Saturday, March 26, 2022

The Origins of Housework - Part 2

"Home interprets heaven. Home is heaven, for beginners."


For a man who described Himself as "the one who has no place to lay his head", Jesus was remarkably familiar with the details of housekeeping. He spoke in parables about houses and householders, about sweeping and lamplighting, about vessels that appeared clean on the outside but were soiled within. He often joined others in their home to share a meal, and after healing a little girl, his first instruction were, "Give her something to eat." (Mark 5:43)

Jesus regarded domesticticity, but did not exhault it as the highest form of service to God. In the story of Mary and Martha, when Mary sits at Jesus' feet listening to His teaching while Martha is busy preparing a meal for Jesus and his followers, Martha complains to Jesus that Mary isn't helping her; "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me."

Jesus response is as notable for what it does not say as for what He does say. He does not hurridly rush Mary into the kitchen. He does not commend Martha for her single-minded focus on domestic matters, instead He treats Martha with the same perplexing seriousness with which He treats other disciples, "Martha, Martha, you are troubled about many things, one thing is needful. Mary has chosen the good portion, which shall not be taken away from her."

There is a similar story earlier in the Bible in the gospel of Luke in which Jesus invites a man to follow Him and the man asks for permission to first bury his father. to which Jesus replies, "Leave the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God." (Luke 9:60). It was unthinkable to believe that a son should neglect to bury his father, and Jesus' instructions posed a startling assumption about what comes first. And with Martha, that it was equally unthinkable that anyone should neglect to feed the hungry stranger at their door.

By Jesus' judgement, even so obviously necessary a task as burying one's parents take second place to following Jesus, and likewise, the moral duty to welcome a stranger, takes second place to listening to Jesus teaching. The first commandment, "To love the Lord your God with all one's heart, and soul and strength and mind" clearly, always takes precedence over the second commandment, "To love one's neighbor as oneself." But in real life, it is not possible to love God without loving your neighbor, and a primary way of loving one's neighbor, is to feed and house and clothe them.

In fact, Jesus says that feeding the hungry and clothing the naked equals feeding and clothing Jesus himself (Matthew 25:40). Jesus is served even as we peform such duties. Jesus speaks of a future hope, that suggests that the activities of making a home are in direct relation to his own redemptive work; "In my Father's house are many rooms,", he assures his disciples (John 14:2), "If someone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him." (John 14:23).

The "homely" character of redemption is one of the overarching themes in scripture. God leads the children of Israel to the promised land whose blessings are envisoned as homes to dwel in, clothes to wear, food to eat and drink to satsify thirst. The prophectic hope in the midst of homes despoiled, which is especially fitting in this time, is of "peaceful habitations, secure dwellings, quiet resting places" (Isaiah 32:18). Paul envisions redemption as finally being clothed (2 Corinthians 5:4), and the book of Revelation offers the hope of a well-ordered and beautiful city in which God dwells with his people (Revelation 21).

The Christian story of redemption is a story that moves from home to home. The journey from Eden to the new Jerusalem is one that is characterized by exile and pilgrimage, but also by shelter on the way. And shelter is necessary for creatures like ourselves. For what child can remember Eden or long for Jerusalem who has never had any temporal home at all? The practicalities of housekeeping, cooking, cleaning, laundry, are the things that ground our existance in the particular time and places in which we live, and in doing so, make it possible for us to keep alive the memory of our first home in paradise. and the hope of our eternal home with God in His new creation.

“The ordinary acts we practice every day at home are of 
more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest.”


So what really matters? Well, housework. It is not the only thing that matters, but it does matter. It matters that people have somewhere to come home to, and that there be beds and meals and space and order available there. whether we do a lot of housework, or a little or it. whether we keep house only for ourselves or for other people as well, housework forms part of the basic patterning of our lives, a pattern that we might identify as a kind of "litany of everyday life"

A litany is a form of prayer that includes the announcement of various needs followed by a response like, "Amen", or "Lord have mercy". Litanies have long been popular with lay people who found in their structure and flexibility, a way to speak to their concerns in tangible and accessible ways. Litanies are both repetitive and comprehensive, and in both of these characteristics there is a certain analogy to housework. 

A litany is typically about a lot of different things; it requests assistance and care from God on a variety of matters. In doing so, it draws together our needs and concerns and calms their potentially overwhelming nature. 

Housework, too, is about a lot of different things. There are errands to be run, meals to be planned, clothes to be laundered, messes to be dealt with. It doesn't take very much disorganization before you begin to feel  that you are trying to juggle a dozen balls and they are all coming crashing down around you. But there is a fundamental focus and unity to housework, too. It is about a certain number of basic needs. If over the course of the day and week and year, the members of your house get dressed and fed and bathed and put to bed, then you can know that you have done the things that matter most.

Housework is repetitive, as well. You cannot pick up a room once and be done with it forever. Everytime you cook a meal, it disappears a short time after, and within a few hours, everyone is hungry again. Clothes laundered today will be in the hamper tomorrow. Anyone who keeps house may be tempted to throw up their hands in defeat.

But we would do well to listen to the phisopher, Soren Kierkagaard; "Repitition is the daily bread that satisfies with benediction". The sun comes up every morning, Christians gather every Sunday, to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Every year brings the cycle of the seasons, and of the Christian calendar, Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Eastertide, Pentecost and Ordinary Time. 

Housework is akin to these natural and human rhythms of the day, week, month and year. We fix lunch because it is lunchtime. We wash the clothes or the windows because it is Monday or sunny. We pack away our coats and boots and get our shorts and sleeveless shirts because winter is over and summer is coming. As we engage with the litany of everyday life, we engage with life itself, with our fellow human beings, with the world in which God has set us all, and thus with God himself. 

The particular form this litany takes will look different for different people at different times. There is no right way to keep house, for such depends on who is doing the housework, for whom and under what circumstances. But housekeeping is part of a tradition that takes seriously, the basic homely needs of people for food and clothing and shelter. These are needs that God takes seriously and that Jesus encourages Christians to take seriously. They are not the only important things in the world, but they are important, they have intrinisic significance and worth that is too often lost amidst the busyness and technological background noise of the modern world. 

"Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, 
and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. " 

- ROMANS 12:1 (The Message)

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

The Origins of "Housework"

I've been reading a book I happened on to accidently in the archives this past week, Keeping House: The Litany of Everyday Day by Margaret Kim Peterson.  It's fitting, as next week I plan to begin spring cleaning, giving everything a good dusting and weeding out things no longer used or needed and making room, not necessarily for more, but to breathe.

Growing up the only aspirations I had were to become a wife and a mother. If I ever considered a career, it was teaching, and that was fueled more by the ability to be at home with my family on holidays and summers. In the end I opted not to attend college, though I did pursue a degree in library sciences when I when I moved back to Texas to care for my mother. I'm only about 12 hours shy of my associates, and I suppose I really should just finish it, but life has changed since then and its no longer a priority. I expand my education daily, on my terms and at my pace. Prior to having children I worked in child care as a pre-school teacher. I had my first child at 23, and from that moment on my life was totally devoted to being a wife, mother and homekeeper. I never viewed my choice as less or believed that I was missing out on anything, so I was surprised to learn how the role of housewife and housework originated and came to be viewed as a lower status in society.

Before the industrialization of America the word "housework" didn't even exist. What did exist were the words "houswifery" and "husbandry", which described the women's work and the men's work required to run an agrarian household. Married couples, working their own land, supporting their own small households. Personally, I think that sounds lovely!

But with industrialization, work became separated. Work outside the home becoming the man's place, and in the home, the woman's, particularly married women, and a new word was thus developed to name her duties, "housework". Before industrialization men and women had worked together in and around the house at complementary unpaid tasks that were differentiated by gender; cutting and carrying wood (men), building and tending the fire (women), making lye, for men, making soap, for women. After industrialization, men and some women (mostly single), went to work. They left their homes and labored elsewhere for wages. Women, especially married women, "stayed home", laboring without pay doing "housework".

Industrialization brought other changes to women's work, with the development of running water, refrigeration, gas and electric stoves, washing machines and commercially produced soaps and detergents. With this, one woman able to do the work that previously had required two or three women. The improvements (if they can be considered that), did not eliminate their work, but vastly increased their productivity. 

