Sunday, March 29, 2015

PALM Sunday: To The One who rode in on a gentle donkey, and not a warhorse- Be all praise and honor forever

DID YOU KNOW: The Palm Sunday story is in all four gospels, yet Jesus' birth narrative is in only two?

Be blessed on this VERY important day!

May you each feel the deep solemnity and joy of this Holy Week.


...To him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Eph 3:21)

Saturday, March 28, 2015

But Lord...He Stinketh...

Today is Lazarus Saturday, the day that the "Church universal" traditionally 

commemorates Jesus' resurrection of Lazarus. Lazarus was one of Jesus' three documented death-to-life miracles, but is the most dramatic and significant.  

The reason for this can be found in the words of Martha, Lazarus' sister. First...the story, which is found in the Gospel of John, chapter 11, verses 1 to 45. 

Jesus is out of town, a messenger comes to tell him that his best friend Lazarus is deathly ill.  Because it has taken the messenger days to reach Jesus and his group, any reasonable person of that time and place would have assumed that the man spoken of would be dead. Jesus did, and in the practical and pragmatic way of the Ancients, stayed put. This seems a little off to us, after all, we know what's happening in real time and it's in our cultural DNA to respond swiftly and effectively to issues. Not so in the Ancient Near East. They responded to a different rhythm and lived at a different pace. When Jesus does finally make his way back, Lazarus who has been dead a number of days, embalmed, buried and placed in a tomb is eventually raised to life again by Jesus' prayer to his Abba father God. 

But the story-within-the-story is really the juiciest part... Bookended between verses 27 and 39 we see the mini story of Martha's conversion. We see her tell Jesus in verse 27 that she believes in him, and she declares he is the Christ.  Then, she runs and calls her sister to come to Jesus and the two of them spend some seriously formative and emotionally intimate time with Jesus communally processing all kinds of raw feelings and being vulnerable and present to each other. Then Jesus gets ready to move beyond the emotion to action, and Martha... confused by the facts... says:  "But Lord...he stinks...he's putrefying!" Seriously...she went there:  Buzz kill.  MAJOR buzz kill.

In those mere twelve verses, the writer takes us through all the major steps of conversion (wrestling, belief, joy, desire to draw others in, shared intimacy, and tada: disbelief). And that's the beauty of it.  I don't know about you, but this story bolsters me and comforts me immensely.  Why?  Because Jesus doesn't let the story end in a buzz kill. He doesn't let Martha's temporary insane disbelief be the last word.   He doesn't let her speak her reality into his plans to showcase a new in which death has no power, and the impossible is possible; one in which putrefaction can be purified and repurposed. 

So, dear friends: 
Let's not let our  "this stinks beyond redemption" moments be the last word. Let us allow Jesus' redeeming, healing, repurposing-of-putrefaction-power have the Final Say in the midst of our messy lives!

May You Be Blessed on this gloomy Lazarus Saturday, in the hopeful knowledge that Resurrection Sunday is coming!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

A Call to Be Attuned to the Rhythms of Emptying and Filling~

As for the very first time, I hear the words of Mary, the mother of Jesus, as she says:   "Here I am, the Lord’s humble servant. As you have said, let it be done to me." (Luke 1:38, The Voice)[1], and I understand at a much deeper level her prophetic declaration in her Magnificat, when she says:
46 My soul lifts up the Lord!
47     My spirit celebrates God, my Liberator!
48     For though I’m God’s humble servant,
 God has noticed me.
    Now and forever,
        I will be considered blessed by all generations.
49     For the Mighty One has done great things for me;
        holy is God’s name!
50     From generation to generation,
        God’s lovingkindness endures
        for those who revere Him.
51     God’s arm has accomplished mighty deeds.
        The proud in mind and heart,
        God has sent away in disarray.
52     The rulers from their high positions of power,
        God has brought down low.
    And those who were humble and lowly,
        God has elevated with dignity.
53     The hungry—God has filled with fine food.
        The rich—God has dismissed with nothing in their hands.
(Luke 1:46-53, The Voice; emboldening mine)[2]

Because of a fear of being sent away empty-handed, I have heretofore, read myself into the station of the hungry one(s) mentioned in verse 53a.  Metaphorically, I have oft reasoned, I am hungry for so many things of The Spirit.  But I have not been honest, for fear of being turned away from the God who gives me my very sustenance.  As I have learned to re-read these words through the lens of the concept of kenosis,[3] I have moved from a place of defensiveness to a place of security. Reading Mary's words with kenotic eyes gives me the courage to be honest with myself and with my God.  What have I to fear from Him, for He is my Abba and has my best interest at heart?  To be dismissed with nothing in my hands no longer seems daunting.  Instead, it seems freeing.  After all, empty hands are more capable of receiving and reaching out. Empty hands are also more available for extending, and ...for embracing. 

