Remember me…


Remembrance Day

Remembrance Day (Photo credit: Lauren Cathy Turner)

386. Remembering… the human ability to call to mind that which lingers and which has meaning

387. Remembrance Day… November 11, the eleventh day of the eleventh month at the eleventh hour… silent thoughtful remembrance of sacrifice of others for my good

388. The Remembrance… The Lord’s Supper… Eucharist… I am taking and breaking and eating and finding good and grace-filled and filled with meaning, because of Jesus sacrifice for me, his body broken for me, his blood poured out for me

389. Memory… the capacity to experience over and over again…

390. remembering to be grateful

391. remembering sacrifice

392. remembering love

393. the silence and sensibility for all this and more

394. leaves surrendering to chill, lack of sun and production of green, the swansong of colours, the final fall to earth and death

395. the things placed upon our hearts as they spill over with thanks

396. beauty

397.  words that last long after we do

398. husband reaching

399. whistle of a son

400. the goodness of all things, the goodness of Papa God

So I receive, remember, respond with thankfulness for all things,

Soli Deo Gloria,

Lesley-Anne

Surprise Communion

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The road to Easter…


The road to Easter…

Over 2012 years ago you rode into the city that would be the death of you, Jesus.  You rode on a donkey, and people flocked to see you, laying down palm leaves and their clothes on the road before you.  They called out to you with shouts of excitement for who they, in their somewhat narrow minds, thought you were — deliverer from the oppression of the Roman rule, catalyst for a new power, a new age, a warrior prophet – one whose words promised a better way.

“Hosannah in the highest,” they cried out in a euphoria that passed in waves throughout the crowd.   Did they wonder why their future King rode on a donkey? Did they question your lack of weapons or armour?  Did they wonder what action you would take in the capital, who you would see, what you would say?  Or were they merely curious about this one who raised the dead?

And your closest followers – what were they thinking?  You had given them fair warning on several occasions but did they really fully understand that your journey to Jerusalem would be a one way trip?  As the crowds screamed, did the disciples glance at one another in disbelief?  Or did they get caught up in the party atmosphere and miss the look of intent on your holy face?

What gripped Peter’s heart that day?  A warriors heart, was he preparing for a fight?  And Judas, where was his heart as he walked beside his comrades?  Was Satan working evil in his heart even then?  Did he feel discomfort, embarrassment at the spectacle his teacher was creating?  Did he lag just slightly behind the rest, distancing himself from direct eye contact with you?

Who was in that cheering crowd?  How many of those whom you had touched with your healing hands, had received your words of life-change were there watching, celebrating, feeling a renewed overwhelming thankfulness mixed with disbelief at what you had done for them?

Did the man with the once withered hand lay his coat on the road in front of you?  Did the bleeding woman, fully healed, weep for joy?  Did the demon-possessed, now spirit filled one, sing songs of freedom that day?

And then, you passed by, and they watched your figure grow smaller in the distance, the sounds of rejoicing fading with you.  What happened to them then?  As they returned to their homes, their vocations, their families, what occurred in the hearts of so many who, only a few days later, would be part of another crowd of screaming people yelling out, “Crucify him, crucify him!”?

And I see in that fickle crowd a snapshot of myself.  My heart full of adoration one day then lukewarm the next.  My intentions for service, love, relationship grand and strong, and then slowly becoming complacent.  Allowing circumstances to dictate my feelings and overrule my heart for you.  And I , like Judas perhaps, avert my eyes in embarrassment and shame for who I am, for my lack, for my defeat and I drift even further from you as I look inward rather than into your eyes.

I see me in that crowd – euphoric in worship and lofty intentions on Sunday, then discouraged in my real-life by Tuesday.  How many of us experience our faith like that?  Striving, trying, desiring, hoping, but with no staying power?

Fall on God’s grace, some say!  Let go and let God!  Surrender!  Yield!  And my heart cries, “Yes”, while my head asks, “How often”?  How often must I revisit this place of surrender, of repentance, of crying out to God to rescue me from myself?  

