 year old - AKA: a surefire way to talk with God

"Do you have any children?"
"I have three sons....my eldest is 16."

When I say that, that I have three sons, typically the person asking the question looks at me with a bit of sympathy. I've gotten used to this 'look' and I typically laugh it off and say, "Yup - God knows there's a special place in heaven for me."

Which I quickly follow with, "At least I've been spared from the teenage girl squealing...".  To which I can almost always get an, "AMEN!" (especially from moms who have three teenage GIRLS)

Anyway, my eldest IS 16, which means one thing: Driving lessons.

And dear GOD... now I know there is actually a special place in heaven for me, because I may just die in this new venture of parenting.

As I sat clutching the door handle until my knuckles were white (ok - actually blue because at some point I do believe I lost all circulation to my hands) I thought a lot about God  - mostly because I was sure I was getting ready to meet Him on a whole new personal level...

But seriously - there's nothing like placing your life (and the lives of the entire neighborhood) in your son's hands as he controls a 4000 pound moving object, which is basically a moving fireball if throttled into the 'right' object.....you know, namely another vehicle or gas pump or traffic light, or....

Anyway - that will make you grasp the fragility of life in a whole new light.

So, things I learned about God while driving with my son:
~The prayer that God actually answers quite frequently: "Dear God, don't hit that car!"  (This is actually a prayer that works best if you SCREAM it - at least that's been my experience)

~God is actually INSANE.  I mean - God gave us the keys to the car (AKA - freewill and expects us to actually know how to drive this thing called earth)...  Yeah.  Nuts.  The God of the universe is actually  certifiable.

~We, in church and society, toss the word mercy around way too easily.  I'm pretty sure mercy feels a whole lot more like - HOT DAMN - I am still alive after weaving around the girl on the pink bike, the pick-up truck with tools loaded in the back, the woman raking her leaves, and the dog that - thank God! - (there's a lot of thanking God that goes on...) was on a leash...  WHEW...  I'm pretty sure mercy feels like that.

~Which brings me to grace....which feels like a parking spot.  The car is safely turned off and your teenage son is doing a fist pump because he made it in between the two white lines (almost) and you let go of the door handle for the first time in a half hour.  Grace.  It also feels like a deep breath.

~There's no brake on the frickin' passenger side.  Probably you know this, but as you go just a touch too fast down that hill you are acutely aware of this truth.  Pressing your right leg into the floorboard as hard as you can while biting your lip does not make the car stop.  Life's scary and there's no brake.  Sorry.  But there isn't.  Sometimes you just gotta let other people drive (this is pretty hard for me, because I'd actually like to be in control all the time, which I think makes God laugh).

~Lastly, and I mean that with the utmost respect, God has a wicked sense of humor...  because this feeling - on the edge of your seat, afraid you might just loose your life at the hands of another, while all the while being filled with joy, is what LIFE is.  This is the kind of life God wants for us: never knowing what's next and yet always trusting that somehow you will make it around the next curve.  Like I said - wicked.

So... those are my God lessons from my afternoon jaunt with my son, who is not only an amazing gift from God, but not a bad driver.

Oh - one last thing...
I'm certain the God forgives the parent that cusses a bit too much in this whole endeavor...
which makes me think God may do a fair amount of cussing as we learn to drive.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

View from the front seat

I write this for the 11 year old baseball player (and his or her parents) that's been doing their best, trying their hardest, showed up at every practice....  and still never gotten the game ball, still sat the bench, still struck out with two 'men' on and two 'outs' ....still holds fast to the game.... not to win, but for love.)

Recently, my youngest child has started sitting in the front seat....
At least occasionally... When he's the only kid being transported he takes advantage of sitting up front.   His two older brothers wrestle over the front seat on a regular basis.  He never gets in that mix... always just takes his place in the passenger seat, directly behind me.  However, when given the chance to sit 'shot gun', he grabs it.

It's a different view sitting up front.
Nothing blocks your view.
Things are clearer.

