Made Sacred

Brother_Lawrence_in_the_kitchen
Mopping the floors, baking the bread.
Changing the diapers, making the bed.
Cleaning toilets, these things we dread.
We are told in Colossians that Christ is before all things and that in Him all things hold together, but it is difficult to believe that God could be a part of something as ordinary as cleaning toilets, as tedious as reading yet one more rendition of Good Night, Moon. It is difficult to understand how we could possibly involve Jesus in these dreary tasks. How in the world, how in the middle of this mundane world, could a holy Christ possibly relate to the filth of toilets?
I had the honor this week to have my essay published over at Foundling House. I would love for you to click over and read the rest of my essay. While you’re there, you should explore a little. There is much to be discovered.

Art credit: drawing of Brother Lawrence is from a book published by Fleming Revell Co. in 1900.

I Need His Silence

Sometimes the silence is daunting.
silence
I sit and I sit and I sit and I wonder where God is.
I want the Voice, the delight, the spiritual moment, and when it is not there I wonder what went wrong.
Yet if I only experienced bliss, I might only trust in bliss. If I only experienced delight, I might only trust in delight.
I might never trust in the infallible character of God.
silence
It is easier to make a lot of noise.
It is easier to keep up a steady stream of words and song.
By filling my space with words it is easier to convince myself that all in my world is as it should be.
By making a lot of religious din we assure our faltering hearts that everything is well. ~ A. W. Tozer
The silence, therefore, however daunting, is necessary.
silence
I must be taught to rely on the Everlasting Father rather than on His comfort.
I must be taught to put my faith in the promise of His presence rather than on my experience of that presence.
I must be taught to trust in Christ the Rock regardless of any corroboration.
silence
I need to sit in the silence.
God often withdraws His inward comforts. Sometimes for long periods.
I need to sit in His silence. And be okay with it.
The silence is still daunting.
I sit and I sit and I sit and I know that He is here.
He is here
I will put my trust in Him.
To hear my blog post read aloud, just click the play button. If you’re reading this in an email, you may have to click here to hear the post on my site.

Art credits: all photographs are copyright Made Sacred 2020

This Magic is Real

There is a magic making whole again that which was broken.
magic
There is a magic transforming the wrecked into what it was before it was hurt.
good magic
This is not a magic of tricks and illusion. It is not a magic that pretends or puts up a shiny veneer. It is not a magic that pushes things to be something other than what they are.
It is, rather, a magic that honors what is real, what is true. It restores.
true magic
Sometimes this magic takes a long time to work.
Sometimes this magic takes effect right away.
It changes with each person. What is needed is what is done.
What is needed.
Not what is desired.
You must be willing to change. This magic will not force itself.
Yet as far as you are willing, this magic will nurture you to grow into what you truly are. It will refine you into what you were intended to be.
It sounds too good to be true. It sounds like a fairytale.
Yet this fairytale is real.
magic from the king
The King came to earth and sacrificed Himself so that His beloved can hold this magic and become worthy of the King.
The fairytale is true and this magic is yours.
All you have to do is reach out your hands and believe.
To hear my blog post read aloud, just click the play button. If you’re reading this in an email, you may have to click here to hear the post on my site.

Art credits: The Fairy Tale by Walther Firle; Fairy Tales by Jesse Willcox Smith; Fairy Tale by Barnstar; Fairy King and Queen by unknown

O Antiphons

advent
The O Antiphons are a sequence of seven Advent prayers written in the first centuries of the Church. These prayers call on Christ to come, addressing Him not as Jesus, for in Advent the Messiah has not yet appeared, but by titles given Him in the Old Testament.
The poet Malcom Guite has written seven sonnets in response to the seven O Antiphons. I am going to share two of them here with you today. The first is O Clavis, O Key, and the second is O Oriens, O Dayspring. The first speaks of the darkness of our humanity and our need for the Key to unlock our prison; the second speaks of the rising Morning Star that will come to illuminate all our darkness.
Linger over these. Read them slowly. Read them again. Let the Key, let the Morning Star speak to you in the stillness.
advent waiting
O Clavis
Even in the darkness where I sit
And huddle in the midst of misery
I can remember freedom, but forget
That every lock must answer to a key,
That each dark clasp, sharp and intricate,
Must find a counter-clasp to meet its guard,
Particular, exact and intimate,
The clutch and catch that meshes with its ward.
I cry out for the key I threw away
That turned and over turned with certain touch
And with the lovely lifting of a latch
Opened my darkness to the light of day.
O come again, come quickly, set me free
Cut to the quick to fit, the master key.
advent light
O Oriens
First light and then first lines along the east
To touch and brush a sheen of light on water
As though behind the sky itself they traced
The shift and shimmer of another river
Flowing unbidden from its hidden source;
The Day-Spring, the eternal Prima Vera.
Blake saw it too. Dante and Beatrice
Are bathing in it now, away upstream…
So every trace of light begins a grace
In me, a beckoning. The smallest gleam
Is somehow a beginning and a calling:
‘Sleeper awake, the darkness was a dream
For you will see the Dayspring at your waking,
Beyond your long last line the dawn is breaking.’
To hear my blog post read aloud, just click the play button. If you’re reading this in an email, you may have to click here to hear the post on my site.

The Deepest of Darkness

There is much darkness in our world.
It is tempting to believe it will always be so.
The darkness feels thick, impossible to escape.
darkness
We see glimmers of light here and there, glimpses of what should be, but the darkness continues to prevail.
Yet once in time, Light entered our world, and we who walk in darkness saw His face.
Light came
Light came for a time,
then He left, returning to the Father, leaving the darkness unchanged.
The same hatred, the same selfishness, the same desire to be God,
it all fills the earth just as much as it did before the Light was made flesh and dwelt among us.
Yet something has changed.
The quality of the darkness has changed somehow. It feels different.
It feels…
desperate.
There is a frenzied quality to it, as though the darkness is no longer in its fullness, as though the Light who came was only a foretaste of what is to come.
There is much darkness in our world.
Yet the darkness that surrounds us feels now more like the deep darkness that comes just before the inexorable dawn.
glimmers of light
So keep watch.
Keep watch for the glimmers of light all around us.
Be a spark of light in the darkness around you.
No matter how dark the darkness, lift up your head and keep watch.
Morning comes
Morning is just over the horizon.

 

To hear my blog post read aloud, just click the play button. If you’re reading this in an email, you may have to click here to hear the post on my site.

Art credit: final photograph is by Kirk Sewell; all other photographs are copyright Made Sacred 2019

Face the Waiting

We are all waiting.
waiting
For a job.
For a child.
For a result.
For a friend.
We spend, it seems, much of our lives waiting.
waiting
When we are waiting, how do we behave?
We fidget, we fuss, we find a distraction.
Very rarely do we stop and embrace the waiting. Very rarely do we still ourselves and contemplate the waiting.
We often avoid leaning in to the waiting because the moment we stare into the face of our unfulfilled waiting, we are overcome with a strange longing.
For what, we are not sure, but there comes to us a lump in our throat, a tightness in our chest, a blinking away of tears.
And so we turn away. We turn to the diversion rather than to the waiting and believe ourselves to be satisfied.
Until we catch another glimpse of the waiting and discover ourselves to be empty.
Advent is a time for us to practice wrapping ourselves in the unfulfilled waiting.
unfulfilled waiting
It is a time for us to practice waiting well.
What does waiting well look like?
It means an active waiting, one that works toward what we are waiting for, just as a gardener waits for his crop of lettuce.
It means a patient waiting, a waiting that trusts in the sure coming of what we are waiting for, just as an astronomer waits for his star to rise.
Returning to our gardener friend who is waiting for his lettuce, it is a waiting that is peaceful, trusting that the waiting is purposeful, that the end depends upon the means.
This is Advent.
waiting well
It is a time for us to still ourselves and gaze straight into our waiting, knowing that even as He came once before, so will He come once again. Knowing that even as He will come again someday, so also does He come to us right now, in little ways, all throughout this in-between time.
In Advent we choose to practice the discipline of bidding welcome to our unfulfilled waiting,
knowing that in the proper time,
our waiting will be fulfilled.
To hear my blog post read aloud, just click the play button. If you’re reading this in an email, you may have to click here to hear the post on my site.

photographs copyright Made Sacred 2019

 

Three Thanksgiving Meditations

thanksgiving
A writer friend invited several of us to team up with her and create something new. She challenged us to try a new form of prose or poetry to meditate on what it means to give thanks, thanksgiving as a form of worship, and how to give thanks in a time of suffering.
I am so pleased with how it all turned out and would like to invite you to come and read each writer as they give thanks in a new way.
Click here to read more.

