So I’m lucky, because I get to be part of a church community here in Portland that I love, one that values art and doesn’t talk politics, one that encourages critical thinking and the asking of tough questions, one that cares about social justice and works in and with the city and strives to follow Jesus. I often fall into a weird gap – too conservative for the liberals, to liberal for the conservatives – and at Imago Dei, I’m at home with fellow gap dwellers, folks who love to debate and discuss and encourage and explore. I love that. I really, really do.
One of the ways artists, specifically writers, participate in worship at Imago is through our Call to Worship – essentially just a short piece of prose or poetry read toward the beginning of a service. I love writing calls, because I dread writing with a prompt more than just about anything, and I am always challenged and always blessed when things come together well. It’s a part of my life that I’m grateful for, and since this blog is really just me sharing parts of our little life with you, I wanted to give you last Sunday’s silly, icy little call – you can see how it developed out of this post from our snow day. Getting to write my silly heart out and have it recognized as worship? I just dig it, guys, I just do.
Whoever you are – Christian, atheist, Muslim, Jewish, undecided, unconcerned, spiritual but not religious, generally bored by the whole thing – your thoughts, ideas, passions, great loves, and opinions are always welcome here. These ones are mine.
This time last week we were, most of us, battling ice.
Portland exhaled our collective “Ooooo” at the magic mysterious silence of snow, then watched as our sweet sighs froze midair and came shattering down onto the pavement, bringing with them tree branches and car windows and no small piece of our sanity. Children scrambled out to build snowmen only to find themselves too light to stomp through the inch-thick, fun-ruining layer of ice that turned chain link fences into haunting sculpture and power lines into careless percussionists. Cars sat empty or slid lazily down slickened driveways, planes idled on runways, and pedestrians found themselves sitting suddenly on unforgiving ground. The city turned, in hours, from elation to straight up misery.
I hate ice.
Oregonians are stereotypically, wildly dramatic about the weather, and I am no exception. How I raged against the stuckness of that ice. I spent the weekend whining, and sulking, and generally feeling sorry for myself, all the while attempting to entertain a stir-crazy toddler, a sad eyed dog, and a handful of grown-ups who prefer me when I act like a decent human being. I am not cut out for long days house-stuck, not good at disappointment or graceful when I’m getting sick of people and I do love being wife and friend and mother, but only mostly when everyone can go outside. Give me two days of icy entrapment, and I’m pleading with heaven to bring me out of captivity, deliver me from the tyrannical snow-ice, send me a Moses to part the icy seas. My faith can be a shallow and shattering thing, my endurance laughable, my cynicism and self-pity as quickly landed and stubbornly thick as the glittering, maddening ice.
But You are in the ice. You are in the deepest spaces and hollowest depths, but also as much in the shallow, whiny frozen waters of my temporary frustration and feeble shortcomings. You are in the cracking snow and along side my cracking nerves, and you are no less capable of using them for your glory than you are the spring and the sunshine and my warmest spaces. You pay no mind to my limitations. You are not lessened by weather, nor failure, nor imperfect faltering me.
You are in the ice, and the sun glints for a moment over frozen branches and they blaze like a fire, and this is a holy place. “I am with you,” you whisper, and I feel beautiful You like a rescue, like deliverance, and I feel myself starting to thaw.
Imago Dei, come this morning to the God of burning bushes, the God who is with you in your stuckness, the Father whose love remembers you in your weakness, the Maker who moves inside your failure – the all consuming fire who hears your excuses and melts them all away. Come before your king with your frozen bodies, your icy spirits, and all of your reasons why not- come and kneel before him as he fills you with purpose, with grace, with glory, and with fire.
p.s. We did finally get to escape last week, and it was lovely to have a few days to huddle up together against the wind, watch movies, eat some pizza, and generally forget to be grownups for a bit. Thank you all for your encouragement and understanding!