Saturday, March 27, 2021

Preparing for Passover

I have never celebrated a traditional Passover dinner. And that makes sense, primarily, because I am not Jewish. I have read about it in detail, and I have particiated in tasting events, but neither is the same as gathering in a family's house as they pray, eat, and remember a tradition that is thousands of years old.

I must admit a good portion of the information I have read about Passover has been in preparing for Holy Week services. Christians who don't have at least a rudimentary understanding of Passover miss out on much of the symbolism of the Last Supper, Christ's crucifiction, and the modern celebration of both Communion and Easter.

But long before I knew the term "cultural appropiation," I was sensitive to the idea that a Christian observing their own pseudo-Passover meal might be offensive to a Jewish person. That left a person like me - who earnestly wants to understand and experience the tradition - in a predicament.

This year that longing to participate has been stronger than ever, and I have been considering how to balance these conflicting desires for months. I woke up this morning dispirited, thinking I had missed Passover.  Then I realized it was not yesterday; today is Passover.  I knew in that moment I would like to honor the day, even if I could not fully participate.  I looked up a few recipes, and I headed to the grocery store.  As I shopped, these words echoed in my head:
Eat the meat while your coat is tucked into your belt. Put your sandals on your feet. Take your walking stick in your hand. Eat the food quickly. It is the Lord’s Passover. That same night I will pass through Egypt. I will strike down all those born first among the people and animals. And I will judge all the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord.  The blood on your houses will be a sign for you. When I see the blood, I will pass over you. No deadly plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.
(Exodus 12:11-13, NIRV)
There is an urgency to Passover, reminding me of my urgent need of salvation.  My best efforts are "woefully insufficient," as I recently read. God is my only source of freedom. So though I won't be painting my doorway with lamb's blood tonight, I will be baking some unleavened bread.  

I might even tuck my shirt into my belt. But if my husband asks, I'm just going to just say it's a French tuck.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

The People We Pray Quietly For

When I was a teenager, I loved attending Sunday night church. Sunday morning church services had a certain feeling. To me, there was a formality, a reverence to the gathering time. Sunday evenings, on the other hand, were more casual. I could wear jeans and a sweater. The format varied from week to week, and sometimes we had extended periods of prayer. As I think about it, I'm pretty confident that every week the pastor would call for people to share their prayer requests.

Figuratively, and sometimes literally, there were prayer requests shouted out. My neighbor is dying. My child is straying. I'm facing unemployment. My back is acting up.  Sometimes there was another kind of prayer request. This other kind was different.  For any number of reasons a person would not share the details of his or her prayer request. A person would just say: Unspoken.

I always struggled with unspoken prayer requests. Of course my teenage self wanted to know what gossip-worthy thing was happening in the person's life. Not that I intended to gossip. I just wanted to know. My adult self knows better. My adult self now understands.

The unspoken prayers were the ones that were most personal to you.

The unspoken prayers were the ones you didn't want to utter because it would make them true.

The unspoken prayers were the ones you couldn't even whisper.

But I thank God He knows our innermost thoughts.  He is the God who hears our prayers when the words come out as unintelligible screams and when they can't be whispered, when they come out unspoken.  Yes, He is the God of the whisper.

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart
and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind.
After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.
After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire.
And after the fire came a gentle whisper.
(1 Kings 19:11-12, NIV)

Friday, March 12, 2021

FMF: Possible

"But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”

“‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”

Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
(Mark 9:22b-24, NIV)


The man presented his sick child to the disciples, and at first his case seemed futile.  Even the disciples could not call out the spirit that caused the child to convulse, sometimes even fall in the fire.  Enter Jesus.  The situation was admittedly tense.  First, He rebukes His disciples, calling them an "unbelieving generation."  Ouch.  But, then, oh blessed moment, He calls for the child to be brought to Him.

The father cries out to Jesus.  He wants Jesus to take pity on His son if there's any way to heal him.