Prior to the industrial revolution, clothing was minimal and seldom laundered (ew!), but with the advent of factory made clothing, mostly cotton, now clothes needed frequent washing, bleaching, starching and ironing. One pot meals, that were popular in the pre-industrialized world, gave way to menus that included multiple dishes. And perhaps one of the biggest changes came with the invention of indoor plumbing, cleaning the bathroom. And all this work was to be done by the housewife herself. Many single women went to work in the factories, making hired help, which was common in the pre-industrialized world, difficult to come by. 

It is interesting to note, that "work for wages" outside of the home came to be viewed as "real work", and therefore what wives were left to was not considered as such, leaving men, and even housewives themselves to question what exactly it was she did all day? For all the modern conveniences that were now provided and meant to release her from a life of "drudgery", most women were utterly exhausted.

The problem with "housework" was not just that it was "women's work" but that it was now viewed as low in status, and suspected of not being work at all, even by the men who benefitted from it directly and women whose lives were consumed by it. The seemingly endless amounts of work only increased with the invention of each new time and labor saving device. That combined with the recognition, value or even the necessity of such work, gave way to the feminist regard for housework. Author Germain Greer stated that, "Housewives represent the most oppressed class of life, contracted, unpaid workers, for who slave is not too melodramatic a description."

But what if we were to look at housework, and the doers of housework not throught the post-industrial and post-feminist lens, but through the lens of scripture? What we would find is that God does not share the lowly view of housekeepers and housework as our culture is apt to do. On the contrary, scripture abounds with images of God Himself as a homemaker and house dweller, as one who clothes and is clothed, who feeds people, animals and the earth itself and receives gifts of food and drink in return.

"Thou coverst thyself with light, as a garment, who has stretched out the heavens like a tent, who has laid the beams of thy chambers on the water. . . . Thou didst set the earth on its foundations, so that it should never be shaken. Thou didst cover it with the deep as with a garment. . . Thou makest spring gush forth in the valleys; they flow between the hills, they give drink to every beast of the field. All creatures look to Thee to give them their food in due season. When Thou givest to them, they gather it up; When thou openest thy hand, they are filled with good things. (v. 1-2, 5-6, 10-11, 27-28)

The psalmist portrayal of God as a great housekeeper, pitching a tent, clothing Himself with light and the earth with water as with garments, ordering boundaries, making homes for creatures, giving them food, sustaining all life, creating and re-creating through the Spirit.

This theme abounds throughout scripture. At creation, when God first sets humans in a home He has created for them, a garden, both beautiful and nourishing. And when man is expelled from the garden, God's parting gesture is to clothe them. And he continues to clothe and shelter His people, even in their exile from paradise. He rains bread from heaven as they wander in the wilderness (Exodus 16:4), preseves their clothing (Deuteronomy 8:4) and houses them in booths (Leviticus 23:43).

God's presence with His people is represented often through dwelling places and domestic activities. The Lord appeared to Abraham as he sat at the door of his tent beside the oaks of Mamre. God appeared as three strangers, whom Abraham and Sarai greeted with a meal of bread and meat and curds. 

When the children of Israel were wandering in the wilderness, God met with them in another tent, "The Tent of Meeting", which was staffed by priests whose duties resembled the work of keeping house. They arranged coverings, put out dishes and food, set out lamps, arranged utensils and vessels, and cleared away ashes. (Numbers 4:4-14)

And when in the fulness of time God did come bodily to dwell with humans in the person of Jesus Christ, He did so in a way that is reminiscent of His presence with the Isarelites in their wanderings, 

"The word became flesh, and pitched His tent among us." 

- JOHN 1:14

More to come . . . :)

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Weekend Progress On My Projects

I mentioned in my last post that I was going to be more intentional about focusing on other things that I enjoy like crafts and cross stitching, and spending less time on the computer, especially on the weekends. Well, I'm happy to say that this past weekend was a success!

The larger house in this picture is a panel for a set of throw pillows I am making for our couch.  I finished this first panel Sunday night while watching the remake of True Grit (Netflix) with my husband. He was in California and we just watched it at the same time and texted back and forth about it. Kind of a long-distance date, I guess you'd say! :)

The smaller book cover you see in the corner is one I made for a new bible I bought recently. They only offered two colors and since I didn't care for either, I set about looking for a solution, and arrived at this. I had already stitched up the little panel and originally had other plans for it, but it ended up being the perfect fit for my bible. Since the edges are frayed I was concerned about them becoming even more frayed and unruly, so I sat with a small paint brush and a fine tooth comb and carefully glued them all to the cover with fabric glue, combing them out after I applied the glue to make sure they laid straight. I was very pleased with the way it turned out.

