Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Passion Week begins

The stunning sky above on our travels
Western culture thinks of "passion" as a lustful surrender to our senses and desires.

For Christians, however, Passion Week means something entirely different. It is also called Holy Week, when we celebrate the surrender of God-with-us to his divine plan. As we move into Holy Week, let's focus on God's accomplishments - on our behalf.

Each year, I become more aware of the grace in which we live and move and have our being.

Sunday, March 29
We spend the morning with Ben and Lia at Elevation Church. We're on the front bench, always a strange disconnect for me. (I normally head for the back third of any gathering to take in the responses of those around me.) It's easier to focus on the music and the words this way though.

After we talk about the journey we're on, James gets up to speak. W was his thesis supervisor at Northwest U. It's encouraging to hear that James is planting a church in south Seattle. He reminds us that God wants us to respond to Him within the personality and setting He made. We may be quiet or exuberant, moving or still, singing or speaking or signing ... in the many ways we express our gratitude and praise to Him in worship, He is pleased.

Two toddlers MIA: one's napping, one's exploring
Our family lunch feels like the years of Sundays in the past. When we walk home from service in Indonesia, we are far away from this: our children and grandchildren are on the other side of the world. Our kids are busy - so this time is a treasured gift to us. Wonderful! But our daughter is missing from the circle. We can't wait to see her next week.

W looks at the calendar - almost full - and decides we should visit family in Canada. We're on the road early. The GPS shows 42 minutes for 45 miles. Amazing! (In Indonesia, we'd be delighted with100 minutes for 60 miles ... on a good day.)

Love my mom and dad!
We climb into the car on our regular sides: W's on the right, I'm on the left. However, the steering wheel has shifted sides, compared to our Indonesian vehicle. It moves from W's hands to mine on this trip  (thanks, hon) - and will shift back to his when we go home. (Indonesian traffic follows the British system of driving on the left.)

Women in the West take for granted the freedom of driving by themselves, of coming and going alone safely. I'm enjoying that and indulging in it - before we return to our new normal.

First we stop by my family in the Fraser Valley. Mom's tulips are in full spring bloom. My mom is thin and says she feels tired after a bad bout of flu this winter. It's great to hug her and Dad. They've purchased my favorite smoked sausage from the local butcher. Mom's baked apple pie! Oh yum! My brother and his wife drop by at lunchtime - of course we snap pictures to commemorate.

We pull out of the driveway without seeing my dear friend and a future partner. Next time.

A cheerful Kowalski selfie
Then it's off to a nearby city where W's family lives. His mom warmly welcomes us. I'm sleepy enough to catch a quick nap before we go to his sister's for supper. Sylvia plates up a thick stew and crisp salad and warm cake for her family and ours. We show pictures of our Bandung home. Talk about their life and ours. Pray. Hug. Create memories.

We are back on the road after dusk and home by 10. We tumble into bed with another cherished set of memories.

Read more:
*Look down from your holy habitation, from heaven, and bless your people Israel. Deuteronomy 26:15 ESV

*Woe to those who go to great depths to hide their plans from the Lord, who do their work in darkness and think, “Who sees us? Who will know?” Isaiah 29:15 NIV

*Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come to his people and redeemed them. Luke 1:68 NIV

*Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. Everything exposed by the light becomes visible. Ephesians 5:11,13 ESV

Moravian Prayer: King of Kings, your love for us can never be repaid. Let us praise your name and try to live the life that you offer us through the merits of your life, sufferings, death, and resurrection.

O Glorious Lord, free us from the blindness to your everlasting light shining before us, and never let us hide in darkness from the wondrous love and grace that you offer to us, your children. Amen.

C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory
[And this brings me to] the other sense of glory—glory as brightness, splendour, luminosity. We are to shine as the sun, we are to be given the Morning Star. I think I begin to see what it means. In one way, of course, God has given us the Morning Star already: you can go and enjoy the gift on many fine mornings if you get up early enough. What more, you may ask, do we want?

Ah, but we want so much more—something the books on aesthetics take little notice of. But the poets and the mythologies know all about it. We do not want merely to see beauty, though, God knows, even that is bounty enough. We want something else which can hardly be put into words—to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it. That is why we have peopled air and earth and water with gods and goddesses and nymphs and elves—that, though we cannot, yet these projections can enjoy in themselves that beauty, grace, and power of which Nature is the image. That is why the poets tell us such lovely falsehoods.

They talk as if the west wind could really sweep into a human soul; but it can’t. They tell us that “beauty born of murmuring sound” will pass into a human face; but it won’t. Or not yet. For if we take the imagery of Scripture 
seriously, if we believe that God will one day give us the Morning Star and cause us to put on the splendour of the sun, then we may surmise that both the ancient myths and the modern poetry, so false as history, may be very near the truth as prophecy. 

At present we are on the outside of the world, the wrong side of he door. We discern the freshness and purity of morning, but they do not make us fresh and pure. We cannot mingle with the splendours we see. But all the leaves of the New Testament are rustling with the rumour that it will not always be so. Some day, God willing, we shall get in. When human souls have become as perfect in voluntary obedience as the inanimate creation is in its lifeless obedience, then they will put on its glory, or rather that greater glory of which Nature is only the first sketch.

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