The Image of God Made Flesh

The image of God.
image of God
Placed in this world, to show this world who their ruler is, who God is.
On the sixth day, on a Friday, in the image of God, He created them.
And after that, He rested. Pleased with the completion of His work.
Yet the image abandoned their role, turned their backs on the Original of their imagery, rebelled against their King, causing all of creation to break in rebellion.
rebel image
The image of God.
image of God
Placed anew in this world, the Word became flesh, to live among us and show this world who their ruler is, who God is.
On another Friday, another sixth day, the perfect image is shown to the people and proclaimed to be The Man.
perfect image
The image of the King is placed in the world to show the world their true ruler, and all his rebellious subjects can do is cry out for His death.
All of creation, from the accusations of the leaders to the sharp bits of thorn drawing blood, is in rebellion against Him.
And what does the image of God do, when placed in the world to dwell among the rebels?
Not come sweeping in like a general, blazing a path through the rebel leaders in a swath of well-deserved destruction.
The image of God, instead, gives Himself up completely to His rebel creation out of obedience to God the Father.
Behold the man.
Behold the man
This is the true image of our God, the “living, loving, bruised, and bleeding God.”
To hear my blog post read aloud, just click the play button. If you’re reading this in an email, you may have to click here to hear the post on my site.

The idea for this post, and the quote at the end, came from N. T. Wright’s study of John.

Art credits: Adam and Eve in the Earthly Paradise by Johann Wenzel Peter; Adam and Eve Expelled from the Garden from The Story of the Bible; The Adoration of the Shepherds by Charles Le Brun; Behold the Man by Heinrich Hofmann; The Three Crosses by Rembrandt

Why I Offer My Heart

We are all walking wounded.

wounded

 

wounded

 

We have all been hurt. We have all been rejected. We have all offered our hearts only to have them thrust back into our faces.
Why in the world, why in this crazy, angry world would we continue to offer what no one seems to want? Why would we Jesus-followers want to keep risking our hearts when we seem to receive so much hurt in return?

offer

 

Why would we, as a regular part of our God-life, continue to make ourselves vulnerable, holding out our hearts in cupped hands, when so often the result is more bruising, more cuts, more places that will not heal?
Why?
Because this is what God did.
This is why.
God continually offers Himself to us, regardless of what we will do with Him. He offers us His heart.

heart

 

heart

 

God continues to offer what we don’t seem to want. He risks Himself and often receives hurt from us in return. He continues to make Himself vulnerable, holding out His heart to us and all the while we simply thrust it back into His face.
While we were still sinners. While we were God’s enemies.

God's heart

 

That was when He offered up His heart on a cross.
And that is why we continue to offer our own hearts, why I continue to offer my heart to you in this space, to make ourselves vulnerable so that we can form the sort of community, the sort of Church that demonstrates to the piece of world around us the immense and vulnerable way in which God loves.
To hear my blog post read aloud, just click the play button. If you’re reading this in an email, you may have to click here to hear the post on my site.

art credit: painting of Christ Crucified by Velazquez, all other photographs copyright Made Sacred

edited from the archives

Deep Love in the Darkness

Deep love.
deep love
Deep love turning scumbag into son, derelict into daughter.
Deep love transforming stone into flesh, filth into snow.
It is beyond my comprehension, this love, a love that covers a thousand sins and yet refuses to leave me sinful.
It is a promise of restoration, this love, a hope of lasting joy, a covenant of the very Presence Himself.
deep love in the dark
What of the times I am fumbling through the dark? The times the pain engulfs my heart, the sorrow blinds my soul, the ugliness of this world threatens to destroy all that I hold dear?
What of the times when I, seemingly alone, cannot catch even the faintest whiff of Him?
It has happened before and it will happen again that I feel deserted.
Alone.
Forsaken.
My God, my God!
It brings to mind another cry. Another forsaking. Another time of searing loss as the Father turns His face away.
Yet this time it was not only a feeling but a truth. A forsaking for a time in order for me, for you, for us to never be truly forsaken.
deep love proven
Deep love that took Him to the cross.
Deep love that took my filth upon Himself, that felt the greatest of all absences so that the Father would never turn away from me.
Those times when I am fallen in the dark?
Deep love is still surrounding me, still transforming me, still giving me Himself.
I can trust in His deep love.
To hear my blog post read aloud, just click the play button. If you’re reading this in an email, you may have to click here to hear the post on my site.

Art Credits: When the King Came by George Hodges; photograph of wooden statue by Asta Kr