It's odd for me, not because he's sitting there, but because he talks to me a lot more.  When he sits behind me, he's quiet as he looks out the side window, but seated beside me he chatters....

He seems to get a good view from the front seat...
not just on what's rushing by, or the traffic lights, or the bumper to bumper traffic.
But he gets a good view on life from the front seat (actually, he probably always had this view, he just hadn't stated it).

Yesterday, he climbed up front as we headed to his 6th baseball game in 4 days (the previous 5 had been played over the weekend in a tournament).  Since I hadn't gotten to see the final game of that tournament he shared some of the notable hits, the hard ball drops, and the excitement.  He also shared the pain... because they lost that tournament in the final inning.

Hard loss.

I said something about it being so hard to loose when you give it your all; something about how they had made some good comebacks throughout the weekend and how important it is to never give up.  And, of course, since I'm a mom, I said one of the most overused statements by any parent:
It isn't about winning the game, but doing your best.  

He sat there for a bit, bending the brim of his hat between his hands, looking out the front window.   Quiet for a long time....
Finally he said,
"You know, there's no difference between hitting a home run and there being a guy on third that someone hits in.  Everyone thinks there is, but there isn't."

I don't think he had any idea how much that sentence hit me.
I thought about it the whole time I watched his game that night.
All you need is a hit.
All you need is to step up to bat.
All you need is the front seat view...
That it doesn't have to be grand or memorable...it just has to do the job.

You just need an RBI.  Run batted in.

Sometimes you may need a bunch of RBI's if you're down by a bunch... but you don't need a powerhouse hitter, fantastic plays, or even a home run...

It's a whole different view...
NO difference between a single and a home run.
And not just on baseball...

In some ways his view is actually the backseat view...
It's the view of life not being about the glory, but about the simple.
It's the view of life not being about the individual, but about the team.

Hit the guy in...
And if you're on third, run and slide and get dirty.
And if you strike out swinging...
You've got another bat coming up.
And another one after that.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

I used to be a good mom

There was a time, which seems like eons ago, when I was a good mom.

I subscribed to 'Family Fun' magazine (ok - everything is online now, but at one time...) and scoured the pages for cute crafts to do on rainy days.
I organized playdates, for which my house was typically clean and the Thomas the Train railroad track was assembled and ready to be used (no longer strewn about the playroom from the last time the tracks were used as swords).
The kids made snowmen pins out of white buttons for Christmas presents and every birthday party had a theme, along with the perfect cake.
My kids went to bed on time, their clothes matched, and I even mopped the floor every evening (Yes - this is a true story).

I was a stay-at-home mom of three young boys.... and I really, really wanted to get it 'right'.

When my children were little and I was busy being the perfect mom, my mom told me that what would be important as my children grew up was to make sure I spent 10 minutes a day with each of them.  I may not have looked at her like she was out of her mind, but I definitely thought it.

10 minutes a day?  Please...
I'm a good mom.  I spend hours a day with my kids.

And then I went back to school for my Masters (with three small children just graduating was a feat), got divorced (hardest thing I've ever done), and started working as a pastor (a joyous and heartbreaking job).  My kids were lucky if they had clean underwear and I could scrounge up something besides pop-tarts for breakfast.

I see posts on facebook promoting adorable cupcakes found on Pinterest (seriously - cute bunnies with marshmallow ears and coconut fur) or a new fangled way to decorate the yard for Halloween (shoot - I'm aiming for getting the pumpkin carved on time) or some amazing cubby system that will surely tame the beast known as homework (WHAT?!  Just spreading it out on the dining room table doesn't work?).

And two things pop into my mind: "Who in the world has time for this...?"  Which is closely followed in the thought process by: "Me.  I used to have time for that."

I used to be a good mom.  I'm not anymore.

And I honestly sometimes mourn that.  Wish I could give my children more or make sure somehow they know that they are my whole reason for living.

Now, sometimes I'm exasperated beyond belief because somehow one cleat is at their father's house and the other is at mine.  And sometimes we really have eaten pizza for three days in a row.  And sometimes the only time I sit down with my children all day long is when tuck them into bed to say their bedtime prayers.