Still, in spite of all my limitations I choose to stay close to you, to do my best, to listen for your voice and obey, love my husband and my children, learn to love my enemies, and serve you with the gifts you have given me.

And when I fall and grow tired, when I am complacent and ashamed, I will come to you again and again and again – hungry for  a fresh look into your understanding eyes – and your grace in my life.

I will, in all my humanity, call out, “Hosannah to my King!!!”

Sunday Soliloquy


Lanckorońska as a child, with her father

Image via Wikipedia

The Nature of things

Breathing isn’t something I accomplish by my own effort
No. Breathing is hard wired, natural, subliminal, subconscious, like
sneezing
or sighing,
or desiring to leave a lasting mark,
something to echo when I’m gone.

There are things that require tenacity, that fight against
what comes naturally, and that, my friend, is the
straw that’s breaking.
The ache for making a change for the better eludes and
deludes me into thinking
it’s up to me to buckle down and
try harder, to strive with more deliberate intent,
To repent.

Take for instance
forgiveness of things, like
a sideways look, or a word unspoken, or a birthday forgotten, or a violation
of my body, or a crime
like taking the life of what’s mine, or a lie
told in the form of a story or a prayer
that’s clearly crossing the line.
Contrary to what I would like to think, or what I’m being told,
I can’t make myself forgive.
I can’t close my eyes, concentrate harder and presto, forgiveness
comes like a blessed dove, and makes beauty of my broken bits.
No, the hit hurts and the blood squirts red
and I need more than a King James bandage to
fix this. ‘nuff said.

Or, while we’re talking about expectations
there’s Sacrifice and Surrender, a pair married for years, and still
making it work despite their differences.
While the world screams, ‘self-actualize’ and ‘to thine on self be true,’
these two
quietly stand, hand-in-hand,
watching, suggesting
submission brings freedom and life,
contrary to the strife of opinions on everything
every little decision that must be
made and played out, all things being equal.
No. I can’t by my own willpower choose these.

And Rest, well
that’s another idea I respect, but
for the life of me can’t get around to it, yet. So many other things to
accomplish and prove my own worth, while
my to do list is longing just to be still
and know that someone else will
pry the steering wheel from my sticky fingers,
take back the waste,
redeem the
trivial Facebook posts
twittering reality shows
and mid-winter naps.

Human nature being what it is, real life being what it is
it’s contrary. Preposterous, this
Kingdom upside down thought
that Sunday morning ideals
can root in
and stick ‘til Thursday.

And while I rant and rave
on things I don’t have the capacity to understand, nor
the power to change,
He waits for me to be still
and listen.

Lesley-Anne Evans
January 2011

Poetry Friday014


Altar

Over and over
I drag it up and lay it down
Only to pick it up again,
And here I am, ashamed,
Hooked in,
Co-dependent.

Laying my Isaac down sounds noble,
Honourable
But, with coals glowing hot
On the altar,
My greedy fingers reach
To snatch back
The sacrifice.

I convince myself of another way,
With another lamb,
‘Cause this one is virtually unblemished
Strangely precious,
Somehow larger than life.

And although I know a higher
Holier way awaits
On the other side of the flames,
I choose to trade redemption
For burnt fingers
And slightly charred
Remains.

Lesley-Anne Evans

Illustration: Rembrandt – The Sacrifice of Isaac

It was personal, and it still is.


John 19 (NIV)

Jesus Sentenced to be Crucified

1Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. 2The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe 3and went up to him again and again, saying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” And they struck him in the face.

4Once more Pilate came out and said to the Jews, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against him.” 5When Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!”

6As soon as the chief priests and their officials saw him, they shouted, “Crucify! Crucify!”
But Pilate answered, “You take him and crucify him. As for me, I find no basis for a charge against him.”

7The Jews insisted, “We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.”

8When Pilate heard this, he was even more afraid, 9and he went back inside the palace. “Where do you come from?” he asked Jesus, but Jesus gave him no answer. 10“Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?”

11Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.”

