Burning my Hosannas

Hosanna! 
Hosanna! 
Blessed is the One who comes in the name of the Lord!


I remember…
hands raised in praise
the streets filled with people
shouts of joy
“blessed, how blessed!”

months go by
discouraged and tired
the heart is weary
“why, Lord, why?”

how I’ve failed
what I’ve done
what I’ve not done
all the ways I’ve wandered…

Remember you are dust…

 

tonight I burned my Hosannas
remembering the ways my heart has wandered
the cross I wear on my forehead tomorrow
will be a sign
that I remember
and I am wandering back…

Mercy: Stop for Human Beings

IMG_9637

Blessed are the merciful.
BUT… I don’t feel very merciful. I want to engage in some self-righteous holy kick-butt.
And that runs opposite to the call to be merciful.

For they shall obtain mercy…
Wait. Wait. WAIT A MINUTE! But what if they don’t deserve it?

I’m pretty sure Jesus did not say anything about “deserving” mercy. Quite the contrary.
I know, I know. But really? This person is… an idiot. A prejudiced asshat. A judgmental and mean-spirited person.

And by saying this… you are…
Ack. Great. Yeah… you’re right…


 

This is how my mind runs, anyway, as I deal with a situation that seems so UNFAIR. Even… (dare I say it??) Unbiblical.

My blood pressure goes up. My heart rate increases. I get that lovely feeling in my gut like I’ve tried to digest nails.

And in this moment, you have just witnessed what every preacher, pastoral counselor and chaplain face every time they think about offering good advice or a needed critique. Every time they honestly want to speak truth… but hear “hypocrite!” echoing in the back of their minds.

How can I possibly be this angry and hot under the collar? I am so unworthy of the grace of God! How can I preach justice and love kindness and walk humbly… when I’m so caught up in who I am and what I want?

Perhaps mercy demands acceptance that I carry this with loose hands, with an acceptance that this is not my situation to solve. There is no way to make amends. And there is no way that I can force a resolution, a reconciliation. I must accept that this is a God-sized task.

It is a moment to STOP for other human beings and allow God to work. (Hence, the photo at the top of this post.) Maybe it was googly-eye stuck on the sign, but I realized, as it caught my attention, that far too often I will walk right by (or OVER) a situation that demands… MERCY.

In the Latin confession, there is a prayer that is sung or chanted as congregants prepare for Holy Communion.

Kyrie eleison
Christe eleison
Kyrie eleison

Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

The root of eleison is translated oleos or mercy in the Greek New Testament. And even more striking is the connection to the Hebrew word, hesed. Translated as “love” or “lovingkindness”, hesed represents the convenient, ever-faithful love of God. In fact, it is so much a part or Essence of the BEING of God that it can’t be distinguished from the Presence of God. And even more importantly, hesed is how one demonstrates one’s  connection to God, living it out in the world. Giving to those who can’t give back. Not responding in kind with an angry,  cruel, or unnecessary rebuttal.

So when I internalize all this… it comes back to my sense of personal injustice and entitlement. For I expect, no, demand my rights. And I am asking for far more than I deserve, not considering the wants or needs of others.

The question is this: Can I release this moment or action to God’s Hands? Can I gently, carefully extricate myself from the burst of self-righteous, frustrated anger?

Blessed are the merciful… for they shall obtain mercy.

That’s something I know I need. And want to give back.

Watch out for human beings. Show Mercy.

 

Merciful

Photo Credit: “Blessed are the merciful_0894”, © 2007
James Emery, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

 

 

A Well-Examined Life?

That it may please thee to give us true repentance; to forgive
us all our sins, negligences, and ignorances; and to endue
us with the grace of thy Holy Spirit to amend our lives
according to thy holy Word,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

Book of Common Prayer 

 

Today is Yom Kippur, one of the holiest of days for my Jewish friends and co-workers. Yom Kippur has a two-fold theme: atonement (kapparah) and cleansing (taharah). Self-examination and fasting is part of the day’s religious observances. Many of my co-workers and friends are spending time today reflecting and repenting, and remembering that sin always deserves punishment.

Even non-Jews can participate, to take time to reflect. At work, we were challenged to do this by our boss. To make time to consider how we could be better people, better friends, better family members. It was a good reminder. Reflection, confession and receiving forgiveness are acts that take time. They are not rote. They need intentional awareness.

IMG_6499I went about my morning doing some chores like laundry and dishes, using the time to pray. The house was quiet, and I tackled one of my least favorite chores: cleaning the bathroom. (It’s not that I don’t clean my shower. I do. I just don’t give it a good scrubbing. More like a lick and a promise.)

There’s nothing like really doing a deep clean to find all of the bumps and imperfections. Where you need to do a quick fix or a careful repair. Where you find dirt that you didn’t expect to find dirt. (And are left to wonder, why were there spiders living UNDER the seat in our shower?)

For many of us in Christendom, we participate in services each week that include an element of confession. The words are familiar, we can almost say them from memory. Sometimes, we say them on autopilot.

My intention this week is to pray with more attention to my words. To make them heartfelt, honest and real. I want my prayers to be a “deep clean” — not just a lick and a promise.

 

O Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world,
Have mercy upon us.
O Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world,
Have mercy upon us.
O Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world,
Grant us thy peace.