A strong contender for word of the year for 2018 is already ‘hate’.
Every day we hear about hate speech,
hate groups and numerous slogans along the line of ‘love trumps hate.’
I think this time of year, the lead up to Easter, is always a perfect time for those of us
who profess to be followers of the one true Savior, to stop, taking time to reexamine the
notion of both love and hate…that age-old polar opposite condition—
the duality of man.
That constant struggle and fight of the inner being as it is connected to its outer world.
Because if the truth be told, love and hate were, when the dust actually settles,
the true culmination of Jesus’ earthly ministry.
It is the concept of ‘no greater Love’ versus the hate of Satan made manifest in man…
all of which actually goes back to the Fall of man…
of which brings us directly to the foot of the cross…
and will eventually bring us to the final coming again of Christ.
A continuum of the fractured nature…of which Jesus is the ultimate restorer.
And as man so often does, he ebbs and flows with this counter opposite nature of his…
that being hate.
Man spews out hate while shouting all about love…making totally no sense.
Our Wee Flea friend David Roberston points this out in an article written for Christian Today, The Power of Hate
David writes… “The relationship between love and hate is very close.
One of the observations I would make is the way so many people use ‘love’ as a badge that
justifies their hatred.
Go on an anti-hate march and feel the hate!
Dare to question any of the current shibboleths in our culture and watch how
the online mob expresses their hate for you, in the name of love.”
Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself.
Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar,
because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son.
And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.
I write these things to you who believe in the name of the
Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.
1 John 5:10-13
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.
(a protion of the paitning The Sacrificial Lamb / Josefa de Obidos / 1670-1684)
There is so much I wish to share after having watched the 2nd Sunday in Epiphany
posting by Bishop Gavin Ashenden, but time will not permit me to do so.
I am however including the video clip of his homily at the end of this post, which is really so lovely, so welcomed and so needed.
For as the good Bishop reminds us—our pursuit of God, or perhaps that should be God’s pursuit of us, is that of an extraordinary venture…
I will, however, touch on just a portion of what I’ve taken away, as I will do so
over the next day or so, as his words have touched me deeply.
The good Bishop, at one point during his homily, recalls having, not long ago, having attended a reunion of his schoolmates. He had actually attended a Christian School and remembers quite vividly attending the chapel services and how often as a boy,
listening to the words of the Gospel, or a reading from the Epistle,
or even words of the hymns…just how deeply touched and moved he was—
his words— “I felt my spine tingling.”
So at this reunion of sorts, he knew that some of his now grown classmates were Christians and some were not. He asked if they remember the hairs on the back of their necks
standing on edge or getting goosebumps or feeling a tingling in their spine during parts
of the service…
And their response was one of incredulous bewilderment.
They told him that chapel was merely a time to be endured,
nothing earth-shattering as he seemed to recall…
and I, in turn, was keenly moved by this tale because I too have felt that tingling.
Bishop Ashenden went on to conclude that he felt perhaps that God’s hand was on his life
heavier and more direct, for whatever reason than at that same time of that of his mates.
And I too have felt that heaviness, and it was also at a much younger age.
He goes on to relate a tale of the notion of sin and the fact that there is a Christian perception of sin and that there is what is considered a secular perception sin…
Christian sin, to the Christian, is more evident as it is a brokenness that separates
the sinner from God.
A secular sin is more or less a cultural perception of correctness—
and if you are on the wrong side of that correctness, then that is the true sin…
An example would be a person who opposes same-sex unions/marriage.
Secular society condemns anyone who is against same-sex unions by not viewing such
unions as perfectly acceptable.
That’s all there is to it.
One has broken the cultural code of what is right, and therefore there is no help for you…for you have sinned. You are castigated.
The Christian perception of sin is different in that there is one key component…
That component is forgiveness.
In a politically correct society, there is no room for forgiveness.
And whereas “we are fractured from God by our appetites, by our flaws, by our behavior,”
we are in desperate need of forgiveness.
And that forgiveness comes in the form of Jesus
on the cross.
The homily was opened with the reading from the book of Revelation 5:1-10
Then I saw in the right hand of the one seated on the throne a scroll written on the inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals;
and I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice,
“Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?”
And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open
the scroll or to look into it.
