Sunday, March 31, 2013

A Lifetime in a Few Days

The house is surrounded by fog this morning, dulling outside sounds and making the bird cries more prevalent.  It sounds like an aviary, and it is lovely sound for an Easter morning. 
What we call Good Friday has passed; though the disciples probably did not associate good with that day.  Their leader, teacher, and friend was subjected to brutal punishment and execution on a cross.  Hung there to die, slowly and painfully – the hearts must have been such an overwhelming mix of grief, fear, anger, hurt, shock, and confusion.  How could the populace do this?  Why would they do this to someone who has healed and fed so many?  Why couldn’t I stop it?  And the realization hit with Peter, I denied my friend.   That is the overwhelming realization of Good Friday – self (I) was a contributing factor.  Even now, many hundreds of years later, the realization still hits with a cold shock – it was me. 
The disciples were confronted with the death of Jesus and had a whole Sabbath day to think over the events, over and over.  On that day of rest, I doubt they rested much.  I can imagine the tears, silent and noisy, staring into space as the wondering of what comes next and grief take back over.  Was there a hint of hope, a realization of what was coming, and any relief in the pain?  The men and women who went through those days, days that were years long in mind and heart, did not have the benefit of understanding immediately what was to occur next.
But, miraculously, the story does not end in this haze of confusion and pain.  Women went to prepare the body of Jesus for burial, honoring him in their best way even at the last.  They arrived where he was to be entombed, but there was not a body there.  Instead, there was a messenger who delivered amazing and miraculous news, “Why do you seek the living among the dead?  He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.”  Did the women look at each other, a spark of hope and yet blanketed in fear in their eyes?  The spark grew and they took steps of faith in great joy.  Joy, overwhelming in its intensity must have taken over as the realization hits – Jesus is not dead!  The meaning of the three days, the rising on the third day – it suddenly makes sense.  And now, even now, the intensity again hits as we realize – the story did not end there, He is Alive! 
A few days in the life of the followers of Christ, that most likely seemed as if they were years long.  Blanketed in their own fog, the sounds around them were louder, sounds of grief and then of wonderment and joy.  We may wonder, how can those days, those few hours so many years ago impact me.  It is the simple realization that my lack of perfection, my sins as an individual that created the separation from Christ that hits with the Good Friday death.  “It was me, he died for me,” is the whisper cry of so many hearts.  But, the moment does not end in death, we realize that death was overcome and life won – life eternal.  The joy comes in a wave as we realize that the tide turns and we have an opportunity for life as well.  The condemned receives a reprieve as the innocent stands and takes the punishment for me, for you. 
Happy Easter – the grave that held Jesus is empty!  He is alive!  

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Recognizing Worship

A Sabbath day break, the rest of Shabbat, is the perfect time to reflect on worship and the many forms I have seen it take this week.  Some of it took the form of simple acts and some more complex:

a child racing to hold the door for someone with full hands, picking up something and bringing it because you know it would be needed, as well as sharing a meal and time to enjoy the company of friends,  the guitars played and songs sung in worship today, (I could have listened for much longer), were another form of worship, celebrating the robins that are showing themselves with the approach of spring, and recognizing Him who created them and sent them, an encouraging word offered, a helping hand reached out, praising God over the beauty of the stars and sky and little green plants starting to awaken from their winter’s sleep… 

The list here is brief and yet could go on and on.  But regardless of the form it took, I wanted to take a moment to just recognize the importance of worship.  A facebook post earlier in the week was wondering about the state of the Church and why it seemed as if it was paralyzed.  I thought of David and how he worshipped with abandon.  In 2 Samuel 6: 16, David is said to be “leaping and dancing before the Lord.” 

So, why our shyness or reluctance now to so publicly praise as David did?  Perhaps for the same reason as David experienced then.  The rest of 2 Samuel 6:16 says that when David’s wife sees him worshipping, she “despised him in her heart.”  Why would Michal despise her husband for worshipping God?  Perhaps she was embarrassed.  This was certainly not the most dignified kingly moment David had demonstrated.  Perhaps she is comparing him to her father and how she thinks that dad would have reacted.  Regardless, she rebukes him.  David doesn’t back down, and if this was the wedge that hurt their marriage in a final sense or the sledge hammer, I don’t know.  But, it seems that damage was definitely done.  I’m not a huge fan of hurting relationships intentionally.  And yet, I must praise David for choosing God and worship regardless of the reaction from those around him. 