10 minutes a day, with each of my kids....individually, that sounds like heaven.  And impossible.  Where do I find 30 solid minutes where nothing is pulling at me?

Or them.  Because let's be honest... their schedules rival the President of the United States.

My 16 year old son still lets me tuck him in (if I don't hit the sack before him)...
And my 14 year old son still kisses me on the lips (I'm confident he would die if he read this)...
And my baby, who is 11 - which seems downright impossible, still cuddles with his blankie...

Maybe I'm still a good mom.  My kids might tell you otherwise when I'm harping on them about homework or having a psycho-mommy moment...

But at the end of the day, I love my kids as much today as I did when I was impersonating June Cleaver.

And they teach me that there's more to being a good mom than what the glossy pages of magazines and flashy adds tout.  Sometimes being a good mom is smelling the T-shirts to find the least stinky one.  Ok, ok.  It's not typically this bad.

I try really hard.  And my kids try really hard.  We make family work the best way we can.

Here's what I've learned through all my reiterations as a mom.
All families look different.  All kinds can be good.
All moms look different.  All kinds can be good.
All dads look different.  All kinds can be good.
All kids look different.  All kinds can be good.

Sure, continue to 'pin' or 'post' or 'publish' the latest and hottest trend in baking or crafting or home organization, because I may just pick up one of the ideas if it works in my small corner of the world.

But sometimes, I honestly just need to know that someone else out there wishes they didn't have red gatorade stains all over their van and ran out of toilet paper and is trying to figure out what to make for dinner when all you have left in your fridge is a bag of saurkraut and 3 eggs.

So, anyway....If you've ever felt that way and thought, "I used to have it all together.  I used to be a good mom..."

Me too.
And I love my kids like crazy.
I'm still a good mom.
(Just don't ask my teenage son...)

As a sidebar - the cinquain above was written by my youngest son.  I'm not sure what 'mom' he was thinking of when he described me as 'calm' but..... whatever.  MOM.  Nothing like it.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Dry dock

I'm not a boater - at all.  I don't know how to set a sail or begin to read a nautical map.  I haven't even had enough experience on boats to know if I get sea sick or not.  

I like the idea that I conjure up in my head of what it's like to boat - the freedom, the wide open space, the adventure....  All of that sounds appealing to me.  Truth be told however, haven't always thought I'd like to boat.  

I grew up in the mid-west.  Mid-westeners don't boat.  I don't know what we do that takes the place of the past-time of boating, but not having bodies of water nearby pretty much makes boating for recreation near impossible.

Boating and accessibility to water is much easier and more common on the east coast.  I have friends that boat, that grew up going to the beach, and that steam crabs.  I have one friend in particular that loves to boat (although he doesn't do it as often as he'd like) and his generous sharing of his love of the water is intoxicating.  

Because of this I see boats differently now.
I want to know more about boats now.  
I pay more attention to boats now.

A few years ago I would've passed by a boat raised up out of the water in a dock and not given it a second thought.... A few years ago I didn't know there was such a thing as 'dry docking'.

Now I do.  
And I'm a little jealous of boats.

Ok.  Ok.  That sounds ridiculous.
But in my metaphorical mind a boat has it ALL.  Adventure and rest.  Open waters and dry docks.

I should maybe explain a little better, just in case you, like me, aren't aware of what dry docking is.  When a boat is dry docked it is floated into a vessel-like platform.  The platform is drained of water and the boat is allowed to rest in the dock - it's weight supported - while it is repaired and cared for. 

I don't know about you, but my life has been hectic lately...  much adventure, many seas to sail, multiple places to visit...but not a whole lot of dry docking.  Not a whole lot of rest.  I was recently speaking with a dear friend and we were both talking about how our lives were seemingly whirlpools of activity.  And I said to her, "Too bad we don't get the luxury of dry docking...".

The words surprised me.  Not only do I not typically think in 'nautical language,' but it's not often that I'll admit out loud that some rest and some care and a chance to not sail the open seas sounds appealing.    I've been longing recently for a chance to just stop.

