Category Archives: communion

when Easter comes early …

“The Lord Jesus on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” -1 Cor. 12:23-25


With tears streaming down my face, I leaned into the bride and whispered,

“What a gift! On the eve of celebrating our Lord’s resurrection, you’ve given me Easter.”

It was their first meal as a married couple – the Lord’s Supper. In response, they fed those of us who gathered as witnesses to this sacred occasion.

Really, I’m undone. Even now, a few hours post-communion, I’m teary-eyed just thinking about it.

A wedding. A bride and groom. The bread and the cup. An altar. Empty hands. A hungry heart.

Tonight, Easter came home to roost in my soul, and God used a couple of unsuspecting servants to administer his amazing grace. I don’t know if they went into this day realizing just how their one servant-act would spill over and fill up my empty cup, but God knew.

How needy I am. How lengthy this Lenten season has been – a few days of longing and living without. A famine of sorts that makes the feasting richer.

This year I started the party a day early, and I don’t think God minds at all. In fact, I think he planned it this way … just so I don’t get all hung up on ritual.

Surprises are the best, and no one orchestrates them better than Jesus …

Two thousand years ago on that first Easter morning and tonight on the eve of world-wide remembrance therein.

Happy, blessed Easter, friends. May the grace of the cross and the reality of the empty tomb rest fully and sweetly in your hearts as you walk to, through, and beyond the tomb.

We are an Easter people living with an Easter Jesus. This is our history; this is our present; this is our tomorrow.

Live it like you mean it, proclaiming the Lord’s death and resurrection every step of the way.

the rest of God …

“Cease from what is necessary. Embrace that which gives life.”

This is the golden rule of Sabbath according to Mark Buchanan, author of The Rest of God: Restoring your Soul by Restoring Sabbath. Have you read these words, this extraordinary book that feels less like obligation and more like privilege, like a daily walk in the garden with Jesus?

It arrived on my doorstep as required reading because of my participation in Alicia Chole’s 7th Year, mentoring encounter in 2013. I see the wisdom in Alicia’s choice to include it on our selected reading list. It should be required reading. It is pure, liquid grace—life-giving and life-extending with every chapter absorbed. I run the risk of feeling somewhat covetous of Mark’s pen if it weren’t for the absolute gratitude I feel in my heart for the gift of his words. There are very few books that I’ll read a second, even third time, very few books that I keep on the bookshelf long-term. This will be one of them. Why?

Because The Rest of God grants me understanding and permission to rest with God so that I might more fully understand the rest of God—that which remains hidden to me. His vastness. His closeness. His willingness to be known. His willingness to fill me with eternity to the uttermost. Rest to restore the body and rest to restore the soul. This is sacred treasure.

And so as it pertains to Mark’s golden rule for Sabbath rest (ceasing from what is necessary and embracing that which gives life) this is what gives life to me today:

  •  The Sunday school hour with James 1:19-27 on the table, saints gathered around for discussion.
  •  The Communion hour with bread and wine on the table, saints kneeling down for prayer.
  •  The lunch hour with fish and chicken, saints sitting down for sustenance.
  •  The afternoon hours with bed and blankets, saints lying down for sleep.
  •  The evening hours, two saints holding hands for love.

This is Sabbath rest for me. Nothing necessary. No “have tos” in the mix. Only “get tos”. I get to keep Sabbath with the saints on Sundays. Some folks may tag it as obligation; I name it as privilege – the life-giving, life-extending rest of God.

I pray you’ve known a similar portion. If not, then these next moments can belong to just you and Jesus. As long as today is still called today, there is time to take a walk with God in his garden, to know him more fully, and to rest most assuredly in his love.

Keep Sabbath, friends. It is God’s gift to you. As always …

Peace for the journey,

PS: If you think The Rest of God might be a good fit with your heart, please leave a comment below, and I will select one winner to receive a copy of Mark’s book. 

Also, I’m having a final sale on my books, Peace for the Journey and Beyond Cancer’s Scars. Click here to learn more. I greatly appreciate your support as I walk through this transition in my writing ministry.