12From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jews kept shouting, “If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar.”

13When Pilate heard this, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judge’s seat at a place known as the Stone Pavement (which in Aramaic is Gabbatha). 14It was the day of Preparation of Passover Week, about the sixth hour.
“Here is your king,” Pilate said to the Jews.

15But they shouted, “Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!”
“Shall I crucify your king?” Pilate asked.
“We have no king but Caesar,” the chief priests answered.

16Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified.

The Crucifixion

So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. 17Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). 18Here they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle.

19Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read:|sc JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS. 20Many of the Jews read this sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek. 21The chief priests of the Jews protested to Pilate, “Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’ but that this man claimed to be king of the Jews.”

22Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.”

23When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom.

24“Let’s not tear it,” they said to one another. “Let’s decide by lot who will get it.”
This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled which said,
“They divided my garments among them
and cast lots for my clothing.”[a] So this is what the soldiers did.

25Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Dear woman, here is your son,” 27and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.

The Death of Jesus

28Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” 29A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. 30When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

31Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jews did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. 32The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. 33But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. 35The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe. 36These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken,”[b] 37and, as another scripture says, “They will look on the one they have pierced.”[c]

There’s just something about canceled debt…


Last night we had a fire in the big terracotta flower pot by our front door, drank some sparkling wine as the fire burned, and had our son take some photos of our celebration. It is against the local bylaws to burn anything, unless it’s a fire for the purposes of cooking food. But it was only a teeny tiny fire, and out almost as quickly as it started. Please don’t tell!

So, we put matches to paper and burned away the remaining evidence of a long-term debt that is now paid off. What a feeling of relief and release. For the very first time our home really is our home.

I remember our first home, and the first time we got a mortgage statement in the mail, and how shocked I was at the small percentage of principal we had paid versus the large amount of interest. The reality of our debt hit hard. The years of payments ahead seemed endless at the time. Then, suddenly, we are free!

Being free of this particular debt now frees up funds for the next phase of our lives. Our kids are growing older, and years of University/College expenses loom just ahead. With finances freed up, our desire to be more philanthropic and ensure financial stability in our elder years now seems attainable.

I shared my new feelings of lightness and freedom with a dear friend whom I knew would celebrate with me. And she understood completely. Her thoughts around canceling her own long-term debt were that if something should happen to her husband, and they had the mortgage paid off, at least she’d have the family home for her and the kids… a solid place to land. She is such a good mom.

But what about the other debts we carry that weigh on us, like debts of action or inaction that have effected others in a negative way? My husband would call that guilt… and so it is. The debt of guilt. Now that’s another heavy thing that we don’t need to carry around with us, but we do. To live lightly, without guilt, requires a type of payment too. To pay this type of debt, you might need to take some action, forgive someone, or, alternately, you might need to ask someone’s forgiveness. Only then can you unload the guilt and start fresh. And being human means you, like me, probably have to do this A LOT!

And, what about the debt of sin? Maybe not a word you are comfortable with, but sin is something that I can’t ignore in my life. If you consider what the Bible says, and you believe it to be true, then it’s clear that there is no such thing as someone who is free of sin.  The Bible says, “No not one”. So, if we aren’t free of it, what’s the outcome of that human condition? The Bible says, “The wages of sin are death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ.”

Now, the wages of sin sound a lot like a debt to me?  Let’s look at how another version called The Message says it, “Work hard for sin your whole life and your pension is death. But God’s gift is real life, eternal life, delivered by Jesus, our Master.” In this case, wages or pension is the natural outcome of where you’ve made your life investment. If it’s in sin, then the outcome is eternal separation from God. If you’ve invested in God, then the outcome is eternal life with God.

You might be thinking, I’m a good person. I try hard not to sin. I do my best to follow the 10 commandments and the golden rule. So do I. But it’s virtually impossible to do. We all fall short of a God who is Holy. No matter how hard we try, we fall short. Bible says our very best acts of righteousness are just like dirty rags before God. So, like that financial obligation (mortgage) that we worked and worked at, and paid only a tiny part of the principle for years, so this sin debt is not within our power to pay. And, if we desire to be with God, be one of his children, be made right and without sin, then that debt of sin, that obligation, needs to be canceled somehow.

