searchin’ for the felt board Jesus. a poem.

i don’t claim to have the smarts of a

seminarian but i do know somethin’

about the priesthood. loving

Jesus since i could walk makes me one of

those folks Saint Peter

talked about bein’ priestly,

only i’m burned out pro’ly

on account of my grays but also

pro’ly ’cause capitalism gets all mixed

up with theology

and the little girl singin’ Jesus loves me

finds herself

lost in the latest dog and pony show

wondering

if the little clapboard churches mostly

abandoned are the only ones

who got it right. but like i said

i’m no seminarian.

just a girl searching for the felt board

Jesus

and his friends.

*****

DSC_0084

A word for 2015: obedience

Life centers around time.

Always has, I suppose.

After all, the rise and set of the sun is the one sure constant in our allotted existence on this spinning ball of dirt.

And so we come again to the eve of the eve of another new year.

Some folks make resolutions. Some start diets. Some create goals. Some do nothing.

Usually, I do nothing. If I’m lucky enough to be home on New Year’s Eve, I fall into a contended sleep well before midnight to the sounds of my out-of-this-world teenagers laughing and playing as a network TV show broadcasts the NYC ball drop in the background.

But this year, I felt a nudge.

The nudge to claim…or perhaps proclaim…a word for the year over my life.

I’ve done this twice before, in 2012 and in 2013.

Truthfully, I really hadn’t thought one way or the other about choosing a word for 2015. But that nudge kept at me.

And so I turned.

And listened.

The word I heard is

obedience.

Not an easy word. In fact, I can think of a whole lot of other words I’d rather linger over…joy, for example. Grace. Hope. Peace. NAP. Cook. Get the teenagers to school on time. Dust the baseboards. Dogs (’cause we have three in case you didn’t know).

Did I mention NAP?

But obedience?

Really, God?

Besides a challenge, the word causes a lot of ruckus in some circles. Husbands and wives. Egalitarians and complementarians. Teachers and students. Preachers and flocks. Parents and children. And on and on and on. We’re all supposed to be equal nowadays, right? Pull-ourselves-up-by-the-bootstraps, do-it-our-selfers. Obedient to our selves. The word reminds me of a wedding I attended in the early 1990’s in which the bride chose to keep the phrase about “obey” in the vows. Several friends in attendance threw a fit…after all, why should a bride cow-tow to a husband? The idea of submission and authority, authority and submission, those ideas are

SOOOOOOOOoooooooooOOOOOoooo

eye-rolling-ly last millennium…right?

I don’t know about all that. And frankly,

I don’t care.

The Gospel doesn’t need defending or deciphering as much as it needs believing. And besides that, my Lord has called me to obedience.

Obedience.

Responding to His whisper when the call of the world threatens to burst my ears.

Going forward when common sense says to go back.

Speaking out when others say to be silent.

Seeking silence when others say to speak out.

Worshipping when others justify cursing.

Forging on straight when left or right seems easier.

Trusting when I’m wallowing in doubt.

Hiding in Him when I’m attacked.

Ministering when I’d rather be ministered to.

Following Him instead of my own understanding.

When faced with these and more, I will try my best to choose

obedience.

Like dumb oxen straining against dusty,rock-hard plains, a thousand ways of our own seem easier until we slip the harness of His gentle yoke around our burdened necks and are reminded again that in

obedience

lies the blessing.

Since Jacob, we’ve all wrestled with God and in His infinite mercy, and He has always entertained our weak-limbed attempts at independence. He even watches with grief and allows us to choose to wander far, far away. But still He lingers, the Good Shepherd, waiting to take us back, always.

Obedience.

What a word.

What a calling.

Not just for me, but for all of us.

What a year I hope to submit to Him.

*****

What about you?

What’s your word for the year?

Or, what is one of your resolutions for 2015?

*****

obey

Come close, dear one, and tell me: what will you call Him this year?

I have a friend who’s an amazing poet who says this Advent has felt much more like Lent.

I don’t know about you, but I feel the same way.

I’ve been overwhelmed this season with the number of friends who are suffering…who have lost friends and family…who are struggling with sickness and despair.

I’m overwhelmed when I see the lonely in hospital rooms…the bruised tormented…the broken crying for relief…the voiceless told to hush.

I struggle because I fear I cannot write about joy without writing about pain. I don’t know if I know how to have one without the other…

…but maybe that’s the point.

What is joy except for the release of despair? What is pain but the reaching for hope? What is loneliness but for the cry for embrace?

What is Christmas but at once the spectacular arrival of a promise and the anguished gift of an only son to a dying world, sent to feel our pain, to hear our loneliness, to drink our despair, to embrace us in the exhale of his last breath?

And so on this Christmas Eve I don’t have answers. I only have a question:

What will you dare call Him?

If you’re happy will you call Him Lord?

If you’re lonely will you call Him Emmanuel?

If you’re desperate, will you call Him Savior?

If you’re a child, will you call Him Friend?

If you’re downcast, will you call Him Hope?

If your life is one battle after another, will you call Him Prince of Peace?

If you’re confused, will you call Him Counselor?

If you’re chained, will you call Him Freedom?

If you’re wandering in darkness, will you call Him Light?

If you’re silent, will you call Him a Song?

If you’re weak, will you call Him Mighty?

If you’ve been broken, will you call Him Justice?

If you’re weak, will you call Him Warrior?

If you’re dying, will you call Him Life?

He is all these things and more, dear friend. My gift to you this Christmas is a prayer…I pray that Jesus Christ meets you in the place in your soul that has no name, no words, no hope. I pray you call on Him, whatever you want to call Him most. He is and can be your Everything.

Listen close, past the bells and choirs.

Look far, past the lights and sparkle.

He is here.

Emmanuel.

God with us.

Alive.

Merry Christmas, friends.

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“Nevertheless, that time of darkness and despair will not go on forever…The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine. You will enlarge the nation of Israel,and its people will rejoice. They will rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest and like warriors dividing the plunder. For you will break the yoke of their slavery and lift the heavy burden from their shoulders…For a child is born to us,a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity.”
Isaiah 9:1-7 (NLT)