What lies beneath…

I felt the earth move beneath my feet last Tuesday. Literally. Despite the fact that I was 250 miles removed from the epicenter of last week’s earthquake in Mineral, VA, I still felt its tremor. Its duration indicated to me that it was something more than just my imagination. My first thought was to attribute the shaking to Ft. Bragg. Their routine operations are sometimes accompanied by large booms that usually rattle the walls of my home. My second thought was one very loosely tied to the “rapture,” but after a minute’s worth of shaking and no trumpet sound, I moved forward with my third thought—call Billy.

“Billy, did you feel that?”

“Feel what?”

“That shaking. Honey, I think we’ve had an earthquake.”

“Do you want me to come home?”

“No. I’ve survived worse. Forget I called.”

Figures. Billy and I are rarely on the same page when it comes to noticing things. Accordingly, I called my son who attends the university just miles from our home. I received a similar response from him, although he made no offers to come home and check on me. Then I called my mom. Same story. Thinking, perhaps, that I did imagine it, I went to the one place where all good researchers go when looking for reliable information.

I logged onto Facebook.


Well, it was a start; a fairly good one this time around. At least my friend Shirley directed me to turn on the news where, in fact, I did learn that an earthquake with a 5.8 magnitude had occurred. Not in Fayetteville, but rather 250 miles to the north in Virginia.

Wow. Some earthquake, some shaking, some kind of deep quaking beneath the surface of the earth that it would reach this far. What kind of tremor does that? I know. Those of you on the West Coast are laughing at us; go ahead. Call me when a hurricane threatens your seaboard. I’ve got it all over you on that one. I suppose we’ve all got some shaking, some wind, some storm threatening its witness in our lives, do we not? Better not to compare; better to live prepared!

Which brings me back around to a thought about the earthquake of last week. A good thought. I have my Ohio friend, Juanita, to thank for it. She didn’t know she was supplying it to me; her experience (some 450 miles northwest of the epicenter) spurred me along in my thinking. After talking with my husband, son, and mother and receiving no back-up support regarding the tremor I’d just experienced, I called Juanita to report the news.

“Guess what, friend? I’ve just survived my first earthquake!”

“Really? Me, too!”

“You, too?”

“Yes, I felt it here as well.”

“Where were you when it happened?”

“I was sitting out on my back porch, being still and enjoying the summer afternoon, when I felt the cement slab beneath my feet begin to shake.”

Instantly, I knew. I got it. I understood the reason why she and I felt the tremor and others did not.

We were both being still in the moments preceding its arrival. She on her porch; me on my couch. Think about that for a moment, and let it sink deeply into your heart. You could probably preach the sermon from this point forward, but in case you’re getting a slow start to your thought processes this week, I’ll offer you mine.

What lies beneath—the quaking, trembling, soul-stirring shakings of our hearts—often go unnoticed when we are consumed by the quaking, trembling, earth-stirring shakings of our world. When the noise in our external becomes too loud, too busy, too full of the clanging, clamoring cymbals of temporal value, we are prone to missing the whispers of the eternal. Whispers that, when heard, have the capacity to shake us, wake us, and move us to a place of unparalleled intimacy with God. If we never take the time to be still before the Lord, we run the risk of excluding his voice from our everyday doings.

Rarely will God interrupt our busyness with his insistence. Not that he isn’t speaking, isn’t always presenting himself to us throughout our days so that he might better be known by his children. But rather, God sometimes best reveals himself to our hearts in quiet places of contemplation—moments when we slow down, sit down, and allow our minds room enough and time enough to pause and consider life beyond the externals … the “what and who” that lie beneath our surface.

If we could get this, Christian, if we could see the value of our “beneath,” then Facebook wouldn’t be able to contain the amount of first-hand reports of the soul-quakes happening across our nation. Facebook (as my boys like to say) would blow-up with the witness of the Lord Jesus Christ. So would the news channels. So would the phone lines. If all of us would be willing to take the time to tend to our quietness instead of lending all our time to the noisiness in our lives, then the soul-shaping, heart-stirring work of the Lord would go forth in manifold measure.