I enjoyed myself so much, and my mind definitely feels more at rest by limiting my time on the computer, so much so, that I've decided not to limit myself to weekends only. I'll continue to post here, check in with my friends and family on social media, I'm not looking for a complete fast. But I was so shocked, honestly, by how much less cluttered I guess you could say, my mind felt by spending less time away from the screen that I know instinctively that I need this right now. I also want to get these projects done before my husband comes home, and I've decided that in April I'm going to deep clean the apartment in preparation for his return home around Mother's Day, and as a way of helping me weed out some things.  We're going to be moving again at the end of July when out lease is up, and I want to get an early start so it won't be such a big job in the end.

As for Growing a Life: A Lenten Journey, I've decided that this format is just really not for me. It may have to do with the fact that I have already developed my Rule of Life, using this resource, but the truth is I'm just not enjoying it. I also have other sermons and books that I want to read during this season, and something I learned a long time ago is that often, even if something is good, it doesn't necessarily mean it is what is best, and that's the conclusion I've come to. Rather than study again about how to develop and implement a rule, I'd rather focus on working on the one I've already developed. If you downloaded the materials and you are enjoying using this resource, then I encourage you to continue, or you could also check out the other resource I linked above from Bridgetown Church. I will be doing follow-up posts on how I am implementing my rule and on how things are going from time to time, so if you liked those posts then be looking for more in the future.

And now my friends I'm off to my projects!

Until then . . .

Friday, March 11, 2022

Plans for the Weekend

Something I've decided to do during Lent, I suppose, but really just moving forward, is to place stricter limits on my computer time and focus more on crafting on the weekends. I am simply on my computer far too much, and even good things lure me down rabbit holes and before I know it, I've spent half a day reading articles, bookmarking recipes, all while I'm trying to make a concentrated effort to work through the things I already have bookmarked! I made some good progress on that this week, but adding to it isn't helping anything! I also found out, much to my delight, that my husband will be coming home a little earlier than we originally planned, probably around the first of May. So that is another reason to get some of these projects done!

Currently, I need to make new pillow covers for four pillows, and two of them I want to cross stitch a design on. That alone is a tall order, but I'm going to try my hand at no-sew covers for two of them. I have some leftover fabric from when we re-covered our couch and I've been wanting to cover a few pillows with them ever since. And I'd also like to make two or three table runners, one for our coffee table, another for the top of an antique school desk I have, and one for our kitchen table. And then there are several other smalller projects that I may or may not get to. I've got about six weeks, so if figure if I can finish one project a week, I'll at least get the bigger ones finished, and that's only working on them on the weekends, that doesn't include if I work on them on weeknights throughout the week, which is another time that I'm going to work a little harder at staying off of my computer. I'll share photos of my progress with you next week!

I started Growing a Rule of Life: A Lenten Journey this week and finished up Day 5 and 6 today, with Day  7 and the Compilation for tomorrow. I'll be writing about what I've learned/discovered on Monday of next week, by which time we will already be into Week 2, but that just seems like the best way to do it. If you're participating with me in this and following along, be looking for that post on Monday.

As for the weekend, I've taken a liking recently to old Barbra Streisand movies, several which are available on Netflix and Prime. I watched The Mirror Has Two Faces on Netflix last night and really enjoyed it. Jeff Bridges co-starred, which reminded me of a few movies he's done that I'm going to add to my list as well.

I made the best carnitas I've ever made in my life this week, and still have leftovers from them. I also made up my own flour tortillas, which are SO much better than store bought. I seriously think I might start making up a batch every Monday so I'll have them throughout the week, which should tell you a thing or two about how much mexican food we eat around here!

Tomorrow I'm going to attemp to re-create Pappasito's Steak Fajitas. I got a good deal on a flank steak today, and I have all the ingredients for the marinade. I keep the garlic butter made up and in the freezer year round and eat it on just about everything mexican! I make a big batch and then pour it into tiny muffin cups and freeze it, then pop them out and put them in a freezer bag in the freezer. One muffin cup is just enough for 2-3 people to drizzle it over their taco meat, chicken, steak, it's so good, and I'll share the recipe with you next week after I make the fajitas. After the success I had recently making brisket, if I can nail this there won't be too much about the Texas food I miss that I haven't managed to recreate! Well, now that I think about it,  I still haven't started on Razoo's. :)

And with that my friends, I'm off to begin working on my first project! I hope you're weekend is slow and restful! It's a lovely day out today with a predicted high of 64, but then rain moves in tonight, the temperature drops into the 20's and the high tomorrow is only 35. I DO love winter and it will always be my favorite season, but those 60+ days sure make the colder ones a little harder to take!

