Tag: sin (page 1 of 5)

“Why have you forsaken me?”

Artist: Edvard Munch Source: WikiPaintings

Artist: Edvard Munch
Source: WikiPaintings

Is all this really necessary?
This cross? This consequence borne by Christ?

“My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”

Things are not that bad.
Are they?

We can only grasp a fraction
Of the immense weight
Crashing down upon Jesus
That day.

The unimaginable burden
Of not only our individual misdeeds
Or our personal omissions,
But the iniquities
And atrocities
Of generation
upon generation
upon generation.
The entirety of wickedness
Since evil invaded the world.

The sin of human history
Creating a distance beyond our understanding.

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Christ is forsaken.
Dropped in the chasm
Of overflowing corpses.
The bodies of those who have been massacred.
The hundreds murdered every day.
Every day.
For years stacked upon decades stacked upon centuries.

Christ is forsaken.
Adrift in the gulf
Of echoing wails.
The cries of those sexually assaulted.
Every two minutes.
Over
And over
And over again.
Shrieking in their violation and pain.

Christ is forsaken.
Standing in the abyss
Between oppressor and oppressed.
Taking the beatings of the millions,
Millions,
Who have been
And are
And will be
Imprisoned, exploited, and enslaved.

Christ is forsaken.
Experiencing the void
Of lost generations.
Entire people groups wiped out
When neighbor turns against neighbor
When former friends slaughter one another
As nations collapse into genocide.

It’s too much.
It’s all too much.

Too much for us to hold.
Too vast for us to grasp.

This is the great burden borne by Christ.
Taking iniquities beyond imagination
Upon the only shoulders broad enough to carry them
And loving enough to be crushed by their weight.

From the chasm of evil,
For the sake of humanity,
Jesus cries out,
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”


This is another reflection I wrote for my church’s Good Friday service. In honor of this day of waiting, as we sit in the waiting space before the resurrection, it feels appropriate to continue pondering Christ’s death. I hope it helps you do that today.

A Prayer for Our Work

A Prayer for Our WorkI’ve been working in one form or another since I was 13 years old, first as a babysitter, than as a McDonald’s employee. I was one of the rare people who worked fast food for more than a week. I worked there 3 years. In my adult life, I have been an autism therapist, a children’s pastor,  a stay at home mom, and now, a leader in a different church community.

Work has been a big part of my life, just as I’m sure it has been for yours. Work is part of our shared experience as humans, however varied the form that work takes in our lives.

But what is God’s purpose for work? If it’s where we spend so much of our time, what does it look like to live out our faith in that setting?

Work was part of God’s plan from the beginning. It is not a result of a broken world. It is not a mistake. It is intrinsically good. It is part of the design of humanity to partner with God in creation.

God could have filled the earth himself, but he invited humanity to be co-creators with him; to build upon his foundation, and create cultures, societies, cities, art, and more.

Sadly, though, after the perfection and harmony of the beginning, Adam and Eve became convinced that God was holding out on them. They grasped for something they were meant to find in God alone. They ate the one fruit they were told not to have, sin entered the world, and the effects snowballed immediately.

Before long, God pronounced His judgment about what would happen to them and to the world as a result of their choice. One of the big consequences was the nature of work.

Today we know how often work is difficult. That’s why complaining about it is one of the most common topics of conversation between friends.

The thing is, the Bible talks about the frustration of work, too. I love that the Bible doesn’t pretend things are easier than they are.

As part of our church sermon series on work, I did a message about the toil of work, and how Christ meets us there to redeem it. The above words were part of that message, along with a few more. I  thought I would share a link to listen to that message if you are interested.

Click here and listen to the message called “The Reward of Work.”

And, as part of that message, I also wrote a prayer that I wanted to share with you. A prayer for how Christ might use our work to bring His redemption and grace. You can click on the picture above to print out a 5 by 7  graphic, or just read from the text below:

Christ, work through me today
To bring healing into hurt
To find potential in others
To shine light into darkness
To create beauty in ugliness
To bring order into chaos.
Christ, work in me today
To feel humility regardless of success
To be disciplined regardless of accountability
To find joy regardless of reward
To love regardless of how I am loved
To seek You regardless of what else pulls my attention.
Christ, work on my behalf today,
As I rest in my identity as Your beloved.

Whatever kind of work you find yourself in today, whether in or out of the home, that is my prayer for you.

The Most Important Lamb

 sheep

—–

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! –John 1:29

—–

It’s fitting that the shepherd’s journey to worship Jesus has placed lambs in our nativity scenes. They can remind us of why Jesus came.

