Tag Archives: Jesus

today: christmas

a thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn

O Holy Night

“…I do believe; help my unbelief…”

Mark 9:24

In the midst of anticipating Christmas this year, a funeral. She was an 18-year-old college freshman from Collin’s cycling community, struck by a car while riding her bike in North Carolina. She died ten days before Christmas. I met Megan only once, but Collin knew her. Attending a funeral for a girl just stepping into womanhood shocks the system with a forced focus on the aching fractures that exist in the world. The heart breaks, because what else is it to do? The heart breaks and the soul longs for a different story. We long for the world to be set right.

Reading the Scriptures and pondering the Christmas story following Megan’s death made me hunger for God who became man to meet me, to meet us here, now. In any untimely death the questions that come first are often why questions, but that’s not exactly where I landed. My questions arose from looking at the celebration of Christmas coming so soon after the funeral. How does this get set right?

My love of the Bible sometimes leads me, perhaps, to over-familiarity with the over-arching narrative. I forget to remember the significance of a God who came, of the word made flesh, of his life, of his death, of his resurrection. The Hebrew Scriptures foretold the story of a poor baby born to restore history, God swaddled in tattered rags, fully Himself in human skin. It’s a magnificent story, really, that God so loved, that God so gave. That we have life. The world left to it’s own devices is indeed weary. Without the Jesus story, our hope falters and fails.

Last night I prayed for grace and peace for Megan’s family and friends. May they know their loss and longings grieve God. I remembered the Jesus who wept before he raised his friend from the dead. Death wasn’t a part of the story when God made and called this world good. I feel wide awake to the reality that we need something, someone greater to come, to heal, to touch, to redeem.

And we have God, who humbled himself, who became like us, who came. And I don’t understand how it all works, but I do know this: we have great hope. And so I hope. Living that hope out here and now looks like grace and peace. It looks like food for the poor and wholeness for the hurting. It looks like love in the face of hatred, plenty in the hands of want. May we so live.

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today: confession

“…and that’s when I get to wondering, what would happen if I told her she something good, ever day?”
The Help, Kathryn Stockett (so, so good)

Hi, my name is Erin, and I over-commit famously. The intention to love people and love them well gets muddied up by one too many projects and ideas and poems and books and photographs and you get the idea. I believe life can be lived simply and fully but find myself ending most days exhausted. I know I should drink less coffee and spend more time with God. I’m easily distracted. And I don’t read enough. I miss playing music.

My name is Erin, and I hunger to look people people in the eye and love them just like Jesus did, but a lot of times I stumble into judgment first. “I’m sorry” often doesn’t come out as quickly as it ought. I’m stubborn.

I love conversations that light up the face of the person across from me. I believe community matters. And yet I’m busy and procrastinating, often unable to make time for anyone unwilling to bend my way. I cannot figure out how to fit travel and working with people outside of my comfort zone back into my schedule. I’m struggling to write words and stories of significance these days, even as my camera lens time and again captures beauty. I get the work done but find it difficult to be creative outside of work’s constraints. It’s not that I feel like a failure; it’s just that I am aware of shortcomings. And sometimes I do fail.

Was it just a week or so ago that I stood on the beach with being with people I love the sole task on the to-list for the day? Is that possible?

Please don’t read these words as despairing; I needed to get this stuff off my chest, to put these feelings to words so that they won’t hang over my head anymore tonight. I need to sleep, and sleep alludes when I hang onto this stuff. I need to be ready for tomorrow, because tomorrow is a new day. And tomorrow I will play with kids and be outside and run some miles. Those things are grace to me, and I suspect they’ll be used to help me regroup.

Something I know to be true: none of these things define me; God does.

And he says I’m his.
And that he loves me.
And that his love is enough, his grace sufficient, his power made perfect in weakness.
And I believe him.

