Mothers Day Psalm

Tribute to a Merry and Mystical Mama

Hello, friends. Here’s a Mothers Day special, in honor of my own wonderful mother.

Here’s the text of that version of Psalm 23.

The Lady Is My Mother

The Lady is my mother;
   I shall not want.
She tucks me in between clean sheets;
   She reads me a story.
She cleans the cut and binds on the Band-Aid;
   She combs down my hair for our name's sake.
Even though I tremble and cry out in darkness, I will waken with relief,
   For you are with me; your hand and your voice, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me with macaroni and cheese
      in the presence of my siblings;
   You set fresh milk on the table, and only gently scold me when
      My cup runneth over.
Surely love and generosity shall sustain me all the days of my life,
   And I will dwell in the house of the Lady for ever.

Already and Always Enough

A Prayer of Confession from The Merry Mystic

Forgive me, Father, for I have multitasked…

P.S. — Here’s the text of that poem.

Already and Always Enough

The hardest commandment you ever gave me, 
	dear Spirit-Friend, was this:
		to enjoy being alive, and
		to speak for the joy of being alive.
And I need your help now, because
	I’m screwing it up.
Yes, still.

I am guilty of impossible yes-ing:
	yes to one project on top of another,
	yes to writing, composing, and singing, 
	yes speaking, preaching, recording, and posting,
	yes to everyone who calls, emails, or walks into my office,
	yes, yes, yes.

I am guilty of egregious multitasking.
This past week, I worked on writing while 
	not enjoying a movie at home with my family.
I worked on a speech while
	not enjoying a hot shower.
I worried about my church while
	not enjoying lying in my warm bed.

In short, I was a fraud.
I posed as a speaker for the joy of being alive while
	not enjoying being alive.

And I was ungrateful, another great sin.
I was like a child 
	who counts up his birthday presents and then
	complains that there are not enough of them.
I wished for more hours in every day, and
	more productivity, and
	more money.
I said, in the silence of my heart,
	I need more power.

And, forgive me, but that was a prayer.
It was to you that I spoke, dear Spirit-Friend, when I said it.
To you I said, Help me, and I need more,
	but what I really meant was:
You’re not helping me enough.
What you’ve given me is not enough.
What I am is not enough.

So please, may I ask for your help again?
This time, I’ll stipulate that when I say,
	Help me,
What I really mean is,
	Help me to see how your help 
	is already and always enough.

O Spirit-Friend, please help me:
	to enjoy your abundance, 
	and to enjoy being abundant,
	and to know how it is enough, and I am enough,
		already and always.

Amen.

Often, Often, Often

The Merry Mystic on Surprise and Hospitality

In this edition of The Merry Mystic, I sing a song about two things God really seems to love: surprise and hospitality. And, hey, it turns out that they’re not unrelated. You can’t really welcome strangers without being open to learning something surprising from them.

One Great Hour

A Merry and Mystical Jingle for the One Great Hour of Sharing

Next Sunday, my church will receive a special offering we call the One Great Hour of Sharing.  My denomination, the United Church of Christ, participates with seven other denominations in this ecumenical relief effort that helps with water projects, food, disaster relief, and building healthy communities in a hundred different countries around the world.  It’s a nice way for a little church like mine to do some good in a bigger way.  We get to feel like we’re part of a worldwide movement, coming together to work together to heal the world in the name of Jesus.

Last week I wrote this little song, to help teach my congregation about the One Great Hour of Sharing.

You can find sheet music for “One Great Hour” in our Free Stuff area.

 

I Remember

A Song of Lenten Remembrance from The Merry Mystic

This week, I’m sharing a new song for Lent. It’s a remembrance of Jesus.

You can find sheet music for “I Remember” in our Free Stuff area.

I hope you enjoyed the song. Now, read on if you’re interested in why I wrote it.

I wrote this song to use in church last week, because I just couldn’t find a Lenten hymn that spoke to me. And the reason I couldn’t find one is because so many of the Lenten hymns in my hymnal include little bits of atonement theory that I’m just not in the mood for.

There’s “Down at the Cross” —

Down at the cross where my Savior died
Down where for cleansing from sin I cried
There to my heart was the blood applied...

And there’s “Beneath the Cross of Jesus” —

Content to let the world go by, to know no gain or loss
My sinful self my only shame, my glory all the cross.

And there’s “The Old Rugged Cross” —

For upon that old cross Jesus suffered and died
To pardon and sanctify me.

And there’s “Lift High the Cross” —

O Christ, once lifted on the glorious tree
Your death has brought us life eternally.

And there’s “Alas! and Did My Savior Bleed” —

Was it for crimes that I have done, Christ groaned upon the tree?
Amazing pity! Grace unknown! and love beyond degree!

And there’s “God Loved the World” —

And justified by Jesus' blood
Your baptism grants the highest good. 

And there’s “O Love, How Vast, How Flowing Free” —

For us was beaten, whipped, and tried,
And taken to be crucified, 
So Love all this for us endured, 
And dying, life for us procured. 

Anybody sensing a pattern here?

Deep in our Christian heritage, going back at least to the Apostle Paul and to the author of the letter to the Hebrews, is this understanding of how Jesus made a difference: that his death accomplished our atonement, somehow paying the price for our sins. I’ve never been a fan of that theory, and last week, I was in no mood to give it yet another airing in church.

Jesus makes a difference for me by his life, by his teaching, by his example, by his continuing presence, and, yes, by his death — by the example of his non-violent acceptance of an unjust and painful death.

And that’s what I tried to put into my song.

The Bible and the HAL 9000

The Merry Mystic Encounters Bible and Computer Problems

So, I had another one of those weeks: another week where, in my work as a pastor, I was called on to try to help someone with a Bible-induced problem. It just makes me so mad—the way so many churches, including mine, burden so many people with these problems. We’re cursing where we should be blessing.

Today I have four simple suggestions about how we can do better.