What Jesus Says to your Fear *SLOW Word video*

Ever sense you can already feel the spray from an impending circumstance, like Peter overwhelmed by that coming wave?

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Anticipation becomes worry. The worry deepens.

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You stand on the water and watch the swells and can’t help but calculate the time for the massive roll to reach you. You try your darndest to push it back down into your subconscious to strong arm your day but that nauseous feeling has a way of rising back up unbidden.

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Maybe it’s a credit card bill that’s looming, a deadline, a yearly procedure, the prospect of connecting with a family member that always leaves you cradling a tangled mass of emotions.

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Maybe your wave is way simpler: morning. Maybe just waking up and punching in and going through the motions leaves you drained and apprehensive.

Get still. Take a couple deep breaths and then ask yourself: what am I anxious about?

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When you have the answer, enter into the story of Peter walking on the water as if you are Peter.

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Hear Jesus in front of you inviting you out onto the rough sea. Hear his voice saying, “Come.” Take that first step out of the boat. Linger with Jesus for a moment and enjoy His company. You have just heard him say: “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” How do you feel when you’re with Him? Stay there a moment. Then feel the water just under your feet, flooding your sandals, the fierce wind pulling at your hair, playing with your clothing. Feel the spray of the water. See the wave coming, and then be present with Christ with your wave.

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What happens next, Dear One?

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Listen. Watch.

Join me in a short 11 minute lectio divina on Matthew 14:26-31a

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Let the Word become a springboard for prayer.

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Matthew 13:1-8 Lectio Divina *Slow Word*

Come sit on the dock with me?

We’re listening to the Parable of the Sower with a view of Bar Harbor, ME just down from this week’s vacation house.  *Pinch me!* Bar Island is over my right shoulder.

In order to amplify this scripture to the crowds, Jesus climbs into a boat to make a natural amphitheater of the hills around the Sea of Galilee. I’ll bet the boat rocked and swelled with Jesus’ words just like the dock does here.

 

 

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The Key to Real Refreshment & *SLOW Word*

Hello dear friends, I’ve packed up the SLOW Word lectio divinas in my suitcase and you’re coming on vacation with me! This scripture is the perfect place to start and happens to be Sunday’s lectionary. Bonus! Join me weekly for a feast of the word right here. Want more? Subscribe on the right to get them slipped right into your inbox and receive my intro to lectio divina welcome video.

 

Why is true refreshment so elusive?

 

As we point the minivan towards the Green Mountains of New Hampshire and our yearly family vacation, I’m reminded that on vacation we sometimes just relocate our frenetic pace. My sister coined this being stuck on high speed through life as doing “Cedar Point” after the amusement park perched on the shores of Lake Erie. These days we’re no longer an amusement park kind of family. We linger long at Italian restaurants with the antipasta and a glass of pinot. Now we use “Cedar Point” as a verb when we discuss being overwhelmed and cramming “just one more thing” into our schedule such as: “I’m going to have to say no. That sounds like Cedar Point” or “if we stop at one more store, it’ll be completely Cedar Point.” It’s our white flag that we need to listen to our need for rest and downsize into something small and quiet.

 

But how often do we listen? For years I lived full speed ahead. I’d only declare a sabbath after pushing towards an exhaustion which was more kin to illness. Sabbath had more to do with a crash than a rhythm. Later after a day of netflix bingeing, I’d be crawling from deep in overwhelm back up to Zero, but refreshment? I barely knew what that meant.

 

I’m learning to give myself time to push the pause button early, to allow myself to recognize my poverty before the Lord and ask: “Will You be my Teacher, to learn a rhythm of rest in a way that will truly refresh me?”

 

 

That’s the question I asked after a week of new faces and church services and the tightly cramped schedule of the Anglican Church of North America’s Provincial Assembly at Wheaton College. The answer came in the form of an unexpected detour and an errand, a task I took while grudgingly. Why would I want to leave? I was happily surrounded by family, three couples and seven kids at my in-law’s cottage in North Central Ohio. We were tucked deep in Amish country under a thick canopy of trees. I won’t even mention the full tins of homemade gingersnaps. Besides, I brought my watercolors.

 

When we’re at my in-laws, the rules for rest are graciously bent. We nap when we need to and curl up under one of mom’s handstitched quilts on a couch in the cool of the basement. We check into work occasionally but for the most part forget our computers and phones charging in a back bedroom. We spend the evenings in front of the campfire down the hill in surrounded by a crescent of tall pines. The fireflies blink their syncopated magic while we watch the children reach for the tiny hatches of light.

 

But in the midst of Grandparents’ Camp 2017 and an hour car ride to watch the July 4th fireworks, the check engine light began its long unwelcome glare. We were on a cross-country trip. We needed a mechanic sooner than later. This was only stop two of six. Mom and Dad’s personal garage mechanic came to the rescue which is to say that I would need to spend Monday in Mansfield stuck in never-ending-strip-mall-world (My Favorite.) just down the road from where my husband and I went to high school. The repair shop was smack dab between our favorite pizza shop and the paint store where I had my first job pretending I had expertise on paint colors and wallpaper patterns.

