Archives for January 2013

“Own Your Anointing” – Reflections On Sunday

I must admit that most days, I move through life in a very routine sort of way.
I try to keep up with my family,
to take care of my husband,
to do the errands necessary for the running of a home.

In the midst of all that ordinary,
I sometimes forget who I am.
I slide into the habits of the day like a pair of comfy sweatpants,
and I don’t think about it very much.

Yesterday morning, who I am sort of stepped up and slapped me ‘cross the face.
Kindly, of course. But ever so firmly.
“Wake up, Diana. Wake up!
Remember who you are.

This is the phrase that did that slapping for me:

Own it.
Live it.
Believe it.

Because that is the most central truth about me,
and I so often slough it off, set it on the back burner,
submerge it beneath the detritus of daily living.

I am anointed.
I am anointed for a purpose.
I am anointed to proclaim and to live the very same
Isaiah-message that Jesus himself read out in that Nazareth synagogue,
over 2000 years ago.

Do you believe this?
That YOU are anointed?
Set apart?
Marked by God?

“Hey,” you  might say to yourself. “Not me. I’m just an ordinary pew-sitter.
Sure, I go to church. I read the Bible . . . once in a while.
I even try to pray. But anointed?
Hey man, not me. I’m nothin’ special.”


Have you been baptized?
Said ‘yes’ to the call of Jesus, that call that invites you to ‘follow?’

Then you are anointed:
bought with a price,
marked by love,
commissioned to be those who
* announce good news
*proclaim release to the captive
*help blind people see
*free the oppressed.

 As part of our worship experience,
we were privileged to meet two powerful people,
I mean POWERFUL people.
People who wholeheartedly own their anointing,
people who ARE good news as well as bring good news,
people who work hard every single day to
free those captive to ignorance, confusion and fear;
people who bring light to the darkness in the fields of
education and high finance;
people who seek to set the oppressed free. . .

And they live in Uganda.

Dr. John Senyonyi is the President of Uganda Christian University,
an education and training center for over 12,000 students from nearly 20 countries.
The University is located in East Africa,
but draws students from all over the continent.
Many of those students are pastors-in-training,
who learn from skilled teachers how to ‘rightly divide the word of truth,’
before carrying it back to their home churches.

His wife, Dr. Ruth Senyonyi,
is Chief Counselor to the Federal Reserve Bank of Uganda,
with responsibility for the mental health of over 1200 employees.
Everyday, these two people step into their anointing,
living out the gospel in ways
I can barely imagine.

So what, I wonder, does ‘anointing’ look like in my life?
When I write in this space,
or when I comment on others’ writing in spaces much like this one,
I try to maintain an irenic spirit,
to offer words of encouragement and affirmation.
And I think that’s a good thing, an anointed thing, to do.
Most of the time.
But I’m becoming more convicted and convinced
that from time to time, I need to speak with a little bit more . . .
I search for the right word here.
Perhaps that word is ‘anointing?’

Because that water on my head when I was an infant,
those words seared into my brain tissue as an adolescent,
that Spirit that enlivens me,
when I make space for that enlivening —
it needs to make a difference.
A difference in me, a difference in the small spheres in which I move,
a difference in the very air molecules I inhabit.
And that difference is this:
I am one who is called to bring and to be
I am one who is called to proclaim it,
to preach it — not with words alone, but with the very air I breathe,
the steps I take, the hands I offer, the prayers I raise,
the stands I take, the friendship I extend,
the money I have,
the time I live in,
the energy I expend,
the life I live —

ALL OF IT . . .
all of it.

And that means that when I see or hear something that
‘offends one of the least of these;’
when I witness abuse in any form,
when I see others doing battle, real battle,
against ‘principalities and powers,’
then I need to be the gospel there, too.

And to tell  you the truth, that scares the crap out of me.
I want people to like me, to see me as a person of positive impact and insight.
I care what people think of me.

God help me, I do. A lot.

So, if I am to ‘own my anointing,’ I think it means I’m going to be scared
a lot more than I’m comfortable being scared.
I think it’s going to mean speaking more firmly than I am sometimes
comfortable with speaking.
I, in no way, wish to cause or give offense,
but there is a time and a place to say, ‘enough.’
I can still do my darnedest to say it graciously, kindly, humbly.
And those adverbs are going at the very top of my personal prayer list
every time I open this laptop to write a single word.

