Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Palm Sunday Sermon

Matthew 21:1-11
Isaiah 50:4-9a
Psalm 31:9-16
Philippians 2:5-11

Please pray with me,
May the words of my  mouth and the meditations of all of our hearts be acceptable in your sight, O God, our rock, our strength and our redeemer.  Amen.  

There are moments that the words don’t reach,
There is suffering too terrible to name.
You hold your child as tight as you can
And push away the unimaginable.
The moments when you’re in so deep
It feels easier to just swim down
The Hamiltons move uptown
And learn to live with the unimaginable…

These are the opening lyrics to the song It's Quiet Uptown from the musical Hamilton. 

In this song, we hear the voices of Alexander Hamilton and his wife Eliza as they recoil in grief at the death of their son who has just died in a duel.  While they struggle to move forward, they are also repairing a broken marriage after Alexander’s affair became public. 

The entire life situation for the Hamilton family is unimaginable. 

A situation no family would want to find themselves in….and so they push away the unimaginable. 

Throughout this Lenten season, we have been guided by the theme: Unimaginable: I am a beloved child of God.  We have leaned on the word unimaginable.  We have heard this word as a good thing.  That what is unimaginable is the amazing love and grace of God.  Yet, the unimaginable things we face each day, are maybe not so good.  And those things we tend to push away.  Pastor Bill touched upon this on Wednesday night. 

Because the unimaginable is too often bad news like death, illness, broken relationships, lost jobs, and violence in our world, and we would rather just push it away…we struggle to live with the unimaginable.

Our gut reaction is to not want to hear bad news, or think about how broken the world is around us.  We push away the unimaginable. 

Yet the unimaginable we need to cling to…comes into our sanctuary week after week.   And this week, this unimaginable love comes in with pomp and palms and shouts of Hosanna!  We are crying out for a savior, just as the people of Jesus’ time did. 

Save us!  Hosanna! 

Yet this savior knows what will happen next and enters in pomp to shouts of acclamation…but still walks a road that is unimaginable. 

There is nothing about Jesus -- his entry into the city, his confrontation with authority, his brutal and lonely death -- that would inspire anyone to devotion.  Think even about his mode of transportation, he’s not riding a stallion…or a camel for that matter…but a donkey.  He comes not in power but in weakness, not in might but vulnerability, not in judgment but in mercy, not in vengeance but in love. Nothing about him conforms to the expectations of a world that has come to believe above all things that might makes right or, at the very least, that might wins.

Yet he rides in…like a king…just not the kind of king they were expecting.
Those of us who shout hosanna today know the end of the story.  We know Jesus is not the king the people were expecting.  We know the passion story that unfolds from this day, one that had been hinted about throughout Jesus’ life and ministry.  We know about the last supper, the death on the cross and being placed in the tomb and how that is not the end of the story. 

It’s interesting, isn’t it, that we, too, lift our palms and shout as they did for Jesus’ entry?

Perhaps one of the reasons we do, is because we, too, still seek a king.  As sinful beings, we still cry out for help, healing, wholeness, for justice and peace in our community, nation and world today.  We want someone here and now to flip this world upside down and change it for us….to meet our needs and desires here and now. 

We want our lives to be all resurrection and no cross.  (Jung)

Because that would push away the unimaginable. 

We want that superhero savior…to swoop in and take away the hurting, the pain, the suffering, the unjust and scary violence in our communities, the struggles we have in our relationships, life threatening illnesses….take it all away.  Please, save us! 

And we have a God who does save us…but in a way that is unimaginable

God doesn’t swoop in and pull us out of the trials and tribulations of this life, but joins right alongside of us for the journey.  Sitting next to us as we mourn, sitting with us as we cry, being present for the hugs of joy and the laughter that we share. 

Let's not miss God’s presence in these unexpected places….

As we shout Hosanna, wave our palm branches in the air and join with the crowd as they gathered around Jesus as he entered Jerusalem, let us see God in all of this.

Let us see that this is just the beginning, that by joining in today, we are a part of a larger passion play. 

We know that next comes remembering the last supper that Jesus celebrated with his disciples.

