Sunday, September 27, 2009

Satisfied

Food is good. When enjoyed in good measure, our eating of food can be a way of enjoying God's goodness to us, of pausing and delighting. That is why this week I am going to share with you a recipe that I discovered and enjoyed last week. It is simple, relatively inexpensive, and tasty. I think I will make it again tomorrow.

Chick-Pea, Sweet Pepper and Fresh Basil Salad
1 sweet red pepper (the recipe recommends roasting it first)
1 can (19 0z/450mL) chick-peas, drained
1 diced cucumber
1/4 cup minced red onion (but regular white also works)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup packed chopped fresh basil (if you can't find any, dried works fine too, as long as you have plenty of fresh parsley)
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
salt and pepper

  1. In a bowl, combine red pepper, chick-peas, cucumber, onion, parsley and basil.
  2. In a small dish, whisk together lemon juice, olive oil,garlic and salt and pepper to taste; pour over salad and toss lightly. Cover and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes or up to a day (but I did two days and it was fine).

Eating is a powerfully repetitive and necessary part of our lives. No wonder, then, that it is used as an analogy throughout the bible. In what I find to be one of the strongest, almost disturbing, passages in the gospels, Jesus calls himself our food. I encourage you to read John 6:48-58 and reflect upon the source of nourishment to our souls.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Rest

Take a deep breath.
Now relax your muscles.

Do you feel at rest now? Probably not (unless you were before you started reading). Resting is something that takes more time than that. Yet however much time it takes, most people will agree (or perhaps just admit) that we need it.

I looked up a couple of dictionary definitions of the word "rest". Here are a few:

rest
Date: before 12th century
intransitive verb 1 a : to get rest by lying down; especially : sleep b : to lie dead
2 : to cease from action or motion : refrain from labor or exertion
3 : to be free from anxiety or disturbance
4 : to sit or lie fixed or supported (a column rests on its pedestal)
5 a : to remain confident : trust (cannot rest on that assumption) b : to be based or founded (the verdict rested on several sound precedents)
6 : to remain for action or accomplishment (the answer rests with you)
7 of farmland : to remain idle or uncropped
(Merriam-Webster)

rest
— ORIGIN Old English, from a root meaning "league" or "mile" (referring to a distance after which one rests).
verb 1 cease work or movement in order to relax or recover strength. 2 allow to be inactive in order to regain or save strength or energy. 3 place or be placed so as to stay in a specified position: his feet rested on the table. 4 (rest on) depend or be based on. 5 (rest in/on) place (trust, hope, or confidence) in or on.
(Oxford English Dictionary)

A few things strike me:
  1. Resting implies intent or necessity. The cessation of labour is done for a reason: "in order to relax or recover strength". Land is given rest so that it can better bear fruit the next year.
  2. I am no linguist but 900 years seems like a pretty good long time for a word to be in use. Of course the concept has been around much longer, but the longstanding use of this word in our culture seems to point to its significance. Also note that its derivation (see above) refers once again to the need for rest: after going a certain distance, it is time to rest.
  3. There is an element of confidence or trust. Resting requires trusting. I can't sleep well without trusting that I am safe. I can't stop working unless I trust that the necessary task will be finished. I usually like to think of the image of leaning on something for support: we trust in something because it is strong enough to allow us to rest.
I challenge you to take some time this week to rest; don't just assume you will have the strength you need without intentionally resting. As you rest, consider how trusting is specifically linked to your resting.

Isn't it interesting that God specifically commanded his people to rest?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Hymn of Thanksgiving

I give thanks to you O God,
for when we are inadequate you are more than enough
when we are too tired to think we can feast on your infinite wisdom
when we are weak you reveal your strength
when we have no words you fill the silence

You are a God who is endlessly joyful yet shares in our sorrows

I give thanks to you O God,
for when we feel alone you teach us true fellowship
when we are proud your greatness makes us humble
when we don't know how we are to live you lead by example
when we fall short in praising you, you glorify your name

You are a god who is infinite yet chose to take on the finite form of man.

You bring us to others who delight in you
you made the sky and leaves and shadows and all colors
you gave us minds which can think and glimpse your glory and delight
You are a God who gives us ridiculously good gifts.

I give thanks to you O God.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Life-giving Water

Recently, perhaps because of what I've been reading and perhaps because I'm trying to find a church to become a part of, I have been a little more thoughtful than usual as I listen to different sermons. One thing has struck me on multiple occasions.

Different speakers have enthusiastically and thankfully stated how great it is that God has brought us salvation through the death of Jesus Christ. It is the wonder expressed in the following passage:
"But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved" (Ephesians 2:4-5)

But that is not the end, nor even the beginning of what God has done! This is not a simple payment that meets the requirements of a just God. If that was true, why did Jesus have to live at all? Couldn't he have been born and then immediately sacrificed? And what about the resurrection? It seems to me that Jesus' ongoing life is not just something we notice at Easter, but something that overshadows and impacts every part of our faith and life!

Even the passage above includes this fact, especially put in context:
"But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. " (Ephesians 2:4-7)

We have gone from death to life - life in the present and future! Jesus did not come only to die, nor does God expect us to live our lives only in some distant future hope. There is so much more I could get excited about here - about how Jesus can "sympathize with our weaknesses" (Heb 4:15) and about how he has conquered death. Instead I will simply close with a few statements that Jesus said, as recorded in the gospel of John.

"The water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life" (4:14)

"I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty." (6:35)

"The words I have spoken to you - they are full of the Spirit and life." (6:63)

On the last and greatest day of the Festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them" (7:37-38)


A man in traditional garb (mostly for the tourists now!) sells water to the passerby in Marrakesh, Morocco. He rings a bell to alert everyone to his presence.