But . . .
I am anointed to bring good news,
to proclaim release to the captive,
to offer sight to the blind,
to set the oppressed free.
And people may not always ‘like’ what that looks like.

When Jesus began to speak out his anointing,
the people in Nazareth disliked it so much,
they threatened to throw Jesus right off a cliff.

I am, as always, a work in progress.
So this will take time, thought, prayer and practice.
I’m hoping you’ll help me to embrace
the full extent of my own anointing.
And I am promising to help you to do the same.
Because we need to OWN it.

Yes, we do.

Signing on with the usual Monday crowd, each of whom I love a lot. Michelle, Jen, Ann, Laura:

Quiet for the Weekend – January 25-27, 2013

This place is good for my soul.

It consists of row after row of large, rather ugly warehouses.
And one of those warehouses has a sliding door that opens
to this . . .

. . . and this.
Brilliant colors, exotic shapes, with just a hint of a tropical paradise somewhere.

Phaelonopsis (butterfly orchid). . .

some of them strange and wonderful indeed,

and some of them as familiar as that corsage you wore to the prom 40 years ago.

Just outside another set of sliding doors is the cymbidium garden,
larger pots, less expensive flowers.
And just over their shoulders are these up-and-comers,
mere shadows of the rows and rows and rows behind doors that don’t slide
all over this very large piece of property.

If your local Trader Joe’s stocks orchids, it is likely that some of them came from
warehouses in Santa Barbara and Goleta.
And all this glory is 15 minutes from my front door.

This is the time of year for orchid shows,
and these are some of the newer looking flowers I saw today.
These busy hybridizers are always creating something new and lovely to enjoy.

Just take a gander at this array of color – bright yellow, ivory, chartreuse, deep red.
Oh, my!
Thank you, Lord, for letting us partner with you
in the creation of lovely things.


“A woman loves orchids, because they make her feel like she’s floating on a cloud of possibility”.
— from the movie, “A Perfect Man”

Joining with Sandy and Deidra and their invitation to slow down and savor.

5 Minute Friday: Again

So, it’s that time of the week again. Well. . . actually . . . yesterday was that time of the week. It’s now 1:00 in the morning in California and before I head off to sleep, I thought I’d try my hand at this week’s prompt from Lisa-Jo. You know the drill – 5 minutes of free-writing, no editing, just write. There are a couple of hundred of us who do this and you can actually do it every single week. Except I haven’t been doing it very regularly for a while and I miss it. So. . . today, I’m gonna give it a shot.

Five Minute Friday


Our sanctuary last Ash Wednesday. I start work again just in time to lead this service.
Am I ready?

The prompt is: AGAIN


Am I ready for this? I’m not at all sure. I said ‘yes’ because I care about the people who asked me to help. I did not say ‘yes’ because I’ve been craving more to do. That’s been the most interesting part of retirement for me: I do not miss my job. I miss some of the people I worked with and some of the people I worked for (meaning members of the congregation that I don’t see as often as I once did), but I do not miss the job itself.

I thought I would miss it terribly, yes I did.

Because I loved it when I did it – I was called to it and I knew it. But then. . . that last year, when the decision was prayerfully made, I also knew that the call was shifting. And though I wasn’t completely ready for the feelings of displacement that happened in the first few months, I was ready to stop working.

And then I began to do spiritual direction more earnestly. And then I began writing on this crazy blog. And then I met some amazing people. And then I discovered the call wasn’t gone, it was just changing direction. And now I had this strange and wonderful parish of friends and acquaintances, many of whom I’ve never seen ‘in the flesh,’ some of whom live halfway around the world — and voila! I just did not miss my job.

And now, I’m heading back into it — fewer hours per week and only for three months while the Senior Pastor is on sabbatical.

So, the question is: am I ready to do this again?


Learning, Un-Learning, Re-Learning: Mothering

My grandparents on their wedding day, their attendants on the outside edges of the picture.