We know that that night will be followed by Jesus’ death on a cross…

And we know, ultimately, that this week…this Holy Week, will end in the joy and wonder at an empty tomb.  And while it’s so tempting to jump from the hosannas of today to the alleluias next week, today is an invitation to journey through this week together: to remember the events of Jesus’ last week. 

It may sound like I’m trying to get you to come to church more this week, or should I say inviting you to come to church more this week. 

No matter how you say it, that is what I’m doing, inviting you to come back to church this week again, and again. 

Because within this community of faith, we are all facing struggles and hardships, joys and celebrations….and how the heck could we get through all of that without God’s love and grace in our lives seen in this place and embodied through the people of this faith community?   

Are you with me?  We live in a world where we fear the diagnosis of cancer, where violence in our world seems to be in the news every week, where we are more and more busy every day that face to face communication is less and less….the list could (and does) go on and on. 

So, I’m dead serious….how could we get through all of that *stuff* without God’s love and grace in our lives that we see in this place and embodied through the people of this faith community?

What happens in this place, week after week is an expression of hope for change….just like Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem: an expression of hope for change. 

There are moments that the words don’t reach
There is a grace too powerful to name
We push away what we can never understand
We push away the unimaginable….

Forgiveness.  Can you imagine?
Forgiveness.  Can you imagine? 

The unimaginable that comes into the Hamilton family is the grace and forgiveness that Eliza extends to Alexander, as she reaches out to hold his hand as they walk through the unimaginable together. 

There are moments that the words don’t reach
There is a grace too powerful to name. 

That grace is unimaginable. 
It embraces us, transforms our hearts and our souls to see beyond ourselves, to see how God is at work in our lives and in the life of this community and world. 

Let that grace and love and forgiveness into your hearts and lives and homes. 
Let that grace and love and forgiveness be shared with those around you through words of forgiveness, and signs of love and grace with those in need. 


And may the peace, which passes all understanding, keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus and let all God’s people say, amen.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

160 (no foolin')

Thinking about my word for the year...'focus' and I can't believe we're already into April.  

Where did the first 3 months of the year go?  

As I posted a few days ago, I will be focusing this month on rest and recovery.  

I am excited that looking at the last month and my weigh-ins using My Fitness Pal.  I lost 4 pounds in March.  I'm pumped! I have more weight to lose, but I am happy that the numbers are going down.  

I will say that since this month has the focus of rest and recovery I wonder how numbers will look on the scale week after week.  Yesterday I went to the gym and did upper body strength training.  
I will hit the gym twice next week for two days of more upper body work.  

Friday will be day 10 of active resting for me.  
I know, active resting sounds funny...but I am purposely not doing cardio for 10 days and taking it as easy as I can during the day.  

Here I am at the end of day 4 of 10.  I've had some aches each day, but none as bad as Tuesday.  I've been icing in the evenings and taking ibuprofen when I feel my shin ache.  At this point the pain has not gotten worse (a good sign) but also hasn't completely gone away.  

As the days of rest and recovery continue I'm looking forward to a month with reading, some coloring and maybe some sit down projects.  Today I tackled my sock drawer and with some sorting and some tossing...the drawer closes again!  Hooray!  

Oh...and I've also been getting 8+ hours a sleep a night and I think that has made the most difference.  

I think this month will be good, not just for my body, but my mind and soul as well.  

Until the next post.  

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Painful post...

Author's note:  This post is not seeking medical advice or pity party invitations, it's a space to vent, share, and help me process.  

Well, tomorrow is a weigh in day and I'll get there sometime tomorrow, but in the meantime, there is a shift in exercising.  I've had some pain in my shin lately...and it doesn't seem to be going away.   I was hopeful that it was shin splints, but it may be a stress fracture.  Ugh.  (This is a self-diagnosis, by the way.)  

My first step (no pun intended) is to rest.  I went to the gym today and tried to go easy, just a little bit of stationary biking and some elliptical, but I need a full break.  I will hit the gym in a few days for upper body strength training, but no cardio.  

I will be shifting my focus for the end of this month on rest and recovery.  I will still be tracking my food and watching what I eat.  I will be getting 8+ hours a sleep a night to help with healing and recovery.  

I will refocus how I would have spent my working out time with other restful activities, such as reading, playing ukulele and maybe learning how to crochet?  Who knows.  I do know that they will be activities that bring me joy and allow me to sit (and perhaps allow a purring cat to sit on my lap, as well.)

