We put ashes on our heads to:
-Remind us of all those around the world who are mourning
-Remind us that we all have sinned, we all need repentance,
all must cling to the promises and love of Christ
-Remind us that in the passage of time we must all at some
-Remind us of Christ's suffering, death and resurrection
-Remind us that in the midst if this, we are still called, named,
claimed and loved
Children of God
PRAYER FOR FORGIVENESS
I confess that I have not loved You with my whole heart.
I have failed to be obedient.
I have not done Your will,
I have broken Your law,
I have rebelled against Your love
I have not loved my neighbors, and
I have not heard the prayer of the needy.
Forgive me I pray. Free me for joyful obedience, through Jesus Christ,
my Lord and Savior.
When Jesus saw their faith, He said,
"Friend, your sins are forgiven." Luke 5:20 and Matthew 9:1-8
I stand before you, a changed man.
The life I once lived, I live no more;
I am a man changed.
Once, I thought I knew,
so much more, I thought,
than what was merely true.
Once, I fancied myself to be wise
in worldly ways,
imagined I was clever,
capable of carving out
my own way
in an unfriendly world.
Once, I believed that I knew
all that was needed
to be a great success in the world
I had set out to conquer.
My wisdom was revealed
to be merely worldly ignorance,
a house built on sand
built of sticks and straw,
and being built on sand,
it could not stand
but swiftly collapsed
during the first strong winds.
I was left seated
in the rubble of my life,
shaken to the core,
having lost faith in myself as champion,
as shepherd of my soul; and more.
I could not summon the strength
to press on.
I testify today to undergoing
a radical reformation at the Lord's hand,
one challenging all my assumptions
about who I was,
or what I had really accomplished
within my empty life.
I was compelled to see how little
I had achieved by my own hand.
I was disquieted deeply
by those whom I had caused sadness,
and brought distress and pain.
I could see that most
of what I considered my successes
had been claimed at the expense
of so many others.
And then I WAS changed,
with numbing and deliberate speed,
into a new person,
one distinct from my former self,
yet, one aware of all my failings
and false narratives,
but also, aware
that a new opportunity had come to me
to recover wasted years and days,
to restart my life all over, again.
My life IS changed! It IS new!
All doubts about my purpose in life
have been erased,
my purpose is aligned with
the will of God,
the will of Him who is able,
of Him who enables me to labor
in His fields, to accomplish that
which, in my other life,
I could not even see.
I have been inhabited by the Holy Spirit
since my surrender
to His transforming power,
since I accepted
and embraced His yoke
upon my shoulders.
All is right.
All is well.
This is the way I know I should go.
And now that I know,
it is with Him
Surprise, Sorpresa, Wundern, Quelle Surprise. (English, Spanish and Italian,
Whatever the language,
the word, Surprise,
carries a special meaning,
it is a special word
with the power to change anything,
to change everything
to create a new circumstance
to create a new paradigm
to give voice and life
to a real change
that is at once startling
and at the same time
Can you see the hand of God?
Can you hear a prayer being answered?
Do you recognize a need being met?
Is it your need that is being attended to?
For whom is the Surprise intended?
Is it for you?
Is it for one for whom you pray?
Surprise! It may be for all of these.
It may be totally unexpected.
Does it affect you deeply?
Then think hard upon it
until you see the hand if God within it,
until you receive the surprise
When God is recognized for the gift
He gives to you, or to one you pray for,
or care about;
then be thankful.
Be joyful in the thanks you give.
Tell others of the gift which you receive,
gifts which God has shared with you,
Then, testify. Tell the story,
how God is good, and you know,
all over again, from this surprise,
how good a God He is.
And when you do this, you will see.
A poem by Jon Elvrum, 1/7/2020
A poem by Jon Elvrum
It is You whom I see
nailed to the cross
dying there for me
even as He
is dying there for you.
It is exactly this moment
that has called out to me
these more than twenty centuries later.
See now, the moment when the sky grows dark
dark as the moment seems
as dark as the moment feels.
I see that He has given
nearly everything for us,
to achieve our salvation,
yours and mine.
He has nearly nothing left to give...yet He is not finished.
He thirsts for our redemption
for our reclamation and salvation;
all the lives of everyone still lost
all those still unredeemed.
I thirst, He said
Among the seven last words recorded
His words remembered,
His words written down
there can be found
and a soldier squeezes vinegar
into a sponge,
lifts it up on spear's point
history does not know
if this was just more abuse
or a sad attempt to offer help,
even misbegotten help ...
an attempt to offer something... anything
that might assuage the dryness,
relieve the parched throat;
soothe the broken body;
when no other thing
seemed available to give.
Lord, I see that you
rejected the sponge
as soon as you knew
it was not the water that You intended
it was not the Living Water
that You offered the woman at the well
not the Revelation water
the Holy Water, water meant to redeem
water meant to restore;
not the water from the rock at Meribah
that kept the earliest of the Chosen
together, even in their deepest disarray.
It has always been about water...
The creation story tells
about all was water
then water divided, earth formed;
water mixed with earth
used to form Adam.
It was always about Your thirst for us
always about Your love for us
about Your desire that we be obedient
that we come to the water
that we come to You for
baptism by water,
water for relief
water for forgiveness
water for redemption.
I thirst, He said...
"Come," He said, "all who are heavy laden and I will refresh you."
He offers us His water to drink...
The old song says it:
"Come to the water.
Stand by my side.
I know you are thirsty.
You won't be denied..."
He said it first to us, first for us.
I thirst, He said.
We should be obedient.
We should be thirsty.
We should come to the water, His water.
And we should drink deep!
He thirsts for us. SELAH!
What is meant by the promise of God?