And I began to weep bitterly because no one was found worthy to open the
scroll or to look into it. Then one of the elders said to me,
“Do not weep.
See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered,
so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.”
Then I saw between the throne and the four living creatures and among the
elders a Lamb standing as if it had been slaughtered,
having seven horns and seven eyes,
which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.
He went and took the scroll from the right hand of the one who was seated on the throne. When he had taken the scroll,
the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell before the Lamb,
each holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense,
which are the prayers of the saints. They sing a new song:
“You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals,
for you were slaughtered and by your blood you ransomed for God saints
from every tribe and language and people and nation;
you have made them to be a kingdom and priests serving our God,
and they will reign on earth.”
Bishop Ashenden makes note of John and of his weeping over the fact that there is no one
who can or is worthy to open as well as read the scrolls.
He is then told that first, it is the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David
who is also, in turn, is the Lamb…and it is this sacrificial yet triumphant
Lamb who will open and read the scrolls.
It is the Lamb who is key to the forgiveness and cleansing we are so desperately
in need of as our fracturing from God is now rejoined and made whole…
“In that day there will be an altar to the LORD in the midst of the land of Egypt,
and a pillar to the LORD at its border.
(a Coptic Cross…it reads, Jesus Christ, the son of God)
While Christians gathered around the world to pray, worship and celebrate the
beginning of the most revered and holiest season’s of the Church’s calendar,
two Coptic Churches and their members in Egypt were attacked.
Despite being outfitted with metal detectors, two suicide bombers joined the Palm Sunday
worshipers detonating their explosive packs near the altars of the two crowded churches.
In their wake two holy and sacred places were transformed into grisly crime scenes comprised
of splintered woods, crumbled stone, blood and body parts while lives and families were
Coptic Christianity is regarded as the oldest sect of the Christian Church.
It is a church that was established by the apostle and evangelist St Mark in Egypt during the
reign of the Roman emperor Nero in the 1st century.
Egypt and the Coptic Church is also home to the inception of Christian monasticism.
History notes that it was in Egypt that both the Desert Fathers and later, the Desert Mothers,
sought the solitude of the desert to pray and in turn build monasteries that have been
in continuous operation for the past 1900 years.
And since 2010, the Islamic State has made the life of Coptic Christians a
The latest two murderous attacks taking place yesterday during Palm Sunday. Egypt’s Copts, who have suffered repeated deadly jihadist attacks,
say they feel abandoned and discriminated against by the authorities in the
predominantly Muslim country.
But despite their fears, the Christians of Tanta said they are determined to defend
“We’re Christian and we will stay Christian,” one woman said in a defiant tone.
As we solemnly enter this holiest of weeks of our Christian faith,
may those of us who are privileged to worship openly and free,
be mindful of our brothers and sisters across the globe who continue to worship
under the black cloud of persecution and terrorism.
Let us pray for the victims, the wounded and the collective Christian families of these two
Knowing that what we take for granted, that of our freedom to worship in relative
safety and security, is not the standard for many worshipers around this fractured world.
May we stand in solidarity as the family of Believers as we continue to
proclaim that Jesus Christ is the Risen Lord…
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
“You look closely enough,
you’ll find that everything has a weak spot where it can break,
sooner or later.”
Fractures well cured make us more strong.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
(the culprit to the fractured windshield / Julie Cook / 2016)
The phone rang early…
it was before 8 and I was in the shower.
Well actually both phones were ringing at once…my cell phone and the good ol landline.
That’s when you know it’s bad…ringing phones in stereo.
Our life has been rather topsy turvy as of late so phones ringing, really before one expects, tends to send me automatically into mobilizing the troops, manning the torpedoes and battening down the hatches mode.
Dripping wet while frantically grabbing a towel I see that the caregiver is on one phone and Dad is on another. For just the slightest millisecond I debate…hummmmm, get back in the shower and pretend life is golden or bite the bullet and answer the damn phones….
Long story short—how is still unclear, but they both fell—-into one another, which is still a bit unclear, and both were down for the count.
Dad, the turtle of the two—when on his back isn’t getting up without help.
Miraculously however, he did manage to get up and get to the door to let the frantic caregiver in who had just arrived for the day.
