Monday March 30, 2015 Earthquake

Posted March 30, 2015 by bgovanus
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Now the centurion, and those who were with him keeping guard over Jesus, when they saw the earthquake and the things that were happening, became very frightened and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!” Matthew 27: 54
There are 17 times throughout the bible that the term earthquake is used but most of the references occur during the Passion retelling. We sang my favorite Lenten song “Were You There?” at the conclusion of Palm Sunday Mass. The refrain haunts me with Tremble, Tremble, Tremble. Yes the earth shakes when Jesus dies. It shakes again on Easter morning when He rises. I know there have been many times in my life when I have been shaken to my core. Those emotional earthquakes opened me up and left me in rubble. I need help from an outside source to be resurrected. Very often the walls that I build around myself need to come down in order that I might grow. God can see that. I am going along smugly feeling that I am complete, when the world comes crashing down around me. Showing me that there is work to do and a new beginning to make.
I am always afraid when the earth around me starts to tremble but I know that if I trust in God… something GOOD will arise from the movement. The stone that is rolled away, reveals Christ and a new perspective about my relationship that I never dreamed or imagined comes to light. I am searching but don’t even realize it until the earth moves to clear away the walls that have blocked my vision. I know that He does not want me to be fearful so that is why there is no anticipation like with a hurricane… which I can watch approach for days. An earthquake happens in a flash but the wake it leaves behind can be felt for a lifetime. I know that my Redeemer lives. He has picked me up after one of the earthquakes in my life and set me back on my feet to begin again in a very different direction. Things definitely happen during this time of uncertainty but instead of closing down into a fetal position, I have learned to look up and be watchful for when the dust settles, a new direction is always clearly available to me.
Lord, help me to always embrace the trembling and allow myself to trust You when the earthquakes of life reorganize and reprioritize my existence. You know the way I should go. Open my eyes and help me to be awake so that I am attuned to Your will for me.

Sunday March 29, 2015 Who?

Posted March 29, 2015 by bgovanus
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When He had entered Jerusalem, all the city was stirred, saying, “Who is this?” And the crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth in Galilee.” Matthew 21:10-11
So there is a buzz all over Jerusalem because this guy is coming into town on a donkey… people are saying “hosanna” and covering the streets with palm branches and their own clothing. The crowds are asking WHO is this. There is no easy answer to their question. Jesus was and is an enigma. He worked miracles, could read minds and hearts, spoke of God as His Father… to describe Him in one word is like trying to describe a sunset. But Matthew simply has the answer be, He is the Prophet from Nazareth.
How would I introduce Jesus. How would I describe Him to my friends who had never met or heard of Him. There were many strangers in Jerusalem that day. People made an annual pilgrimage to Jerusalem for Passover from all over the known world. They had not experienced or even heard of Jesus. Matthew wrote his Gospel witness mainly for a Jewish audience. He includes a great deal of explanation and detail to demonstrate that Jesus belonged in Jewish tradition. His explanation is very in keeping with the faith… He is a PROPHET!
If I was asked today… Who is this Jesus riding in on a donkey… what would I say? This is my beloved friend. He put me first! ahead of His own will and desire. He sacrificed everything so that I could live. I am and will always be in His debt. He is gentle but painfully honest. He challenges me when I would give less than my best. He inspires me to be generous with my time, talent and treasure because I trust Him implicitly, I can take a step into the unknown because I know He is with me. There is not a day that I do not put myself in His presence for a I am always strengthened and fortified by His great wisdom. He is my savior.
Lord help me bravely and with courageous abandon introduce YOU to anyone who would listen.

