Where are you?

flight-370They just made it official. Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 did crash into the Indian Ocean and all who were onboard have been lost to the sea. Our world has been gripped in the drama of this international land/sea/air investigation. And as we waited and wondered, we were filled with anxiety, not knowing what to think. At the beginning we hoped that they’d landed safely somewhere, and couldn’t get a message out. Then, our fear got the best of us- was this an act of terror? What nefarious plots were at play? Later, we marveled at the vastness of the earth, that there still are places untouched by radar. As time went on, our hope faded, our fear lost its edge, and our wonder was replaced be dread. We knew, most of us.

And now it is no longer a point of speculation or conversation. Instead we’ve been shown again that each person spends his or her days walking the razors edge between life and death. As people of faith, how do we respond to that? After all, we who love Jesus are not immune to the dangers of the world…

Where can I go from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there. If I take the wings of the morning and settle at the farthest limits of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light around me become night,” even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is as bright as the day… Psalm 139:7-12

This is the truth: God loves us. God has never left us-any of us- alone. There is no place in the world where God does not dwell. According to the Psalmist, from the heights of the sky, to the sides of mountains, to the depths of the sea, to the heart of Sheol (the place of the dead), God is with us. Truly, in life and in death, we belong to God.

Especially in this season of Lent we remember that we all will die, and that our deaths, no matter their newsworthiness, no matter their circumstances, have meaning only because of Jesus’ sacrificial life and death. Ultimately, death is just an entry to eternal life and everlasting communion with God.

“I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” -John 11:25-26

Battling the Season of Blahs

Bradford Pear trees are the enemy. Bradford Pear tree pollen is, actually.

Bradford pears — beautiful but debilitating for me.

Allergy season is upon us… some of us more than others. For those of us afflicted by seasonal allergies, this is a trying few weeks (or more) of itching eyes, dripping noses, scratchy throats, and an inescapable malaise — the blahs.

We wage battle through this season and keep our weapons at hand — boxes of tissues, nose spray, and eye drops, along with some combination of medicines, shots, and lots of local honey (Don’t ask me, but I figure it can’t hurt). We pray for rain showers to clear the air. Anything for a bit of relief, until our particular allergen and nemesis is gone.

Most every year, allergy season and the resulting blahs coincide or overlap with the Holy Season of Lent, when Christian believers observe seven weeks of penitential reflection and inspection.

Admittedly, I can be more preoccupied with battling allergies than confessing my sins during this season of penitence.

However, during Lent, we acknowledge that our only relief from the inescapable “sin that clings so closely” (Hebrews 12:1) comes by the saving death of Jesus Christ. Thanks be to God, who in Jesus Christ gives the victory over our true enemy — sin and death.

Day 1

untitledMy husband’s birthday was yesterday, and I teased him that last year I pulled out stray grey hairs when I saw them, but this year there are too many to bother with.   He told me that living with me was making him old… and he may be right!  We discussed his sermon for today, Ash Wednesday, and jokingly wondered whether it would be appropriate to just stand up and say something like, “It’s true: each of us is inching toward the grave.  It’s a good thing we’ve got Jesus.  Let’s spend Lent thinking about that.”

We weren’t serious, but there is a grain of truth in every joke.

Ultimately that is what the season of Lent is about.  Today begins our Lenten observances and our countdown to Jesus’ death and resurrection.  Most people don’t like Ash Wednesday because it reminds us that we will all die.  We are told that we are dust, and to dust we will return (Genesis 3:19).  And being marked with a sign of the cross made from the dried and burned palms we waved with joy last year seems almost over the top.

As Christians, though, being reminded of our mortality is not supposed to be morbid, but instead should serve as a reminder of what we have received: eternal life!   Advent’s anticipation of the Christ child must be tempered with Lent’s reminder of his death on our behalf- and, then, of his glorious resurrection.  After all, were it not for Easter, there would be no need for Christmas.  As in Advent, in Lent we are called to be still, quiet, prayerful.  As in Advent, in Lent we are called to repentance, sacrifice, and to ask ourselves whether we live differently because of God’s gift to us in Jesus Christ.

Some people call this day the beginning of the end.  I think of it as the first day of the rest of our lives, and I meditate on Psalm 145 and Isaiah 58. Join me.