Wait for the LORD

Wait for the LORD;
be strong and let your heart take courage;
wait for the LORD! (Psalm 27:14)

Otsego_LakeI wait for you, O LORD, I wait: longing
to be caught up in your unwavering love,
bolstered by the steadfast pulse of the waves,
encouraged by the rising perfume of new grass,
captured by the magnificence of the sky,
held in the holiness of a moment
and renewed for being.

Monday Muse: Thirty Pieces of Silver

Barely into the season of Epiphany, it’s a little difficult to believe that Lent is just around the corner — but just around the corner it is, which puts Lenten preparations squarely on the “to do” list for many ministers these days.

If you’re looking for small group resources for Lent, I encourage you to check out the free small group discussion guide that I’ve written for Writing to God; it’s available for download on the Paraclete Press website (below the image of the book cover). There’s also a helpful tip sheet available if you’re using my new book Sacred Pause with a small group, and I’m currently completing a Lenten Sunday School curriculum for Writing to God: Kids’ Edition.

If you’re eager for ideas and conversation to inspire your plans for a Lenten sermon series, join me on Thursday, February 5th at 1:00pm (Eastern) for a webinar on preaching in Lent, through the Center for Progressive Renewal. I’ll post the link for registration as soon as it’s available!

In the meantime, I’m perusing the Revised Common Lectionary readings for Lent in preparation for the above, and the story of the woman who anoints Jesus with perfumed oil (much to the chagrin of Judas) reminds me of a dramatic script that I wrote for a Lenten worship service last year. I share it here for your Lenten preparation, for your personal reflection, and/or for your worship use for Maundy Thursday or Good Friday.

Two Who Loved Jesus
John 12:1-8 with Matthew 26:14-16

Judas (disciple of Jesus): Jesus, I love you.

Mary (sister of Martha & Lazarus): Jesus, I love you.

I have watched you and followed you over these years.

I have watched you and followed you over these years.

I have called you Teacher. You have called me Friend.

I have called you Teacher. You have called me Friend.

You have revolutionized my worldview, exposed me to the subtle ways of death amidst life, called me to proclaim good news in unexpected ways.

You have revolutionized my worldview, exposed me to the ways of life amidst death, called me to welcome good news walking out from a tomb.

You taught me to name demons and diseases of the soul to heal the body.

You knew my name, recognized me, valued me even amidst a crowd of men.

You multiplied a meal for the thousands and conjured a calm out of a terrifying storm. What power!

You wept when I was in mourning. You unbound Lazarus from the grasp of death. What mercy!

But you eluded me when you spoke with the Samaritan woman and showed consideration to a soldier. You were soft, too easily distracted by people’s needs. Why didn’t you ride into Jerusalem on a stallion instead of a donkey?

You borrowed a donkey from my hometown to ride into Jerusalem. Whenever you visited us, you let me sit quietly at your feet. And then you soothed my soul as I anointed your body with perfume.

You called me into a ministry of finances, granted me authority to use the offerings of our wealthier patrons to clothe and feed the poor (with the occasional new robe as a perk for myself). We lived off the land and the generosity of others. We were building a movement of the least of these — the 99% against the system!

How could I offer you any less than 100%

We were going to be the ones in power someday!

I knew that you would not be with us one day.

But you betrayed me, and you betrayed our cause when you accepted the gift of perfume. I could do better — instead of three hundred denarii, I could earn thirty pieces of silver to start our revolution.

I could do no better than to bless you, with perfume and prayers pouring from my hands.

Suggested interlude: verses 1 & 2 of the hymn
“From the Crush of Wealth and Power”

Judas: Jesus, you are the Christ.

Mary: Jesus, you are the Christ.

The strong Messiah.

The beautiful Covenant.

The most expensive Treasure.

The most life-giving Supply.

But your life is only one life…

Your life is the only life…

…and there are many lives to be concerned about in this world, including mine.

…and all lives for all time will be blessed by you, including mine.

It’s time for you to take on the world.

It’s time for you to leave this world.

Turn the tables and claim your place as God’s Chosen Treasure.

Open your arms and claim your place as God’s Chosen Treasure.