Short and square, she could barely see over the edge of the steering wheel, but that size-five-foot managed to reach the accelerator with exuberance and commitment. My mother’s mother learned to drive just before her 60th year, and with every outing, attempted to make up for all those years of deprivation. Putting her large, General Motors vehicle in reverse, she would back out of the driveway at 30 mph, turning her car and her mind toward the street and the day ahead. This image of my small grandmother behind the wheel of a car is one of the strongest ones I carry to this day, fifteen years after her death. She was a woman of indomitable will, a gifted business person and from all I can gather, pretty much an absentee mother.

She had four children in four years and was often so completely overwhelmed by motherhood that she literally could not speak for weeks at a time. Fortunately, she had extended family nearby, maiden aunts who loved her kids and made themselves available when needed.

And were they ever needed. Nonnie went to work, you see. Her husband drank too much and gambled too much and they all needed the stability of a regular paycheck, so she did whatever she could find to do. And to tell you the truth, I think it was a relief to her. She never quite ‘got’ the whole mothering gig, although her children adored her, and hung on every word she said to them. The message my own mother got was this one: daughters take care of mothers. And that is exactly what my mother did during most of her growing-up life: she took care of Mother, standing between her parents when Grampa came home drunk, cleaning up his messes and their home, looking out for her siblings.

So when it came time for my mother to be a mother, she very deliberately did a lot of it differently. She never worked outside the home, choosing instead to nurture and support her husband and her kids by becoming the quintessential 1950’s housewife. She was a gracious hostess, a creative seamstress, a committed volunteer at church and school. One thing, however, remained exactly the same: the message she passed down to me — daughters take care of mothers.

And I got it. Oh, yes, I got it.

Mom, me and Dad when I was about two.

And I’ve spent a lot of years trying desperately to un-get it. At a very early age, I became a primary support system for my mother’s emotional health and well-being. It was not intentional, it just was. I was confided in, worried over, instructed in the ways of womanhood-according-to-mid-20th-century-conservative-Christianity, and generally expected to understand things that were far beyond my age or emotional capacity to understand. And I was a sponge for all of it, adoring my beautiful mother and wanting to be just like her.

Only, I wasn’t her. I was me. And it’s taken a lifetime to learn how to differentiate myself from her expectations and to find the courage to be the person God designed me to be, not the person my mother wanted me to be. This is a lesson I am still learning, on this the 68th anniversary of my birth. Still.

I hope the message stopped with me. I pray the message stopped with me. I was given the immeasurable gift of two glorious daughters, just 22 months apart, and then a son 30 months later. And while they were little, I carried around with me the image given me by my mom — stay-at-home, do-the-meals-and-the-laundry, be-sure-your-husband-is-happy-and-your-children-well-behaved. But I knew very early that I did not want that hand-me-down message to come out of my mouth or out of my unspoken expectations for either of my girls. More than anything, I wanted them to be their own unique selves.

Our three kids, ages 5, 3 and 1.

I did not mother them perfectly — not even close. I loved my kids more than life, but I often felt overwhelmed by the demands of motherhood. And I often felt more than a little bit lost. I hungered for adult companionship, for creative space, for more sleep! I often felt like a complete failure, impatient, distracted, inadequate. But one thing I did well — I enjoyed the ways my children were different from me and from one another. They were fascinating to me!

Even when I felt confused, even when I wondered if they’d live to see adulthood without killing one another, even when I wanted to walk out the front door and never look back — I was intrigued by who these small people were, each one so totally themselves. Yes, I was overbearing at times and yes, I sometimes expected too much from them. But this much I knew, right into my bones: I was their mother, they were my children. I was responsible for them — they were not responsible for me.

How could they be? They weren’t me. As I look back on those years, I believe that insight was a gift of grace, given to me by God, primarily through the gift of my marriage and our experience of living far away from family during those crucial early months of our married life. It didn’t come to me from my own experience of being mothered, nor from my mother’s experience of being mothered. And I hope and pray to God that this insight is the one that I communicated to my daughters, and not the one that came to me through our mysterious system of familial osmosis.

I’ve written here and elsewhere about my abiding love and admiration for my mother and my gratitude for the ways in which she and my father created such a remarkable and rich family life for me and my brothers. But this particular piece, this expectation of reverse-mothering-for-daughters — this does not land on any gratitude list. It’s been a difficult piece of my personal story for decades and I still must intentionally shrug off the debris that remains.

