But now you must get rid of all such things—anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have stripped off the old self with its practices and have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator. In that renewal there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all! Colossians 3:9-10
When I was a teenager, I couldn't pass by a reflective surface without looking in it. Even for girls who don't particularly like what they see, this is often a habit as we try to figure out who we are and what we love about ourselves. Since then, my love of the shiny has waned, and I tend to avoid them. I typically don't have the time to fix whatever I might find wrong when I look.
What concerns me more now that I'm in my forties is what I reflect. Do I reflect the world around me with its sinful divisions and hateful opinions? Do I reflect the anxiety of those around me whose striving and avoidance never ends? Do I reflect the priorities of the camera that sees beauty and youth as the ultimate good? Or do I reflect the glory of God? What might that reflection look like?
In this scripture from Colossians, we see that we are renewed in knowledge according to the image of the creator of our new self, and that in that renewal "here is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all!" We can't reflect the glory of God if we put walls up between ourselves and others. In properly mirroring God, divisions cease.
How can we better reflect God's goodness? What are the cracks in our mirrors? Pray for God to heal them. And join us for the journey on Sunday at 11 am.
Earth Day Every Day
Today, I'm just going to share one scripture and then a great song lyric video about the God of wonders. Tomorrow is Earth day, and it isn't just for the hippies anymore. It is especially for those Christians who believe that the world is God's creation and who have the respect to care for that which we've been given. Reflect on the scripture as you spend time with images of God's creation. Come worship with us tomorrow on Earth day at 11 am.
"Heaven and the heaven of heavens belong to the Lord your God, the earth with all that is in it." Deuteronomy 10:14
You can digitally download this song by clicking below:
Just Keep Swimming
“Can you swim?" said Victor. One of the cavern's rotting pillars crashed down behind them. From the pit itself came a terrible wailing.
"Not very well," said Ginger.
"Me neither," he said. The commotion behind them was getting worse.
"Still," he said, taking her hand. "We could look on this as a great opportunity to improve really quickly.”
― Terry Pratchett, Moving Pictures
My children have swim lessons today, and I was put in mind of this wonderful Terry Pratchett scene. Clearly, the characters are in danger. Clearly, they are swimming for their lives without knowing exactly how. But the attitude they choose to take is to see the challenge as an opportunity. And, although Pratchett is decidedly not a Christian writer, seeing challenge as opportunity is a Biblical concept.
The Message Paraphrase of James 1:2-4 says, "Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way."
What challenges are happening in your life that you might embrace instead of escape? How will you use it to 'improve really quickly'?
Come and improve with us at Brightwood Christian Church! We gather for worship at 11 am on Sundays. We hope to see you soon.
The Following is a modified version of my reflections on Maundy Thursday this year:
I wasn’t ready for Maundy Thursday to come, in a million ways. I’m often particularly faithful during Lent, ready to be open to God, conscious of the coming of Good Friday, of the looming cross. Not this year, I must admit. Probably because Easter has come to us so early, maybe because of our late season snow, or because there was a bit more to do this year and we were dealing with family illness that broke the already chaotic rhythm of our days.
I’m sure the disciples weren’t ready for it either. By the last supper, Jesus has told them what is coming. But what does that mean? A year, two years, ten? Jesus’ entire ministry fits into either one year or three depending on how you map the days in the gospels. Either way, it isn’t long. Not long when you’ve left your life and home, not long when you thought your future would be intertwined with Christ’s. And yet, already, their last night together has come.
I’ve had other moments like that, long years of friendship with someone sick as long as I’ve known them, but suddenly, suddenly they’ve passed away. I always knew it would come. But how could it have possibly come already, a horrible surprise that I’ve known forever.
Of course, because they weren’t expecting it yet….already, the disciples heard words that night about Christ’s body and blood that went over their heads, heard accusations of denial that were completely unbelievable. Jesus, again being illusive with meaning and purpose. Jesus, mentioning again a day that would someday, but never come.
What I know about moments like that is that I don’t know they exist until they’ve passed and I look back on times that seemed ordinary and can glimpse the wonder and holiness that was there without my notice.
As I reflect on the moments of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, I am conscious that much of what occurred feel as if they were placed there for us, marking spots of extraordinary grace, powerful wisdom, unimaginable love that we could never have seen if we’d been by Jesus’ side. They only exist as such precious moments in our memory and reflections.
Consider the footwashing: giving us such vibrant images of our servant savior, what love looks like, what intimacy means. In the ancient Church, foot-washing became the ritual by which the Lenten journey of return of those who had betrayed the Lord, or lost their way as disciples, was completed in a closing act of reconciliation, after which those making this return journey could celebrate the Passover of the Lord together with all the faithful.
The bread and cup are touchpoints of holiness, too. Author Jan Richardson writes, “In its own way, … sharing a table calls us to a radical intimacy. To some of us it may seem less risky than footwashing, may cause less overt squirming, but it demands no less of us.” After all, here is a meal that requires us to expand the table of our hearts to all who believe.
As we draw ourselves to the table each week, may we be present to it, but in the way we might to a ritual that reminds us of the last time we did something special with someone, with a lingering bittersweet fondness for our beloved.
Please join us this Sunday at 11 am for worship with communion. All who believe in Jesus are invited to his table.
Rev. Jana Quisenberry is the minister at Brightwood Christian Church. She's an ordained pastor in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). A graduate of Transylvania University in Lexington, KY and Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis, IN, She now resides in Mt. Lebanon with her husband, two children, and dog, Sookie. Pastor Jana loves the church, science fiction, and coffee.
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