Jesus confirms, "If?"  Jesus clarifies: Jesus can't just do anything. He can do everything.  It's a matter of the father's faith.

The word faith in the original language is used both sacredly (God given faith) and secularly (convincing oneself).  Linguists look to the context to understand what kind of faith is intended?

I am certainly no linguist, but it seems like the father addresses both of these faiths.  His cry to Jesus is this: I have done everything in my power to believe, so help me to believe with the faith that only God can give.

If that is what is required, than perhaps I should pray less to be fixed and pray more to be faithed.




* * *
This post is a prompt from Five Minute Friday
and was written in approximately five minutes.
For more information, visit fiveminutefriday.com.
* * *

Friday, March 5, 2021

FMF: Green

But the person who trusts in the Lord will be blessed.
The Lord will show him that he can be trusted.
He will be strong, like a tree planted near water
that sends its roots by a stream.
It is not afraid when the days are hot;
its leaves are always green.
It does not worry in a year when no rain comes;
it always produces fruit.
(Jeremiah 17:7-8, NCV)

Let me tell you about the Green thing I love most: my friend who bears the color as her name. Mrs Green has been a friend of mine since the days when we were both still a Miss.  Over the years, we've had some hot days and dry years. I must admit there have been days we've cried to God for the rain.


Classwork and studies...
About to get D's in Chemistry.
But we had each other.


Broken hearts from boyfriends...

Pregnancy challenges...

Marrital struggles...

Childrearing challenges...

It never really stops; it only changes. So we comfort each other when the days are hot. She's the kind of friend who texts just to make sure I'm ok when I don't respond to a text in the appropriate amount of time. Just checking in to make sure you're ok. And she sends a funny meme with it.

Because of our mutual faith in the Lord we have been blessed, and our roots are secure.  The seasons come and go, but we do not shrivel.  God allows us to grow and flourish in Him. We have learned to trust in God more deeply becuase we have seen His work in the other's life.




* * *
This post is a prompt from Five Minute Friday and was written in approximately five minutes.
For more information, visit fiveminutefriday.com.
* * *

Sunday, February 21, 2021

House of the Lord

I was glad when they said to me,
“Let’s go to the house of the Lord.”
Our feet are standing
Within your gates, Jerusalem.
(Psalm 122:1-2, NASB)

There is nothing intrinsically special about our church buildings. It is not the tabernacle or the temple where the literal presence of the Lord resided for so many years. Today the Spirit of the Lord resides in His believers.

It is not the place where we make sacrifices to atone for our sins and mistakes, where bulls and doves allow us to express our sorrow for behaving in a way that is not pleasing to God. Today we make the sacrifice of a contrite heart.

It’s not even the place we truly worship God.  Jesus Himself taught that the day was coming when we would worship Him in spirit and truth. Today, like so many days that have already passed, is that day.

Yet there is something special about returning inside the church. I felt it last year, too, when we initially resumed meeting outside after quarantine.

No social distance can replace the warmth of being with those you love.
No masks can cover the smile in a person's eyes.
No lack of corporate singing can stop the song in one's heart.

Every time I have ever travelled, there is this special moment when I walk back into my home.  Whether being away for a couple days or a couple weeks, there is nothing like placing your feet on familiar soil.  For the psalmist, that land was Jerusalem.  For me, today, it was the sanctuary at my church.

Where I first learned to study scripture.

Where I was baptized.

Where I first served God amongst other believers.

Where I married my husband.

Where I've testified to God's grace over and over in my life.

So I will pray for my church, my homeland, my Jerusalem. When the words falter, I will echo the words of the psalmist, that peace and prosperity be a part of our lives, not for our own sake but for the sake of our brothers and friends and for the sake of the house of the Lord.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
“May they prosper who love you.
May peace be within your walls,
And prosperity within your palaces.”
For the sake of my brothers and my friends,
I will now say, “May peace be within you.”
For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,
I will seek your good.
(Psalm 122:6-9, NASB)