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Friday, February 18, 2011

Thankful...

...for a God who is constant and faithful.

As I waver in my weakness, he holds me firmly and decisively.

Glory be.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Mid-February

I typically save my favorite poems from the year for posts during National Poetry Month, but this one feels too time-sensitive to save for a month and a half. It is a beautiful poem. May it be a moment of light in the middle of your long Midwestern winter (or your winter in any other area of the world, should it be as cold and dreary as it is here).

Mid-February

The day is warm and dank as early summer.
Crows scream and pitch in the woods
like the ruckus of old women fighting
for the shreds of their lives.

A sudden silence — then the hum
of a black-winged cloud oozing
through the naked sky —
the ruckus begins again.

Under the layers of winter grey,
the farm is pale and muted, the barn doors
shut tight. The only animals in sight
an earth-brown squirrel and these harbinger birds.

I am waiting for the sun to shine again,
to learn how to unfurl my heart in its warmth.
These days, neither long nor short, bright nor dark,
wet nor dry, fill me with a sadness I cannot name.

Yesterday was Valentine's Day, a day of love
and chocolate. My father, born eighty-one years ago,
always bought red cardboard hearts full of truffles
for my mother, my sister and me. Now he is gone.

This morning, the doctor taps his pencil
against the screen. A six-week ultrasound.
There, that's the heartbeat.
A tiny flutter outlined by grey.

-Ann Campanella

Friday, February 11, 2011

Plea from a Stiff-Necked Idol Worshipper

I am reading through the Bible chronologically which currently puts me at the construction of the tabernacle in Exodus 36.


A few days ago, Moses was on Mount Sinai receiving several chapters worth of instructions from the Lord regarding building the tabernacle, consecrating the priests and keeping the Sabbath. With his brain full of numbers and his arms full of stone tablets, he came down off the mountain to find Israel worshipping a golden calf which he promptly burned and fed to the people.

The Lord then commanded Moses to depart Sinai and continue on to the land which he swore to Abraham, except now, the Lord is no longer planning on going with the people. He is sending an angel instead. He does this "lest [he] consume [them] on the way, for [they] are a stiff-necked people." (Exodus 33:3)

Moses intercedes on behalf of Israel, appealing to the fact that "this nation is your people" (33:13) and stating that it is precisely because they are a stiff-necked people that they need the Lord to go in their midst (34:9) at which point God renews His covenant with His people.


Huh.


The stiff-neck-ed-ness that ought to cause Israel shame is the very thing that Moses appeals to as the reason for the Lord to stay in their midst.

They are at their greatest need of His presence when they are the least deserving of it.

I don't think like Moses. I think like Adam. My sin-induced shame causes me to flee. It draws me into hiding. It stirs up within me a deep fear of His presence.

But it is in those moments that I most desperately need him in my midst to "pardon [my] iniquity and [my] sin, and take [me] for [his] inheritance." (34:9)

It sounds so elementary, but it is such a different way of thinking for me - that the sin that makes me so unworthy is the very reason I should appeal for him to come into my midst with his searing, all-consuming holiness.

Do these things within me, Lord. May the awareness of my sin cause me to plead for your presence. May my golden calves be burned, desecrated and humiliated. Break my stiff neck, pardon my iniquity and take me for your inheritance. And as my face shines from your presence, may you receive the glory.