To Wait

+ Psalm 27:14 Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!
+Psalm 37:7 Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for God…
+Psalm 40:1 I waited patiently for the Lord; God inclined to me and heard my cry…
+Psalm 62:1 For God alone my soul waits in silence…
+Psalm 69:3 I am weary with my crying; my throat is parched. My eyes grow dim with waiting for my God…
+Psalm 130:6 my soul waits for the Lord- more than those who watch for the morning…
+ Psalm 104:27 All creatures wait for You To give them their food in due season…

Today, I needed a good word on waiting.

I spent yesterday afternoon in the bedroom of a beautiful, bold woman waiting to pass on. Her family gathered by her side. We watched every breath she took. We saw her chest fill with air and exhale as we waited and wondered: when would be her last? When will eternal peace come? When will we be forced to say goodbye?

On the other end of the spectrum, two people we love are waiting for their first child to be born. Every day- a new sense of longing and wonder: when will we all meet this new little person? When will this new life begin?

Waiting can be a spiritual practice. We must have faith in God’s vision and wisdom when we wait.

This business of waiting challenges me and follows me in my ministry every day. But, in the spirit of confession- I must admit: I am not a patient person. This is not a new development. I was born with impatience.

I remember the first time I was told to wait. All dressed up in our tutus, me and the other tiny ballerinas would stand back stage- ready to twirl and leap in front of our audience for our ballet recital. At each downbeat of the music- I would try to move forward-out into the spotlight- but Miss Catherine would hold my shoulder and whisper ‘wait… wait…” until it was our time to dance.

And this scene still plays out today. Don’t you know the feeling of waiting in the wings- longing to leap out ahead into this exciting world of possibilities and opportunities and adventure- only to feel that slight tug on your shoulder saying ‘wait… wait…’

Waiting, praying, listening, and waiting some more: this is the refrain of the ministerial life.

We wait with those we love as the spirit calls them home. We wait with those who anticipate new birth, new life.

We wait with our congregations as we ask the question: what is our future vision, what is our future mission?

We wait with our community to see: who are we meant to invite, to shepherd, to welcome?

Most of all: faith calls us to wait for God’s intervention and intentions to be revealed. We do not do ministry alone. We do not set our own ministry agenda, or plan, or direction, instead, we trust in the Holy Spirit to do this work. But waiting for God’s voice can be challenging- especially for those of us born without patience.

The Psalmists knew something about the agony of waiting. As I thumbed through a Bible concordance looking for the Psalmists words on waiting- I felt like they were telling my story: a parched throat, a hunger, eyes growing dim… this is the story of waiting.

Much like those little ballerina’s behind the curtain, we must all wait for the moment when God will whisper: “Go-now it’s your time to dance.”


Memorial Table

+ Psalm 46: 9-10 God makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. The Lord breaks the bow and shatters the spear; God burns the shields with fire. The Lord says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

On this Memorial Day, I’m thinking a lot about the communion table. In our tradition, we come to this table every single week. In many ways, this table is a Memorial Table.

Jesus brought his disciples to this table to give them a ritual of remembrance after he was gone. Today, we come to the table to remember what was lost, to grieve all that is broken, and to cling to what is eternal.

The communion table is meant to be shared.

This weekend, let us remember that we share this table with kids who have lost parents at war. We share this table with husbands and wives who became widows and widowers when their soldier-spouses deployed. We share this table with mothers and fathers who have wept as Mary wept- at the tombs of their children. We share this table with the nations of the world who continue to long for peace, but instead, live in combat. We share this Memorial Table with Christ, and all those who have died in sacrifice, all those who have died preserving justice, safety, freedom, and virtue.

Even if you do not practice weekly communion, chances are, you will come to a table today to break bread with someone you love. So, on this Memorial Day, as we all sit at a table of abundance, let us honor those who have come before us to serve. Let us come to the table to grieve those we have lost in this broken world, and let us all come to the table today to hold tightly to that which is eternal: our love, our hope, and a promise that one day, wars will cease to the ends of the earth.

God of every generation and every nation- we come to you in prayer through silence and remembrance today. Long ago, the Psalms proclaimed that You would make wars cease to the ends of the earth. History tells us that we have not lived into your vision for us. Instead, we live in a world where we must still fight for justice and freedom for our neighbors. Today we pause to remember all we have lost in this age-old fight. We mourn. We ache for the young and old who have died in service. Scripture tells us that You break the bow and shatter the spear, you burn shields with fire. Give us the courage to surrender to Your peace that passes all understanding. Give us faith to trust in Your intervention. You call us to be still- but instead, we continue to march forward into war after war after rumor of war. As we pause to recall all that we have lost on this Memorial Day- whisper Your vision of stillness to us once more. May we all have ears to hear it. Amen.

