Lenten Reflections: Ash Wednesday

ash wednesday

I am joining in the reflection this Lenten season with Mustard Seed Associates and their Lenten synchroblog.  You can join in reflecting as well by going and downloading their “A Journey into Wholeness: A Lenten Reflection Guide

As i reflect this day, Ash Wednesday on my own brokenness and sin, i realize how it is always, ever before me… screaming in my face, making sure i know that it is there.  Even on a day that is meant for repentance, for turning away, i have given in to my own selfish desires, and so it will be for the rest or our lives in these fragile and broken bodies of clay.  But, in the midst, there is a beauty… a beauty often hidden or oppressed, yet it is there, and was there from the foundations of our creation.  It comes from the hand of the one who created us; wove us together in the womb of our mother.  The creator’s fingerprint is upon us, even as we are born into and walk within a broken, fragmented world, shattered by the self-seeking sinfulness of humankind.  But, yet, that beauty still exists, in the midst of all the darkness and broken pieces of our lives.  It rises from the ashes of humanities frailty and fractured soul, like a fiery phoenix in all it’s glory, shining like a beacon.  Many times that beauty goes unnoticed, and many times the brokenness is ignored.  it just seems easier to ignore the realities and create a facade that everything is ok, but even in the midst of that is a guilt that lies and says that ‘there is no hope you wretched creature’.  so it is easier to ignore, distract, occupy the mind with other things… busyness, work, material possessions, our selfish needs and desires, while the darkness cries out for us to recognize and acknowledge and the beauty cries out for us to renew, restore and turn towards hope.  

This is the tension we live in, and today, i reflect on this tension; that i am broken, fragmented, pieces… but in the midst, there is a beauty that puts me all back together, makes me new again and again and again… but I must acknowledge one and notice the other; confess the one and embrace the other; turn from the one and run to the other.  This tension is, as my friend Eugene Cho puts it, Beauty and Depravity;  the beautiful mess.  Both exist in us:  we could not be totally beautiful, or the world would be completely different and there would be no need for our Saviour; but we could not be totally depraved either, or there would be no use for us, no hope for us at all.  

So today I acknowledge that I am broken, depraved, sinful.  I recognize my intense need to be restored, renewed, and made whole.  I also take notice of the beauty that has been placed in me from creation and the beauty of the Creator that breathes into me and brings to life the beauty that was originally intended to be.  I turn my eyes, my mind, my heart and my energy back to you O Lord… create in me a pure heart and renew a steadfast spirit within me O God. 

As I close, wanted to post the lyrics to a beautiful song that touches on our brokenness.  It is on the most recent album from Church of the Beloved in Edmonds, WA, called Hope for a Tree Cut Down.  You can download the album and listen on their website here. 

Broken

You are broken, I am broken, everyone is broken
You are broken, I am broken, intimately broken

Stay, there is peace beyond anguish
life beyond death, love beyond fear
and we all have to suffer to enter our glory.

Bless, bless and do not curse.
Pull brokenness far from the shadow of curse
put it under the light of the blessing.

Praise, praise to you Lord
for I never realized
broken glass could shine so brightly.

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Beau, Nickelsville’s resident poet

This is a video of my friend Beau, who is a resident at the homeless community called Nickelsville, where i spend every Monday night.  I have gotten to know Beau over the last two months and know a bit about his life and his story and also have read his amazing poetry.  I have taken two of his poems and written songs with them… in this video, he recites one of the poems that i wrote a song with… which i will post a video of me performing soon.  So here is a bit about Beau and one of his poems, “Nothing is Meaningless”.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

While I am all for drinking Guinness on St. Pat’s Day (or on any day for that matter!), I think if we raise a toast at all, we should raise it the the man himself…St. Patrick!  The one who, with the power of God’s Holy Spirit, brought the hope of Christ to the celtic people, who previously were rejected by the institutional Roman church, (who really wants to be a part of that anyway!) and in turn basically…long story short, saved civilization!  So raise your glass today not in honor of yourself or your own pleasure, but in honor of a man who gave his life to bring the hope and love of God to a people that no one else wanted or cared for.  So in honor of Patrick, I have posted ‘Patrick’s Breastplate’, which was the prayer he prayed daily before going out.  May it bring you hope in your own life as you repeat the words, and my God bless you this day and everyday.  May it bring you comfort in a time of need and may it bring you joy in a time of sorrow!  Today, St. Patrick, we raise a pint to you…in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit!!   Slainté! 
patrickshirt.jpg 
 

Patrick’s Breastplate

 
I rise today in power’s strength, invoking the Trinity,
believing in threeness, confessing the oneness,
of creation’s Creator.
 
I rise today in the power of Christ’s birth and baptism,
in the power of His crucifixion and burial,
in the power of His rising and ascending,
in the power of His descending and judging. 
 
I rise today in the power of the love of cherubim,
in the obedience of angels, and service of archangels,
in hope of rising to receive the reward,
in the prayers of patriarchs, in the predictions of prophets,
in the preaching of apostles, in the faith of confessors,
in the innocence of holy virgins, in the deeds of the righteous. 
I rise today in heavens might,
in sun’s brightness, in moon’s radiance,
in fire’s glory, in lightning’s quickness,
in wind’s swiftness, in sea’s depth,
in earth’s stability, in rock’s fixity.
 
I rise today with the power of God to pilot me,
God’s strength to sustain me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look ahead for me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to protect me,
God’s way before me,
God’s shield to defend me,
God’s host to deliver me:
from snares of devils,
from evil temptations,
from nature’s failings,
from all who wish to harm me,
far or near,alone or in a crowd.
May Christ protect me today
against poison and burning,
against drowning and wounding,
so that I may have abundant reward;
 
Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me;Christ within me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me;
Christ to the right of me, Christ to the left of me;
Christ in my lying, Christ in my sitting, Christ in my rising;
Christ in the heart of all who think of me.
Christ on the tongue of all who speak of me,
Christ in the eye of all who see me,
Christ in the ear of all who hear me.
 
I rise today in power’s strength, invoking the Trinity,
believing in threeness, confessing the oneness, of creation’s Creator
 
For to the Lord belongs salvation,
and to the Lord belongs salvation,
and to Christ belongs salvation,
May Your salvation, Lord, be with us always. 

Celtic Evening Prayer

cdp
This is the evening prayer from my Celtic Daily Prayer book from the Northumbria Community and I think it is a helpful and healing prayer, especially in times of trial and struggle. We used it in our Solas gathering last Sunday night and when I read it, it helps me to direct my heart in joy to the Lord in the midst of my own trials. So I hope that it will help others. Here it is:

Lord, You have always given
bread for the coming day;
and though I am poor;
today I believe.

Lord, You have always given
strength for the coming day;
and though I am weak,
today I believe.

Lord, You have always given
peace for the coming day;
and though of anxious heart,
today I believe.

Lord, You have always kept me
safe in trials;
and now, tried as I am,
today I believe

Lord, You have always marked
the road for the coming day;
and though it may be hidden,
today I believe.

Lord, You have always spoken
when time was ripe;
and though You be silent now,
today I believe.