A Prayer for Outer Space

A dear aunt gave Wren a book about outer space for Christmas.  Rather than continuing opening the rest of her presents, Wren paused to “read” this new book about her favorite topic.

She carefully reviewed each page before turning to the next.  When she closed the book, she pronounced, “There’s no Pluto in this book.”

I was startled by this observation that I had to check the book myself.  She was absolutely correct.  Poor Pluto!

Now that Wren is five, her interest in outer space has only grown.  Last night her daddy found her kneeling beside her bed.

“I’m just praying,” she told him.

He inquired if he could pray with her.

“No, I’m just praying for outer space,” she replied before concluding the rest of her prayer in whispers.  “… and let me go to outer space.  The end.”

Rejoicing

The breeze was gentle.

The sky was the perfect blue.

Her arms stretched upwards.

Her smile grew.

“Ahaha,” she laughed.

Down the sidewalk she flew.

This is the day that the Lord has made.

I will rejoice and be glad in it.

Psalm 118 v24

Lent: What are you adding in?

As a verb, lent is the past tense of lending.  It implies return.  As a noun, Lent is a religious period of 40 days before Easter in which Christians practice fasting or abstinence.  

I’m a Christian myself.  I remember once telling a friend I was Baptist, and I’ll never forget my father telling me I wasn’t.  Just because I went to a Baptist church didn’t make me Baptist was the gist of that conversation.  

I remember telling another friend I was a Protestant, and I’ll never forget my mother telling me I wasn’t.  She taught me that just because you aren’t Catholic doesn’t mean you default into the Protestant category.

I was a very confused child.  My parents knew what I wasn’t.

I learned I didn’t get corrected when I told people I was simply a Christian.  Although, come to think of it, my dad might have given me a lesson on how I was not just a Christian but a believer and a follower.

Growing up, I believed Lent to be a “Catholic thing.”  I didn’t know many Catholics until college when on Ash Wednesday I noticed quite a number of people walking around with dirt on their foreheads.  Upon closer examination, I saw that their faces weren’t dirty.  What I mistook for dirt, was an ashen cross drawn on their foreheads.

Making diverse friends of faith in college was easy for me.  I didn’t feel the need to go to the Baptist Campus Ministry because they’d be filled with nothing but Baptists.  (No offense to Baptists. In fact, I still go to a Baptist church.)  I went to another Christian ministry on campus, but I didn’t feel they were inclusive of non-Protestants (even those Lutherans and especially those charismatics).  I eventually joined Intervarsity and was enriched by a community of people who had one thing in common, their love for Christ.

So at this time of year, I would ask my friends on campus who were marked with an ashen cross what they were giving up for lent.  And then someone asked me.  “But I’m not Catholic,” I said, and then I realized I didn’t have to be Catholic to give something up for my Lord.  Over the years, I have given up soda, television, caffeine, Facebook (before I gave it up for good), and PG-13 & R rated movies.  I once gave up Scrabble on my iPhone.

It’s hard navigating the waters of Lent as a non-Catholic so I’ve kind of molded it into my own thing.  A few years ago, someone shared a secret with me that helped me out.  I learned that they break their abstinences on Sundays (called mini-Easters, I love that!).  If you don’t break for Sunday, then Lent would be 46 days long.  That’s a long time to go without coffee.

I’ve learned to not just give up the “vices,” but to fill the void leftover on focusing my attention on Christ.  That’s when Lent started to having meaning for me.

Lent is giving something to God and getting something greater from Him in return.

For this year’s Lent, I’ve decided to not give anything up.  I’m going to add something in.  I plan on reading my Bible faithfully.  

How about you?  What are you giving up for Lent, or will you add something in?

question #2

Question: What does it mean to be a Christian?

I find myself asking this question when I see a car with an ichthus symbol cut off another driver or when a neighbor who goes to church every week responds to an unfortunate inconvenience by saying “I don’t care if she’s dying.” They seem to go through the motions of being a Christian but show nothing of it.

I have been told by an acquaintance that he considered himself to be Christian although he didn’t believe that Jesus was or could be Divine. He felt that he respected the “do unto others” and “love thy neighbor” preachings of Jesus and tried to follow that code. Another friend serves selflessly and with a generous heart, but doesn’t consider herself to be Christian. Here they exacted works but showed no faith.

This is a question that I have been journalling about for quite some time, 8 or nine years. It’s been a way for me to study and understand my faith as I observe others and myself. Very recently, as part of an application, I have been asked to define my Christian parameters and I thought I would share these along with my answers here.

What do you believe about Jesus Christ and what is your relationship with Him?

I believe that Jesus Christ is God. He existed before creation, and He took the form of man. He walked the earth healing the sick, ministering to masses, and teaching men to follow Him. He was crucified on the cross for the sins of mankind; this includes my sins. He was resurrected after three days, appearing to His followers, then ascended into Heaven. Through the teachings of Jesus’ apostles found in the Holy Bible I am blessed to learn more of the Messiah. My relationship with Jesus Christ consists of prayer, petitioning and meditation.

How is the work of the Holy Spirit active in your life?

The Holy Spirit is what led me to Christ. Like a conscience, the Holy Spirit convicts me and shows me my sin. The Holy Spirit moves me and encourages me to reach out to other people. I believe I have been gifted with hospitality and listening when there are needs.

How is your personal growth in faith and obedience to God nurtured and encouraged in your life?

I grew up in a Christian home where the scripture was read every evening after dinner. I describe my parents at times as my “spiritual” parents as they were the ones that led me to Christ. They have been a great example to me as they minister to disabled children and have always opened their home to visitors. Now that I live six hours from them, I have my husband and church family, in addition to the Holy Bible, to rely on for spiritual guidance.

Would you describe your involvement with your church or parish?

My husband and I have been attending our church for two years and became members as of January this year. Despite being “new” members, we have been active in the church for some time. We are involved with our Sunday School class, and I volunteer in the food pantry once a month. We are blessed to be in a church where the Holy Spirit is active and where the members truly desire to know God.

What are your plans for your child’s Christian development?

I will raise my child to know that the ways of the Lord are righteous My husband and I will pray with and for this child daily. We will have our child attend Sunday School. I hope that this child will come to know the Saviour at an early age, but I would wait wanting the child to accept Jesus with genuine faith and would not pressure him or her.

I feel like I could expand my answers, but I don’t think they are looking for scholarly responses citing references.

The Bible is the Christian’s basic informational resource before leaving earth, yet it’s not a manual with clearly defined rules and procedures. (And even then the things that are spelled out clearly are mostly ignored.) Can you be a heretic and a Christian? There are so many churches and beliefs, surely someone somewhere is going to call you a heretic. I just read in the news today that pastor and author Rob Bell has been declared a heretic by Justin Taylor and John Piper for his beliefs in universalism. (Universalism, simply put, is the belief that everyone will end up in heaven for there is no hell.)

Leaving that bag of worms open, and returning to my original question, I will end with John 14:6:

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”