Lent begins….

I’ve always felt kind of odd in my spirit about Lent and choosing something to give up.  I think this is because whatever I seem to choose was actually something I should give up to be healthier, whether it is dessert, bread, or TV, or FB…….I love those things and they would be a sacrifice, but I just wasn’t always convinced they would be for God’s glory, or that they would have a lasting impact on my own spiritual growth or for some greater good in the kingdom.  Thanks to my friend Patty May for posting these verses from Isaiah 58, The Voice version or translation.  Now this is something that feels very meaningful to me.

Isaiah 58      The Voice (VOICE)

58 Eternal One: Tell My people about their wrongdoing;
        shout with a voice like a trumpet;
    Hold nothing back: say this people of Jacob’s line and heritage
        have failed to do what is right.

    And yet they look for Me every day.
        They pretend to want to learn what I teach,
    As if they are indeed a nation good and true,
        as if they hadn’t really turned their backs on My directives.
    They even ask Me, as though they care,
        about what I want them to be and do, as if they really want Me in their lives.

People: Why didn’t You notice how diligently we fasted before You?
        We humbled ourselves with pious practices and You paid no attention.

Eternal One: I have to tell you, on those fasting days,
        all you were really seeking was your own pleasure;
    Besides you were busy defrauding people and abusing your workers.
    Your kind of fasting is pointless, for it only leads to bitter quarrels,
        contentious backbiting, and vicious fighting.
    You are not fasting today because you want Me to hear your voice.
    What kind of a fast do I choose? Is a true fast simply
        some religious exercise for making a person feel miserable and woeful?
    Is it about how you bow your head (like a bent reed), how you dress (in sackcloth), and where you sit (in a bed of ashes)?
        Is this what you call a fast, a day the Eternal One finds good and proper?
    No, what I want in a fast is this:
        to liberate those tied down and held back by injustice,
        to lighten the load of those heavily burdened,
        to free the oppressed and shatter every type of oppression.
    A fast for Me involves sharing your food with people who have none,
        giving those who are homeless a space in your home,
    Giving clothes to those who need them, and not neglecting your own family.

Then, oh then, your light will break out like the warm, golden rays of a rising sun;
    in an instant, you will be healed.
Your rightness will precede and protect you;
    the glory of the Eternal will follow and defend you.
Then when you do call out, “My God, Where are You?”
    The Eternal One will answer, “I am here, I am here.
If you remove the yoke of oppression from the downtrodden among you,
    stop accusing others, and do away with mean and inflammatory speech,
10 If you make sure that the hungry and oppressed have all that they need,
    then your light will shine in the darkness,
And even your bleakest moments will be bright as a clear day.
11 The Eternal One will never leave you;
    He will lead you in the way that you should go.
When you feel dried up and worthless,
    God will nourish you and give you strength.
And you will grow like a garden lovingly tended;
    you will be like a spring whose water never runs out.
12 You will discover there are people among your own
    who can rebuild this broken-down city out of the ancient ruins;
You will firm up its ancient foundations.
    And all around, others will call you
“Repairer of Broken Down Walls” and “Rebuilder of Livable Streets.”

13 Eternal One: If because of the Sabbath you set aside your own pursuits and pleasure,
        and you honor the Sabbath and sanctify that day by leaving it to and for the Eternal—
    If you speak of Sabbath-delight but avoid speaking idle words,
        and refuse to get caught up and busy with your interests and concerns
14     Then you will discover joy such as only the Eternal can give.
        And I will raise you high and make your reach as wide as the earth,
    And you will live on all that I promised to Jacob,
        your ancestor, the heart of Israel.

The Eternal One said these very things.

Love and Blessings to you all!

Advertisements

Questioning…….

Have you ever had a time in your life where you began questioning something that you’ve always believed?  You know all that you’ve been taught in your head, and maybe even in your heart, but something has happened, or maybe a series of things have happened that make you wonder how those can be true.  I’ve been there for at least a couple of years, maybe longer.  I can’t even remember when it all began.  I started questioning how the church has treated the LGBTQ community.  I knew all the rote answers and sayings (“love the sinner, hate the sin,” “your identity is in Christ, not your sexuality,” and the too many to add here sayings…..) but they just were not sitting well in my spirit, even before I knew about my child.  In ink on paper, yes, I could see where thoughts and beliefs lead there.  I know that there are very well intentioned hearts that say those things, too.  But looking around at life’s realities, viewing it through that lens that encompasses not just words on a page, but also our relationships, history, life experiences, etc. I began to ask, “could it be that we have gotten this wrong?” Because if we have, the depth of the damage caused to people has been enormous.  ( I emphasize people here because I think that, too often, we see this as a “theological issue,” we look at words on a page and don’t realize we are piercing PEOPLE’s HEARTS when we say the things we say…)

The statistics are alarming of the suicide rates and homelessness rates of LGBTQ youth.  Within this community, if you grew up in a conservative Christian home, your rates for these are double.  The fear of rejection from God, from church, from family and friends can be paralyzing and lead to hopelessness, and unfortunately, to despair to the point of suicide.  Are you alarmed, yet?

This is my first blog.  My “coming out” of sorts.  There is a saying in my new circle of people, “when the child comes out of the closet, the parents go in.”  I’m not sure who said it, but they are spot on!  I am not writing, or speaking for all parents, but the thoughts and insights here at this place are my experience, and mine alone.  They are not even my husband’s, he has his own!  Other people have a whole different experience.  My hope though, is that this will be a place to come and process through questions and doubts, and to do so safely.  It seems that you have either the conservative church side telling and yelling at you one way, or the totally affirming side doing the same.  I have just wanted to shout back, “SHUT UP!”  I wanted to be able to work this out with God.  As time has passed, I have met a few people, where I found safety and freedom to be authentic, to be loved and accepted regardless if my “belief” matched theirs, or not.  For them, I am so thankful.  I love that they consider my spiritual journey equally as important as theirs.  I have really wrestled in my heart over whether to do this ministry, or not.  In doing so, I am aware that some friends may walk away, or at least distance themselves.  And a word to those who want to push their own belief/stance – there are plenty of ministries and organizations that are standing up one way or the other for their “rights.” If that is what you are seeking, go find them.  This is a place to be safe in your questions, your doubts, or if you simply need PEACE….. 🙂