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

From Grandma's Kitchen - Potato Salad

Today I want to get back to some old-fashioned home made goodness and share one of my favorite recipes with you, Potato Salad!

I'm sure you already have this one covered with your family favorite, but in my book you can never have too many varieties of ways to make this popular, versatile dish. Just yesterday I came across this recipe for Bacon Horseradish Potato Salad and I bookmarked it so I can try it out this summer! I think it would pair beautifully with steaks cooked on the grill!

My recipe isn't anything near as fancy, in fact its pretty simple and no fuss with very few ingredients, but my mother always raved about it and any time we had a family get together, she insisted that I bring the potato salad. Maybe it's the yukon gold potatoes (a must!), the Hellman's Mayonnaise (No substitute!) the fact that I only use sweet pickles, or my ratio of mayo to mustard (I'm not big on mustard!), but honestly, I think it's the dash of sugar I add at the very end that sets it apart. All I know is that I've never served this and had anyone turn it down, and they usually ask for seconds!

This is my go-to side dish served with hamburgers, hot dogs and barbecue, perfect for a cookout!

3 lbs. yukon gold potatoes
1 tsp. salt
1/2 to 3/4 cup *Hellman’s Mayonnaise
2 tsp. yellow mustard
4-6 mini sweet pickles, chopped
1/2 small onion, chopped fine/minced
2 tsps. sugar
Salt to taste.

*Must be Hellman’s to achieve desired taste.

Peel, wash, and chop your potatoes into one inch cubes. Rinse with cool water in a colander to remove excess starch. Place the potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water. Add 1 tsp of salt to the water and bring it to a boil over high heat. Boil the potatoes until they are tender (about ten minutes). Pierce the potatoes with a fork to make sure they are tender, then drain in a colander. Briefly rinse with cool water to cool the potatoes.

When slightly cooled, add all mayo and mustard and mix to coat. Mix in onions and sweet pickles. Add sugar and salt and mix thoroughly. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.

If you don't already have a tried and true stand-by, give this one a try, and if you do, let me know how you liked it!

Until then . . .

Friday, March 4, 2022

Where Are You?

Recently I pre-ordered Ann Voskamp's latest book, Waymaker: Finding The Way To The Life You've Always Dreamed Of. I first met Ann probably close to twenty years ago, and by "met", I mean online, when she wrote a little geography book for homeschooling families. Several years later she wrote another book,  One Thousand Gifts, which came at a time when I needed it most and made a profound impact upon my life. There have been others in between, and I've purchased and read each one. So when I learned that she was releasing a new book this spring, naturally I ordered it.

Because I pre-ordered it, (it will be released on March 15), I was given access to several resources, including an early release of the first three chapters, vlogs, and the opportunity to be part of a community of readers on Facebook. This week also began a series of on podcasts focusing on Lent.

As I mentioned in my post yesterday, something about this season of Lent feels different, which if I'm honest is exhilirating and frightening all at the same time, though let me be the first to acknowledge that being frightened is definitely not from God. Still, and please entertain my pessimism here, the thought has crossed my mind several times lately, questioning if God is preparing me in this season for something hard in my near future. I don't know why I have that feeling, but it settled in a couple of weeks ago now and I haven't been able to shake it. Knowing me, an over-thinker who struggles with anxiety, this is just me allowing my mind to race and wander. One of my great sins is worry, and the need to always have a "Plan B" in my back pocket because "Plan A" has fallen apart in my life so many times. God asked me to surrender that to Him awhile ago now, and until recently I was doing well with it. I'm disappointed that I find myself here once again, but there's nothing like keeping you close to the foot of the cross in surrender like habitual sin.