So I find it more than a  little bit ironic that now, at the end of my mother’s long life, after years of my own heavy-duty reflective work on this complicated piece of our story . . . I am indeed responsible for my mother’s well-being. I have a hunch I had to un-learn my grandmother’s and my mother’s version of daughters take care of mothers in order to finally be able to do that in a whole and healthy way. Time will tell . . . and grace, too.

All of us, spring of 2012. My daughters and DIL are doing such good mothering!

Joining with Emily Wierenga’s weekly theme, this week the prompt is ‘mother.’

Ups & Downs, Ins & Outs – Riding the Coaster

Remember the old movie, “Parenthood?”
A recurrent theme in that story of growing up
was the comparison of life to a roller coaster —
and our need to follow the ups and downs,
the ins and outs,
to tolerate occasional queasiness and to
look for joy and beauty along the way.

I’m feeling those dips and swoops a lot lately,
often more than a little bit queasy from it all.
And I’m trying hard to look for the joy,
the small beauties that show up, if I have the eyes to see.

On my evening walk last Friday,
I almost missed this glory.
 The fading sunlight was hitting our neighbor’s blossoming tree at
exactly the right angle to make us gasp with delight.
Such a lovely, serendipitous moment of beauty as the weekend began.

 And these three sentinels glistened against the sky as I made my rounds,

 The next morning, I drove south to meet these three sentinels —
my mom on the left (91), her ‘baby’ sister in the middle (on her 89th birthday),
their brother on the right (90).

These three have been the heart of our family for over a decade now,
the last remaining members of the older generation.
Their mother died in 1997 at age 101, her sister eight years later at 102.
I doubt very much that these three will live that long;
all are showing signs of wear and tear, the ravages of age.
I lunched with my cousins while our parents shouted at one another
in a private dining room at my uncle’s assisted living residence.
They’re wearing ‘hearing aids’ constructed out of water bottles
and offered as a fun gift by my cousin’s kids.

It is hard to watch this process — my mom is the only one with dementia,
but the other two are dealing with much more serious physical issues than Mom is,
so who knows how long they’ll be with us?

When I got back home, 4/5ths of our middle daughter’s family
was here, ready to relax and enjoy the holiday weekend.
It’s been a while since we’ve spent extended time with these dear ones,
and we were so grateful for their presence,
for their happy and sometimes boisterous reminder of youth
and life and promise
as we deal with our aging moms.

We opted to skip church on Sunday (gasp!) and went out to breakfast instead.
Then we drove to the butterfly preserve north of our home.

 It was a gorgeous day, mid 60’s and sunny.
The trail meanders through eucalyptus groves and out onto
the bluffs just north of the UCSB campus — gloriously beautiful.

 The deep hanging clusters of monarch butterflies were not to be found this day,
perhaps because of the unseasonably warm weather.

What butterflies there were flitted all through the grove,
enjoying the sunlight.
They are such stunning creatures, these monarchs.
Brilliant orange and black,
making the long migration between Mexico and Canada every single year,
stopping all along the California coast to rest and re-group.

We followed the trail all the way out to the bluffs,
stripping jackets as we walked and gawking at the endless view
of water, sand, islands.

It is a good walk, with enough ups and downs to make it interesting
and even a tiny bit challenging in the full sun.
Kind of like life, I guess.

Turning away from the water yields a mountain view,
beautiful in its own right.
This stretch of coast is one of the last and longest undeveloped
expanses in our state and we love it.

We are blessed in our children and in our grandchildren,
and they are blessed in each other.
Even though we’ve ridden some pretty steep and scary curves together,
I’d say the ride has definitely been worth it.

It’s good to be reminded of that sweet and powerful truth
when the queasiness sets in, don’t you think?

Once Lyla helps me straighten out some formatting grinches, I’ll join this with Michelle, Jen, Laura and Ann:


A Triple Whammy – the Prayer in Ephesians 1: A Guest Post at Bibledude

Like any good letter-writer in the first century, Paul begins with words of blessing. As Dan so ably pointed out yesterday, the opening verses of this lovely letter are a single, long sentence of doxology and praise. And with his next, very large breath (again, one single sentence in the Greek!), Paul moves from blessing to thanksgiving and prayer — thanksgiving to God for these friends, and prayer for their further spiritual development.  This is the only one of Paul’s letters to contain this triple-whammy of blessing/thanksgiving/prayer, so it’s worth our time to unpack these nine verses with care.