So, here we are faced with the reality of having a huge debt to pay and no way to pay it. And God steps in and says, here, here is my Son. He will pay. Jesus will pay your entire debt and give you complete freedom from what you owe due to your inherent sin condition. And my Son will pay your debt with his life. He will die so you can live. Live forever, starting the moment you receive my gift of forgiveness and new life.

As we go through Lent, a time of preparation that leads us to the holy season of Easter, I can’t help but think about what Jesus paid FOR ME, and what he gave TO ME. Jesus gave me ultimate freedom and eternally canceled debt. In return I want to invest my life in him and his ways. That’s a mystery in itself, but one I’m willing to unpack day by day.

Today I’m celebrating freedom from financial and spiritual debt. And I feel light. I feel free.

Lesley-Anne

A screen fast for Lent?


As I begin to write this, I’m completely aware of the corrective words of Jesus to his disciples regarding praying in public places in loud voices, rather than praying in private. And his words about fasting with long faces so that everyone can see and know what they are about. It seems that the Pharisees (religious leaders) of the day were making a scene to draw attention to themselves, rather than keeping what they were doing between them and God. And Jesus did not approve one bit, and warned his disciples to not follow suit.

So, I have to preface this post by giving notice that when and if I do a ‘screen fast’ or any other kind of fast, I will proceed privately between God and I. I will not blog about the process. There will be signs that I’m not online, but that is all. The details will remain private.

Presenting the idea now is simply to allow you to consider it for yourself.

Lent is a rather new concept for me, as I didn’t grow up with it, and I haven’t focused on it in my adult life either. But, at this time of the year, Lent is practiced by many devout followers of Jesus, who for the 40 days leading up to Easter Sunday, choose to turn away from the distractions of the world and worldly pleasures, and draw closer to Christ. Lent 2010 begins next week on Ash Wednesday, February 17, 2010.

Not only is Lent about abstaining from certain activities, foods, or whatever you personally choose to remove from your life, Lent is also about what you choose to do with the time that has been opened up with the removal of these things. In Isaiah 58:1-12, Christ teaches that ‘fasting’ without works of charity does us no good. Fasting is also about devoting time to prayer and solitude with God, learning more about him, spending time with him. For example, if fasting my lunchtime meal is what I choose to do, then each lunchtime I would feel the physical trigger of hunger pangs, which would remind me to turn my thoughts toward God in prayer.

When I look at my own life and the values I profess to have, and compare that to how I spend my time and what takes up a large portion of my day, I can’t help but acknowledge that the ‘screen’ is where I’m drawn to most often. Not to my bible, not to my knees, but to my screen. Whether that’s to connect with friends, family, teachers by email, or blogging, or checking my blog stats, or my facebook, or doing important research, or writing new poems or stories, that’s where I go, A LOT. Whenever I have a spare minute, with very little structure or parameters, I walk around the corner to my computer desk and click, click, click. And, without being completely aware of it, I’m there for long periods of time.

So, it makes sense to me that to fast something in my life that might even hold some power over me, it would have to be my computer.

For you it could be texting, eating certain foods, television, shopping, talking on the phone, or whatever you feel could or should go.

40 days is a long time. I took time out from my computer once before, over a year ago, for a month. And that was difficult. People didn’t understand. I felt cut off. I felt disappointed that phone calls didn’t take the place of emails. I didn’t do it then for the primary purpose of seeking God, but for the purposes of breaking the hold the computer had over me. And, here I am recognizing that the mesmerizing white glow of the screen might just have me in it’s grasp one more time. And if I say I value Jesus over all, then my life had better show that singleness of heart and action.

A blog I read occasionally has some great steps to prepare for a ‘screen fast’. I will print them out today and give serious consideration. And then, I will choose.

Logging off for now,

Lesley-Anne