“Theological hope can only come from a radical experience of our poverty.
As long as we are rich, we rely on our riches.
To learn hope, we have to pass through impoverishment.
These experiences are the prelude to experiencing
the goodness, faithfulness,
and power of God in a quite extraordinary way.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit”
—those stripped of everything by the Spirit—
“for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
~Jacques Phillippe, Interior Freedom


[1] Luke 1:38, ibid.
[2] Luke 1: 46-53, ibid.
[3]Kenosis is a term, although not mentioned specifically in scripture, is alluded to in the abovementioned Philippians passage.  More than humility, kenosis is "The spiritual act of pouring out oneself, of 'emptying' the self of its prerogatives..." and is "derived from the Greek word, kenoo, found in this passage of scripture which refers to Christ, and which means 'emptied himself'...'made himself nothing'..., and...'poured himself out'. from Pilgrim Heart:  The Way of Jesus in Everyday Life by Darryl Tippens.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

A Holy Saturday Compline (Prayer Before Bed)

May you find a sense of peace in the quiet and darkness as you fall to sleep. May the commemoration of this day remind you that, like Jesus' tomb, even in the stillness and silence and in the areas of your life that seem dead and irredeemable, God is present and actively working out His plan of redemption and reconciliation. Rest well, knowing that, With tomorrow's dawn, His mercies will break forth anew and JOY will triumph! Amen.

Tracy B. Dickerson, 2014 ©

LENT DAY 40 (Post #2): DARK

We can only imagine the abject terror that filled the hearts of

Jesus' followers on this day some 2000 years ago...

It was surely an unimaginable dark nightmare for them.

At times, God puts us through the

discipline of darkness

to teach us to heed Him.

Song birds are taught to sing in the dark, and

we are put into the shadow of God’s hand until we learn to hear Him…
Are you in the dark just now in your circumstances,

or in your life with God?
When you are in the dark,

listen, and God will give you

a very precious message for someone

when you get in the light.

LENT DAY 40 (Post #1): WAIT

Black Saturday- The Silence of the Tomb

Today is the day we call “Holy Saturday,” or more appropriately “Black Saturday.” Today, after the pain and suffering of Good Friday, everything, more than ever, is silent as we WAIT for God. On Black Saturday, the Lord Jesus lies dead in His tomb, a shroud over Him. Take a moment to think about that and what it means. His tomb is wrapped in stony silence- the silence of death. As he had predicted, his frightened disciples are scattered and in hiding.

If we take time to recall, we are reminded that silence is a method God uses to speak to us. Silence such as this is not at all lack of communication; it refers not so much to the absence of sound and activity, but to a deeper awareness of things. The essence of the silence of Holy Saturday provides us with an understanding of the deep, essentialness of God in our lives. For, when we taste even the slightest withdrawal of Him from our presence, it is then that we understand fully that it is only in Him that we live and move and breathe.

In Hebrew the word ‘Shema’ means ‘listen to this’ or ‘hear this.’ In fact, a more accurate translation of the word ‘Shema’implies that you listen or hear and then act upon it. The title comes from Deut 6:3 which says, “Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God! The LORD is One!”

In the quiet of Holy Saturday, God bids you to take action and listen for His voice...


Today, on Black Saturday, take some time in thinking about your life for a while. Perhaps recently, there is an area or aspect in your life where you are having difficulty finding God: it may be in prayer, a relationship, at work, at home, or some personal issues you may be facing. In other words, there may be an “empty tomb” in your life...

Maybe God is inviting you this Holy Week to "roll away the stone" and to look for Him in the very emptiness and silence of that place.

If this is what you are feeling, God may be inviting you to Embrace his silence, which is the Silence of the Empty tomb…the Silence of His Hidden Presence in your life.

In order to sense God’s presence in the ordinary and to recognize his action, even in our suffering and wounds, we need the silence of the empty tomb.

This Holy Saturday, may you find a sense of peace in the quiet anticipation of this day. May the commemoration of this day remind you that, like Jesus' tomb, even in the stillness and silence and in the areas of your life that seem dead and irredeemable, God is present and actively working out His plan of redemption and reconciliation.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Lent Day 39~ Good Friday: MOCK

On Good Friday, as Jesus was hanging upon the cross, the mockers milling around at the base of the cross yelled up at him, “If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross and we will believe you.”

Where have we heard these words before? Who was speaking through those who mocked Jesus on Good Friday? The words of those who were mocking Jesus on Good Friday sound eerily similar to the words that Satan used in the desert ("If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down...").

No doubt, Satan and his banished band laughed at the the foot of the cross. Their glee can be heard, even now 2000+ years later through the voices of the people who they animated with their vitriole.

The mocking must have been unbearable to hear, both for Our Lord and for the small band of onlookers that were His friends and family. They did not have the advantage that we have- the advantage of hindsight.

Neither those who were spouting vitriole, nor Jesus' faithful handful, knew how the story was going to unfold...But Jesus knew...

Darkness enveloped the world that day. I do not believe we can fully grasp the despair that must have been felt...

Perhaps a Still Small Voice spoke to the hearts of those faithful onlookers in order to steel their faith and said:

It’s Friday- But Sunday’s Coming!

Perhaps they began to understand at a core level Jesus' teaching about the "Sign of Jonah"...We do not know for sure.

On this Good Friday, let us remember the mocking that Jesus bore...
Let it be a reminder to us when we are assaulted and mocked by our Enemy and his minions... although we may not know the outcome, Jesus knows...

Let us know, as truly as we can know any truth...
Even on Our Darkest Day- We Know The Light!

Here is a Campolo Classic for you today…

Lift Up Your Heads, Rejoice!

May Your Day Be Filled With The AWE of It All!

For God DID NOT send His Son into
the world to condemn the world,
but that the world, through Him, might be saved.
~John 3:17