Hi my name is Erin, and oh to grace how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be. Thankfully.

tonight: and this is how you hope

“My proposal is not that we understand what the word ‘god’ means and manage somehow to fit Jesus into that. Instead, I suggest that we think historically about a young Jew, possessed of a desperately risky, indeed apparently crazy, vocation, riding into Jerusalem in tears, denouncing the Temple, and dying on a Roman cross–and that we take our courage in both hands and allow our meaning for the word ‘god’ to be recentered around that point.”
-N.T. Wright

it’s all so redefining this
believing
that the light shines in the darkness
that the light cannot be overcome
and this is how you hope
because it is bigger and clearer and gone is the dim glass
when held up, reflecting, refracting
stunning
that the light shines in the darkness
is love searing straight to the core
is love healing hearts til they spill
love
to the point that tears fall
thinking, praying, dreaming, believing
and this is how you hope
and this is how we hope
and yes, yes, yes, we hope
that the light shines in the darkness
and we stand amazed as life restores

today: this is the day you were born

Which ever way I go I come back to the place you are
Peter Gabriel (I see John Cusack every time I hear it and smile. I am sure I am not alone in this phenomenon.)

Hallelujah, every breath is a second chance
And it is always, always, always yours
And I am always, I’m always, always yours

Switchfoot

I am 21 and we have just read the story of the Passion. April is there and Jessica is there, and other friends who were really close then but who aren’t the lifers that those two are, are there. We are outside, and we are doing mission work. I have a thought in my head that I really do believe this story: that Jesus washed the feet of the disciples and broke bread and was arrested and tortured. I really do believe that after they beat him he hung on the cross. I believe his disciples denied or fled, that a friend asked for his body, that his mother cried. I believe they laid him in a grave. I believe that before that Isaiah, a prophet, said the story would happen. I believe that his punishment becomes our peace.

I am 21 and the whole story is profound, and my friends are there but I am unaware of them because my face is wet with tears, because I am hungry for and humbled by the kind of God who is love and is humble and who dies. And even though I know the finality of the cross points to the fullness of a whole different kingdom, because what seemed like the end in that moment, well, it wasn’t (but we’ll save that for another day), I am in the moment.

And Jesus, he is serving.
And Jesus, he is thanking.
And Jesus, he is breaking bread.
And Jesus, he is taking the cup.
And Jesus, he is betrayed.
And Jesus, he is surrendering.
And Jesus, he is arrested.
And Jesus, he is suffering.
And Jesus, he is broken.
And Jesus, he is dying.

And the sky goes dark. And the world groans. And the curtain tears. And the world receives back the fulfillment of hope.

I am 31 today, and that moment of the realness of the story of Jesus then still cuts me to the core today. All I have is thanks. All we have is grace. This Friday, it is good indeed. The world receives back the fulfillment of hope. We are living the best story. And it is always, always, always yours.

today: advent

“A prison cell, in which one waits, hopes – and is completely dependent on the fact that the door of freedom has to be opened from the outside, is not a bad picture of Advent”
-Dietrich Bonhoeffer

For better or worse, I skipped right over a Thanksgiving post this year. Any ounce of creativity I have of late has been poured into hours spent working on photos, which is all good and well. I love taking photos. I’m thankful that it is my bread and butter. I want to write some words about thankfulness, and I will some time soon, when I catch my breath. I’m excited about the prospect of getting back to writing in December as the pre-holiday photo rush calms towards a more normal pace. In the meantime, I’m loving the craze of so many little people I love passing in front of my lens with their families. The wonder and joy of children growing up captivates me endlessly. I’m thankful for their curious hands and squirmy bodies and eager minds and smart little mouths… but I digress. This is a post about Advent.

The word Advent means coming, and in the Christian world it marks the 40 days of waiting and preparing our hearts, communally and individually, for the coming of Jesus. It’s a season of looking back to the coming of Christ. It is a season of looking forward to his return. I love Advent. I love the hope discovered in the story of the Christ child, the unlikeliness of baby Jesus’ birth followed by the unlikeliness of his survival those first years followed by the unlikeliness of his wisdom as a boy followed by his unlikely rise, not to fame or power, but to the cross. The wisdom in his humility is utterly captivating. Believers and unbelievers alike have pondered his ways and teachings for the last two thousand years. Those ways and teachings compel lives to change towards belief that we can live love because Jesus lived love.

