holy week: a reflection

It’s Holy Week, and I find myself wanting it to be some huge spiritual experience. And as with every other week of Lent, it is in the ordinary and the commonplace, and the day to day where Jesus keeps on showing up. Body and blood. God with us.

I’m going to be charitable to myself and say that I didn’t do the best at my Lenten goals this year. Other than a successful fast, I think I only did any of my other proposed activities a handful of times, if that. And I feel this tension, pulling me. That same tension that pulled me when my husband invited me into feast day tv watching. The tension between propping myself up with my works and freely receiving grace. Between chastising myself for failing and thanking God for the ways he has been present.

I had a lot of good plans for observing Lent this year. Plans that came from a good place. Plans that I was excited about. Plans that I think I’ll probably try to make again. But can I say that my failing has been the place where Lent has been so meaningful? Every day, when I see the unopened devotional email I was supposed to read, or I realized that Eliana ripped her “Lenten Path” paper in half, and it’s hanging there sad on the side of our fridge, I remember that sin is a part of me, that brokenness is where we live.

And I remember grace. I remember mercy and forgiveness and redemption. I don’t think a day has gone by since Ash Wednesday that I haven’t breathed thanksgiving for that shield of grace that Jesus bought for us with his blood.

Now I realize that it’s not necessarily sin that I don’t read all that I planned to or do all the activities that I planned with my kids. I don’t think it’s sin to have a messy house or to get behind on the laundry or to forget that you have company coming. But, oh how those things remind me of how flawed I am! How broken I am. How I fall short in ways that really do matter. Like being holy.

And this morning, when I did read Walt Wangerin’s Maundy Thursday devotional with cat piano background music and a room-temperature cup of coffee, I felt a little twinge that I haven’t made reading a priority. That I didn’t make more of an effort to anticipate. To participate. But it was a different kind of pain than the kind of pain I am so used to feeling when I realize that I’m not enough. When I remember that I’m broken to the very core of me.  It was a hunger pain more than a stifling pain. A growing pain more than a crushing pain. An ache for more Jesus instead of a desperate grasp to be good, do it better, try harder. wpid-img_20150113_112036.jpg

Instead of my mind being filled with all the ways I have fallen short, it is filled with all the ways that he has been faithful with my broken little obediences. The ways that he has given himself to me. How he has been Immanuel, the God who came to live with us.

When I look back at the weeks between Ash Wednesday and today, I realize that I have to choose what story I tell, I have to choose where my heart is going to focus.  The story of my failure or the story of His grace? The story of my dirty feet or the story of how he washed them? The story of my sin, or the story of his redemption?

Because really, aren’t they the same story?

wounded deep for our transgressions

bruised for our iniquities

you brought us peace

and bought our healing 

now eternally we sing

hosanna in the highest.

Third Sunday of Lent

Gracious Father, we give You praise
And thanks for this Holy Communion
The body and blood
Of Your beloved Son

ah, this is so good. I need this.

Maybe this truth will help me be in a better mood,

give me a better attitude,

help me focus in the right place.

The body is broken
God’s love poured open
To make us new
Lord, make us new

Thank you, Lord.

Thank you for mercy,

for grace.

Abba Father, we bless Your name
And take part in this Holy Communion
Make us all one
To love like Your Son

Yes, Lord.

How my heart longs for that true fellowship of believers.

Wait. Is Phoebe fussing? Didn’t the downstairs neighbor say that she can hear Phoebe crying sometimes? Does she think I’m a terrible mother? I better go make sure Phoebe is okay.

The body is broken
God’s love poured open
To make us new
Lord, make us new

CRASH.

My eyes snap open. Despite the one million times I have told her not to, Ellie has climbed into her doll crib, and, obviously, the bottom fell out.

ALREADY? I just wanted to listen to this one song. I just wanted two minutes and fifteen seconds of peace.

The body is broken
God’s love poured open
To make us new
Lord, make us new

“It’s not your fault, It’s my fault.”

Before I can even open my mouth, my two year old short circuits the thoughts that would’ve made this situation all about me and not about her. All about guilt and not about grace.

And somehow, we have a quiet conversation about how important it is to listen to mommy and to choose to obey, even if my eyes are closed. And I gently remind that little girl that she has her own crib and this one is not it.

And somehow, the bottom of that plastic doll crib fits right back in there and it’s almost like it never broke in the first place.

And somehow, He keeps finding ways to be Immanuel. God right here in our life. The God who came to live with us. The God who isn’t only there when I have a quiet space, ancient prayers, and cup of coffee, but the God who wants to be found. Right smack in the middle of crying babies and disobedient toddlers, if I will only ask to see him. The God who doesn’t need silent spaces or special weekends to change my heart.

The God who is right here in my living room, making me new.