God’s shaking, God’s quaking, and God’s tremors not only would be felt in Mineral, VA, in Navarre, OH, and in Fayetteville, NC, but also in and around the place that you call home. The magnitude would far exceed a 5.8 on the Richter scale, because God’s magnitude quakes eternally. There’s no measuring his impact. There are no borders to contain his witness. He’s just that big and beyond and so much more than we’re willing to cede to him on any given day.

And this, my friends, is a great tragedy. To live with less of Jesus is to never really live at all. To stay stuck at Ground Zero without ever considering the “what and who” of our beneath, is to live temporarily, without focus and without an anchor. What is seen above is limited to fixed parameters. What is seen below? Well, his depth is limitless, tethered to the eternal—the Epicenter of all humanity. Tap into that kind of understanding and the earth breaks open with the truth of the kingdom!

Would you take some time to get quiet before the Lord this week so that you might feel the tremors of home? It’s time to give God room enough and time enough in your day to shake you so that you might awaken to the reality of your “beneath,” and so that when friends call you and ask, “Did you feel that?” you can respond with your “Yes, I felt it as well.”

What truth and understanding are ours as children of the Most High God! Be still, and know that he is God. As always,

Peace for the journey,

Licking the Plate Clean

Licking the Plate Clean

“Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him” (Psalm 34:8).

He tasted yesterday. In fact, he took things a step further.

He licked the plate clean … literally. Let me explain.

Following our Sunday morning services yesterday, I took some time to linger with a friend on the couch outside the sanctuary. In the midst of our fairly emotional conversation, I noticed a group of people approaching our perimeter.

My people.

Husband, daughter, and son, all carrying the remnants from our earlier moments of Holy Communion around the altar. Plates, chalices, left-over bread and juice being dutifully carried by two of my people. One of my people, my son, was holding his plate sideways and to his mouth. He was licking the plate.

Mid-problem solving, I paused my conversation with my friend and stated…

“Would you look at that?! My son is licking the communion plate. I’m sure he’s broken at least a hundred rules as it pertains to the “taking” of communion.”

My husband looked over his shoulder and commented back to me…

“I’m sure there are worse things he could be doing.”

We all had a good laugh, except my son who was too busy trying to consume a final flavor of the sacred bread. Indeed, there are worse things he could be doing. This wasn’t one of them; in fact, I think this “doing” to be a very good thing, and here’s why.

My son’s licking of the plate indicated a prior understanding regarding the worth of the plate’s contents. Had sardines been the fare of our previous altar moments, I don’t think he’d have been so eager to lick the plate, much less carry it. No, what he carried in his hands was a tasty left-over, a good portion of a good remembrance.

The small piece of bread that passed through his mouth and onto his taste buds moments earlier was enough to warrant his desire for more. When he decided to “help himself” to the remains, he didn’t do so with any religious rituals in mind. He simply did so because of his hunger. How thankful I am for his earthly father who saw past ritual and allowed my son a feast.

How thankful I am for my heavenly Father who sees the same; who allows the same.

God created us with the feast in mind, friends. He intends for us to be hungry. To know and feel the deep ache that cries out for more. More bread. More filling. More Jesus. More truth. The closer we come to table of grace, the more we grow in our understanding of just how sacred the sacrament is.

I don’t imagine my son fully understands or appreciates the “worth” behind such moments. I’m not sure I do, but this I do know. He knows Jesus; he knows church, and he is beginning in his appreciation for some of the traditions of the church. It doesn’t matter to me if he absorbs it all now; what matters to me is his tasting along those lines.

And he would tell you all today, this day after a Sunday’s sacred remembrance, that church tasted really “good” yesterday.

The body that was broken. The blood that was shed. Our “more than enough” to keep us well-fed in the moment and in the posture for receiving more down the road. May we all be found “licking the plate” this week. Thus, I pray…

Thank you, Father, for your Word that feeds us. For the everlasting remembrance of the everlasting moment that still breathes new and viable for the hungering ache of a hurting world. You are our Sustainer, Lord, in times of feast and in seasons of famine. Rain down the bread of heaven each and every day so that we can be filled with the true and lasting sustenance of heaven’s bounty. Thank you for a child who isn’t afraid to explore that bounty. May our hearts be found as willing. Amen.

post signature

Sweet Trust

Sweet Trust

Then Jesus told them, ‘You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. The man who walks in the dark does not know where he is going. Put your trust in the light while you have it, so that you may become sons of light.’ … ” (John 12:35-36).