Friday March 27, 2015 Accepting

Posted March 27, 2015 by bgovanus
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My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; He is mine forever. Psalm 73:26
During the course of my scripture reading this morning this theme was reiterated in nearly every passage I read. I know that I am headstrong and get frustrated when I am not in control… I want and need to feel like I am moving in a forward direction. Lately, my body and mind have been totally uncooperative. Friends and family recognize it and offer to “help” and I wish they could. I know that it is really between God and me. Accepting that I am not 40 years old anymore is hard. Accepting that my body does not bounce back from trauma quickly is hard. Accepting that my mind is affected when I am not feeling well is hard. I was blessed to have a few minutes with my friend, Debbie, yesterday. She is caretaker of her parents, working long hours developing her business and we commiserated that life is HARD! God is not testing any of us but He wants His beloved people to realize that nothing is impossible with Him.
There is only so much that I can do myself. I can’t stop cars from hitting me, I can’t stop the cancer that is eating away the life of my friend, I can’t give my daughter the job she wants. I need to accept these facts and give the whole situation over to God and trust Him to do the right thing. I may not agree with His decision… and He may take longer than I think it should take for Him to act… that does not mean I should take back the situation. Nothing has changed… I still cannot fix anything.
God sent the Holy Spirit to be a real and active presence when Jesus went home to heaven. The Spirit is the Parakletos which translates to mean “One called alongside to assist.” I need to rely on His help and acknowledge His desire to be present with me and then let go of the issue. Have you ever tried to help a child tie his shoes. There is not enough room for both of you to get the job done. You do it, or he does it. No in between. I know there is much that God has enabled me to do and I jump at the chance to perform. It is important though to realize and accept what I cannot control and let go and let God.
Lord help me to accept the things that I cannot change and give those into Your loving hands. Make me aware and wise enough to release my frustrations and move toward You instead of putting my head down and trying harder. You know what I need!

Thursday March 26, 2015 Hope

Posted March 26, 2015 by bgovanus
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Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, on those who hope in His steadfast love. Psalm 33:18
I read that the meaning of redemption is love, the goal of faith then is to understand what Jesus did on the cross more and more completely. I think the meaning of hope then is live expecting that love will win out. It is so hard to be hopeful in a world filled with degradation, abuse, and blame. No matter what I do it is misunderstood by someone. Even when I think my actions are above reproach… someone finds fault. Often it is because they are coming from a hard place where love has not been able to touch, but none the less, it hurts.
Knowing that Jesus eye is on me continually creates hope that I will not labor in vain. Even when my most sincere attempts to serve backfire… He knows my heart and that I love and respect Him. Hope is tricky because it is springs from inside after Faith has planted a seed. It is impossible to be hopeful without Faith. God is… without believing that fact… I can’t possibly be hopeful of His love.
The true essence of the coming days in our church reliving the Passion and death of Jesus… is HOPE. Hard to believe that retelling the darkness and betrayal that were the crucifixion could possibly plant HOPE in my heart but I am Easter Person. Jesus did rise and HOPE springs eternal because HE LIVES!
Dear Father, help me always to rely on Your steadfast love. I am made new each day because You cared enough to send Your Son, Jesus, to die for me. Allow my hope to spring eternally, made fresh each and every day.

Wednesday March 25, 2015 Annunciation

Posted March 25, 2015 by bgovanus
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The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. Luke 1:35
When I was a kid, I was confused that in the middle of Lent, we talked about the Annunciation and Mary. I figured out the 9 month thing when I became a teenager in health class and I accepted it. Really though the Church gives a great gift to celebrate and remind everyone of Jesus humanity right before Holy Week. God became flesh through a woman’s yes and I am saved by the YES of her Son, Jesus! Two great feasts practically coincide to reinforce that God had a plan and it was an incredible gift to me.
Mary’s fiat… “Yes, May it be done to me according to your word.” Humbles me! I think back when I was 16 -17 years old. I was self-absorbed and would not have been able to commit like Mary did. I had a friend who became pregnant and she chose to have an abortion. Her logic was that she was not ready to take care of a child. That decision changed her life… she could never have children as a result. Mary bravely accepted God’s will and her Son did the same. This is what I celebrate every year on this Holy Day. Mary’s YES and Jesus’ YES changed the history of the world but most relevant to me… is they changed my world. Emmanuel, God with us!
Lord, I strive to live “Lord I come to do Your will.” I know that I fail more often than I succeed but I keep on trying and I know that You look at that too. I beg You to come and allow me to be the vessel of Your loving presence. I know Mary’s joy at carrying you within her womb for nine months must have remained a consolation when You were hanging on the cross. Jesus, You are a gift to the whole human race but I am most grateful for the gift to me.

