Saturday, February 25, 2012


A Little More:  Part II

Scripture:   Joel 2:13   
Rend your hearts and not your clothing. Return to the LORD, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and relents from punishing.

So it was during Lent of last year that my estranged friend called me and extended an invitation.  While I was hesitant given our 17 years of distance, I said, "Yes".  When she arrived at my home, all of my reservations left.  My dear friend had returned, what joy!  We did not know where this part of the journey would take us; however, we immediately felt blessed as a result of returning to one another. As we opened up to one another, reflecting our college years, updating one another on the years in between, the years of our professional lives, getting married, raising our families, the rift between seemed to dissolve.  We both took a risk and it paid off.  She hugged and kissed my babies as though they were hers and we planned for the day when I would be able to engage her children in a similar fashion.  Last year, she visited me during Lent, this year, I want to visit her during Lent.  

Many of our most meaningful relationships are symbolized by journeys in which we are constantly returning to one another, and so it is with God.  The good news is that Lent provides us with a standing appointment to reconnect with God, if we have failed to do so otherwise.  There is no need to allow the "distance" to accumulate over 5, 10 or 17 years!  Each year (everyday technically), we are invited to return to our Creator and to renew our relationship.

Consider engaging in one or a few of the following practices to enliven your relationship with God:
  • Wake up 30 minutes earlier or go to bed 30 minutes later each day and pray and meditate.
  • Choose a symbol or an object to mark your journey with God during this season, reflect and pray using this symbol/object daily.
  • Learn to do something that you have always been afraid to do.  Invite God into this process with you.  Explore what happens.
Prayer:  O God, put a new and right spirit within me.  Even when I resist you, do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me.  Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit. Amen.

The Reverend Tiffney Marley

Friday, February 24, 2012


A Little More:  Part I

Scripture:  Joel 2:13   
Rend your hearts and not your clothing. Return to the LORD, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and relents from punishing.

Last year during Lent, I received an unexpected call from my best friend from college whom I had not spoken to in 17 years.  During our college days, we were inseparable, doing and sharing almost everything together.  Unfortunately, over the years a small amount of distance between us avalanched into estrangement.  If you were to ask either of us, we would not be able to narrate how we had achieved such pronounced separation; however, there we were...distant associates.  She had always been the most outgoing of the two of us, which makes it no surprise that she called me on that winter afternoon.  "Hey Tiff, it's me.  I have been thinking about you a lot and I miss you.  I love you, Girl.  Guess what, Lela is getting married and I would like for us to take one of our road trips like the old days and attend her wedding.  Are you in?"  I was surprised.  I was unsure...  I had tucked that relationship away many years ago and I wasn't sure if I wanted to disturb it...  I wasn't enthusiastic about opening up my heart, my emotions, nor my expectations.

We don't often admit it; however, we engage God in a similar fashion.  We say we want to be good Christians, we say that we want that closer walk with God; however, many of us are only willing to go a certain distance.  We are actually comfortable with the distance even if it implies that we are just Jesus' "associates".  

In today's scripture, it says "rend your hearts and not your clothes".  It seems to be asking for a little more than many of us are accustomed to.  Not only are we being asked to open our hearts, we are figuratively being invited to rip our hearts open!  We are being asked to expose so much of our hearts and souls to God that the exposed areas of our being are not even recognizable to us.  We are being asked to reveal parts of ourselves that we don't even know...  In this state of total vulnerability, we are being asked to return to return to our Beloved.

Prayer:  Abiding Savior, you desire truth in the inward being; therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.  Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow... Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.  Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.  Amen.

The Reverend Tiffney Marley

Thursday, February 23, 2012


Uncovering Sin

Scripture:  Psalm 51:10-11 
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.  Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me.

     "...But Ma, she hit me first. 
     Tiffney, I don't care who hit whom first.  I have told you time 
     and time again, do not hit anyone.  If someone hits you, I 
     expect you to tell me or your Daddy... 
     But Ma... 
     But nothing...  I have spoken..."

When I reflect on this exchange between my Mother and myself when I was little, I still struggle.  As I have matured and evolved, my conflicts have evolved.  I was a rambunctious child and would quickly defend myself and those whom I loved.   In many ways, this characteristic still holds to be true.  I struggle because, when someone harms me or someone that I love, my instinct is to issue my own form of justice.  As I have aged, I have come to the realization that when I engage in the behavior of my foes, I become just as sinful as they are...I become one of them.   

Recently when I encountered a situation in which I was treated unjustly, I found myself reading and praying portions of Psalm 51 daily.  Eventually, I found myself confessing my own sins.  I found myself laying my hurts, my anger, my disappointments, my bitterness, my DESIRE to retaliate before God...  Create in me a clean heart, Oh God, place a new and right Spirit within me.  Do not take your Spirit away from me...return the Joy of your salvation back to me...

Prayer:  Holy One, thank you for your love & your forgiveness.  When we feel victimized, free us from the temptation of sin.  Amen.
The Reverend Tiffney Marley

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


'Tis The Season

Scripture:  Joel 2:1-2,12-13
Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy mountain!

Each Christmas season as we sing, "...'Tis the season to be jolly...", our anticipation, of the Lord's birth heightens.  Many of us start the party well before Jesus' actual birthday.  So much so, by the time the holiday arrives, we are in "overdrive".
Today is Ash Wednesday, a day which marks a new season in the Christian calendar. To our surprise, we are invited to engage in some enthusiasm.  With the trumpets and our voices, we are to call for the attention of the nations, we are to "sound the alarm" and herald an important moment for the world.  Lent is here!  Now make some noise!!!  Shout loud and don't hold back.  We are invited to bring our excitement; however, this season is intended to be different.  There is no cooing over the baby Jesus during this season, we now must begin our journey to the Cross...  

During Christmas, maybe we received new clothing, maybe we ate large feasts in merriment, maybe we sang joyful songs, maybe we laughed...  Now with the same urgency, we are called to tear those clothes in half, put on old dirty clothes, to fast, to sing songs of sorrow and start crying...  Lent is the season to expose those dark, hidden places within our souls to the Lord.  We are called to reveal our brokeness and sinfulness to God and to lament, just as God is lamenting the sinfulness of our world.  
We are called to connect with the gloom and dread of existence in a world without a loving and gracious God.  We are called to wipe those smiles off our faces and sober up.  This season is very important, this season is serious, yes, we need to approach it with enthusiasm.   

Today is Ash Wednesday and our foreheads will be smudged with ashes to symbolize our depraved and solemn states.  While this day can be painful, own it.  We will also receive gifts during this season; however, something different is required of us.

Suggested practices for the Lenten season:
  • Fast from one bit of technology and spend more time with your family.
  • Adopt a grandparent in your community.
  • Get involved in a social justice campaign.
  • Be intentional about befriending someone who is very different from you.
  • Go on a silent retreat for a day.
  • Continue reading the Journey to Cross reflections on a daily basis. :)
Prayer:  Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.  Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.  Amen.

 The Reverend Tiffney Marley

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