Monthly Archives: April 2014

It doesn’t feel like Easter

I’m in a bit of a “funk” this year. Here I am, late Saturday night on the day before Easter, and it doesn’t *feel* like Easter to me. It isn’t the weather: the flowers are blooming and we’ve had some gorgeous spring days. It isn’t that the holiday snuck up on me: we’ve had plenty of time to plan for the service tomorrow. It’s not that I haven’t had time to appreciate the signs of the season: I’ve had plenty of jelly beans, marshmallow peeps, and Cadbury eggs. It’s just that Easter is supposed to be joyful and I’m… well… not.

Everything just seems… off. Last week, Palm Sunday, we sang a song that included the words,  “Break my heart for what breaks Yours.” Maybe that’s part of the problem. My heart gets broken, but not over the right things. It’s like my emotions and attentions are hijacked, over invested in something that, in the end, is worthless. And while I’m busy getting sucked into that blackhole, I can’t escape the feeling that I’m neglecting something else, something more significant. It’s discouraging.

Tomorrow we celebrate the Resurrection, and I can’t help feeling like I need a bit of a resurrection too. A reboot. Great things are happening. I’m even a part of some of these great things! Yet, as I spend this evening reviewing the music that we’ve selected for tomorrow, I’m tempted to feel like I’m not qualified to sing them. When I feel so dry, how can I sing about seeing “a near revival?” Fortunately, the answer comes from another song in the set:

And when I can’t see You still I know You’re here
And when I can’t feel You Your promise is clear
Nothing I face can keep me from Your love
My savior my healer my life and my hope
My treasure forever with You I belong
And even in death we won’t be torn apart
Nothing ever could separate us…

Maybe I can’t see it right now. But that doesn’t change the reality. Some ~2000 years ago Jesus’ followers went to bed on a Saturday night in mourning. They were confused and discouraged. And they woke up that way Sunday morning.

But while they were busy being discouraged that morning on their way to the graveyard… the tomb was already empty.

I pray that we can all rediscover the empty tomb… and celebrate.


I’ve been debating whether or not to post this… it seems rather un-grace-ful. But I believe it is truth-ful. So here goes:

Imagine that someone you care about has been diagnosed with gangrene.

It’s in their foot. Several toes have already turned black and the infection is spreading. Radical surgical intervention will be needed. The patient finally agrees to the surgery… but only allows a single toe to be removed.

After the surgery, the patient is excited and acts as if the treatment is complete. After all, the toe was in bad shape, and now it had been dealt with. There would be no question in anybody’s mind that the amputated toe was infected and needed to go. Pathology reports would back this up. But unless ALL of the dead, diseased tissue is removed, the patient is no better for having undergone the procedure.

If this seems like a ridiculous scenario… I agree. It is ridiculous. No sane human being would do that to himself. The decision would be difficult, there would be a time of mourning for the lost limb, but the sacrifice would be made for the preservation of the rest of the body. Denying the existence of the disease or failing to take adequate measures to stop it would be a death sentence.

Yet organizations do this all the time: when an issue becomes so obvious that it requires drastic action, someone will be sacrificed. But if the amputated toe is not the source of the infection or the only location of the infection, the underlying condition will remain the same. And if the ultimate source of the infection also happens to be the one making the decisions… well… good luck with that.

So don’t ask me if I’m glad the infected toe is gone. I’m not. And I’m not optimistic that the patient will ever return to full health.

Spring Cleaning

I’ve been doing a lot of Spring Cleaning lately.

It started last weekend with an opportunity to get some new-to-me furniture. It was definitely time for a new couch: the one I had was on its last leg: the frame was broken, the fabric was worn through and ripping… it was well past time for something new.

Before the new one arrived, I decided to move the old couch so I could clean behind it. I expected a few cobwebs and maybe some other bits of trash… but I certainly wasn’t expecting the filth that I found there! It was terrible! I realized that in the nearly six years I had lived in this house, I had never once moved the couch. Over half a decade’s worth of dead insects, dust, dried spills, bits of ripped food wrappers, cobwebs, bottle caps, and uneaten dog treats greeted me.

All that time, I had been cleaning around the couch — but neglecting the part I couldn’t see. It wasn’t that I enjoyed having the filth there… or even that I was OK with it being there. When I got the old couch, the floor was clean when I positioned it. I didn’t put the bottle caps and food wrapper remnants underneath it on purpose. I certainly didn’t set out to create a sizeable collection of dead bugs. It was neglect. Neglect has consequences.

Fast forward one week and I found myself in another Spring Cleaning situation. This time, I had helpers. Our goal was simply to re-organize a storage room, tossing a few broken or stained items as needed. But the more we removed from the storage area, the more it became clear that we had a problem. Evidence of bugs, lizards, and mice multiplied as the day went on.

I knew that every item in that storage room had been placed there in good condition with good intentions. No one intended for their used wedding centerpieces to become housing units for mice. It was neglect. Neglect has consequences.

Some things bounce back rather quickly from neglect when they are rediscovered. The hard floor beneath my couch was easy to clean. Glass and metal, many washable fabrics, hard plastics: items like this are relatively easy to clean. Evidence of years of neglect disappeared from these in just minutes. But others didn’t fare so well, like organic materials (dried flowers or wreaths made of dried branches or vines often became a food source for the uninvited guests).

Yet even for the organic materials, destruction wasn’t inevitable. It wasn’t the centerpiece’s fault that it was exposed to mice. It wasn’t even the mice’s fault that the centerpieces were available! It wasn’t the couch’s fault that it concealed filth. The couch couldn’t move itself. The centerpieces could have been stored in a plastic bin that would have kept the mice and water away. The couch could have been moved more frequently for cleaning. The quick and easy moral of this story? If you care about something, take care of it.

The deeper moral? You can’t expect to find things in the same condition you left them in if you’re unwilling to do the maintenance. It’s like playing an instrument: just because I know how to find the notes on my guitar, that doesn’t mean I can play competently without practice, and certainly doesn’t mean I can flow with a team without putting in the time to rehearse with them. Neglect has consequences.