This Lent, my churches are studying together, through our sermon series and weekly group study, the complexity of relationships. Specifically, how to prevent their demise and heal those that are wounded. The first Sunday’s sermon topic was on “Invalidation.” It focused on the invalidation of Jesus through the treatment he received from the Roman soldiers. They mocked him and beat him because of who he was and what he stood for.

From there, we talked about how we treat others and recognize their feelings and beliefs. Each person holds these beliefs and experiences close to them, and how we react to their sharing can really change how the person feels now and in the future. If someone tells you about a problem and you brush that off or don’t really listen, you’ve invalidated their feelings. It’s important to think about how we react towards others in this way.

Also, I thought about how we respond in disagreement. There will always be things that people can’t agree on, and those things usually revolve around politics and theology. How do you react to others when in disagreement? Do you simply blow them off as uneducated or not compassionate? Is your reaction in disagreement one that would invalidate someone’s feelings?

I have thought long and hard about how I invalidate people, and about times I may not have even realized I was doing it. Those are the times I feel horrible about. The times when I thought I was listening and caring, but probably wasn’t enough and gave off a message that I did not value the other person. I pray that I can receive forgiveness for the times I invalidated people and their beliefs or feelings.

One moment of validation I felt just today was when a church member asked for a copy or notes of my sermon from last week on the Transfiguration. I was very worried about that sermon and took a lot of time to get it done, and to find out that this person wanted a copy to put with other sermons he enjoyed, really validated my work and my presence in that community. Too often, I think, leaders feel they are not validated and then do not return validation to others.

I pray that each of you realize you are validated by God, through Jesus, and can find peace and happiness this season.

Grace and Peace,

Now’s the Time…

My reflective reading today came from a book called, “Something About the Blues: an unlikely collection of poetry” by Al Young. I just started skimming until something caught my eye. This poem caught my attention today, and wanted to share it. After I read it a few times, I spent my daily reflection time with my journal and focused on this poem. Under the poem you will find some of my reflection and questions for today.

Now’s the Time
By Al Young

7:47 a.m
Charles Parker’s message from 1946
or whenever it was teaches us

that beautiful eternities dwell inside moments
& reverberating forever
charge us with godliness of creation,
creating by the moment,
ignorance of which
brings us to dead end
upon dead end. I am not anything less
than soul shedding layer after layer
of no-soul that soul may reveal itself
to itself so to speak,
an unvicious actually joyous
circle of commitment & revelation ensues

but you got to get in that groove,
you got to take chances &
avoid romances of daydream
which is no-dream really
but imprisonment,
the door closing,
tears crop up
in automatic

atoms become atoms
the earth is built to crumble away
as God smiles
crumbling begins, ends,
the smiling goes on,
you happen,
keep happening.

Place: everywhere
Time: Now –

7:54 a.m.

More often than I should, I wait to follow, to be safe, and hopefully be accepted by others. I don’t want to jump out and risk being without company. There are things I care about, things I want to see done, that may not be happening because I’m waiting. Maybe, just maybe, I am the one who needs to “create” the circumstances for movement or action. While I’m waiting for others, they might just be waiting for someone as well. I need to take some chances. Chances create opportunity, and opportunity creates experiences, and through experience is how God is revealed to me.

Life is not a “wait and see” activity. I have never been a believer in predestination, but I seem to live my life in a “wait for it to happen” mentality. I wait for it to be completely planned and safe befor I act. I’m waiting for God to somehow do it all and make it easy for me. I operate with in this thought process, even thoug I have never felt I believed God acted this way. I don’t believe that God exerts Godself into our situations and controls everything. I believe we are given guidance, resources, and support and then need to act accordintly– not wait to hope it happens for us.

Questions: Will I see meaningful change in society and the church in my lifetime? How do we recognize the moments when it’s time to jump out and act on our own? When should we wait for others to help us? When is it just our human ambition pushing us to act, and when is it God’s calling?

I pray each of you find your way to recognize what God is calling for you to do today and in the future. It’s not an easy task, and know that we all are walking with you in the journey.

Grace and Peace,

Wanting to see the sun…

Yesterday as I sat in a coffee shop enjoying a latte, my fixed iPod, and some journaling/doodling, I came across a song that spoke some lyrics that opened my eyes a bit. The entire song doesn’t fit into what I heard, but a few lines started the process of thinking. This is exactly what I am hoping to do more of during Lent. I want the seemingly simple things around me to remind of God and my life, and start me seeking for more.

I was listening to the song “The Sun Never Shines (On Closed Doors)” by Flogging Molly. I’ve always enjoyed the music of Flogging Molly and thought nothing of the song being on my iPod until I heard some of the lyrics. A few of the lines are “The sun never shines on closed doors,” and at the end, “we all go the same way home…” For whatever reason my mind started to wander a bit hearing these.

As I reflected on the idea of the sun never shining on closed doors, I journaled the following (edited and expanded from original):

The possibilities are endless, unimaginable in so many ways. Faith is what gives the chance for us to be open to the change of God in our life. Lent is a time to recognize this. Lent is in a lot of ways a dark time before a bright sunshine. The sun will rise, and hopefully the door is still open to let it in. Lent prepares us to feel the presence of Easter. At Easter, we recognize that Jesus rises to overcome ALL barriers that separate us. Don’t close the door yet! Don’t close the door ever! There is a new day coming, and another chance at barriers being broken and love being shared. Don’t’ close the door, because the sun won’t be seen!

My goal for personal growth this day:

Don’t close the door in life. Let the sun have a chance to shine through the open, or at least cracked door. Leave the possibility for change everyday!

What are the “closed doors” in your life? What is keeping you from being fully happy, and seeing the sunshine? Can you open the door just a little? It may not just be about your relationship with God, what is keeping you from seeing the sun in all things (work, relationships, hobbies, etc.)?

Grace and Peace,