Advent reminds me I love Jesus. I seem to have an annual pile of busyness that builds up throughout the year, and come Thanksgiving I pause to be thankful (for so much), exhausted. A few days later Advent begins, and it is just in time for the photography rush to almost begin to end. I want to pause and wander around the stories of the gospels. I want to savor the questions Jesus asks and that his coming leaves me with. I don’t hesitate to be frank about my doubts, because really, I believe he is God, and I believe he is big enough to use them to turn me to hope time and again. And Jesus brought hope. That night the angels chorused above the shepherds? They knew hope had taken on human form and laid his life down in a manger. The shepherds celebrated, because when angels appear in the sky, what more can you do but believe something great is coming? So they hoped.

These few weeks of anticipating Christmas mean a full stop comes, and we have this glorious invitation to reorient our lives around the One we were intended to live for. When we do so, we live hope in the world. This is what I believe.

today: morning

In case you were wondering (which you probably weren’t), I still get terrible insomnia some nights (not nearly as many as before), hence the 530 occasion for writing down some words. I ought to be sleeping. I’d rather be sleeping. The past month or so has been busy, endlessly busy, and that makes insomnia something more than inconvenient.

I used to ask God about my insomnia and for help with it, and it seemed like an area He wasn’t reaching into and changing. I think maybe I got frustrated and quit asking. Tonight I am wondering if maybe He seemed or seems uninvolved because (in typical human behavior?) I forget or refuse to let go of things that ought not occupy the space in my brain or heart. They are meant to be filled with life-giving and good things. I am so ridiculously easy to distract. Oh dear.

How good it is to know that we are given new grace and mercy for each new day. God does not have unrealistic expectations of people. Not at all. He knows we are easily distracted. He knows I can’t sleep. He is not surprised. When Eugene Peterson interpreted the author of Hebrews in the Good Book, he penned some of the words about Jesus to recommend this when considering his story: “take the mercy, accept the help.

Maybe it’s time (again? seemingly ever.) to regroup a little. Help requires some open hands that once unclenched just might be in a better position to receive much needed mercy and help. And if received, it can in turn be given away. And that just might (I suspect it is) be the sweet spot for doing life in a way that is life-giving and good. And when all is as it should be, sleep comes easy (maybe?).

This, both a confession and hope. Yes.

Palm Sunday: intentional this Holy Week?

I’m tired, and it is Palm Sunday, and I know I should be preparing my heart for Holy Week, for Easter. But I’m tired having (shockingly) over-committed this weekend. I should be considering worship and God and the great story of redemption that Palm Sunday was a part of thousands of years ago. The world is transformed. The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard has been utterly transformational in my faith. I reread some sections yesterday, and this quote stood out to me. I want to camp out on these words as Holy Week begins. Maybe this will help you too.

p324
Now we need to understand that what simply occupies our mind very largely governs what we do. It sets the emotional tone out of which our actions flow, and it projects the possible courses of actions available to us. Also the mind, though of little power on its own, is the place of our widest and most basic freedom. This is true in both a direct and an indirect sense. Of all the things we do, we have more freedom with respect to what we will think of, where we will place our mind, than anything else. And the freedom of thinking is a direct freedom wherever it is present. We need not do something else in order to exercise it. We simply turn our mind to whatever it is we choose to think of. The deepest revelation of our character is what we choose to dwell on in thought, what constantly occupies our mind- as well as what we can or cannot even think of…

May we be intentional about fixing our mind on the life and death and resurrection of Jesus as the traditional, historic rhythm of this week invites us to remember the big picture story of Jesus by recalling the details of his humble ride into a city as King where the crowd who worshiped him Sunday crucified him Friday. May that rhythm beckon our wonder as he works that act for the good of those who love him in his triumph over death on Easter morning. May we be amazed that this God saves us. I want to be intentional with my thoughts this week… This story reveals a vast love, a costly love, a love given to humanity by a God who became like us to set our lives straight. Amazing.