To take these two lines of thoughts and tie them up in a neat bow, I need to think about how I worship and if I am faltering in this due to the appearance of what might be embarrassing or inconvenient.  It’s a challenge that I will continue to think through and intentionally seek to worship the Lord this week.  

Monday, March 4, 2013

Musical Flavor Craving

I’m someone who thinks in music, and it often finds its way without me thinking about it, as I go humming down the hall or break out in song.   Often I can listen to a couple kinds of music and enjoy it immensely without feeling as if my musical “diet” is too limited.  Then, every once in a while a craving for a specific sound hits and I start pouring back over my supply to find it.  Last week, it was Benny Goodman and his orchestra.  Today, it was the clear voice of Alison Krauss, the harmony of Union Station, and the dobro that Jerry Douglas can make talk.  Jazz, folk, rock, rap, big band, orchestral, operatic, folk, carol, hymn, monastic, blues, swing, blue grass, French Cajun, and tunes from around the world attract my attention from time to time. 
 One genre of music flows into another, then another and then another.  Developments that occur over decades and centuries have left us with many combinations of music and immeasurable possibilities for future music.  I love not being limited by the style of music, and getting to explore many different genres of music.  I especially love hearing the connected parts in my head.  Not just the harmonies, but also the styles of one transforming into another; like an auditory stream that flows through different topography.  Worthwhile lyrics and melodic patterns have opened up a new world. 
We are going to be singing for a benefit for the Miracles Can Happen Boys Ranch in Wilton, IA soon.  It’s a great organization doing worthwhile things for boys that are in need of a home.   Discussion of what songs will be included is just starting and involves things like timing and style.  It’s a great chance to connect fellowship, music, and a great cause.  I’m looking forward to it, and if you are in the area, you are definitely invited (when we get the date set that is).  In the meanwhile, if you hear someone humming down the hall, it’s probably me thinking through a song.  Come on over and join in.   

Sunday, March 3, 2013


I’ve been mulling over starting up my blog again for a while.  One on my goals this year is to start making an intentional effort to write again.  Putting a new face on the site is fun, with a new title to go with the updated look.  I’ve kept all the old posts under Ancaro Imparo, but wanted a new focus. 
So, welcome to Connected!  I will attempt to capture strings of thought here, form them into sentences and pull them together in somewhat in a grammatical format. 
Connected – it comes from a thought I had late last summer when on a walk to work, I noticed a beautiful rose lying on the sidewalk.  Light pink petals looked as if they were in the fullness of bloom, pointing to a green stem about four inches long.  The flower looked as if had been arranged just so, and as if it were wonderfully, vibrantly alive.  And yet, I know that no matter how beautiful the rose on the sidewalk was, without being connected to its source of life, it is only a matter of time until the death it was already experiencing begins to show.
Now, I’m not taking a morbid turn here.  Really, I promise!  Instead, I’m pointing to life, and being connected to the source of life.  What is that source?  Genesis 2:7 tells it quite clearly (if not simply), “then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.”  A deceptively simple phrase really, with three key words – formed, breathed, and became. 
God formed the man.  Forget the whole chicken/egg discussion, this is the order stated in matter of fact terms.  There is dust of the ground, you know – dirt.  God, the ultimate artist, crafted a physical matter creation.  I do say ultimate artist because of the interconnected complexity of the human body.  The many parts must work just so for physical life to be able to exist.  Each muscle, sinew, bone, tissue, and cell was thought through and planned out.  We are not helter skelter craft projects.
God breaths into the formed man of dust the breath of life.  I think of breath of life, and see them in two different ways.  First, there is physical breath, like the first breath of air a baby draws once being born.  We continue to draw breath throughout our physical life, many times not even thinking about the spontaneous movement of air movement to and from our lungs.  Then not only physical breath, but the breath of the spiritual life; the creation of the soul.  God creates this wonderfully complex body and then breathes life into it, life of body and of spirit.  In other words, not only can we form the camera to capture the moment of a sunrise, but can enjoy it, and can return glory to the creator of that very sunrise in our praise.
God makes man to become a living creature.  Notice that until the life is breathed in, man is not living.  It seems rather rudimentary, but how often do we lose sight of the fact that we did not make ourselves come to life.  No, the formation and breathing create the becoming – and bring about the need for connectedness with the one who created us.