With that thought in mind, and only two days into this season and each day I've found myself wandering into thin places. Moments in time when the veil between this world and the next is so close. When the hand of God reaches through and lifts your chin and whispers, "I have a surprise for you." I shared yesterday of being convicted of how shallow my prayers have been. And then today listening to Ann's podcast, I was reminded and assured, that in my propensity for worry, in the midst of anxiety, pessimism and fear, He sees me. When I tell you that the enemy has been having a heydey playing with my emotions, that would be an understatement. To the point that I briefly considered not observing Lent this year at all. It was the moment that thought crossed my mind when I recognized the enemy's goal and plan. I will not be deterred!

And once again, true of me, as soon as I finished listening to the podcast, I began writing, and this is what the Lord spoke over me today;

"Where are you? It's God's first recorded question in all of history. The shortest question recorded in the Hebrew bible. Three words that echo across time to meet us, here, today. God always comes looking for you, "Where are you?", because His desire was always to be with you.

When the all-knowing God asks, "Where are you", isn't He really asking so that you'll find the answer? Because what He's really asking is, "Where have you gone?"

In Genesis 16, Hagar, an Egyptian slave, alone, homeless, frightened, and pregnant, encounters God.

"The angel of the Lord found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur."

God knew PRECISELY where Hagar was.

"Where have you come from and where are you going?", the angel asked?

Hagar was running from her mistress, Sarai, who was mistreating her.

She was in a hard place.

But the angel's instructions were not to run, but to go back and submit to Sarai, and in that she would be blessed.

So often in my life when I encounter hard places, like Hagar my first reaction is to run. It is often in these times that the enemy would have me believe that God has abandoned me. But the truth is. . . He is near, He sees me.

Hagar named God that day, the only person in scripture, male or female, Jew or Gentile, to name God personally.

"El Roi" - The God who sees.

"She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.”

We wander into hard places, with our choices, in our rebellion, in our brokenness. God's plan was always Eden, but we wanted more.

So if we find ourselves far from God, it is never because He moved. God is constant, fixed, faithful.  And regardless of how far or how long we wander, He knows precisely where we are.

"He sees you near ______________, on the road that leads to ______________."

Just as He knew with accuracy, where to find Hagar.

And like Hagar, He will lead us back to the hard places. He will ask us to return.  Because in this journey of life, the only way out is through. And in our faithfulness, we will be blessed.

He is El Roi. The God who sees, and He always, always, comes looking for you!

No matter how lost you feel, He knows where to find you."

When I filled in the blanks, this is what I wrote;

"He see you near fear and worry, on the road that leads to doubt and mistrust."

If you had to fill in those two blanks right now, what would yours read? I'm not asking you to share, just encouaraging you to ask. It's a good heart check, and one I think I'm going to employ on a more regular basis. I think it calls for being typed up in a pretty green font, naturally, and pasted somewhere where I will see it and be reminded.

It also was not lost on me that God's instruction to Hagar was to go back. After-all-this-time you would think I would have learned, the only way out is through. Even if this Lent feels different, since I can't put my finger on exactly why that is, why does my mind immediately settle on the worst case scenario? This beckons back to the old Kim who believed that God was a distant Father who could never be pleased and cared little about her sufferings. I believed for years that I didn't exist to Him, until I messed up, sometimes not even then.

God found Hagar "near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur." God's Positioning System pre-dates our modern GPS by thousands of years. He didn't just "find" Hagar, He knew precisely where she was, as He does right now in this moment for me, and for you. 

Fill in the blanks. Do a heart check. But no worries, wherever you find yourself, God is already there.

Until then. . .

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Thursday, March 3, 2022

The Fast He Has Chosen

The Crown of Thorns wreath, has been a part of our Lenten table display for close to a decade now.
It is my favorite element, and I'm beginning to think that Lent, might just be my favorite liturgical season.

I've had a feeling. An anticipation that I haven't been able to put my finger on in the weeks leading up to Lent, that somehow this one is going to be special. Like God has something for me in a way He never has before. I also believe this because I am struggling harder with what I've given up, which is sugar, than I have with anything else I've given up in years past. This isn't even the first time I've given up sugar, it's just harder this time.

And then yesterday morning, Ash Wednesday, and the very first passage laid me bare. As I read these words in Isaiah 58:6-12.

6“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?

7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.

9 Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,

10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.

11 The Lord will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.

12 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.

I was deeply moved, and convicted and I quickly picked up my journal and began to write, and this is what the Holy Spirit revealed.