My sister-in-law came to the rescue and gave me a ride from the garage to the library in the adjacent town. I slid into a banquette beside a floor to ceiling window and sat in the slanted light. I spread out a new journal on the table and felt the promise of the empty pages. That morning, what had felt like a detour away from rest became permission for this mama to be alone and listen to the scrawl of pen on paper for a few solid hours.

 

The next day as I sat on the rough hewn picnic table next to the campfire ring and spent time with Matthew 11:28-30 in this lectio divina video, I heard Jesus’ invitation to rest from a slightly different angle.

 

I heard it with a new bent to trust.

 

That Monday I hadn’t needed to grasp at rest. It had been perfectly shaped for my refreshment. Those two long hours in Ashland Ohio’s library reminded me who holds those keys. As I read the end of Matthew 11 in our slow word and heard, “Come to Me,” I was being invited to stop pursuing own artificial version. No more self-provision. No more lurching speeds and then the steep crash of a Cedar Point.

 

Hi Friends, this summer I’m joining the Grace Table family and reading Shelly Miller‘s beautiful book, Rhythms of Rest: Finding the Spirit of Sabbath in a Busy World. This book is tall-glass-of-iced-tea good. It’s gentle and grace-filled for those of us just learning here and I think you’ll find that by sitting with Shelly’s words, you’ll begin saying yes to Sabbath in small ways. Join me?

 

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#Mondays at Jesus’ Feet

 

Today our lectio divina leads us to Jesus’ words warning the disciples that persecution is coming. He said that they would have to take up their cross, to die in order to find Life.

 

I remember that first time my sweet Madeline grasped the wood of the crucifer’s cross. She was just five and she fit inside my arms as we walked together in procession toward the altar. Our acolyte was gone that Sunday and I volunteered to be the crucifer. But, as she grasped the cross, instead of feeling proud, I cringed.

 

I was shocked by my reaction.

 

I wasn’t sure if I was ready for this blond haired girl of mine (singing right now in the shower) to grasp the cross.

 

That cross? That cross is going to cost your life, little one. Choosing the cross cost Jesus His life, and grasping our cross will eventually cost us our life. We may never see persecution so many of our fellow Christians experience in the Middle East, but we will find that the road to Life is not Easy Street. The way up is often down. We lay down our American Dream, our vision of what life was supposed to look like and we choose to worship the one true God instead of the way our hearts whisper.

 

Through all the refining, the stretching, the humbling we can keep walking back to the cross and reaffirming our vow:  I WILL FOLLOW WHEREVER YOU LEAD.  We can say after the hard words in this lectio, “Take up your cross and follow me,” that the alternative is great cosmic loneliness (I’ve felt it!) and in the end a different sort of death. With Peter we can acknowledge,  “Lord, to whom should we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (John 6:68)

 

Because He is the Good Shepherd, and we can trust in His goodness that the hard way is actually the best way, and the way down is actually straight into His arms we can grasp that cross tight.

 

Thank you for walking with me.

 

Blessings as you wrestle with these words today dear friends,
Rev. Summer Joy

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Weekend Love List

Welcome to the weekend love list.

Grab a cup of coffee. Sit out in the garden with your pj’s 

and choose rest

I wonder if there is a morsel or a meal hidden right here for you?

Perhaps you’d like to start with a Lectio Divina, an ancient way to rest WITH God this weekend. Here we do a new SLOW Word lectio divina every Monday and Thursday. Join us? Subscribe on the right to join a community of fellow listeners.

Here is Isaiah 30:15

“In returning and rest will be your salvation; In quietness and trust is your strength.”

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“Our most important work is accomplished by enjoying the Creator, not checking off a list.

~~Shelly Miller

Doesn’t that sentence invite a much-needed deep breath?

This post by Shelly Miller helped me to tweak my perspective when I was feeling all tied up with self-inflicted lists. Besides, she takes us on a trip to the Cotswolds to visit the most darling little stone cottage. *sigh*

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There is so much to fuel our meditation of the Psalms right here on this Fuller Seminary page. A conversation between Eugene Peterson and Bono would be thought-provoking enough but to take it over the edge, they included a curated spotify play list including Jon Foreman, Jon Michael Talbot, Cistercian monks, Matt Maher, and U2.  Treasure.

 

 

I keep coming back to this recipe year after year. One tray? Yes, please. The overnight brine creates the most moist chicken. Add sage, sweet potatoes, and a dash of cream and tons of grated parmesan before serving. Delicious. I’ll be making it for Sunday supper this weekend for a ton of cousins who are presently running around the house having nerf gun battles. Thank you again Jaime Oliver.

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I’ve picked up this book again and read a page at a time often stopping to revel in a profound quote : The Orthodox Way. What I love about the Orthodox theology revealed in this book is that it leads us to awe. We are reminded that God is full of mystery that the human mind cannot entirely comprehend Him but is invited up to the altar to worship.

Faith is not the supposition that something might be true, but the assurance that someone is there.”

~~Kallistos Ware, The Orthodox Way

 

 

God is not surprised by our lack. He is moved by it.

~~ Tara Dickson

This beautiful post by Tara Dickson challenged my lack of trust and makes me want to lean in. I will be sitting with this question before the Lord: Is there somewhere that You want me to withdraw so that You can show Your power?

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Do you feel like you live permanently in the waiting room of your life? Perhaps these words of mine from Wednesday will bring hope.

 

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Lectio Divina as a Doorway to Rest

 

It’s just a couple of lines, not even a whole verse.

These words from Isaiah 30:15, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and trust will be your strength,” keeps being brought to the table, the Spirit’s not-so-subtle-daily manna. Two weeks ago, I was sitting in a lodge in northern Ohio, white dogwood right outside the windows and my professor, Dr. Terry Wardle brings it up again. He was telling a story of heart-break and how these verses invited him to return to rest in God even in the turmoil.

This lectio divina work has been one of those returning places. The tv. remote, Facebook, Instagram? They all promise rest. They’re sirens and I’m a sucker for their song. The more tired I am, the more mindlessly I scroll.

I’m learning that I need to make rest appointments with God, to the One who beckoned with a “Come to Me.” Lectio is one of those appointments. It’s my invitation to SLOW down, to receive.

Lectio divina is sometimes a place of incredible aha moments, but it’s not meant to park there stuck in one person’s ruminating. It’s supposed to be a doorway to dialogue and then to an even more simple but luxurious abiding. It’s a doorway for with-God time, being aware and present to He who is always present to us. And when I’m deep in hustle, I need the door swung wide open often.

What are you hearing in this verse? What word/phrase? What invitation?

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Speak your Servant is Listening *SLOW Word video*

{Every Monday and Thursday find a SLOW Word Lectio Divina right here. Now they’re streamlined. Shorter. A little less talk and a fast track to the Word. That’s why we’re here, right? Forget the toast. We’re hungry for the feast. If you’d like to receive these SLOW Word Lectios by email, subscribe on the right. I’m so glad you’re here. It’s such a privilege to come into the Presence together.}

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I’m still sitting in my chair by the fire. The kids are in bed but bedtime snack dishes with the sleepytime tea, the honey bear, and the graham crackers are still strewn across the table.

 

Isaiah 43:1-2 is singing a tune I can’t identify. The phrase, “they will not sweep over you,” surprised me. Have you ever listened to a lectio divina and thought you knew where the Spirit was going to lead you and then you land in an unfamiliar section of your little town?

 

“And when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.”

 

Last summer we took a backpacking trip through a corner of the Cohutta mountains of Northern GA. This fall there were fires there. I wonder what it looks like now. Our 3 mile trek in was idyllic with white rhododendron’s spilling onto the trail. We staked our tents next to a river and slept deep until the thunder and cracks of lightning and the pouring rain. The boys found themselves sleeping or not sleeping in a puddle. We were up early, drying out, and huddling around our tiny backpacking stove as it boiled water for our hot chocolate and oatmeal. It was summer in GA and so the discomfort didn’t last more than an hour and the children were soon fishing on a large rock in the middle of the river. The river was swollen when we hiked that afternoon and we had to cross it four times. Our feet slipped on the stones as we dipped up to our waist and tried to help the children to land. Andrew’s a natural. He does this for fun. I was meant to be a land animal.

As I sat with these words from Isaiah 43, “they will not sweep over you,” and this was the story that came to mind. I was struggling to cross the river. Overwhelmed. A little frightened. I was wishing I had a cord, a rope, a hand, something to hold onto. “I will be with you.” I listen. That’s definitely a part of the answer.

 

I think about how overwhelmed I get by the chaos of a daily household. I think about being a single parent when Andrew’s travels oversees and how life falls heavily right here…in my lap.

 

Another story comes into memory, a labyrinth walk this last December. I walked the large canvas labyrinth with a sense of Presence, of holding onto Christ’s hands. He was leading though turned towards me. I sensed His graciousness with my tiredness. I stopped on most turns to rest, for a breath, to enjoy the quiet. I learned to stop in the present moment, not to race, not to demand, not to push through. So much of my learning to rest comes with this verse, “He remembers that we are but dust.” (Psalm 103:14). There’s so much grace in those words, so much understanding. He knows I’m human and He holds out His hands. I can trust those hands. I can trust the pace.

 

I still don’t know where this is headed. Not really. I’m sitting with the question, a puzzle that’s spread all over the card table with colors fanned across and no larger picture. But I sense something here. I sense the call to hold these words. I sense the call to carry the words into tomorrow, through the next turn.

 

I don’t know the answer, not yet, but now I’m listening to whispers which sound like hope.

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