I watched him walk to her. She couldn’t make it to him. A stroke claimed her ability to do so.

Two years ago she would have been able to make that journey down the aisle to receive the bread and wine. Today she sat in stillness as it was brought to her, and all I could do was find my tears. I’m not sure anyone else noticed the blessed exchange between her “less” and God’s “more,” but for me it was a privileged invitation to sacred participation.

I amply partook, not just of the elements but of the moment that birthed a true witness to the beginnings of an Easter week … as to what it means to pilgrim from a palm branch to an empty tomb.


It’s a remembrance that has been a part of Ms. Margaret’s ninety plus years on this earth. I don’t imagine that she’s missed many communions in that time. Because she currently resides in a local nursing home, she is no longer a regular attendee of our church gatherings. Today was the exception. For whatever reason, today was a day that allowed her to come home to a familiar pew and to dozens of familiar faces.

It was good to see her; not just her physical presence, but her faith that continues even though her flesh has relegated her to a state of seeming anonymity. Wheelchairs and inaudible speech cannot confine the witness of a heart that has been claimed by the cross of Jesus Christ. Despite her physical limitations, her spiritual vibrancy remains, and I, for one, am better for the beholding this day.

As I lingered in the moment, the familiar hymn written by missionary Louisa Stead accompanied my contemplation:

Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to take Him at His word;
Just to rest upon His promise;
Just to know “Thus saith the Lord.”

I’m so glad I learned to trust Thee,
Precious Jesus, Savior friend;
And I know that Thou are with me,
Wilt be with me to the end.

Jesus, Jesus how I trust Him!
How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er!
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
O for grace to trust Him more.[i]

Sweet trust. That’s what I witnessed this morning. It is a trust that has been birthed between a daughter and her Father throughout nine decades worth of living. A trust that has lingered despite ample heartaches and debilitating health issues that have begged a heart to the contrary. A trust that simply and profoundly says that God’s Word is enough.

That God’s Word is worthy. That God’s Word is willing. And that God’s Word is “… with me, Wilt be with me to the end.”

I don’t know when that “end” will come for Ms. Margaret. I wouldn’t presume to take her one moment sooner from this earth than what God has allowed. Her life still breathes with kingdom purpose. And her King? Well, He’s marked her days from beginning to end, and for now … for this day and, perhaps, for this upcoming week, she’ll be allowed another journey of remembrance to the cross, to the tomb, and to the glorious awakening of an Easter morning.

It is my privilege to walk it with her. It is my joy to walk it with you, ye saints of God, as we boldly approach the throne of grace with a sweet trust that walks in surrendered faith knowing the One who awaits us at the end of the road.

And while Jesus no longer hangs in submission upon a tree, remembering Him there is the worthy pause of our hearts this day … the worthy pause of hearts for always.

The body of Christ, broken for you. The blood of Christ, poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.

Do it all … live it all, my friends, in remembrance of Him, and do it with a sweet trust that walks a lifetime with the complete confidence in an everlasting grace. This is our invitation to sacred participation; accordingly, may our feet be found on the road of remembrance this week. Thus, I pray…

Let nothing take my focus from your cross this week, Father. Let not the consumption of my “to do list” consume me to the point of forgetfulness. You are worthy of so much more from me. More of my time, more of my thoughts, more of my hands, and more of my heart. Forgive me for relegating your cross to an annual remembrance. May I never lose the wonder of its place in history and its hold over my heart. You have allowed me the daily privilege of lingering in its cleansing pour. Thank you for the blood that has amply paved the way home. Keep me to its path until I safely land at your feet in final resurrection. Amen.

[i] Robert J. Morgan, “Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus,” Then Sings My Soul (Thomas Nelson Publishers: Nashville, 2003), 210-211.

post signature

error: Content is protected !!