As One

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 “Awesome!”

That was a co-worker’s assessment of his day so far – and it was only 8:30 am! For him, every day lately has been Awesome! because it brings him one day closer to his wedding day. His walk, his talk… everything about him says, I cannot wait to marry her!  As I watched him float down the hallway back to his desk, I thought of my own wedding day… fourteen years ago.

My husband and I say it sometimes feels like fourteen days, other times like forty years, but either way, neither of us can remember the last time we told a story starting with “I” instead of “we.”  And, we are okay with that! Fourteen years later and we still say “I love you” countless times a day. We pride ourselves on our ability to sicken those around us with our googly eyes and mutual admiration. We still kiss each other goodnight – every night.

Don’t get the impression, though, that my hubby and I have led a charmed life together. We haven’t. Money worries, kid rebellions, job stress… You name it, and we have most likely fretted and fought with it or wrestled and struggled over it. Major move? Did it. Go back to college? Did that too. (Twice.) Depression? Lived through it. (More than twice.) Hospitals? Know more than we care to. Death? Unfortunately, yes. We’ve both lost someone we deeply loved.

The past fourteen years haven’t been absent of heartache; but, they haven’t been absent of blessings either. Through both, there has never been any question in either of our minds about the depth and commitment of our love. Life has thrown us for a loop sometimes, but we have never – not once – lost an ounce of our love for each other because of ill circumstances. Likewise, we can’t say that we’ve loved each other more simply because life was treating us well.  The measure of our love hasn’t fluctuated with our situation – good or bad.

Marriage made us one through love, and it has blessed us with a small glimpse of God’s larger plan for the world.

[F]or God is love… if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us (1 John 4:8-12 NRSV). God is present wherever steadfast love abides. I believe the love shared by two people who choose to marry is nothing short of the presence of God on Earth. Such love is not intended to live in isolation. God’s love is meant to be perfected in us as we steadfastly love those near to us and far from us, for we are all one in his love. This was Jesus’ request when he prayed to the Father in the hours leading up to his arrest:

“I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me…. Righteous Father, the world does not know you, but I know you; and these know that you have sent me. I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” (John 17: 20-23, 25-26)

I view the marriage of two people who pledge to love each other through thick and thin as a celebration of the marriage that is to come between God and his church. When all the members of the church’s body are joined together with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – that they may become completely one – there will be the voice of a great multitude, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty thunderpeals, crying out, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready…” (Rev 19:6-7)

 

“God, grant that the bonds of our common humanity, by which all your children are united one to another, and the living to the dead, may be so transformed by your grace, that your will may be done on earth as it is in heaven; where, O Father, with your Son, and the Holy Spirit, you live and reign in perfect unity, now and forever.  Amen.” (Book of Common Prayer)

Lent – Maundy Thursday

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When the hour came, [Jesus] took his place at the table, and the apostles with him.  He said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer….” Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And he did the same with the cup after supper, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.” (Luke 22:14-15, 19-20)

And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him.

“You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.”

After saying this Jesus was troubled in spirit, and declared, “Very truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me.” (John 13:2-5, 13-17, 31)

Almighty Father, whose dear Son, on the night before he suffered, instituted the Sacrament of his Body and Blood:  Mercifully grant that we may receive it thankfully in remembrance of Jesus Christ our Lord, who in these holy mysteries gives us a pledge of eternal life; and who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.   (Book of Common Prayer)

Lent – Day 24

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Today’s Thought: Simply prayer.

And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. (Matthew 14:23)

Sometimes, I need to talk to God; but, more often than not, God needs to talk to me. That’s not a concept I was raised with in my childhood church. Prayer was approached more like therapy. It was all about what I was thankful, needful, or sorrowful for, rather than being a two-way conversation. I’m learning God wants to enter the dialogue.

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Lent – Day 19

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Today’s Thought: What does it mean to be “holy”?

Like obedient children, do not be conformed to the desires that you formerly had in ignorance. Instead, as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct; for it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”  (1 Peter 1:14-16)

In the New Testament, the Apostle Peter echoes God’s words from Leviticus 11:44, cautioning new believers about the unwanted desires they had before choosing to follow Christ. Their behavior was conformed to those desires out of ignorance, he says. Now, they are called to be different, to set themselves apart… to make themselves “holy” like God. So, what does it mean to be “holy”? Well… that’s sort of a trick question…

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Lent – Day 9

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Today’s Thought: Where do you go to find rest?

Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. (Isaiah 40:28-29 NIV)

I’m tired. It’s been a long week and physically, I’ve hit my limit. A good night’s rest, though, and I’ll be good as new in the morning. I remember times when sleep eluded me no matter how tired I was, though. Times when I didn’t think I would ever feel good or new again. Emotional burdens are like that. Unrelenting. Tonight I’m thinking of and praying for those who have burdens that won’t let go long enough for them to find rest. I’m praying for them to say one word to God: “Help.”

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Lent – Day 5

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Today’s Thought: How can I pray when my mind is so full?

Whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father… (Matthew 6:6)

This evening, I am surrounded by silence as I sit in my room at a history-laden bed and breakfast near the seminary. I’m here to attend a lecture and for the next three days, I will make my bed and eat my breakfast in this house. I have stayed here before in the same room, so it has the warm feel of familiarity. With a homemade do not disturb sign hung on the knob, and the locks all locked for the night, I climb up into the antique bed. It’s the perfect place and time for prayer. Now, where did I put those words?

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Too Much Togetherness

A friend and I were talking about the complexities of showing kindness to strangers, especially in this sometimes scary world we live in, when she said, “You know… It’s not really strangers that I have the most problems with.  It’s my family!”  We shared a knowing glance.  “Christmas dinner is always the worst. I am not looking forward to it this year.”

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Trust

“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”

Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude