The cup and the loaf You beckon me close to commune Like fruit on the vine crushed into wine You were bruised Broken and torn crowned with scorn Poured out for all
Chorus: All my sin All my shame All my secrets All my chains Lamb of God Great is your love Your blood covers it all
I taste and I drink You satisfy me With your love Your goodness flows down and waters dry ground like a flood Let mercy rain Saving grace Poured out for all
My sin, not in part You cover it all, You cover it all Not in part, But the whole You cover it all, You cover it all It’s nailed to the cross. You cover it all You cover it all And I bear it no more You cover it all. ~Allie LaPointe and David Moffitt
On this Maundy Thursday
we are called to draw near Him,
to gather together among the
hungry and thirsty
to the Supper He has prepared
even though we are full of thorns
that will pierce and make Him bleed.
He washes the dirt off our feet;
we look away, mortified.
He serves us from Himself;
we fret about whether
we are worthy.
We are not.
Starving and parched,
grimy and weary,
to be guests at His table,
we are made worthy
He has made us so.
The theme for this year’s Lenten series on Barnstorming is “Turn Aside and Look” — we are invited to stand, barefoot and awed, on holy ground as we prepare for the sacrifice of the Savior on our behalf, and His Resurrection.
Now Moses was pasturing the flock of Jethro His father-in-law, the priest of Midian; and He led the flock to the west side of the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God.
And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush; and He looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, yet the bush was not consumed.
So Moses said, “I must turn aside now, and see this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up.” When the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush, and said, “Moses, Moses!” And Moses said, “Here I am.” Then God said, “Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.”
~Exodus 3: 1-5
Earth’s crammed with heaven,
and every common bush afire with God;
but only he who sees, takes off his shoes —
the rest sit around it and pluck blackberries.
~Elizabeth Barrett Browning from “Aurora Leigh”
I need to turn aside and look,
to see, as if for the first and last time,
a Brightness that illuminates even the darkest day.
We are invited, by no less than God Himself,
to shed our shoes, to walk barefoot and vulnerable,
and approach the dawn, even when it is midnight.
…when I experienced the warm, unpretentious reception of those who have nothing to boast about, and experienced a loving embrace from people who didn’t ask any questions, I began to discover that a true spiritual homecoming means a return to the poor in spirit to whom the kingdom of heaven belongs.
~Henri Nouwen from The Return of the Prodigal Son
Today is the 100th anniversary of Wiser Lake Chapel‘s building dedication ceremony and picnic — a special celebration is planned with information found here.
Back in the early days of Whatcom County, the little church on Wiser Lake had been constructed through “contributions of the people” in a rural neighborhood only a few miles from where we now live. $600 in lumber was provided by a local farmer whose trees were cut and milled and brought by horse drawn wagon to a building site adjacent to a one room school house along a corrugated plank road. The total property was “valued at $1800, but of even more value to the community.” The dedication ceremony was held on Sunday, August 27, 1916 followed by “a basket dinner—come with well filled baskets for a common table, under the direction of the Ladies Aid”. This was to be followed by a “Fellowship Meeting, special music and fraternal addresses” and the day ended at 8 PM with a Young People’s Meeting. So began the long history of the “Wiser Lake Church”.
For reasons unrecorded in the history of the church, the original denomination closed the doors thirty years later, and for awhile the building was empty and in need of a congregation. By the fifties, it became a mission church of the local Christian Reformed Churches and launched a Sunday School program for migrant farm and Native American children in the surrounding rural neighborhood. No formal church services started until the sixties. By the time the building was sixty years old, so many children were arriving for Sunday School, there was not enough room so the building was hoisted up on jacks to allow a hole to be dug underneath for a basement full of classrooms. Over the course of a summer, the floor space doubled, and the church settled back into place, allowed to rest again on its foundation.
Over seventy years after its dedication ceremony, our family drove past the boxy building countless times hurrying on our way to other places, barely giving it a second glance. It had a classic design, but showed its age with peeling paint, a few missing shingles, an old fashioned square flat roofed belfry, and arched windows. The hand lettered sign spelling out “Wiser Lake Chapel” by the road constituted a humble invitation of sorts, simply by listing the times of the services.
On a blustery December Sunday evening, we had no place else to be for a change. Instead of driving past, we stopped, welcomed by the yellow glow pouring from the windows and an almost full parking lot. Our young family climbed the steps to the big double doors, and inside were immediately greeted by a large balding man with a huge grin and encompassing handshake. He pointed us to one of the few open spots still available in the old wooden pews.
The sanctuary was a warm and open space with a high lofted ceiling, dark wood trim accents matching the ancient pews, and a plain wooden cross above the pulpit in front. There was a pungent smell from fir bough garlands strung along high wainscoting, and a circle of candles standing lit on a small altar table. Apple pie was baking in the kitchen oven, blending with the aroma of good coffee and hot cocoa.
The service was a Sunday School Christmas program, with thirty some children of all ages and skin colors standing up front in bathrobes and white sheet angel gowns, wearing gold foil halos, tinfoil crowns and dish towels wrapped with string around their heads. They were prompted by their teachers through carols and readings of the Christmas story. The final song was Silent Night, sung by candle light, with each child and member of the congregation holding a lit candle. There was a moment of excitement when one girl’s long hair briefly caught fire, but after that was quickly extinguished, the evening ended in darkness, with the soft glow of candlelight illuminating faces of the young and old, some in tears streaming over their smiles.
It felt like home. We had found our church.
We’ve never left.
Over the past one hundred years this old building has seen a few thousand people come and go, has had peeling paint and missing shingles, a basement that floods when the rain comes down hard, toilets that don’t always flush, and though it smells heavenly on potluck days, there are times when it can be just a bit out of sorts and musty. It really isn’t anything to boast about.
It is humble and unpretentious yet envelops its people in its loving and imperfect embrace, with warmth, character and a uniqueness that is unforgettable.
It really is not so different from the folks who have gathered there over the years.
We know we belong,
such as we are,
just as we are,
blessed by God with a place to join together.
We must go up into the chase in the evenings,
and pray there with nothing but God’s cloud temple between us and His heaven!
And His choir of small birds and night crickets and booming beetles,
and all happy things who praise Him all night long!
And in the still summer noon, too,
with the lazy-paced clouds above,
and the distant sheep-bell,
and the bee humming in the beds of thyme,
and one bird making the hollies ring a moment,
and then all still – hushed – awe-bound,
as the great thunderclouds slide up from the far south!
Then, there to praise God! ~Charles Kingsley
Heaven and earth are only three feet apart,
but in the thin places that distance is even smaller.
A thin place is where the veil that separates heaven and earth is lifted
and one is able to receive a glimpse of the glory of God.
Oh, the floating clouds and the thoughts of a wanderer! Oh, the sunset and the longing of an old friend! We ride away from each other, waving our hands, While our horses neigh softly, softly . . . . ~Li Pofrom “Taking Leave of a Friend”
An evening of subtle softness in the sunset clouds~
just enough illumination to imagine
heaven must be just beyond.
Perhaps as a child you had the chicken pox and your mother, to soothe you in your fever or to help you fall asleep, came into your room and read to you from some favorite book,
Charlotte’s Web or Little House on the Prairie, a long story that she quietly took you through until your eyes became magnets for your shuttering lids and she saw your breathing go slow. And then she read on, this time silently and to herself, not because she didn’t know the story, it seemed to her that there had never been a time when she didn’t know this story—the young girl and her benevolence, the young girl in her sod house— but because she did not yet want to leave your side though she knew there was nothing more she could do for you. And you, not asleep but simply weak, listened to her turn the pages, still feeling the lamp warm against one cheek, knowing the shape of the rocking chair’s shadow as it slid across your chest. So that now, these many years later, when you are clenched in the damp fist of a hospital bed, or signing the papers that say you won’t love him anymore, when you are bent at your son’s gravesite or haunted by a war that makes you wake with the gun cocked in your hand, you would like to believe that such generosity comes from God, too, who now, when you have the strength to ask, might begin the story again, just as your mother would, from the place where you have both left off. ~Keetje Kuipers “Prayer”
“Flung is too harsh a word for the rush of the world. Blown is more like it, but blown by a generous, unending breath.” Annie Dillard
It isn’t possible. The five year old me who long ago had a sudden terrifying revelation that I would some day cease to walk this earth has become the almost sixty two year old me who is more terrified at the head long rush of life than of its end. The world hurtles through space and time at a pace that leaves me breathless. Throughout my sixty-plus years, I have felt flung all too frequently, bruised and weary from the hurry and hubbub. I need Someone to stop me for a moment, sit down and begin the story again with me, starting right where we left off.
Now comes several days of breathing space, a respite from routine. I’m lifted lighter, drifting where I’m blown, less weighted with the next thing to do and the next place to be.
Instead I can just be — always part of the story to be told. Be blown away unending. Blown by breath that loves, fills and nurtures, its generous promise hopeful and fulfilled.
Life has loveliness to sell, All beautiful and splendid things, Blue waves whitened on a cliff, Soaring fire that sways and sings, And children’s faces looking up Holding wonder like a cup.
Life has loveliness to sell, Music like a curve of gold, Scent of pine trees in the rain, Eyes that love you, arms that hold, And for your spirit’s still delight, Holy thoughts that star the night.
Spend all you have for loveliness, Buy it and never count the cost; For one white singing hour of peace Count many a year of strife well lost, And for a breath of ecstasy Give all you have been, or could be. ~Sara Teasdale “Barter”
Some days I wish to keep hold forever:
when the light is just right in the trees,
the breezes filled with blossom fragrance,
the congregation sings with joy as I play accompaniment,
a smiling child climbs up on my lap just because,
a meal is enjoyed by all who join together.
I know I barter for these moments
by giving up some piece of me,
knowing the sowing of self
will reap rich harvest in an overflowing heart.