Tuesday March 24, 2015 Whenever

Posted March 24, 2015 by bgovanus
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Moses accordingly made a bronze serpent and mounted it on a pole, and whenever anyone who had been bitten by a serpent looked at the bronze serpent he lived. Numbers 21:9
The really important word in this verse is whenever… I heard a whole sermon preached on that word. God sent serpents because the Israelites were complaining and blaspheming God. They were constantly grumbling about the lack of food and water in the desert. God was fed up with them so he sent serpents and people were dying from the bites! The people begged Moses to pray to have the serpents removed but God instead told Moses to make a bronze serpent and mount it to a stick. WHENEVER the people looked at it, they would live.
This was a stubborn and belligerent group. The word whenever implies that some chose NOT to do it. When I heard the preacher explain this, I thought what could possess them to be so stupid and pig headed. Then I thought about situations where I was holding onto grudges or didn’t choose to eat right or exercise or put myself at risk by driving too fast. The list could go on and on. Whenever, I am afraid that I was just as guilty of ignoring the “cure” that God provides for my spiritual and physical health. What must He think of me? The old joke about the man standing on his rooftop during a flood praying for God to save him, comes to mind. A guy comes in a row boat to save him, and he turns him down, saying God will save him. The water continues to rise, the coast guard in a motor boat arrives. The man says, no God will save me. Finally a helicopter hovers above him and the man shakes off the pilot. He drowns and when he stands before God and asks… “Why didn’t You save me?” God says “I sent a row boat, the Coast guard and a helicopter!”
I am just as stiff necked as the Israelites of old. No matter how silly they seem to me for not looking for the way to be saved… I am just as short-sighted. God loves me and is constantly showing me the way home and whenever I choose to ignore His path in favor of my own… I am just like my forefathers who chose to die in the desert.
Lord, give me the wisdom and the sense to choose YOU over my own selfishness. I know that I act foolishly… help me choose aright, today and every day!

Monday March 23, 2015 Why Me?

Posted March 23, 2015 by bgovanus
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As they led Jesus away they took hold of a certain Simon, a Cyrenian, who was coming in from the country; and after laying the cross on him, they made him carry it behind Jesus. Luke 23:26
I know you have looked up and asked “Why ME?” when untoward things have happened. A flat tire, A car accident, the dryer quits working or the kids break a treasured vase… anything can trigger that feeling of confusion or discouragement. When I feel like I am barely keeping all the balls in the air and ONE more is added, I am likely to throw up my hands and shake my head asking… WHY ME?
Simon, must have felt this way… headed home, he is forced into service to help Jesus get the heavy cross to Calgary. No one asked, likely the Roman guards grabbed him and may have even struck him when he protested. Because he was an able bodied man in the wrong place at the right time, he was chosen… no other reason. Or was there a reason?
Did God have plans for Simon? The bible does not tell us anything beyond this verse about the fact that he was drafted to help Jesus carry the wood of the cross. Every person who came into contact with Jesus was changed in some way… I am sure Simon was no different. He had to see the stained and bloody face, the scarred back and he heard the crowds jeering. When he looked into the eyes of Jesus, he knew this was no criminal. He saw Jesus’ Mother, Mary, following along in the crowd. He saw the miracle when Veronica offered a cloth. HE KNEW that this was no ordinary man. He knew that this was no ordinary imposition upon him.
I wonder how often when I ask “Why ME?” is God putting me into a special opportunity to serve, to learn to grow closer to Him? There are no accidents with God.
Lord, help me to look past what I see as inconveniences to find the opportunity to serve You! Open my eyes and my heart to love the often misunderstood breaks in my routine to realize that these are opportunities to come closer to You.


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