Tag Archives: Authenticity

The Spark

SparkLast night we had a 2 hour time of prayer and worship at our church, with spaces for people to paint, journal, confess, sing, and meditate. I was both humbled and grateful to be asked to prepare and share a piece of poetry, that for me turned out to be a call to worship.

Thought I’d share it with you here…

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The Spark

What was it like when you hovered there
Before making land, water, fire, air?
You were ever the glorious one-
Father, Holy Ghost and Son
In eternal communion in the silent dark.
Smiling as you struck the creative Spark,
It almost seems you were discontent;
As if your love was never meant
To be hoarded within the trinity.
Yahweh gave breathe to humanity!

What entered your mind to conceive of us?
Your image reflected in so much dust?
Fearfully and wonderfully made,
We walked with you unafraid.

Until we’d had enough.

Was your heart broken before time began
Anticipating that day we ran
Around looking for something to hide behind?
Yet you searched for us, knowing you’d find
Us covered in shame instead of joy.
Blaming each other, trying to destroy
Any sense of responsibility.
Except that you’re the one who made the tree.

We died that day and gave birth to rage.
Took that and fashioned an iron cage
In a bid to tame your love and power.
Our prayers went cold and hope turned sour.
You gave us over to our hearts desire
Knowing that we had the entire
Thing backwards. It’s for us we crafted chains
Your Spirit untamed remains
Hovering over hearts lifeless and dark,
Ready with another omnipotent spark.

Holy, holy, holy God
Who oversaw creation’s fire
Burn away our religious facade
Make of our pretence a funeral pyre.

This is why we’ve come tonight
To seek you at any cost.
We beg you to reignite
The first love that we have lost.

So please take away our blinders
Whether stained glass or sin-black.
We want to see you once more clearly,
We want the wild back.

black_and_white_tree

Cradles of Grace

I said a long goodbye to my Grandma this weekend, and I can’t help but think that it’s times like these that reveal what we truly believe in.

There isn’t another angel in heaven, and Grandma won’t live on in our hearts. These sentiments, while a valiant attempt to deal with our pain, reflect a belief in nothing at all. If we claim to follow the Christ but our best attempts at comforting the bereaved originate in the script of the latest Pixar movie, there’s a big problem. If that’s all the hope we have to give, we’d best keep our tithe out of the offering plate and invest in Hallmark stocks.

We believe in Jesus, and the resurrection of the dead.

Granted, in today’s society this presents some problems. For example, death is a prerequisite, and that’s just unacceptable. We want all of the “he who believes in me will never die” and none of the “whoever loses his life will find it.” The Bible tells the story of three noble gents who got tossed into a Babylonian furnace because of their convictions. We give lip-service admiration to faith like that, but prefer to be saved from the flames instead of being protected and preserved in the midst of them.

I’m no better. My desire is to be able to write from a place of understanding and strength. Instead, today I come to this ministry world-weary and misunderstood. I’m tired. I want all of the “my power is perfected” but have had quite enough of the “in weakness“, thank-you-very-much.

But that’s where we’re at sometimes, isn’t it?

The good news is that God is here too, and maybe that’s enough.

Crosses, flames, graves, divorce court, doctors’ offices, and even (gasp) the back doors of abortion clinics: the bland and pasty god that we often make in our own image doesn’t belong in places like these. He’d rather stay clean and sanitary up in his stained-glass window.

But to the One True God, the Ancient of Days, these places of failure and death are the cradles of grace. He spoke once through the prophet Isaiah, who wrote,

“For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:
“I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit,
to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.””
Isaiah 57:15 ESV

Hope is born here, when we come to the end of ourselves in the shadow of the crucified Messiah.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Matthew 5:3 ESV

Less Cowboy Hat, More Crown Of Thorns

marlboro-manThe first superhero to ever make my jaw drop in awe was Marlboro Man. From the first time I saw him, all I ever wanted for Christmas was a saddle and a lasso. I begged my mom to buy me cowboy shirts from Lammle’s Western Wear, and wore them proudly with my baby blue Nike sneakers.

Marlboro Man gave me hope. With my weak chin lifted high, I imagined that one day I might not be ashamed to be an introvert; if he could be content with a saddle for a pillow and a horse for a friend, so could I.

His brooding charisma spoke louder than even Jesus. While the Son of God wore a bathrobe and dangled little girls from his knee on some saint’s flannel-graph, the Mustached Wonder girded his loins with rawhide while gazing squinty-eyed into the rising sun.

I wanted to be tough, resourceful, and comfortable in my own skin.

Instead, I was a bed-wetter.

Time changes things, and offers us perspective. Apparently, Marlboro cigarettes were originally marketed to women with the slogan “Mild as May”. Being one of the first brands of cancer-sticks to be filtered, men were concerned that smoking them made a guy appear weak.

Being nothing but a two-dimensional cover-up for something originally feminine, even the Marlboro Man with all his machismo was never able to lay upon my skinny shoulders the mantle of manliness. Just as I learned to stop soaking the sheets all by myself, I eventually learned that nobody was going to tell me when I reached manhood. I was going to have to figure it out myself.

Some women might not know this, but guys literally wonder when exactly they can begin identifying themselves as men. The overwhelming majority of males in our society have this critical question answered with ominous silence, and it’s a void that suffocates us. (Just a head’s up – you’d better have a really good relationship with your man if you plan to ask him about this.) When the cavity in our souls screams that we aren’t real men, we are forced to become something else: posers, victims, or monsters.

I was in my early twenties when I simply decided to quit questioning my manhood. I still didn’t have an answer, but figured it was time for me to grow up and start faking it. A frail, emotionally incontinent part of me has been in acting classes ever since, puffing out its chest and taking a drag on filtered spirituality.

Jesus offers us something better, guys. This man, who walked in a sure, solid line toward his own crucifixion, is anything but two-dimensional.

When he says “follow me”, it’s an invitation to die. Jesus put the posers, victims, and monsters in a grave and invites us to start shovelling dirt. If we have eyes to see it, it’s a chance at liberty.  Let’s keep in step with him: less cowboy hat, more crown of thorns.

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
Galatians 2:20
English Standard Version (ESV)

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
2 Corinthians 5:17
English Standard Version (ESV)