Tuesday, March 31, 2020

March 2020

dessert spirit's fire march 2020 header

• With the world observing physical distancing due to the global reach of COVID-19, this has become an unusual Lent and a progressively stranger March. Some observers have suggested keeping 6 feet away from other humans may qualify as physical distancing, but many have been recovering the social closeness they'd lost as the world became more digitized.

• Beginning on Ash Wednesday in late February, most days I've been blogging to Twitter (and FB, even though I'm still in my long break) friend Apri Fiet's #LentenSnapshots2020 1-word prompts.

• The LA Marathon ran past the church building again this year; instead of Sunday morning worship on March 7th we gathered Saturday evening for Holden Evening Prayer and the second annual bake-off.

• By mid-month #SaferAtHome and #StaySafeStayHome were in place, so we transformed the long-planned actual World Water Day into a virtual event. See you next year by the river?!

• Back yard moonflowers are back! Nothing like annual flowers, fruits, and veggies to remind us of the patterns and seasons of our lives.

• As part of the increased friendliness of the governor's stay far apart order, Roxy Kitteh's uncle Steve W texted me two spectacular golden poppy pictures.

March 2020 desert spirits fire

Sunday, March 29, 2020

29 March • Anoint

Sunday 29 March anoint

In the Hebrew bible, we find prophets, priests, and kings anointed into lives of service. All four gospels tell about a woman anointing Jesus a few days before he died; I especially love that according to St. John, that woman was Mary of Bethany, one of the sisters of Lazarus Jesus raised from death.

• Matthew 26:6-13
• Mark 14:3-9
• Luke 7:36-50
• John 12:1-8

I've illustrated the unforgettable words from Psalm 23 where God anoints each of us into lives of abundant service – into a royal, prophetic, priesthood, as we follow Jesus – while the entire psalm celebrates God's supply, provision, and care.

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Thursday, March 26, 2020

26 March • Belt

Thursday 26 March belt

Cotton Belt, Rust Belt, Bible Belt, Corn Belt, Green Belt... Song Belt?

Basic Corn Belt graphic from Wikimedia Commons

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Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Keion Henderson :: The Shift

The Shift by Keion Henderson on Amazon

The Shift book coverGet this book and keep this book! The Shift will remind you God has your back, and despite your choices being limited at times, you still can help maximize a life of service that will align with God's gifts to you, God's purpose for you. Lighthouse Church Houston's Senior Pastor Keion Henderson wrote The Shift: Courageously Moving from Season to Season out of his own journey and generously interspersed his testimony of God's faithfulness with scriptural examples. Everyone tends to notice larger, less familiar life disruptions more than everyday ones, yet our lives are shifting all the time. The author reflects upon inevitable, subtler seasonal shifts along with cataclysmic, direction-reorienting ones.

Please remember—in order to move forward, you must not forget the past! Don't cut yourself off from its legacy, remember the lessons the past has taught us. Because God wastes nothing, those events still matter, and we need to draw upon older learnings for upcoming seasons. In a similar way, embrace and acknowledge disappointments small and large. Follow and appreciate the paths life's detours take you on. "Sometimes we need to adjust to an empty stage before it's re-set for the next act. ... Do not be afraid to weep over what has been lost in order to water the seeds already planted inside you."

I particularly love Pastor Keion's idea of documenting your journey with journaling, maybe with a physical memento (souvenir), possibly by identifying the song that moved you then. If you've achieved some chronology, you probably could have written some of these chapters, yet how helpful is it to have someone else validate what you know and feel, and especially have someone who's searched the scriptures affirm how to move on by referring to the witness of scripture?

From what you can discern, where do you need to be, what do you need to be doing right now to help God's future for you develop and unfold? Like the author's young daughter insisting she had to dance because "dancing's what we're supposed to do," we need dancing lessons from Jesus who's Lord of the Dance so we can learn to follow God's leading.

Each chapter concludes with questions for the reader and a prayer. Did I already tell you how much you need this book? Buy a copy, make it your own, buy a tall stack and gift them to everyone you know!

Notice of material connection: As a member of the launch team, I received a copy of The Shift at no cost to myself with no expectation I'd write a positive review. As always, my opinions are my own.

my amazon review: Get this Book! Keep this Book!

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

24 March • New

Tuesday 24 March new heart new spirit Ezekiel 18:31

"Make you a new heart and a new spirit." Ezekiel 18:31

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Five Minute Friday :: Tomorrow

tomorrow ocean waves illustration

Five Minute Friday–Tomorrow Linkup

Poet Carl Sandburg insists there's nothing in the world but a sky full of tomorrows, an ocean of tomorrows. Another renowned wordsmith, William Faulkner, reminds us the past keeps overtaking us minute by minute. It's never ever really over forever.

Wherever you've ventured, wherever you've settled and stayed for a while, however varied your experience, every one of our not yet here tomorrows will contain many ingredients from our semi-gone pasts. However we think we've designed and marketed ourselves into the future, past still is present and tomorrow cannot happen without both careful preparation and those random unwanted unwelcome encounters that often shape us more thoroughly and incisively than our decisions to associate with certain people, our intention to follow a formal course of study in accounting or zoology.

Poetic farmer Wendell Barry counsels "Practice resurrection."

Only the living word, the lively spirit of God can enact resurrection from death, but we can live as if, as if we already are in that tomorrow we dream of and plan for—that sometimes surprises us. As we welcome tomorrow, why not even tightly hug some of those yesterdays and yesteryears that have sourced tomorrow, that have been wellsprings for today?

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Monday, March 23, 2020

23 March • Mission

Monday 23 March MIssion

In 1769, Father Junipero Serra established San Diego de Alcalá, the first of many Franciscan missions in the Californias.