God's promises are His word:
Intended for us
meant for us to consider
for us to meditate upon
finally, for us to believe
whole-heartedly in God's son
believe in JESUS, the Christ;
which is to do with all our hearts
mind and soul
all that He says.
And what does He say to us?
He says that the Kingdom of Heaven
He tells us not to be afraid
He invites us to come...
He asks us to follow Him
wherever He leads us.
He promises He will never leave us,
nor forsake us
we will never be abandoned by Him
for the only inescapable reason,
for one undeniable truth,
because of His Father's love
and His Father's will
we are secure in our position.
Thanks to God's promise
and God's provision
We can believe the promise ,
we can embrace the provision
We are free to join Him
in His new life for us,
free in wholeness,
new in our restored beauty,
in the final, full dimension
of His perfect newness
as He told us when our conversation
of promise commenced,
when we first explored
the premise of His promise,
when we began by understanding first, His Incredible Sacrifice
and it's stunning result,
how Christ was broken for us,
How He was broken by us,
broken because of us.
In His suffering we are complicit,
as our sins are taken
and laid upon His already broken body
adding to His pain
the additional weight of our own sins.
We are not afraid for we know the Kingdom of God is here
For we have come,
now knowing; we are glad to be here
where His promises are no longer the subject of faith
But are now the very substance
of our new eternity.
Us resting forever in His promise,
knowing it is true.
That IS Believing,
I believe it IS true.
Is it also true with you?
Be not afraid!
The Kingdom of God is near.
Come and follow.
Reach out and taste His love,
feel His presence.
Believe He has called you to Himself.
Draw near to Him, be reconciled.
Do not be afraid! He has come, and He will come again!
Alongside His perfect life,
He has laid His perfect promise.
A poem by Jon Elvrum,
Poem by Jon Elvrum
Here we go again! Blessings.
Lord, I have read stories
of those who met you
no vision, perhaps blurred vision
seeing figures more like trees than men.
There are so many stories...
Lord, I have read stories
of those who encountered You
who were changed forever
from unclean to clean;
from once deaf to now hearing
from hemorrhaging to wholly restored
by Your holy restoration,
Lord, I have read stories.
I have wondered how one can read
all the stories
stories of forgiveness
of correction and re-direction
of penitence and remorse,
so many stories,
of sinners confronting their sin
through their encounter with You
sinners being changed
in a radical, life-altering moment.
There are so many stories
told with such passionste candor
such calm assurance sustained
by the kind of absolute certainty
which allows one to say
to the powerful skeptics of their day
"I only know that I was blind,
but now I see!"
Or, "I knew if I could touch
even the hem of His robe
that I would be healed."
There are so many stories...
With so many stories
stories from Scripture
with so many examples
examples from old to new history,
so many real life experiences about
of life and lives transformed;
with all we know, by what we have read,
what we have heard,from those we know or have known of...
How can we doubt any longer?
What "new" news are we awaiting?
If you still doubt all this,
all this gathered information,
if you still wonder what to do?
Then turn today
turn to the one who saves
to the only one who elected
to die for you
chose to offer himself as earnest payment
for all the sins
for all the evil and selfish acts
even those particular and special ones
all those done
His gift has been freely given.
One time for all of time.
Take the time to put your heart into
a place of penitential preparation
Confess that you are a sinner
Say aloud, you are sorry for your sins,
sorry you have been so long away,
say that today, you want Him to come
to make your life into a new life
a changed and corrected life
Declare all this in the name of the One
the One who is able
the only One who died to save you
the only One who lives to see that you
receive the gift He gave
Why do you hesitate?
Come to the water, He said.
Drink all you will. Come to the water.
"Freely, freely, you have received,
Freely, freely give.
Go in His name
and because you beliehve,
others will know that He lives."
Chorus from a Christian song of praise.
A poem by Jon Elvrum
I never knew how lost I was
I never knew why I was lost.
I thought I was my own master, my own keeper of my own keys
It was not true.
I thought, I knew, that life was often cruel.
Was often sad, sometimes lonely
and difficult to make sense of.
But I believed that I would make it through
to wherever was the next place
to that next thing, that next situation,
which always managed to occur.
just before ...
before I was really ready for whatever was to be;
then as my ability to control events failed once again
I heard a word
asking me quietly
if I would allow myself to be helped?
if I would be still, and know who it was who could help?
Who, could help, but GOD?
but O how greatly did I need His help?
This was a very radical idea to me,
convinced as I was that
could control my life's outcomes
only I could fight my own battles,
overcome my own inadequacies.
My failure was very hard to embrace
difficult to admit.
I heard You
into my soul
and at once I knew it was You.
You were with me
How did You know?
What could You see?
Suddenly I knew
that though I desperately tried
to hide my failure
You saw it clearly.
How did you see, how did You know
what I so fully needed from You?
You never lost sight of me,
I know now that You are always aware,
on the alert, ready to cover me
with Your grace
to cover me with Your favor
to inspire me to take on a different path,
a new path
where I never would have gone
in my own will.
suddenly I am on unfamiliar
yet confident ground;
suddenly, I know,
I feel that You are with me
I am not alone.
In an instant You have me, more than I can believe that I have You.
How? How can this be?
Because Your love is greater than my every weakness;
because Your faithfulness, is stronger than my every misstep.
You do the impossible.
I am left to embrace the impossible things You do because of who You are and for what You have done for all of us
for all of time.
There are things written down in deathless Scripture
never to be forgotten or ignored.
We are covered and lifted up
We are exalted by Your Word
and by, for, and through Your Will
which was always in Heaven
and is now on Earth as well.
Because You are all You have declared,
so much more than we can ever merit,
because, in spite of our weakness and even in our sin:
we are wholly Yours forever.
We are Holy! And that Is How.
Let us all as one, say Amen!