Calling Us Home

sagrada

Once again I ponder Christ ascending above the altar in the Sagrada Familia.

In silence He waits in the empty space to gather the prayers of his people.

The tourists are gone, leaving the sun to kiss the ceiling, serenaded by the morning dove.

Icons, cathedrals and sacraments have never confined His grace.

Birthed in the crucible of life, they testify to His abiding presence apart from time and place.

Though locked in the tomb of fear, guarded by an invisible enemy threatening to shatter our world,

He walks through walls into our isolation.

His Spirit ignites our sacred memories into transcendent prayers.

Leaving the exotic behind, we have been summoned home,

Only to find He’s been waiting there all along.

 

By Elaine Knudtson

Lent – Wednesday Day 7

Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again” Jn. 3:3

Introduction

Nicodemus was an influential Pharisee in the Sanhedrin during Jesus’ day.  The cleansing of the temple had drawn the attention of the religious leaders, and Nicodemus wanted to see for himself what Jesus was all about.  His conversation under the shroud of darkness produced one of the clearest declarations of the gospel recorded in scripture, John 3:16.

Scripture

John 3:3-17

Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. He came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.” Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit.

13 No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. 14 And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.

17 “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

Reflection

The phrase “born again” became prevalent in popular culture when Chuck Colson wrote an account of his religious conversion while serving as special counsel to Richard Nixon during the Watergate Scandal.  Colson, known as the “hatchet man”, was given a copy of “Mere Christianity”, by C. S. Lewis during the unraveling of the Nixon administration.  He became consumed by the claims of Jesus, and converted to Christianity:

I sat alone staring at the sea I love, words I had not been certain I could understand or say fell from my lips: “Lord Jesus, I believe in You.  I accept You.  Please come into my life.  I commit it to you.”  With these few words. . . came a sureness of mind that matched the depth of feeling in my heart.  There came something more:  strength and serenity, a wonderful new assurance about life, a fresh perception of myself in the world around me.” (Colson, Born Again (Baker Publishing), 2008.

He confessed to obstruction of justice, served seven months in prison, and started Prison Ministries as a result of this transformation.  From a ruthless politician to a zealous reformer, his conversion was influential in the rise of the Evangelical movement in the United States.

mower (1)Conversion involves a change of direction and intent.  My father-in-law converted a dilapidated Datsun car into a riding lawn mower one winter in his machine shop.  It went in as a car, it came out as a lawn mower.  It was converted.  When we meet Jesus, we go in as sinners and come out redeemed.

 

“For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God” (1 Peter 1:23).

Prayer

Lord, we cannot spend time with you without being changed.  When we see your love and understand your sacrifice, we confess our faith and invite you to transform us into children of God.  Make us more like you.  Amen

Part the Waters Lord

By Elaine Knudtson

 

Today my sister goes in for another chemo treatment.  It takes me back to my own journey over a decade ago and I relive the anxiety.

“We hold these treasures in clay pots to show that the absolute power belongs to God and not ourselves.  We are often troubled but not crushed, sometimes in doubt, but not despair.  There are many enemies, but we are not without a friend, and though badly hurt at times, we are not destroyed.” 2 Cor. 4:7-9

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jer. 29:11

If we could see the end from the beginning, it would perhaps be easier to trust and have faith.  We would know that ultimately “all things work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose.” Rom. 8:28

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;

And when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.

When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned;

The flames will not consume you.” Is. 43:2

 

 

My beautiful picture

 

“I Remember” – for Karen

I crawl into a ball and weep..

Why?  I can’t even ask.  I sit in silence.  No words come.

To think is too painful; the wound too deep, the scab too fresh.

I’m surrounded by this death.

The stench of fear fills my nostrils and I can’t smell the fragrance of the flowers

My tears cloud my eyes and I can not see the smile of a child

My hands are tightly clenched and I cannot feel the softness of God’s touch on my cheeks.

I cannot hear “I love you” when I am deaf to life because of my pain.

Coldness, tightness, intensity.

It will never end. 

I faint away and release the pain.

I feel nothing.

Silence.

Then, I forget my hurt for a moment and laugh.

I notice the silver on the willow in the rain.

I hear the harmony of the birds and the river as if for the first time

An unexpected visit, a call from a beloved friend, a kind gesture from a stranger—angels unaware.

The infinite time gives way to the rhythm of the day and I inhale the cool air once again.

Slowly hope returns, and the way through becomes clearer as I emerge from the fog.

I can’t look back because it is dark and will always be dark and there will never be anything there but pain.

I have heard your voice in the night.20190804_113808

The warmth of your love enfolds me,

I see your pain in the midst of my own as we

Walk through the baptism of death into the light of the resurrection.