{minorly Photoshopped} Wikimedia Commons photo

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Friday, March 20, 2020

World Water Day 2020

One month before Earth Day, on 22 March, United Nations World Water Day particularly celebrates fresh waterways. 2020 was going to be the fifth year in a row the Green Faith Team held a public WWD celebration; it would have been our third meeting by the LA Riverside, but the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic changed that. Since I'd created a Save the Date and later an event flyer, I designed a program (after all) because multi-piece campaigns are good for any portfolio.

As it turned out, the PTB decided to post resources so people could have their own virtual WWD! I'm blogging the thanksgiving for baptism and scripture readings I included in this year's program. My 3x3 illustration features my LA River photos from 2019, plus an announcement for the {Children's} Watercolor Table we'd expected to offer this time.

world water day 2020

Thanksgiving for Baptism

Holy God, holy and merciful, holy and mighty,
you are the river of life, you are the everlasting wellspring,
you are the fire of rebirth.

Glory to you for oceans and lakes, for rivers and streams.
Honor to you for cloud and rain, for dew and snow.
Your waters are below us, around us, above us: our life is born in you.
You are the fountain of resurrection.

Praise to you for your saving waters:
Noah and the animals survive the flood,
Hagar discovers your well.
The Israelites escape through the sea, and they drink from your gushing rock.
Naaman washes his leprosy away,
and the Samaritan woman will never be thirsty again.

©2016 Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Exodus 15:22-27

22Then Moses ordered Israel to set out from the Red Sea, and they went into the wilderness of Shur. They went three days in the wilderness and found no water. 23When they came to Marah, they could not drink the water of Marah because it was bitter. That is why it was called Marah. 24And the people complained against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” 25He cried out to the Lord; and the Lord showed him a piece of wood; he threw it into the water, and the water became sweet.

There the Lord made for them a statute and an ordinance and there he put them to the test. 26He said, “If you will listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God, and do what is right in his sight, and give heed to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will not bring upon you any of the diseases that I brought upon the Egyptians; for I am the Lord who heals you.”

27Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees; and they camped there by the water.

Revelation 22:1-5

1Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2through the middle of the street of the city. On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. 3Nothing accursed will be found there any more. But the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him; 4they will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5And there will be no more night; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.

20 March • Building

Friday 20 March building

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Thursday, March 19, 2020

19 March • Sparrow

Giving #LentenSnapshots2020 host April Fiet's website another shoutout. You can find her on Facebook, on twitter, too; April very recently started a monthly newsletter.

19 March sparrow song snippet from Faithful by Eric Andersen

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Wednesday, March 18, 2020

18 March • Pour

Wednesday 18 March Pour

Glancing backwards through the pouring rain, hoping into a long-gone yesterday? Songwriter Jackson Browne reminds us, "You can dream, but you can never go back the way you came." Remember—mirrors reverse reality!

Photo by Devon Janse van Rensburg via Unsplash

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Monday, March 16, 2020

16 March • Found

16 March Found
In case you're viewing on a small screen or you've turned off images for fast browsing (does anyone still do that?), in no particular order since it's a circle, the words in my Found illustration are:
• Where the mind sees more than the eye
• Follow your heart
• In the quick of existence
• There is a place
• Friends
• Peace
• We, according to his promise, look for new Heavens and a new Earth. 2 Peter 3:13
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Five Minute Friday :: Less

glass curtain wall building

FMF linkup page :: less

Less is more! According to mid-last-century Bauhaus design sensibility. From Bauhaus to our house, many of us still prefer clean, spare, minimal styles. Some hanker after entirely neutral colors; others insist on a few bright splashes. That minimalist North German/Nordic Scandinavian style never ever completely quits.

Less is more? My header photograph is a mid-20th century building designed by Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius, with the glass curtain-wall front that reflects highlights of its surroundings, that more and more began to highlight the downtown of almost every city everywhere.

Less is more? The Reformers removed paintings and statues from church buildings, sometimes whitewashed interior church walls, not so much because of visual aesthetics but because they feared idol worship. They imagined people zooming in on a pretty painting or picture – a.k.a. golden calf, worshiping it, and breaking the first commandment to an extreme extent. As a result, music became the protestant art form, but happily, these days most protestant churches use color, pattern, paintings, and other aspects of the visual arts to enhance worship and help interpret scripture. Rather than staying with less, they wisely added more.

The Bauhaus was very much continuous with the logos / word = source + immanence that drove the emphasis on scripture during the magisterial Reformation, the Word that remains central to protestant theology—and identity! And like the 16th century Reformation, the Bauhaus was a creature of northern Europe—not southern.

Less is more? Many peeps caught up in the uncertainties of this century – especially related the current global pandemic – have decided more is more; less won't do at all. Both virtual and actual retailers have had a run on basic supplies to such a crazy extent many who need them can't get them.

Gropius glass curtain-wall building image via px fuel carries a no copyright reserved CC0 license.

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Saturday, March 14, 2020

14 March • Down

14 March Down

Here we are in the church, months or years or decades down river of our baptism. Down river is a location of variable quality. As a river runs, it gathers almost everything along its course: the good, the bad, the sweet, the toxic.

How can humans renew a riparian zone that has been depleted? With care, knowledge, and wisdom. Water was my March 4th Lenten Snapshot; I pictured the famous example of the Los Angeles River that's named after my city, the river that has been called the world's largest storm drain. I more than suggested, "...getting baptized in your local river and then claiming ongoing care and stewardship of that river and its watersheds. If you've already been baptized, why not renew your baptismal covenant at the riverside?"

How can humans bring their nearby down river back to life? By claiming stewardship of it. The LA River hosts several cleanup days throughout the year; maybe your river or other waterway does, too? It takes experts to determine how to restore a healthy biome; if you're not one of those, you still can join in the restoration effort by offering your time and energy.

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