My stepmother however…she was truly down for the count and was not getting up.
“Do I call the ambulance????” the caregiver asks in one ear as Dad wants to know if he needs to push the life alert button he wears religiously around his neck in my other ear.
Somewhere in my brain I’m thinking both of these people are in the same room, why are they both calling me when I think one of them could handle calling while the other one panics?!
Well since I’m a good hour and a half away, still wringing wet, I’m going with 911.
The short end of this tale is that my stepmother “fractured” her wrist and is in cast and sling.
Dad is still confused as to how “this arm,” as he points to his right arm, came around and knocked into my stepmother, sending her and him to the ground.
“That’s your story Dad and you’re sticking to it??” I flatly inquire.
My suspicion is Dad, at 5 feet nine inches and 185 lbs, got up out of his chair, turned, lost his balance and fell into her–all 5 feet 1 inches and 98 pounds worth.
After racing (an oxymoron word) to Atlanta for the second time this week, dealing with this latest ambulance ride and ER visit, where I am certain they now know my stepmother by name, I got everything and everyone settled and readied for the ride back home… as deja vu is the current theme with me and Atlanta.
I tell Dad that I think we need to consider 24 hour care and or they will have to move to a facility that can look after them 24/7.
He vehemently balked at that idea…
Back in the car and back on the interstate for the umpteenth time this week, I didn’t see it or even hear it…yet there it was…a strange black line on my windshield..
Thinking maybe a piece of pine straw was stuck on the windshield, I watch the pine straw snake it’s way along my windshield.
The pine straw was no longer that and my fear was confirmed… my windshield was indeed “fractured”
A fractured stepmother and a fractured windshield…..
(must have been a Ga Tech rock as it hit right at the UGA sticker)
The good thing is that she will heal, allbeit slowly as 88 year old bones are brittle, fragile and slow to grow back…
I read on an orthopedic page that…
“Broken bone ends heal by “knitting” back together with new bone being formed around the edge of the broken parts.”
Which mind you is pretty darn cool—that our broken bones can regenerate.
My windshield, for a hefty little price, can also be miraculously repaired–as the glass folks are scheduled to come out and replace it tomorrow.
As I continue to contemplate this day’s whole fractured theme, and how we have recently dealt with a deeper fracture than that….
there are those fractures of the physical that run in and out of our lives…
I marvel over the Master Physician and His ability to heal all of the fractures of our lives—
those outward appearing breaks as well as those unseen internal breaks.
It’s just a matter of asking for His tender care…as well as allowing Him access to our “breaks”
Here’s to our regenerated healing…..
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he saved them from their distress.
He sent out his word and healed them;
he rescued them from the grave.
Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for mankind.
“There is a spiritual loneliness, an inner loneliness, an inner place where God brings the seeker, where he is as lonely as if there were not another member of the Church anywhere in the world.
Ah, when you come there, there is a darkness of mind, and emptiness of heart, a loneliness of soul, but it is preliminary to the daybreak. O God, Bring us, somehow to the daybreak!”
A.W. Tozer excerpts from various sermons…How to be Filled with the Holy Spirit
(grave of a forgotten young man, Colonial cemetery, Savannah, Ga / Julie Cook / 2016)
When excavating the locked chambers of the soul…
that quest for the missing piece to wholeness…
The path is narrow, fraught with both emptiness and loneliness
And the darkness will be exacting.
It is a journey few care to traverse…
Isolation is a key requirement…
The striping away of all exterior noise and distractions…
leaves exposed the innermost secrets of one’s very being.
God is exacting.
He is a selfish God, who wants all and will not settle for any less.
He wants not that which is freely offered, willingly given…
He wants, nay demands, that which is desperately held back.
The re-union of created and Creator is inevitable.
There are those who eagerly seek the synthesis, the rejoining…
While others vehemently fear it…
The fragility will shatter…into a million fractured shards…
Out of the mire, the sucking and suffocating quicksand of death…
The spirit longs to reach upward, yearning for home…
Yet it is in the depth of death’s vast darkness that the fractured soul searches…
While the Creator waits…
Bring us home oh Lord
Strip us of that which prevents us from being with you..
Deliver us out of…
Bringing us to the daybreak of You…