If the boat gets to have it's engine cared for, it's body repaired, it's haul brightened, it's underneath supported, the I imagine dry docking a person to be similar.  Care for the heart, strength for the body, rest for the soul, and support for the whole being...

Dry dock.  
I'd sail a few ocean lengths for that.

Sometimes I over-theologize Jesus - wondering what he was thinking, what he meant by this phrase or that, and curious about where this whole ship known as the church is going.  Sometimes I want the ship to just go....

But as I said to my friend how appealing a dry dock is to me, I realized that maybe sometimes the church can and should dry dock.  Take some time to regain it's strength; give the crew some time to catch their breath.

I'll be the first to admit I'm a terrible dry docker.  See, as I thought about this, I realized that I am given chances to dry dock, I just don't take them.  Maybe I'm afraid of what might go on without me, maybe I'm afraid of sitting idle, maybe I'm afraid to let someone care for me.  

All of which I think is true.  
It takes courage to take a boat off the waters for a time being...

Now, I'm not taking myself off the waters..  that's just crazy talk (ie - I have three children to love, a full-time job, amazing friends and family to visit, carpool, groceries, bills...) Oh, you get the picture.  You have them too.  I can't truly just do nothing...

But I can savor the moments when I could just sit....
So, I'm keeping an eye out for the next chance to dry dock and maybe let the world pass me by for a bit of time.  

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Stepping away from the font - on the Boston Marathon

So, early Monday morning I sat around Athletes Village in Hopkinton, Massachusetts waiting to head over to the start of the Boston Marathon.  Putting on a marathon as large and as prestigious as the Boston Marathon is a logistical nightmare... so everyone has to arrive 3 hours or so before the race even starts.  So, my running buddies and I laid down a tarp, kicked back and chatted.  The energy level was high and the laughter was intoxicating.  

As it got closer to start time, we began to take off our extra layers of clothing so we could get ready for the race.  That’s when the sharpie markers come out.... If you haven’t run a race before, you may not know this, but racers mark their bodies up with their names, inspirational messages to themselves, and their desired race splits. 

It’s part of what we do - mark ourselves.  It’s bonding.  It says we’re in this together.  And it also names us - to unknown people out on the course who shout out our names as we pass by.  We become a person - not just another runner.

So, as we did this, one of my guy friends (who I’ll just say is a little nuts) whips his shirt off and another friend draws a giant smiley face on his chest and belly.  Use your imagination - I’m sure you can figure out the eye placement of the face...

Anyway... I shook my head, rolled my eyes, and laughed...  And my friend sorta shook his chest at me and said, “Let’s see you turn this into a sermon...”.  Well, I laughed and said, “Let me tell you - I can turn anything into a sermon..”  

And then I remembered that this week’s reading was about baptism, about being marked, about bonding...  And about Philip - who is a runner!  The greek word for what Philip does alongside of the chariot actually says he’s running, so he’s often referred to as the ‘running prophet’.  I like Philip.  He and I could be best buds.  

Anyway, I laughed harder and said, “Actually, I can make us all being ‘marked up’ as part of the sermon.  That’s what baptism is all about...”.

I think that reference was lost on most people sitting there.  But it wasn’t on me. 

So much of what baptism symbolizes is bonding and naming us into a community, about us participating in what we profess to believe in.  And so being marked by a sharpie said something about my being part of that running family, just as being marked by a cross says something about my being part of God’s family. 

I don’t need the sharpie to tell me I’m a runner, but at mile 24, when I’m about to fall to the ground from exhaustion, I can look down at my hand and see my little inspirational message to myself:
I am a runner, named Christine, who is loved and supported by a whole team of people.... the mark reminds me of that.  

And that truth is true whether or not I’m running a marathon, trudging through daily life, or skipping through joyous times.  I’m loved, named, and claimed.  

And so are you.  That is, in essence, what baptism’s promise reminds us.   

That truth is easy to embrace when baptism feels like water being poured over an infant’s head, looks like a warm loving family surrounding you, tastes like a white frosted cake....  I’ll embrace that type of love and family any day of the week.  