Lambs were an integral part of the Jewish faith at that time. They were sacrificed as a symbol. The death of lambs was a constant reminder that sin had a cost.

Across time and space, it sounds gory and bloody and barbarian. In part because we keep ourselves so distant from the source of the meat we eat, preferring to pretend it comes from the store. But for the Israelites, the death of lambs was an accepted and normal part of their culture.

With the birth of Jesus, things could change. He would be the final Lamb who would take away the sins of the world once and for all.

It’s easy to celebrate Christmas because that picture of a cute little baby lying in a manger is a pleasant thought. But from the beginning, God had the cross in mind. Christ did not only come to earth to live, He came to die.

This may sound depressing, but it is one of the deep joys of Christmas. Christ came so  He could sacrifice Himself on our behalf. His birth is the beginning of a new forgiveness, and a new relationship with God that could not have existed without Him.

Jesus is the most important Lamb of the nativity scene.

—–

Lamb of God, thank you for Your sacrifice. Bring us Your forgiveness. Help us accept Your grace. May this world accept it too. Amen.

—–

“Born to Die” – Bebo Norman

“And the angels filled the sky
All of heaven wondered why
Why their king would choose to be
Be a baby born to die.”


NoticingImmanuel

Noticing Immanuel: a series for Advent. Each day starts with noticing: a picture of an everyday Christmas moment. That picture leads to a verse, a meditation, a prayer, and a song. My hope is that when we see those Christmas moments a second time, they will strike us differently. That we might feel the presence of Immanuel this Christmas season, whether we are sitting in quiet or moving in chaos.

Unending Conflict, Unending Forgiveness

There are many ways to practice unhealthy conflict resolution.

 

Sometimes, we run away from the person that hurt us, cutting off the relationship before we get hurt again. Sometimes, we bury the hurt, trying to maintain peace in the relationship, fearing turmoil in our own hearts. Sometimes, we talk to others about someone that hurt us, looking for an outlet or people to take our side.

 

If we are honest, we have probably done each of these things at one time or another.

 

Jesus calls us to something different.

 

“If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them.” – Luke 17:3b

 

The Greek word for rebuke is connected to the word for honor, and I don’t think that is a coincidence.

 

When we speak to people directly about how they have sinned against us, we honor them. We treat them as a reasonable person who will be able to listen to our side of the story. We give them the benefit of the doubt that they may not realize how their actions affected us unless we tell them.

 

I have been on the receiving end of some difficult conversations. And though they have stung, they have helped me grow as a person. Often, I didn’t even realize what I was doing until someone told me. The conversation gave me a chance to apologize, and to think more deeply about how my actions affect others.

 

I have also been on the giving end of some difficult conversations. And though the anticipation of them has made me want to throw up, these honest dialogues have helped me maintain healthy relationships and a healthy heart.

 

It seems that Jesus is giving wise and kind advice.

 

Until He says the next sentence.

 

There’s often a next sentence with Jesus. The sentence we like to leave out when we quote Him.

 

“Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.” – Luke 17:4

 

This reminds me of marriage. Our spouse is the person we love most in the world, but also the person we tend to hurt most often. We cannot put a cap on how many times we talk about how we have been offended or forgive the other person for offending us. Our commitment to the relationship compels us to have difficult conversations over and over and over again.

 

commitmentWhen Jesus sets up this call to rebuke, repent, and forgive, Jesus uses the word that at other times signifies “fellow believers,” our brothers and sisters in Christ. We are to have the same kind of commitment to our family in Christ as we have to our family at home.

 

We are to be so committed to healthy relationships with fellow Christians that we are willing to have difficult conversations over and over and over again. We are to honor each other enough to tell each other when our behavior does not line up with how Christ called us to live, and to forgive each other when we repent of those behaviors.

 

This is an extraordinarily difficult teaching.

 

And to be honest, I don’t know how it applies to all circumstances. I don’t know how this applies people in power who seem to be abusing their privilege. (Perhaps true repentance on their part would mean stepping down or changing behavior?) I don’t know how this applies to a relationship in which a boundary must be set for the health of one or both parties. (Perhaps forgiving people doesn’t mean we have to continue spending time with them?)

 

What I do know is that this discourse is set up by the importance of not hurting those who are most vulnerable. So, Jesus is not willy-nilly throwing around commands that He knows will end up hurting people.

 

He wants us to understand that the forgiveness we receive from Christ should become a wellspring within us, which we can liberally and generously pour out on others.

 

We are called to forgive in the same way we have been forgiven. Without limit.

 

Jesus Said Lent Series ButtonA series to honor the Lenten season by reflecting on various teachings of Christ. Let’s think about who He was and what He came to do by talking about the words that came straight from His mouth.

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