And as we do, I find myself wondering this: what might happen if all our correspondence — letters, notes, emails, blog comments — what if all of it borrowed from Paul’s pattern in this remarkable letter. Even if we find ourselves in disagreement with a writer or a friend, even if we’re concerned about a topic or a direction taken or a decision made — what might it mean in our written conversations if we always began with blessing, thanksgiving and prayer? Maybe as this New Year continues to unfurl before us, we could make that a resolution of sorts, to offer encouraging words first and foremost. We might find that any harsher words we’re harboring simply fly away with the wind if we concentrate on the kind ones first.

And what could be kinder than letting someone know that we thank God for them? Continually thank God for them? And what could be more encouraging than to hear that we are prayed for, prayed over, prayed about? Paul tells them exactly what his prayer for them is and I really like that. . .

Today, I am privileged to be guest-posting at, a site run by one of my favorite people on the planet, Mr. Dan King. Please follow me over there to read the rest of my contribution to the community commentary on the book of Ephesians?

Come to the Water. . .

It was a thirsty kind of day.
After three weeks of deadlines and commitments,
the last one was in sight as I backed my car out of our driveway.
I was tired yesterday morning, and nervous.
A speaking/teaching engagement loomed after worship,
at another church in town,
one whose pulse I do not know.
And I am decidedly rusty — no public speaking in over two years now.

I was due to bring cookies for the Coffee Hour today,
and those had been baked and frozen earlier in the week.

Adult Sunday School was starting up again,
and my husband surprised me by wanting to go —
a class with a literary emphasis,
looking at poetry and prose from classic and contemporary writers,
pondering together how their words might be helpful to a life of faith.

So I schlepped my usual too-much-stuff, ready for each separate event of the day:
the cookies, a bag with printed handouts and
suggested books on the topic I’d been invited to teach about,
a cup of hot tea to sip in the Sunday school class,
a tired body and a very thirsty spirit.

The class was rich and good, the teaching excellent,
the conversation lively.
And then I walked into the worship center and I knew:

All that was thirsty in me would be satisfied, satiated, slaked.

The font was front and center, down from its usual place
at the top of the chancel steps,
and the water it contained danced in the sunlight.
A glance at the bulletin showed the baptism of Jesus in Luke’s gospel
as the sermon text for the morning,
and the music . . .
Oh.My. . . the music.

Two of my favorites as we began, setting the tone for the entire
morning of worship.

“Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.
Have mercy on us. (Alleluia) Have mercy on us. (Alleluia). Have mercy on us.

Glory be to the Father. Amen.
Glory be to the Son. Amen.
Glory be to the Spirit. Amen.”

“All who are thirsty, all who are weak, come to the fountain.
Dip your heart in the stream of life.
Let the pain and the sorrow be wash’d away
in the waves of his mercy as deep cries out to deep.
(And we sing) Come, Lord Jesus, come.” 

Listening again to that wonderful text,
those powerful words of affirmation and commission,
given from Father to Son on the banks of the Jordan River
so many centuries ago, it felt as though they were
bouncing around our sun-strewn sanctuary,
newly offered to each one of us.
“You are mine.
You are loved.
You are pleasing to me.” 

And then the invitation —

“COME TO THE WATER — it is here for you.”

And we came.
By the dozens, we came streaming down the aisles,
as the music swirled around us, singing of amazing grace and glorious freedom.

On this second Sunday of the new year, we were given the rich gift
of renewing our baptismal vows,
in worship.
Our pastors read them for us,
we responded firmly with, “We do!”
And then we walked to the front,
to the font,
and we got wet.

Swishing our hands through the cool, clear water,
a finger or a fist,
making the sign of the cross or not,
touching the hand of another coming into the water
from a different direction,
we did this together.
We remembered who we are,
We remembered where we belong,
And we marked ourselves once again with the Water of Life.

Which was exactly what this weary woman needed today.

The speaking/teaching thing went . . . well, it went.
And it was all right. It wasn’t perfect, but it was all right.
And then on my way back home,
I stopped for just a few minutes,
and I came to the water one more time
before heading up the hill.
I came to the primordial waters this time,
the ones that call my name and speak to me of the
immensity of our God.
I sat and stared,
I said, “Thank you!”
I shut my eyes and breathed deeply.