So, on Monday morning it was easy for me embrace the oneness of being marked.  On Monday morning it was easy for me to claim being a runner.  On Monday morning it was easy to be a Boston marathoner.  On Monday morning it was easy to be a child of God.  

But, on Monday afternoon it was not easy.
It was painful.  And scary.  And tiring.  And I didn’t want to be part of it.  
But I was part of it.  And so are you. 

On Monday afternoon the story of Philip and the Ethiopian’s baptism cut much differently as I desperately searched for my friend on exhausted legs which would barely move and the sharpie marks were rubbing off from sweat, than it did in the morning as I lounged on a tarp in Athlete’s Village coloring myself.  

The story of Philip and the Ethiopian isn’t just about two people who have this perfect ‘chance encounter desert baptism’ experience...  

God’s baptismal story here - and in real life - is one which holds great dramatics between the outcast and the accepted; the followers and the seeker; the deformed and the healed; the broken and the whole...

God’s story says one thing:
It doesn’t matter at all who you are or what you’ve done...  
In God’s baptism there is no separation, no rejection, no alienation...

See, it’s true that the Ethiopian may be the one who technically gets baptized, but the truth of the matter is they are both marked by the days events.  Both fully immersed in a new reality that God loves and accepts everyone.  

That realization that’ll change you.  It’ll bother you actually.  It will make you question God.  At least it should....

Neither of them will ever be the same again...
By the encounter with one another...
By their encounter with baptism...
By their encounter with God...

So, what do a chariot, an Ethiopian, a follower of Jesus, and baptism have to do with a 26.2 race and a couple bombers?

Well...  possibly nothing.  Until you add in followers of Jesus and baptism.  Then, they have everything to do with one another.   

Because Monday afternoon we all became Boston Marathoners.  We all became one with one another as our hearts ached, tears streamed, and stories flowed. 

But there’s a really hard truth within that reality of being bound to one another.... it’s the baptism piece.  The follower of Jesus piece. 

None of us knew Monday morning that pain and forgiveness would be part of the how the post-race celebration needed to look. None of recognized Monday morning that we are as much bound to bombers as to victims.

Who thinks about these pieces of being marked when the day is to be of joy and celebration?  Well.... nobody.  We just don’t.  Not on the day of being baptized.  But those pieces of forgiving those we want to hate, about being joined to those we don’t even know, about being marked by pain are part of what it means to be marked by God.  

On Monday afternoon, and in the days that followed, I struggled with that piece of baptism.  My runner friends have been angry, and hurt, and sad.  I’ve been scared and struggling to process it all.  The news media and those hurt have lashed out calling for justice and vindication.  

And while I don’t want to admit it, when a friend wrote on our runner facebook page a message of hatred towards the bombers, my gut reaction was in agreement.

And yet... hatred and vindication only breeds more hatred and anger.  I know this.  The mercy and grace of God tells me this.  

Somehow, we must trust that part of what we pray for is that God will wash away those feelings which eat away at our hearts and that will will be able to pray for the criminals in this world as much as the innocent.  

We profess, even though the thought of it makes us want to vomit, that those who have killed and maimed others are as much a part of God’s family as we are.  

We enact, even though our own human hearts may tell us otherwise, acts of love and compassion for both the victims and victimizers.   

I do believe that God is horrified with such actions, and know without question that God is ‘with’ all those impacted by horrific events such as these...sending angels in unexpected ways.

But, I also commit to you that God’s love is so profound and utterly perfect that God does not give up on anyone.  Not even those responsible for acts of terrorism.  

As Good Friday and Easter people we sometimes live from bleeding scars on our hearts rather than holy oiled crosses on our foreheads.

Thursday evening we left Boston, before the lockdown hit and on our drive home we stopped for gas...

I dashed into the convenience store to buy some sodas and the cashier was speaking to a few other costumers in another language.  As I approached the register, he offered an explanation to me of what they were speaking of - the weather.  Apparently in Connecticut they’ve had quite enough of winter and were so thankful the weather was slowly starting to warm up.  Mind you - it still felt pretty chilly to me.

