Thursday, February 19, 2009

Shredding as a Means of Grace

John Wesley, who started the small groups that led to the formation of the Methodist Church (i.e. the "founder" of the Methodist denomination) preached on and practiced the "means of grace." He gave the title "means of grace" to particular Christian practices that convey grace to the person practicing them. Among the means of grace are communion, conferencing (getting together to discuss our faith and how it relates to our lives), prayer, reading God's Word, fasting, and visiting the poor and imprisoned. By doing these things, Wesley believed that the heart would be more and more strangely warmed to loving God, receiving God's love, and sharing God's love with others. I was doing something the other day, which began as a benign office task, but was transformed into what I think was a holy event. I'll even go so far as to say it was a means of grace for me. I needed to clean and organize my office. It had gotten cluttered with junk mail and catalogs and several months worth of paperwork that needed to be filed. I broke out the shredder and got busy, getting rid of things that I no longer needed. As the zzzzzzzzchhhhhhhhhch of the shredder hummed along, I started noticing something--it seemed there was more room in my life again. There was physically more room in my office and on my desk, but there was also this strange feeling that there was also more room in my mind and heart. I started to feel the urge to get to praying and to get to studying God's Word. I was energized with the Spirit again. As I tried to come to terms with what was going on--how did God show up in this office organization task?--I realized the enormity of the "stuff" I had let clutter my life and my heart. With them gone, I had room for God again. It's funny how the physical "stuff" can come between us and God. And then I started thinking about the emotional baggage and clutter we all carry. What if we took all the hurtful words, the bruised egos, the devastating news, the humiliating events, the painful memories and fed them down the hatch of the shredder? What if we destroyed these things before they destroyed us? What if we got rid of these things before letting them sit around in our hearts? wouldn't we have more room for love? Wouldn't we have more room for forgiveness? Maybe I need a shredder for my heart, too...

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Facebook has changed my life...

I know, it sounds really lame...Facebook? A life changing application? A social network can do that? Well, for me, it has changed some things in my life. Not a cataclysmic overhaul but some subtle changes that have been good for me. First, let me admit for all the blogosphere to see, that I am addicted (a little) to Facebook. I have the app on my phone. I check it throughout the day. I have, on occasion (when driving alone ) fb'ed while driving. And yes, I both abbreviate Facebook using FB, and I use FB as a verb. I need help, I know.
I joined Facebook initially because my brother and sister-in-law were on it, and I wanted to keep in better touch with them. But soon, a whole world was opened up to me that I couldn't have imagined some pointing and clicking could possibly do. I found and reconnected with friends I haven't heard from in years. I have been able to learn about their lives and get to know them better now. And there are some people who have friend requested me, that I don't really know that well. We were college classmates, or we worked together for a period of time. I have found myself using Facebook as a way to be intentional with my intercessory prayer--prayer for people other than myself. I see the status updates with messages of worry, stress, lost loved ones, fear, pregnancy announcements, career successes, and on and on, and I have begun to pray for my FB friends...the old friends with whom I've reconnected, the new friends who I'm still getting to know, and the acquaintences, too. I find it a refreshing way to pray and a testament to the power of God to work in ways we could never imagine. God working through FB. That's pretty awesome, if you ask me. So, if you FB, and you add me as a friend, update your stat, and I'll pray for you (although I am probably already doing that), and when I update mine, maybe you could share some words with the Lord on my behalf.

Jesus and Grandma Laugh

I've been having a hard time these last couple of weeks putting all the tumults of my emotions in words, but I have felt a tugging on my heart to say something about the loss of my Grandma. And I keep coming back to two very different, yet similar places--tears and laughter. One of the best, most lovable things about Grandma was her laugh. People say Julia Roberts has a contagious laugh, but I will tell you, and I may be biased, but she has nothing on my Grandma. When Grandma would laugh, it wasn't uncontrollable, side-splitting giggles. It was a deep and warm laugh that invited you in. It wasn't as if she had some secret joke you didn't know about. It was that she was so happy about something she just couldn't stop reliving the joy of the moment. So, she would laugh and laugh, and when you thought she was finished, she'd keep on laughing. Sounds crazy, but if you could inherit laughs, I wish I had Grandma's. It made you want to be a part of the love she had in her heart, and it made me want to spend more and more time with her. It reminds me of this art piece that I love--the one showing Jesus laughing. Though I'm not sure this is exactly what Jesus would have looked like, the features don't matter so much. It's the laugh that draws me in. I don't know why we sometimes talk and think about Jesus as if he's some lifeless, serious bore. I think Jesus was one who delighted in life and in love and invited you to share in it. Seeing this depiction of Jesus laughing makes me want to spend more time with him. May God bless us all with people in our lives who cause us to smile, who laugh with us, who share joy with us. May God bring his own joy and laughter into your heart.