And I went home feeling loved and no longer thirsty.

I have not yet figured out how to embed videos into WordPress. But I have managed to get a link or two here! If you click on this link, you will hear our opening song, as sung by the worship team at Westmont College, which is just up the street from our church. I think our worship director helped arrange the strings that are added to this beautiful rendition. Click on over and then, leave the music playing as you browse the internet. It’s a lovely piece, taken directly from the liturgy of the Catholic mass.
And this is a short, a cappella version of the second song of the morning.

“All Who Are Thirsty”


Joining this tonight with Michelle, Jen, Ann and Laura.


Five Minute Friday: Dive

It’s been far too long since I’ve done this and I miss it!

Jump into free writing with the rest of us who sign on over at Lisa-Jo’s place each Friday – set your timer and write without editing for five minutes on a single word prompt. Check out the rest of the entries by clicking on over to see who’s shown up for The Gypsy Mama’s party this week:

Five Minute Friday

So. . . the word this week is



I remember standing on the edge of the pool, dripping wet,
ridiculous bathing cap pinching my head,
hands clasped in front of me, knees knocking.
“Come on in,” everyone shouted.
“Just put your hands together over your head,
lean over and let those hands lead the way.
Your body will just follow along.”
I tried. I really did try.
But I could not get over the fear of leaving the ground, head first.
My feet would not let go of the concrete. No way, no how.

So, I never did learn to dive. No, I never did.

And I’m sorry, in a way. And relieved, in another, very different way.
I’m sorry that physical risks are too much for me a lot of the time.
No swaying bridges, rock walls, high ledges, or even terribly crowded elevators.
Uh-uh, no way Jose. Not.Gonna.Happen.

But I have managed to find courage in other arenas from time to time in my life.
In fact, I do believe I have a bit of an adventure-seeking gene somewhere,
lurking about.
I stood on the deck of a freighter, all of 21 years old and newly married,
and I could not wait for that boat to move out of the harbor and travel across the sea.
I gathered my wits and my nerves,
which were scattered across about five years of wondering,
and walked into the admissions office of Fuller Seminary
(with about four of my closest friends, for moral support!)
and dropped my application in the slot.
I moved away from friends of twenty years, a community I loved
and which nurtured me for a long, long time
to take a job in a brand-new place with people I did not know.

All of those things were scary as heck.
And my feet left the ground, without a backward glance.
Now I’m diving into this writing life, scared sometimes, uncertain all the time,
but believing that the God who holds my hand also lifts my feet
and leads me right into the water.

Formatting and photos added after the 5 minutes of free writing.

A Little More Epiphany, Please . . .

So . . .
Yesterday was Epiphany Sunday.
And on my calendar, we are now in the season of Epiphany.

Some call this Ordinary Time, this season-between-the-seasons.
Christmastide just past, Lent just ahead — yes, to call this time ordinary
seems right and good.

But I love the idea of epiphany spreading itself out into ordinary time.
Epiphany — revelation/insight/an experience of ‘sudden and striking realization.’
Yes, I could use a little of that just now.

The new year begins, and this one feels like an out-of-control freight train already.
Too many commitments made, too many unexpected developments in the midst of those commitments.
And very little time to be reflective, to be quiet, to be.

I was glad, then, to be in worship yesterday.
To be in worship twice. In the morning for communion,
in the evening for Taize.

The altar held reminders of the magi, those wise men who followed the star
like an arrow in the sky, bringing their gifts of worth and wealth and death.
They found what they were looking for,
who they were looking for,
and they were smart enough to ‘go home by another way,’
as Sweet Baby James used to sing.

Some days I feel like I need to go home by another way myself.
To change direction in the midst of too much activity, too many people,
and head for home quietly, so that neither suspicion nor attention is roused.

Morning worship was refreshing,
though I dearly missed the renewal of baptismal vows
I had hoped might become a tradition on this Sunday.

Ah, but Sunday evening was that different way home for me, thank God.
Fifty minutes of sung prayer, candlelight, the read word, and silence.

Yes. Yes. Yes.

The altarpiece from the morning remained, though shifted slightly, with candles added.