But if you do not…

And as you do…

…may God use me instead…

…may God use me in this stead…

…to bring a new order into being…

…to anoint and bless the fullness of your being…

…at whatever cost. [Judas pours silver coins.]

…at whatever cost. [Mary pours oil.]

Suggested closure: verses 3 & 4 of
“From the Crush of Wealth and Power”

Sunday Prayer

O Christ, you are the Beloved,
the embodiment of God’s covenant and
the aspiration of our lives. In heaven and on earth
there is no one like you. The sun and moon worship you,
the stars sing your praise, the oceans and the deserts
give you glory. You are our God and we worship you.

We celebrate
the water and the love
that make us yours;
truly we would be lost and
wandering, had you not claimed us.
By your grace, we turn and return
to your path. By your grace,
you call us beloved
and plant us like seeds
to become a harvest of the Spirit.

In all things, through the seasons of our lives
and the seasons of your work, O Most Holy God,
we pray that you keep us secure in the knowledge of your love.
And we pray with love and longing for this world:

Blessed and beloved are those who mourn.
We pray for the people of Paris; for those who have fled Baga; for Leelah Alcorn and those mourning a lack of acceptance; for the regrets and the losses in our own lives that bring us to our knees in heartache.
Let there be love. Let there be comfort.

Blessed and beloved are those who despair.
We pray for the stresses and strains that deplete our hope and undermine our trust in your faithfulness, O God; we pray for those who feel forgotten, especially refugees and veterans of wars; we pray for those who struggle to make ends meet; we pray for this wilderness season in which our world is living.
Let there be imagination. Let there be community.

Blessed and beloved are those who dream.
We pray for the activists of #BlackLivesMatter who believe deeply in a more just world; for politicians and protestors alike who work for change in Palestine & Israel; for those across Europe who march & hold vigil against the PEGIDA movement; for the renewal of dreams that we make each year at New Year’s and for the renewal of joy that comes with the reminder of our baptisms.
Let there be reconciliation. Let there be hope.

Blessed and beloved, O God,
are each and all by your unlimited heart.
Wash over us, we pray, until our fears and doubts
no longer hinder the soaring of our voices
in praise and the outreach of our lives
in love. By your grace,

Cross-posted at RevGalBlogPals.

Ecclesiastes 12

Can we talk about your world, God?

Can we talk about its duplicitous love of
fellowship and division,
peace and violence,
adoration and rejection?

Can we talk about how vainly and violently
humanity continues to strive
this dust
of which we are made,

how severely we scrub and sanitize
bleach and sanctify
invalidate and terrorize
ourselves and the world around us
in an life-consuming effort

a sterile image of beauty
that we do not know how to see
in the dust —
an image of porcelain, perhaps,
or of diamonds;
of perfection or of holiness;
of knowledge or of righteousness?

Can we talk about
how pathologically we hate
this dust,

and how much
we take our hate-filled disappointment
out on one another?

If you had made us from gold,
I wonder if we would be satisfied.
From emerald, if we would then see
one another’s beauty.
From oceans,
if we would sigh in awe
upon meeting.

O God, redeem us
to dust.

Sunday Prayer

We dream.
Most Holy Mystery, we dream of a new day,
of a new chance, of a new direction
in which you are glorious and
we are bold; a new season
in which you are not an enigma
and we are finally free from pain or fear;
a brand new year in which the gift of ease is ours.

We yearn.
Most Holy Light, we yearn to behold Something
beautiful and life-changing, to behold
our own gifts with appreciation,
to behold your path
and know the comfort
of your joyous welcome and
the peace in your power to do all things.

We testify.
Most Holy Refugee, we testify to your stories and ours
of life impacted by violence and marked by tears,
of plans made and hastily reconfigured, of
home being an unfamiliar place;
and we testify with deep thanksgiving
that you are also our Refuge — ever present
and ever drawing us together by incarnate revelation.

We worship.
Most Holy God, we worship you in dedicated community
with the weary and with the wandering, with
the moon and sun and mountains,
with Rachel as she rages
and with Mary as she parents,
with one another — knowing that
we cannot make this journey on our own.

By your grace,
guide us.
In your mercy,
be with us.

Cross-posted at RevGalBlogPals.