Friday, June 24, 2011

Longing For Home

My husband's son and daughter-in-law recently returned to the United States for a brief visit this summer. They have been teaching at an International School in South Africa after failing to find teaching jobs in Maine last year. The commitment is for two years and they are hoping to secure teaching positions when they return to this country for good in the summer of 2012. It is interesting to watch their reaction to being home. They are enjoying all the foods they cannot get in South Africa and are especially grateful to be able to buy Dunkin Donuts coffee! In South Africa, they are foreigners, it is not their home. This reminded me of our status as Christians. We are temporary residents waiting to return to our true home. Paul tells the Philippians, "But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables Him to bring everything under His control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body. (Philippians 3:20) Sometimes we as Christians can get too comfortable with this present life. We have homes, food to eat, and clothes to wear.  However, many of us know of people who have had their homes foreclosed and are having trouble buying food and clothing with rising prices. We are also very aware that there are people all over the world as well as in this country whose basic needs are not met. The point is that all that we experience now is temporary. The trials and circumstances of this present life which can often be painful and confusing are what is visible to us. But we have to remember that all of this is part of a fallen world. A world that is temporary and fleeting. If this is all that we have to fix our eyes on then there is no hope. But we as Christians do not lose heart because Paul tells us, "Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." (2 Corinthians 4:16-18) So what are you longing for? I pray that the excitement that my husband's son and daughter-in-law are experiencing being home in the U.S. the place of their true citizenship will be the excitement we are longing for. The excitement we will experience in our souls when we finally claim our true citizenship at home with our Lord.
Peace & Blessings In Christ,
Pastor Sheree

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Lord of the Dance

This is a little different than most of my blogs. I subscribe to a journal called, "Conversations." It is a journal that focuses on spiritual formation. One of the features of the journal is a section called, "O Taste and See" taken from Psalm 34:8. In this section a piece of art work is usually featured as a focal point for meditation. I have been excited to see how God has used various artists to bring forth some deep insights to refresh my soul. Today I share one of those meditations which comes from God helping me to focus on the connection between body and spirit. The meditation is on the work of artist Henri Matisse and is entitled, "La Danse"as illustrated in the picture below.
May 4, 2011 Meditation

"I am meditating on Henri Matisse's "La Danse" from the Conversations Journal. I am struck by the figures which appear to be all women evident by their breasts. Why no male figures? Perhaps the male figure is the Lord and these female figures are His bride. The Lord represented by the blue and green of creation. The figures appear to enjoy the creation and somehow know they are a part of it. Their features are very simple and in some cases virtually nondescript so there is no sense of comparison or competition. There appears to be no shame in their nakedness. It almost speaks to a Genesis creation experience. The earth is without form or void and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters (Genesis 1:1-2) Just like these women are hovering over creation. There is a balance, a sense of connectedness, a lightness, a peace. But then the peace and harmony appears to be disrupted with the one figure losing her grip and falling. I notice the red color under her arm. The introduction of pain and suffering reminiscent of the Fall in Genesis. I can only imagine the shame and guilt she experiences as a result of breaking the rhythm. She reaches because she desperately wants to be reconnected to what once was. That perfect union, the love she experienced in being united with the others. It's all about community in communion with God the Creator. The others seem unaware of what's happening but they will be shortly. It is the salvation story as told through dance. Somehow there will be a reconnection in Christ. That red under the arm of the one woman also symbolically reminds me of Christ's blood. She is the Christ figure, robed in flesh, identifying with us. Her disconnection mirroring the isolation Christ experienced on the cross after separation from the Father. The picture speaks to me in the female figures. The challenge to see femininity as a gift, without shame, rejoicing in the dance with the Creator. The larger female figure in the foreground and the one stumbling remind me of the Sistine Chapel and the image of God stretching out His hand to touch the finger of Adam. The larger figure appears to be the most grounded between the blue and the green (heaven and earth.) Most of her body occupying the heavenly realm yet her feet still connected to the earth. The one who stumbles falls to the earth with little of her body occupying heaven. I sometimes identify with the fallen woman and what she may feel. Yet I experience a sense of hope because I know despite my stumbling I will be caught and reconnected to the joy of the dance. The "joy of my salvation." The joy of my creation and how important I am to Him. Even the title of the section, "O Taste and See" brings me back to Your word to me on April 5 and the exact words from Psalm 34:8. Enjoying His presence fully both body and soul. Thank you Lord for this meditation."
May you enjoy God's richest blessings this day!
Pastor Sheree