I need to remember a few things.  

1) I stopped running for three months when I hurt my achilles tendon.  (If need be....I know that I could do that again.  I don't want to think about not running for that long, but I have the ability to rest and heal, even if it bums be out.) 

2) Rest is really the only way to heal.  I can't run through this nor should I.  I know I can work some cardio back in at some point, but no need to in the immediate future.  

3) In the past I was able to watch my weight while not exercising and while it's not my go to method, I can continue to watch what I eat and keep track of what I eat. 

4) I will give myself some time to be upset about this setback...which may or may not include a glass of wine paired with some peanut butter Oreos, but then I will refocus and move on.  I can't change the fact that I have some sort of injury, but I can do the best for my body and spirit as a new day begins tomorrow.  

Thanks for listening, friends.  

Friday, March 24, 2017

160.4

I weighed in on Wednesday at 160.4.  

I'm up a bit from last week, but not by much and I'm still finding my groove.  
I had lost a good amount in the first few weeks and am not surprised that there was a change this past week.  Part of that, no doubt, had to do with delicious celebrations of St. Patty's day....so many Reubens.  :)  


I'm drooling just thinking about them.  

But I'm still working out on a daily basis and logging my food. On days that I run, I have been stretching more than I used to and have been doing a 10 minute strength/cool down routine.  I also plan on adding some simple body strength exercises after each working.  I'm thinking squats, burpees, and planks.  I'll keep you posted as to how this goes.  

I don't have much else to post today...just the numbers to keep myself accountable.  

Until next week.  

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Meeting Jesus at the well? Unimaginable!

March 19, 2017
3rd Sunday in Lent

Exodus 17:1-7
Psalm 95
Romans 5:1-11
John 4:5-42

Please pray with me,
Lord God, you kept Abraham and Sarah in safety throughout the days of their pilgrimage, you led the children of Israel through the midst of the sea, and by a star you led the Wise Men to the infant Jesus.  Protect and guide us now in this Lenten journey, open our eyes to see and our hearts to experience the unimaginable love you have for all your children.  In Jesus’ name we pray, amen. 

The gospel of John is all about knowing Jesus.  It’s all about knowing about Jesus through stories and the opportunity to see Jesus as the light of the world in our midst.  It’s all about knowing God’s unimaginable love for us through the relationship God has with us in Jesus Christ.

This passage is deep.  Not just because it’s at the site of a well, but because of the length of conversation, the depth of conversation, and the outcome of the conversation. 

Last week we heard the interaction between Jesus and Nicodemus.  This week we are invited to come and see the interaction between Jesus and the woman at the well.  The two stories have their similarities and differences.  Nicodemus, a man, comes to Jesus under the cover of night.  The interaction at the well is with a woman, in broad daylight at noon.  Both individuals question Jesus and take a guess as to who he is and both are a bit confused. Jesus shares more about himself and Nicodemus is still uncertain and leaves the scene quietly. 

The woman, on the other hand begins to wonder, he can’t be the messiah, can he?  And she runs into town, leaving her water jug behind and tells everyone, “Come and see!” 

Too often when this passage is heard, we get caught up in why the woman was at the well at that time of day.  Noontime would not have been the time to get water from the well.  And when Jesus says to her, “you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband.” Imagine, just imagine, Jesus speaking pure truth to you.  As he talks with this woman, he tells her that he knows her and her history.  It does not come off with a tone of judgment, but rather as understanding and just knowing. 

While we do not know the woman’s history, think about a person in our day in age who may have been married 5 times….and who knows why those marriages may have ended, death, divorce? In any event, that is 5 broken relationships, not a happy place for any man or woman to be.   So for Jesus to state this truth back to her is, for me, the deepest part of this passage.  It’s the moment when Jesus looks at her, sees her for who she is, and loves her in spite of who she is. 

That, my friends, is unimaginable. 

Her response, too, comes as a surprise.  She leaves the well, to tell others, to “come and see!”  It’s a deep awakening of faith and she cannot keep it to herself.  It’s one of those moments that can only be described at a God moment.  In that moment…her heart is transformed because of God’s love for her.  (Oh to have a moment like that…on that we can only shout about.)