God’s Invitation

+ Psalm 130 Out of the depths I cry to you, LORD; Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy… God will redeem me from the depth of all depths… ***

The knot in my stomach this morning told me I was in that old familiar place the Psalmist called “The Depths.” My wandering mind gets me into this place from time to time. Usually, for me, I take a wrong turn into ‘the depths’ when I start to ask the impossible questions: What’s going to happen in the future? What can I expect? Where is God leading me? How is the world calling me to serve, to act, to minister?

Though these questions could lead others to dream, imagine, and hope- for me… these questions ALWAYS lead to “the depths.”

Before getting lost in this endless maze of worry and fret, I used the trusty “Phone a friend” lifeline. In this case, I called a wise, thoughtful, prayerful mentor. As the impossible questions began spilling out of my mouth- my mentor took a deep breath and said: “instead of looking for the world’s pitfalls, why don’t you start to look for God’s invitation. What is God inviting you to do in this glorious, blessed, wonder-filled life?”

So often, we are encouraged to focus on all that we lack. We listen to our heart’s longings from this place of scarcity and fear: what do I not have that I need? What could elevate my joy, my status, my peace, or my progress? But what if we lived in to the faith of the Psalmist before us and started to ask: God, I cry out to you- how will you answer? Where will your redemption appear? What will your invitation look like?

This summer, between cool sips of lemonade and long bike rides on the green-line… between late nights on the porch swing and weekend getaways- maybe we can all begin to look carefully for God’s invitation. Whether it comes as a young person in need of a listening ear, a sojourner in need of shelter for a night, a dreamer in need of encouragement, one who grieves in need of an embrace, or even in the form of a stomach knot- urging us to slow down, breathe, and rest… my prayer is that we all have ears to hear God’s invitation in the depths of our hearts- as we seek to live a life worthy of our calling here.

Creative and compassionate God, we know that you invite us into your vision through raging winds and loaves of bread, through moments of Sabbath through cool sips of lemonade, and more. You offer a rope to climb out of ‘the depths’ and sometimes it’s made out of the listening ear of a mentor, and sometimes it’s woven together in the words of the Psalms. For this and so many more blessings, we say Thank you. Thank you. Thank You. Amen.

***As Summer begins, I plan to pray through the Psalms. Today, I begin a new series similar to the “Glimpses of Grace” journey through the book of Acts, only this time, I’m searching for new prayers to pray, new ways to respond to God’s continuing work around me. So- welcome to my first post in the “Summer Psalms” series. Journey with me!

Memphis Girl Scouts

Girl Scouts

Invocation Prayer, May 13th 2013 Girl Scouts of Memphis Awards Ceremony

Gracious God, you have called each of us to live with courage, confidence, and character.
Thank you for the young women here who have answered this call.
Thank you for the ways our Girl Scouts have made the world a better place where the next generation of young women can thrive.
Loving God, through the work of the Memphis Girl Scouts, we have all seen the power of collaboration, friendship, and exploration. Help us all to be inspired by the continuing work of the Girl Scouts. May we all continue to search for wonder and adventure in the world.
As we honor the commitment each of these Girl Scouts have made to this organization, remind us all to seek our own commitments and responsibilities in our local community.
God, we ask you to bless this evening, bless all those who have done the hard work to bring about this celebration, and when we leave tonight, may we all be renewed by the faith and compassion and service that our Girl Scouts model, Amen.

God Created Teachers

adopt a school

Invocation Prayer Offered at Memphis City Adopt-a-School luncheon, May 1, 2013

Loving God, we know that long, long ago- you created the teacher, and you said that she was very good.
You would send her out to shepherd the next generation of singers, dancers, artists, doctors and lawyers. You would send her out to plant seeds of wisdom and creativity and inspiration.
You would send the teacher out to bring transformation to every nation. But God, we know that you are faithful, and you promised that teacher that she would not do it alone.
You surrounded the teacher with strong administrators and strong principals and willing staff.
You gave her visions of partnerships, support teams and sponsors. You promised the teacher: collaboration.
We come together today, gracious God, to thank you for that promise you made to teachers everywhere.
We thank you for calling each of us to this partnership.
Give us all strength and endurance. Give us clear vision and innovation.
Help us continue to build bridges between the teacher and the community. May we all find inspiration through this gathering for the good work ahead. Amen.

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