Do What it Says


On Saturday morning I notice that the Goldfinch is changing his winter greens back to gold and I go to church for a Presbytery meeting.
There’s a lot of business but first there is worship and then we listen to a preacher I’ve never met give the message.
It’s the words that make him look so tall behind that podium—a stepstool made of consonants and vowels and truth. He is a campus minister and he is used to telling it like it is. Kids have extra eyes for the phony. And those fresh faces that peer out from behind him tell me he’s no phony…tell me how loved he is—how he has given food to the hungry.
He tells how campus ministry has changed since he was in school; how college has changed. How, because of special programs, more kids have more chances now. And some of these kids are the ones who have struggled their whole life—struggled to learn or fit in or understand real love. He tells how some of these kids step in his chapel looking for the first home they’ve ever had. And he says that, if the church wants these young faces to fill up their pews, then maybe it needs to become a place that embraces the homeless…maybe it needs to be that kind of place that can handle the chaos of the misfits.
And I sit in the pew and think about the homes I’ve known…how some fit better than others and how some did more harm than good. And I think that God should make a nice home. For anyone. For everyone. 
And I wonder how we have strayed so far away from home.
And I feel this war waging inside of me. The one between these two ways I serve: with my words and with my hands. And God doesn’t want me to wait until I have it all together to feed the poor, to open my arms to hungry hearts.
So this morning I get back to the book of James and there are these words: Do what it says.
I’ve always thought I do. But this morning my heart aches for more and I’m asking God how.
How do I do what it says?
This pastor standing tall, he doesn’t have the answers, just this…just this:
We want to be a Christmas church instead of a Good Friday church. But there is no way to Easter save through Good Friday…
And his words pass over me like so much rushing wind and I hide the Word in my heart, wear it on my hands…
Do what it says.
It’s what an Easter people do.


This week’s Memory Verse:

To upload a copy of James 1:21-22.  

with the amazing Jen:

and dear Michelle too:


  1. says

    wow….now these lines
    “We want to be a Christmas church instead of a Good Friday church. But there is no way to Easter save through Good Friday…” captured it well.
    thoughtful post, Lara. ‘Twil take some time to digest…

  2. says

    Oh, wow, Laura. I am so moved by your words, and the longing to not misinterpret, with our lives, our choices, His truth: “And his words pass over me like so much rushing wind and I hide the Word in my heart, wear it on my hands…” Yes, I want this, too. I do. “Do what it says.” Thank you so much.

  3. says

    People make a big deal about Christmas, but then Christmas ends and we forget and go about our business, cutting people off, giving dirty looks, cheating, etc on our way to Good Friday. Beautiful words…words to remember.

  4. says

    great post…yes…to handle the misfits…those who don’t fit anywhere…
    to live the cross filled life…giving up of ourselves…a good Friday life…
    thanks for this…

  5. says

    Do what it says.

    It sounds simple. Can we let it be simple? I wonder.

    Because you know, it’s Friday (soon enough)–but Sunday’s comin’.

  6. says

    This is so good, because we always want to rush to the happy ending without reading about the price Christ had to pay in order to purchase it for us. How can we genuinely be grateful for something that we never allow ourselves to think about? Thank you for reminding us…

  7. says

    What a joy it is to come here each evening and read before bed your joyous words, each one filled with the love of God! I am learning to “enjoy” the trip to Easter passing through the town of Good Friday along the way.

  8. says

    Oh, the hard truth of it…no Easter without Good Friday…thank you, my friend, for serving us and the Father with your words… will be praying…how else to “do” what He calls me to do…realizing that it has looked different at various times…hugs to you 🙂

  9. says

    “And God doesn’t want me to wait until I have it all together to feed the poor, to open my arms to hungry hearts.”

    May the war that’s waging find a peaceful and satisfying outcome. All good stuff here. Home and thoughts of home and what makes it and wondering how many toes we still have in the “homeless” category and whether that disqualifies us or is part of our equipping. A mushroom of thoughts stemming from your post, Laura!

  10. says

    I’ve been wrestling all this through too and the only thing I can think to do is to live aware and open…waiting, as it were, for the daily mission instructions. (That one there needs to come for dinner; that girl over there needs you to be a mom for her, etc.) As well as the ongoing prayer to have my eyes OPENED. To see the poor (of heart? of spirit? of body? of wallet?), the lame, the broken around me and see, as Walter Breuggemann said, where to put my body in service to the Kingdom. And then for the willingness to ACT when my eyes are opened…that’s a big one too. There’s a lot to think about, but I know God will answer the prayer to be made available in this way.

  11. says

    Yes, this is what He’s teaching me, too… soak in grace but let it flow through you into action… it’s hard for me but I believe it is where the real joy lies. 🙂 Blessings for these beautiful thoughts.

  12. Anonymous says

    Wow! I was lead to heart-opening, thought provoking, tearful, pure WORSHIP as I read your blog this AM and all the comments! So many churches & even pastors even miss this. Thanks for these thoughts. Mary Ann

  13. Anonymous says

    Words and hands … being and doing. Such a small powerhouse of a word, ‘and’ is. I’m not much of an either/or gal.

    “In the beginning was the Word, AND the Word was with God, AND the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, AND without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, AND the life was the light of men.” John 1:1-4

    I’m loving what you’ve been talking about lately. You’ve got my attention.

    Do I hear birdsong coming out of you? Why yes, I believe I do! Just beautiful. So very.


  14. says

    Hi Laura,
    studying James in a series at church and it is so rich. I think Nike stole their slogan from scripture… eh? Just do it.

    Love and a hug to you. =)

  15. says

    I love this so much. Thanks for it. It’s true, don’t you think? Our modern generations want the feasting, but without the fasting that makes the feasting beautiful. We have turned our Holy Days into “holidays” and kept the parties…but left, by the wayside, the full beauty of the liturgical drama that gives the Alleluia times the depth of their meaning. Blessings to you.
    Pax Christi.

  16. says

    And the thing is, we get both. We linger in Friday, let its pain and meaning work its way through, but then we do get Easter. We experience resurrection. While the darkness will color our lives, he doesn’t abandon us.

    We were in Psalm 74 with the monks yesterday at day prayers. And I was caught by the psalmist’s lament that they no longer had a prophet, no one to tell them “how long.” He doesn’t leave us there, on Friday, on Saturday, not knowing. I don’t know if that makes sense…

    Love your pondering here. And you.

  17. says

    Rich reading today, Laura – your lovely words and those in the comments, too. Walking that line well – the one between being and doing – that’s our major life task, I think.

    When I was growing up, I think the church had the reputation for being more of a Good Friday crowd. So the pendulum swung back to Christmas – and it was a relief and it was good for a long while. But now we need the whole enchilada, seems to me. The gift of the incarnation, the cross and the empty tomb. All of it.

  18. says

    How many spiritually homeless are there? It’s so important for us to love past the conventions that become routine…then we offer stale bread and wonder why the others don’t look at is as Bread of Life… Such beautiful words and layers of truth here.

  19. says

    Oh, I love campus ministry folks! Wish my son could connect with someone like this guy.

    I picked up a book at Jubilee that I’ve been mulling: Small Things With Great Love by Margot Starbuck. One of the things she says is that when Jesus says the poor will always be with us, that means that they are always with us. Near us. Surrounding us. Present in our lives. I’ve been praying for eyes to see who is in need around me and for grace to risk entering in.

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