It’s not a moment of confession and forgiveness, it’s a moment where God’s love breaks in and wins the day.  It’s a moment where a woman, is seen for exactly who she is and is loved anyway. 

Each week as we gather in this place, we begin with words of confession and forgiveness. I know, I just said that the meeting at the well was not a moment of confession and forgiveness, but for us, that is a time each week when we are about to see ourselves for who we are...children of God, simultaneously sinner and saint, created in God’s image, imperfect, nonetheless.  When we are able to see ourselves as who we truly are, we become aware, if just for a brief moment, how Jesus sees us. 

Jesus sees us and knows us: our past mistakes, our imperfections, the times we have been hurt and the times we have hurt others.  The times we have been ignored and the times we have ignored others.  In those moments, when we are at our weakest, when we Jesus can see us for who we really are that Jesus says, “I love you.” 

It’s unimaginable. 

The love God has for each and every one of us reaches farther than we can comprehend, deeper than we can fathom and encompasses all of God’s creation. 

It’s unimaginable. 

It’s a love that wants us to be the best that we can.  It’s a love that a parent has for a child, a love that never runs out.  It’s a love God has for us because God is in relationship with us through Jesus Christ, and wants the very best for us each and every day of our lives. 

It’s hard to put into words, hard to comprehend, it’s unimaginable. 

Let us pray,
Good and gracious God, You want for us only good things and yet sometimes we have a hard time accepting your gifts and being the people you have created us and call us to be.  Help us to let go of those things that hold us back, remind us of your unfailing love, your unimaginable acts of love and grace and create in us the hope and courage to accept that love, share it with others and live into the future you have created. and may the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus and let all God’s people say, amen. 



Wednesday, March 15, 2017

159.8

The numbers continue to go down!  It's an exciting place to be.  

Again, I know it's not just about the numbers, because this past week I started to feel like I was loosing weight.  My pants have been fitting easier, which is a bonus :) 
I think I'll notice the weight loss before others, because I seem to know my body best.  At some point, others will begin to see it as well, and that will be helpful to have moral support.  

In other news, I am seeing a difference, too in my demeanor.  On days when I workout first thing in the morning, my mental focus seems sharper and I feel like I'm in a better mood in general.  That could be endorphin related and the fact that by the time I get to work, I've been up for a few hours and am caffeinated and nourished and ready to begin the work day.  

In any case, it's positive reinforcement for myself to get the workout in first thing in the morning.  

This week, with a snow storm yesterday, I was able to get a 6 mile run in Monday morning, with a headlamp and the light of the moon.  :) I played in the snow and dug out my car yesterday.  This morning, I made it to the gym.  With actual winter weather this week, I am thankful for a warm place for my morning workouts.  

Oh, and I'm still logging my food daily and that continues to help prevent late night snacking.  

For all of you working on weight loss or different eating habits, keep it up.  Small changes make a big difference over time.  

Until the next post, be well.  

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

162

Today was weigh-in day.  One week into March and the numbers on the scale are going down.  

I have been logging food and workouts every day.  And because I am logging my diet and exercise on a regular basis I have not been eating silly snacks at night while I watch tv or read.  I am working on eating more hearty vegetables and protein packed snacks.  

At our weekly dinners at church, we've introduced the idea of sides (instead of breads) and fruit instead of desserts.  Last week I brought a tasty kale salad and tonight I brought a Apple Brussels Sprout Salad with Brussels sprouts, apples, walnuts, cheese and an apple cider vinaigrette.  The complement of the night came from a man who does not like Brussels sprouts.  He said, "It was okay, I think I only had one bite of Brussels sprouts, the rest was lettuce."  I replied, "It was only sprouts, no lettuce."  "Oh, okay."  
I'll take it as a win.  

In other news, yesterday I added a new ending to my run.  


I heard about this DVD on a Runner's World podcast.  The 10 minutes flew by at the end of the run.  I started with the mobility workout.  It's a nice way to cool down that stretches and moves muscles and joints that I have not been giving enough attention.    I felt it a bit in my hips when I woke up this morning, in a good way.  I am actually looking forward to the end of my run tomorrow.  

Here's to week two of focus on diet and exercise.  
It's already making a difference.