The sky was still light as we entered, but pitch black as we left,
and that, too, felt exactly right.
Sometimes it’s a good thing to go from light to dark,
to be a little unsure of your footing,
to let the darkness wrap itself around your skin like a velvet cloak.

 And sometimes it’s good to be reminded of our connections to others,
our connections to the saints who’ve gone before us,
those who have been the church in other times, other places.
The very structure of this small service reminding us of six decades of
a particular style of ecumenical worship,
originating in the Burgundian countryside of France.
And the embroidered IHS on the gold table drape, a christogram —
a monogram of sorts —
the first three letters of the name of Jesus in Greek,
an inscription that has been in use since the second century.

There is something about this quiet, musical worship that touches deep places in  me,
and in my husband, too.
It’s the closest I come to singing in a choir,
something I did for nearly fifty years of my life,
before I moved to Santa Barbara and joined a community without one.

And it’s also the closest I come to ‘singing in the Spirit,’
something I have so learned to love since my connection
with the Charismatic Catholics who trained me in the principles of spiritual direction
over the last few years.

 The choruses are simple, short, often in a minor key and very, very repetitive.
But this is a very different kind of repetition from the never-ending
rendition after rendition of many contemporary praise choruses.
It is soothing.
It is prayer.
That’s EXACTLY what it is — it is prayer.   

So I will put the words to the songs we sang last night here, one after another.
At your leisure, read them through.
Pause every once in a while, and read a line again.
And again.
See if maybe, just maybe, you might experience a small epiphany as you do.

Surely God is in this place, Holy ground. 

Jesus, remember me, when you come into your kingdom.  

O Lord, hear my prayer.
O Lord, hear my prayer:
when I call, answer me.
O Lord, hear  my prayer.
O Lord, hear my prayer:
come and listen to me. 

Our eyes are turned to Jesus Christ, our salvation.
Our eyes are turned to Jesus Christ, Lord of all creation.* 

Lord God, heal me, heal me, O my Lord,
that I might fulfull all your plans for me. 

Call: Christ the Lord, you became poor and you offer the kingdom of heaven
to the poor of the earth; you fill us with your riches.
Refrain: Come, Lord Jesus, come.
Call: O Lord, gentle and humble of heart, you reveal a new world
to all who abandon themselves; 
we receive of your fullness.
Refrain: Come, Lord Jesus, come.
Call: O Lord, you fell prostrate on the ground,
and you show us a path of consolation in our distress;
you are the joy no one can take from us.
Refrain: Come, Lord Jesus, come.
Call: O Lord, you shed your blood, and you give the cup of life
to seekers after justice; 
you quench every thirst.
Refrain: Come, Lord Jesus, come.
Call: O Lord, you showed yourself to the disciples and you pluck from our flesh
our hearts of stone; 
we shall see you face to face.
Refrain: Come, Lord Jesus, come.
O Lord, you divest the powerful and cloth peacemakers in festal robes;
you transform us into your likeness.
Refrain: Come, Lord Jesus, come.
O Lord, first of the living, you welcome into the kingdom of heaven
all who die for you; we dwell in your love.
Refrain: Come, Lord Jesus, come. 

Darkness is never darkness in your sight.
The deepest night is clear as the daylight.*

The kingdom of God is justice and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
Come, Lord, and open in us the gates of your kingdom.  

Let your servant now go in peace, O Lord,
now go in peace according to your word.

*These two lovely sung prayers were written for us by our
Worship Director, Robert Gross.
Accompanying him last evening were Jon Lemmond on piano
and Anne Anderson on oboe.
This service includes a triple reading of the morning sermon text for reflection,
a corporate confession of sin,
the Lord’s Prayer,
an opportunity to light a candle and set it into a dish of sand
alongside the candles of those worshipping with you,
and a concluding prayer, read in unison.

And that is all.
And it is exactly enough.

I am still learning the formatting ins and outs of WordPress, so this is a day late. But I am joining with Michelle, Ann, Jennifer and Laura for their Monday/Tuesday communities:





Booked! – A Guest Post at Ed’s Place

Delighted and honored to be posting over at Ed Cyzewski’s wonderful holiday meme – picking THREE, just three non-fiction Christian book favorites. There are about 20 I could have put out without thinking at all, but choosing just three? That took a while. Come on over and see what rose to the top for me as this new year turns. . .