Holy Week is Here!

Gratitude Day 250

Sat., Apr. 13, 2019


John 12:13 – They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

“Blessed is the king of Israel!”


Here’s a just a few things I’ve been pondering as we come into this weekend.


Spring, Please Come Back

You were here for a hot minute. And then, you disappeared. The snow is mostly gone. But the wind and cold? Bone-chilling. Can you please make a guest appearance again? And stay longer this time?

Kevin - 4-H Trip

Be Inspired by a Young Person

My nephew Kevin spent several days in Washington D.C. this week as part of a 4-H trip he was selected for. (He’s the guy in the front row with the bow tie.)

I picked him up from the Milwaukee airport and was part of his taxi ride home from the airport.

While in D.C., the youth were divided into small roundtable groups. In these groups, they developed potential legislative ideas which they presented to members of Congress or their staff people if the Congress members were not available.

It was so refreshing to hear a young person’s perspective on some of this. It’s easy for people to feel like the U.S. government is struggling right now. As I talked with Kevin, I was impressed. He’s insightful and articulate. He drew conclusions and ideas without my prompting.

The lesson for some of the rest of us? We can use our voices. We can be inspired to share ideas with our legislators. Will there be automatic change? No. Rather than being discouraged and only talk about the problems, we can be part of the change. Amen.

Holy Week 2

It’s Holy Week

Tomorrow, we celebrate Palm Sunday which leads us into the last week of Christ’s life. For years, this week has been my favorite week of the Christian year. We begin the week waving palms and just a few days later, are faced with the last 24 hours of Jesus’ life. I love going to the Last Supper and hearing Jesus’ last words to his closest group of friends. Yes, it’s agonizing to imagine those last six hours of Jesus’ life as he hung on the cross. But it’s because of this event, Christians can have hope. Hope for more. Hope that death doesn’t have the last word. Hope that Jesus conquers death and so much more.

Please, please take in the special worship services that surround this week. They can be very moving and highly symbolic. When we jump from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday, we miss out on so much. Journey through the muck and arrive at Easter Sunday amazed again by this rich and deep story.

Holy Week

Speaking of Easter …

I don’t have a single Easter decoration out yet. For the many years I served as a pastor, I always made sure and had them out before Holy Week began. My timing is just off these days, as my schedule doesn’t completely revolve around Sunday worship as it did for YEARS. Maybe it’s OK those Easter decorations are still in a closet. I’m going to treasure bringing them out and thinking about Holy Week as I do.

If I can inspire you a bit today … truly think about Holy Week and what it means to you. A great exercise this week would be to read the last half of John’s Gospel. Amazingly, the last half of this Gospel is dedicated to the last week of Jesus’ life. Start with John 12 and read through the end of the Gospel, which is John 21. If you start today, this is 10 chapters to read in 9 days if you read every day between today and Easter Sunday. You only have to read two chapters on one of those days to complete all 10 before Easter! Give yourself an Easter gift and read through them. These chapters are rich with Jesus’ teachings, words and insights. Read the chapters slowly. Please don’t rush. See what is something new you can discover as you read them. And come into Easter morning excited to go to the tomb!

Let’s make this a great Holy Week!

For the opportunity of a deeply rich Holy Week, I am grateful.

Almighty God – we’ll wave palm branches this weekend and shout, “Hosanna!” But like the people of Jesus’ day, will we decide to turn away from you this week? Inspire us to dig a little deeper and be refreshed by the difficult stories of the last days of Jesus’ life. Amen.

Blessings –


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A More Realistic View of Grief

Gratitude Day 249

Fri., Apr. 12, 2019

Psalm 119:28 – My spirit sags because of grief. Now raise me up according to your promise!

Much of what we discover, we already know. We just need to remember it.

stages of griefWhen I recently saw this picture of grief, this is exactly how my soul felt. I’ve seen this diagram multiple times before. But maybe, I just needed to see it again today. And remember that grief is rarely linear, logical or predictable. No, most often, grief feels like one hot mess. Our hot mess.

When we think of grief, we most often associate grief with the death of a loved one. This is a very real grief situation. But grief can happen a million other ways. Just a few of those possibilities:

  • Loss or change of a job
  • Significant other’s job situation changes
  • Geographical move
  • Moving into a different living situation
  • A significant health issue for you
  • A significant health issue for a loved one
  • An addition to the family
  • When someone moves out of your house
  • Death of a pet
  • The seasons
  • Change in financial situation
  • Change in status with a person who is important to you
  • Addiction
  • Depression
  • Change in weight
  • Feeling let down by someone
  • Loosing or letting go of an item of value to you

And yes, about a million more.

While we may promote a change in our lives and even think it’s a great idea, grief can still be part of the process. Any time there is a “change” in our lives, the real possibility of letting go of something can put us into a tailspin of grief.

Grief is tricky. Some days, we think we can handle it. The next day? Not so much. Even the anticipation of a significant change in our lives can begin the grief process. (Think – knowing a child will be moving away, going to college, etc.)

While most people like to think we are strong and can handle grief, sometimes, we can’t. Sometimes, grief is simply overwhelming. And then, the line goes crazy in every direction, except a seemingly helpful direction.

If you are experiencing grief about something big or small right now, what are you to do? I don’t have all the answers to grief, but I just share a few things to ponder.

  1. Recognize and realize that you are grieving. Let yourself be sad. Disappointed. Let down. If you don’t acknowledge there is grief, you won’t be able to deal with it in a helpful or constructive way.
  2. Grief affects people differently, even if you are going through the grief situation. Spouses, family members, siblings will respond to how they feel in very different ways. Some ways maybe more constructive than others. It’s difficult to watch a loved one turn to unhealthy modes of dealing with grief. Sometimes you can help them; sometimes you can’t.
  3. Give yourself a break. Allow for more self-care. Cut back on expectations of yourself and others. Grieving people need space to process, be sad and decompress. It can be easy to add things into your life to mask and hide the pain. Or bury it. Instead, choose to establish ways for you to experience and journey through the grief.
  4. Be OK with doing things differently. At times, we have such high expectations of ourselves and others. We “expect” ourselves to do something because “this is what we do.” It maybe difficult and painful to continue these things. It’s OK to switch it up and do something different. Create new memories and ways to look at life.
  5. Find a way to express your disappointment. Some people journal. (I know this isn’t for everyone.) Some find a dependable and non-judgmental friend. A trained professional can be very helpful. People need a safe place to let their thoughts and ideas get outside of their minds and bodies. Find a place to do this. Moving through grief takes time. Lots of time. There will be a step forward and lots of steps backwards. There will be moments of joy and hours of confusion.
  6. Lean upon grace. One reason why I believe Jesus died on the cross? So, we would know that God has experienced the ultimate grief of loosing a child. In this event, God has experienced every feeling of grief that we have. This can give us hope that we know a God who struggles with grief and disappointment and sadness as well.

Let your grief be messy. Let your grief be complicated. Let your grief help define who you are. And let hope guide you through it as well.

For understanding that grief can be messy, I am grateful.

Holy God – when we feel overwhelmed or confused or sad about something happening in our lives, may we remember that it’s OK. You are with us. You walk with us. You actually know how grief feels. Help us turn towards you in our struggles and disapointments. Amen.

Blessings –


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