"As I read this passage today I couldn't help but reflect upon the current state of the world. As I write Russia has invaded the Ukraine. In all likelihood Kyiv has or may soon fall.

All over the internet I see where people are posting, "Pray for Ukraine" or posting images of their flag. None of this is wrong, by any means.

But after I read this passage I was deeply convicted, sorrowful really. As we enter the season of Lent, a time of prayer, fasting and acts of service, my intentions . . . . are shallow, comfortable,. More about me, and less about "the fast He has chosen".

It is easy, here in this moment, in the comfort of my home in America, to pray for Ukraine. But an affective prayer, and one that would honor God, would be to pray and to act as though I am on the ground in the Ukraine. Because in the end, we are in a battle, every-single-day. This war, this enemy we battle, is so much bigger than the Russian invasion upon Ukraine.

How would I act? How would I live my life today if I was on the ground fighting along side and aiding the afflicted in battle?
- I would bring food to the hungry.
- I would clothe the naked.
- I would give shelter to the homeless and uprooted.
- I would bandage and heal their wounds.

And the Holy Spirit convicted, "Go, and do likewise."

I pass by homeless people on the streets often, I would dare to say every time I leave the house. I have friends who are struggling, and I don't give them enough. If it inconviences me, requires more than I am willing to give? And in that, I dare to pray for God to come to the aid of the people in Ukraine.

What I am actually asking is for God to send other people, as I sit comfortably at home and watch the news. 


I would never feel burdened or inconvienced by someone standing in front of me, cold, hungry, and bleeding and I need to live my life with the knowledge that on some level, this is true of every person I encounter. We are good at hiding our feelings, masking our wounds, but we are all wounded from battle. If I want to affectively pray for the people of Ukraine, then I need to put myself in the battle, right here, right now, at home."

Because "this the fast He has chosen"

Then and only then
- will the light break through.
- will the healing rise up.
- will The Vindicator go before me.
- will the glory of the Lord be my rear guard.

Then and ONLY then, when I call will The Lord answer.

Then and ONLY then, when I cry for help,
will He say, HERE I AM!

I won't stop praying, but in my prayers, I am enlisting in the battle. I am joining the fight.

Until then . . .

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

The Dust of the Rabbi: A Journey With Jesus Through Lent

I spent most of today getting everything prepared for Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent tomorrow. The booklet above is one that I created back in 2020 and I've updated it and used it every year since. Following the readings as set forth by The Lectionary, The Dust of the Rabbi is a forty-day journey with Jesus using the practice of Lectio Divina to focus on select passages of scripture that will grow your faith and devotion during the Lenten season.

But before you decide to download it, there are a few things I want to make you aware of. There are some days when the readings are taken from Deuterocanonical Books, also known as The Apophryca. To aid me in my growth and understanding of the spiritual practices, I recently purchased  The Life With God Bible. I did quite a bit of research before deciding which edition to buy, and in the end, I went with the one that includes the Deuterocanonical Books. I have a lot of faith in the people who contributed to this version, and since I've never owned a Bible that they were included in, I decided I wanted to read them and form my own opinion. That being said, on the days that those books are referenced, there are at least two other verses included as well, so if you're not comfortable with these books, or you don't own a bible that includes them, just skip over them.

I'm including a link below if you're interested in downloading a copy. It's obviously more than 40 pages long, so if you don't want to use the ink to print it out, you could easily save it to your computer and reflect on the readings in a journal, which is what I'm going to do this year. I realize I'm posting this at the eleventh hour, but better later than never, I suppose. It wasn't originally my intention to share it because I wasn't sure I would have the time to update the dates and the readings for this year's lectionary. But once I decided I wanted to use it again this year, sharing it here was easy!

I hope you'll enjoy it and I sincerely hope there are not any errors. Being a larger publication it's hard to find every mistake, even with the technology we have to guide us. I sincerely think it's all correct. Most of the problems I had were with the formatting, graphics being naughty, and moving around in the document. But in the end, it all lined up and I'm really rather happy with it. I hope that it will prove a valuable resource to a few of you, and if you do decide to use it, please let me know if you like it. There's always room for improvement!

May you walk so closely with Jesus, your Rabbi, in this season, that you are covered by the dust from his feet.


A Journey With Jesus Through Lent