Wearing a legacy

Lace created by my grandmother, Claudia Bishop Harsh.

This morning I put on my robe and reached for a purple stole. I have two… but I chose this one.

I pieced this stole last year from odds and ends and purchased purple swatches. Considering I had never created a stole before, it was a work of much guesswork and happy accidents.

As I wrote last year, I was a bit uncertain how to finish this stole. The embroidered findings of a cross or bread and cup would not show clearly on the piecework. And it needed something, oh… a little more personal! 

And then… as I rummaged and searched for the right finishing touches, I found the family heirloom lace and knew… a commercially created cross would not work. Carefully, I trimmed and sewed pieces of this lace on my stole. I would wear the handwork of my foremothers around my neck.

On Easter Sunday, I will wear more of my family’s heirloom lace on my white robe. As I pray and sing and offer Communion, I will again wear the legacy of my family’s faith. This lace trim, created by my great-aunt Maurine, was painstakingly sewn on late into the night on Holy Saturday last year.

In the basting stages last year: hand-tatted lace created by my Great-aunt Maurine Bishop.

Not everyone gets to wear their family’s love on their sleeve. I know that as I celebrate on Easter Sunday, I bring my family with me. My parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins bring a sense of “grounding” to my faith. I wear a labor of love!

I serve from a place of privilege, for I know I am encouraged and prayed for, welcomed and loved. I worship in safety. I can express my beliefs without fear of persecution.

I wear a legacy… one that I hope to never forget.

Thanks be to God!

Palm Sunday


From Isaiah 64:
3 When you accomplished wonders beyond all our expectations;
when you came down, mountains quaked before you.
4 From ancient times,
no one has heard,
no ear has perceived,
no eye has seen any god but you
who acts on behalf of those who wait for him!

We wait
We stand and watch,
Calling our “Hosanna!” from among the crowd.
We fit in with the cheers
And worshipping ones.

We go back to work
And it is life as usual…
Fall asleep praying
Denying You.

Yet we come back to say again

We need your love and grace
To walk Your road
Of love and sacrifice and self-offering,
Knowing we are dim reflections
Of what the rocks and trees and flowers shout…


BOOK REVIEW: God for Us – Rediscovering the Meaning of Lent and Easter

god-for-usI went searching for a new Lenten reading guide that was more than just “here’s-a-verse-and-a-nice-thought.” I wanted something that caught my eye, that brought a sense of the Holy into its reflections, and that caused me to consider more thoughtfully the Passion Story.

I was delighted when I found this book! This is the companion volume to the devotional guide of the same name for Advent and Christmas. Like its companion, it brings new depth of meaning to this period in the church calendar. Writes Greg Pennoyer in the Preface:

If Advent/Christmas is a revelation of God’s presence with us, then  Lent/Easter is a revelation of God’s desire to use all of life for our wholeness and our healing — the revelation that he will pull life from death. (p. x)

I don’t know about you, but that pretty much captures a spiritual need that is frequently ignored by the world, and glossed over by the Church. After all, if we are living in a struggle and a world of pain, what difference does our faith make? When we sing “Victory in Jesus” and we feel like a defeated mess, where’s the joy and peace that everyone talks about at Christmas?

The book is designed to provide a guided reading of Scripture with stories, art, poetry and prayers. The book contains beautiful imagery and personal stories. It invites you to wander slowly, LENTE, through its pages. Just sitting and gazing that the various artists was a feast in itself! They represented centuries of the faithful, giving their creative touch to the biblical story.

In addition to the daily reflections, the book gives the history of the various Feasts and Fasts of Lent. As someone who only paid a cursory attention to these liturgical details, and who has ministered mainly in a non-liturgical environment, I particularly appreciated this background information. (Let’s face it, chaplains don’t get to do a lot of preaching — sadly — and many times it is not appropriate to offer religious services to the patients and families in our charge. That does not mean, however, that I do not need and want to ponder the depths and riches of my faith tradition!)

The Scripture quotations were from a variety of translations, which sometimes was a bit disjointed in terms of language style from week to week. However, I can appreciate the various translations  and the spectrum of faith traditions and practices that they represent (NIV, NASB, RSV, NRSV, NJB, KJV and The Message).

Each week has its own author, representing a broad spectrum within Christendom: Richard Rohr,  Laren Winner, Scott Cairns, James Schapp, Luci Shaw, and Kathleen Norris. The background on Feasts and Fasts was written by Beth Bevis. I am grateful for their faith, their giftedness, and for the beauty of this volume. And I can’t wait to read it in more detail in the coming weeks!


God For Us: Rediscovering the Meaning of Lent and Easter, Edited by Greg Pennoyer and Gregory Wolfe. Published by Paraclete Press, Brewster, Massachusetts. (c) 2014.

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Paraclete Press
  • ISBN-13: 978-1612613796

Disclosure of Material Connection: I purchased this book. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Palm Sunday 2012


Palm Sunday is today. I realize by even writing that I’ve either made you think “yeah, I know that” or “so what?” This post is meant for those of us who ask the latter question.

On the surface, the events of Palm Sunday seem more like a pep rally. “Hosanna! Blessings on the One who comes in the Name of the Lord! Blessings on the coming Kingdom of our ancestor David! Hosanna in the highest!” (Mark 11:9-10 CEB)

I’ve heard worship leaders who turn this Sunday into a RAH RAH moment and shuddered (and perhaps you have too!) With almost sacrilegious fervor, they yell and shout, and encourage the congregation to respond the same way. There’s nothing wrong with shouts of praise, or dancing with joy. Really. But when it’s done in a moment of engineered emotion instead of spiritual passion, I am uncomfortable.

Why? Because I see how quickly the human heart turns from “Hosanna” on Sunday to “what the hell?” on Monday! How quickly the Scripture narrative turns from celebration to indifference, from commitment to rationalization. And this is a change that happens to all of us too quickly, and on a regular basis.

I think of my own spiritual journey. When I have come home from a retreat, flush with the joys of being in the Presence of God, it was far to easy to have an argument or respond selfishly instead of selflessly to someone. When I had a decision to make, I picked the option that caused me the least personal pain. Or when I was faced with the opportunity to make a public stand for Christ… I would weasel out of it.

My story is much like the disciples of Jesus’ time. Humanity hasn’t changed very much. But perhaps my response is because I am short-sighted. Like the Jesus’ followers, I have forgotten what the big picture is, or will be. One day we will ALL worship the King of kings and Lord of lords. One day we will see the reign of God in all its gloriousness.

Until then, this imperfect vessel will raise her hands and her voice and sing words of honest praise, imperfect though they may be:

Glorious over us You will reign glorious…