Anyway, as he spoke to me of their weather, he asked me where I was from.
I said, “Washington DC”.  He said that the weather must be much better in DC than Connecticut.   Then he asked where I was coming from.  As I dug around in my purse for the remaining 10 cents I owed him, he asked me where I was coming from.  I said, “Boston...” 

And he held onto my hand.  And didn’t let go and said, “Sorry...”.  He said something about not worrying about the 10 cents and kept holding onto my hand - to the point that I became uncomfortable; to the point where I was pretty sure my friend sitting in the car was beginning to wonder where I was.  And he just kept talking about children, about innocence, about fear.  I really didn’t even know what to say.  

It was clear that he was holding on to me as a piece of hope, as proof of life.  And was trying to give me comfort and assurance.   

He wasn’t even there.   And yet he was marked... 
Sort of a little angel along the way to say, ‘We’re all in this together.  Bound.  Marked.  Baptized.’

You know what the best line in this whole text today is?  Well, at least the one that seems to speak loudest after this past week?  

When Philip says, “Do you understand what you’re reading?”  Basically, do you have a clue what’s going on in the world?

Yeah....the answer to that would be, “No.”  
No.  I don’t understand how the love of God can be so vast to include everyone.  No.  I don’t understand how God forgives everyone.  No.  I don’t understand what just happened in the world.  No. No.  No.

That much love is pretty much beyond my comprehension.
You know, the symbol of the Boston marathon is a unicorn.  A mythical creature.  Symbolizing anything is possible.

Angels sometimes symbolize the same thing.  But yet, in God’s world, angels aren’t mythical.  

In God’s world angels are those which bring a message of hope and love and life into dark times.  In God’s world angels might just be you or me.  They might just be friends or family.  They might just be emergency workers and taxi drivers.  They might just be a gas station attendant....

The promise in the story is that when we are racing down confusing roads, unexpected strangers may very well be angels sent to guide us along to live from our ‘marks’.  And we might very well be angels sent to those we want to meet and those we’d rather not.

At the close of the day, what makes God’s love different from any other type of love we could ever know is the vastness of forgiveness, mercy, and grace which it holds. 

When we step away from the font, Baptism is quite scandalous.  This is a scandalous God whom we worship.  A scandalous God by whom we are claimed.  One that runs whatever race is before us with us... no matter the course, no matter the person so that in the end... all might know the full grace of God - for this we truly pray.  Amen.  

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Wrapped Laid Loosened Freed

There, you were, dearest LORD,
Your arms which held the poor and hugged the child
bound now....tightly in ragged strips of cloth,
And your fingers which caressed the blind man’s eyes and touched our lips with bread 
stilled... by nail and wood
Your eyes which peered into hearts and wept for love
brushed closed... by the darkness of finality.  

Tightly.  It suffocates us.  And stifles us.  

There, you were, dearest LORD,
Your flesh and blood abandoned on that godforsaken hill
broken and poured...
By your own flesh; your own blood you were left
in a tomb, hewn from rock and earth
The world careened to a stop and silence crawled
as, tended by our own hands, we buried love.

Cold.  Creeping our spines and chilling our bones.

And then, and now... 
How now, dearest LORD?
Has unexplained sweetness slipped from your lips
as you kissed the cosmos
And beginnings stirred again
as your heartbeat quickened and your pulse throbbed once more. 
Your limbs stretched and reached; 
as you rose and turned towards light.

Softened.  Waking.  Yearning.  

Now, now, dearest LORD,
What was laid dead within you; within me 
For we are no longer wrapped tightly; no longer laid bare; no longer waiting...
for you are not.
Even in your death, you have kept vigil over us
Death and despair are exhaled from your body  
and our lungs are filled with the rush of new morning air.
Clean.  Cold.  Crisp.  New.  
And you are risen.
And so am I.  So are we.  
Freed.  Oh, dearest LORD, so now we live again too.  Freed.