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Archive for March, 2012

Posting has been too challenging over the last two months.  Hard to know what to say or find a position on something when we are betwixt and between.  Look forward to returning to the blog.

This is  a prayer of praise that I wrote for my final worship service in the First Presbyterian Church of Osawatomie on March 4th of this year.    It is followed by a story that I wrote for the generations of butterflies that have experienced God’s transforming effect upon their lives in that church.   Every pastor is privileged to be a leaf, and (if you will pardon the play on words) that makes it hard to leave!  Thanks to all for a heartfelt send off!

Prayer of Praise: 

Great and ingenious Holy Spirit, we offer our praise and gratitude for your voracious appetite.  How you swallow our lives into your energy!  Suggesting the digestive, you invite us to break down our past and present in order to reorganize toward the Divine Will.  And then we succumb. How marvelous it is, then, that you release us on a wind.  In the updraft we come to understand your truth.  Every good thing perishes so that wonder may take its place.  With our hearts set upon Jesus and our minds open to You we ask a blessing for all that is yet to come.  Amen.

Story with the sermon:  Art of Prayer:  The Caterpillar’s Feast

 There was once a grand and seemingly endless tree….its root system marbled the ground.  Rising, dipping and disappearing into the soil like a marvelous leviathan of the land. Those roots fed a trunk that boasted a circumference that had adapted to countless specific seasons.  That trunk was a conduit for the root’s nourishment and it was drawn to many branches.  Each was daring and all diverse pulled the energy of the roots through the trunk and threw it skyward.    Some said that the tree had been around some 125 years.   And in each year and season there were new bold branches.   Like a divinely provided shelter.  

The tree itself was quite something to behold and much of life simply observed the magnificent structure but others move closer toward the succulent and generous leafing of this 125 year old tree.  It is always the most promising of life that inches along….slow and steady.   And inch is just what some life did….up the trunk….wondering, will I ever arrive at my place?  They were tempted to stay to the ground…on the outside….some of those inching creatures believed it was too late to make the climb but the smell, warmth and brilliance of the leaves was more powerful than the temptation to stay put.  

In the steep ascent, they found they were not alone.  For around them would dance brilliant butterflies that tickled their imagination about all that could be for themselves.  Weary from their inching, they begged the butterfly for a ride to the top….to the special place…a place upon which they could feast on life with a spectacular view.  The butterflies fluttered and flirted….We cannot give you a ride to the top but you should see it. It is spectacular.  And so there among dancing butterflys some caterpillars offered a prayer….lead me not into the temptation of the ground….deliever me from the evil of my fear.  And inch upward they did. 

Some  even made it to the ageless branches….not every inching life picked the first branch….it was a particular knowing that caused one to stop at the junction of a branch and to inch their way out.  And as they moved further from the strength of the trunk they inched out prayers:  “Lead me beyond my temptation for security.”    “Deliver me from loving my inching self.” And just as in the selection of the branch, they came to their leaf.  Rich, succulent and sun-soaked the leaf was a terrific reward.  Each inching life engaged a feast that was beyond satisfying.  What was an inching life grows terrifically due to the feast that is provided.  There is so much growth, imagination and hope that the container holding the inching life must be forfeited.  And how freeing it is to shed each protective layer for growth.  No longer tempted by the ground….temptation changes and becomes a temptation to continue the feast….to continue being fed.  The life that once inched and now is feasting….hardly notices the butterfly that still dance above and below.  Until one day what was an inching and feasting life becomes arrested. 

The life takes on a stillness as it notices again the joy of the butterfly.  What?  Attached to no leaf?  How can this be?  There is no greater joy than to be fed…. was there?  Then, wondering about its previous certainty, that inching feasting life notices that there is very little of their own leaf left.  Then, of course, with this awareness,  fear….uncertainty….a stillness and one final protective layer.  The enveloped life prays….. “O Great magnet, you have kept me from the temptation of the ground….you have kept me from the evil of loving all I have been…..I have had days and days of nourishment….I know nothing more….but no matter, I trust you.  So your will, O Great Magnet, your will be done.”  And the prayer  gave rise to the coziest cocoon….but like any healing cast….it began to itch. 

And when the feeding leaf was long gone….what was an inching and feasting life began to itch….to open in new ways.  That life felt the wonder of wings and began to spread into the open and marvelous spaces.  And as it did so, all the leaves were pulled into the updraft and inching creatures looked heavenward. 

And a new generation began to flutter and flirt with inching creatures.  The warmth of new leaves was held in the promise of a tight bud.   The grand tree swayed for the tickle was so promising.  

As I said, it has been my privilege to play my part in the inching, feasting and flight that is God’s  First Presbyterian Church of Osawatomie.

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