Thursday, March 31, 2011

Thursday of the Third Week of Lent

Psalm 42Jeremiah 10:11-24Romans 5:12-21John 8:21-32

My earliest memories of the beach are of standing with my father at the water’s edge. Holding on to his hand, jumping and squealing, I learned that waves could be great fun, and that the white foam could tickle my toes and delight my spirit. I knew that Daddy would lift me high, above even the biggest breakers, and that I would end up in his arms, or carefully planted back on the sand. The ocean’s roar and the tumultuous movement of sand, shells, and seaweed were exciting. I felt joyful, and I felt safe.

As I grew, and became an independent pre-teen girl at the Jersey Shore, I chose a more adventurous way of tackling the surf, namely body surfing with my friends. The sea was our playground, where we somersaulted and splashed, and paddled fearlessly out toward the deep. We sized up the waves, deciding whether they were worthy of riding, or just “duds” lapping by.

But the more I rode waves alone, the more aware I became of their frightening power. I can vividly remember the first time a seemingly harmless “dud” caught me, dragged me, threw me, and pelted me with sand and debris. There was this period of time when I was in free fall underwater and could not think or act, breathe or communicate. I felt far away from my life above the water, and from the parents who now watched from chairs on the shore. I was terrified.

However, the loving and protective spirit of my father was still with me. Though I felt neither the joy nor the safety of our days at the water’s edge together, there was courage and a confidence in me that I had received from Daddy. Had I been able to see anything with my mind’s eye at that moment, it would have been Daddy in his orange swim trunks, smiling and giving me a thumbs-up.

I rode it out.

“Thank you, God, for your presence in all our moments. You lift us up and hold us tight. Empower us to share joy with all your children and to keep them safe. Amen.”

Martha Haertig

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Wednesday of the Third Week of Lent

Psalm 119:97-120Jeremiah 8:18-9:6Romans 5:1-11John 8:12-20

In Jeremiah’s reading there is much darkness and despair. I’ve been there recently in my life . . . in that spirit of darkness where little faith resides. I chose today to write for because it is my birthday and what a perfect birthday present . . . the gift of God’s grace . . . the light that Jesus brings to our life! As I age in years, it is not material items I want, but gifts of spirit and relationships. Knowing that I can be accepted and loved because I have faith? That I do not have to work for it? That I can be forgiven and loved despite those times of darkness? The light of Christ allows me to see treasure in my trials . . . to grow in character . . . to not miss opportunities to learn. I only hope that I can emulate and pass on the light of Christ: to give the gift of acceptance and peace to any being in the world.

What I ask for this year is to accept the present of faith. Why is it so easy for us to have faith that we can pay a humongous mortgage over 30 years, to have faith our marriage will last until we die, but to have faith in the light of Christ . . . to save us from spiritual death can be so difficult? You can’t see the money that will pay the mortgage, the love that will hold you through the ups and downs of marriage. Having faith with the conviction of the psalm writer, as ever-present as the Romans passage . . . with the light of Christ above me, below me, beside me, and inside of me . . . is a great gift that I accept. The grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you on this day and forever more.

Denni Conner

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Tuesday of the Third Week of Lent

Psalm 78:1-39Jeremiah 7:21-34Romans 4:13-25John 7:37-52


Nestled here among you in God’s country we have a life to live.

Life that is strengthened by those we love the most.
Life that grows wiser with the gifts of joy and the pains of sorrow.

As we look to the north and to the south we find the beauty of the Blue Ridge. To the east, the life giving waters of gently flowing rivers and off to the west the rugged slopes of the Appalachians.

It is here where peace is around.

It is here that love never fades away and the hills roll to the sea. It is here where the blue vista mirrors the sky. It is here where the songbird sings and the mandolin rings. It is here where quiet stillness is felt and stars shine in the darkness.

It is in this sacred space that we have a life to live, a sacred spirit to embrace, and something new to see when we look into the sky.

Darren Ball

Monday, March 28, 2011

Monday of the Third Week of Lent

Psalm 80Jeremiah 7:1-15Romans 4:1-12John 7:14-36

During his last visit to Jerusalem, Jesus preached in the Temple. Jesus had taught in many venues but in none more significant than the Temple in Jerusalem, the epicenter of the Jewish faith. In so doing Jesus was following a long tradition. As today’s Old Testament lesson relates, the prophet Jeremiah, while also teaching in the Temple, had centuries earlier condemned the people of Jerusalem for their faithlessness. Indeed, the prophet’s pronouncement of judgment was so much a model of its type that the word jeremiad was later coined to define such excoriations. God’s people had not kept the law, to be sure. Still, if the people would amend their ways and follow the law, then God would dwell with them forever. But if they did not, Jeremiah conveyed God’s assurance that “I will cast you out of my sight.”

In today’s Gospel, Jesus does not disagree with Jeremiah. As he notes, “none of you keeps the law.” Not much had changed, in other words. The fact, however, is that no one can keep the law. It is a goal to be pursued but never achieved. Besides, Jesus had not come to reject the law but to fulfill it. The proper response to the demands of the law, Jesus said, is to resolve to do the will of God. Simply put, the primary task is to have faith. If people truly and honestly seek God’s will, then in so doing they will come to know the true doctrine.

As St. Paul points out in today’s reading from his Letter to the Romans, such teaching fulfills rather than breaks with the law. St. Paul recounts that “Faith was reckoned to Abraham as righteousness.” That is, even before Moses had given Israel the law, faith had become the better measure of righteousness. It is faith, not works, which ultimately makes the difference. We might well, therefore, ponder the implications of this historical thread of doctrinal truth as a means of enriching our own Lenten journeys.

David Nelson

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Third Sunday of Lent

Psalm 95Exodus 17:1-7Romans 5:1-11John 4:5-42

Just then his disciples came. 
They were astonished that he was speaking with a woman. . . 
John 4:5-42

Jesus continually spoke with women. His mother, Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Suzanna (Luke 8:2-3), Mary and Martha of Bethany (Luke 10:38-41), just to name a few instances. And in this story, He spoke to a Samaritan woman, a thing forbidden by rabbinic custom. Men do not speak to women. Of course, the women were always portrayed in some negative light, except for Mary of Bethany. The fact that the Samaritan woman was at the well at noon suggests an array of negative implications.

In many of the Gospel parables, there is an underlying theme that Jesus spoke against the attitude of entitlement. We are entitled to this land because we conquered you. We are entitled to the best because we are superior. By attrition, we may soon learn, the hard way, how this entitlement thing works if we do not lose the attitude. I am as guilty as everyone, so I am not pointing fingers. Suddenly, I have become aware of it because every time an incident occurs that jabs at my sense of entitlement, a little dagger lands in my heart. Holy Spirit has, once again, hit the mark.

Lord God, righteous and Holy, make us aware, as we go through each day, that Jesus, our Redeemer, redeemed each of us, and let us reach out to ALL of our brothers and sisters in new ways, ways that make us feel uncomfortable at first, but that will give us that true sense of peace, the peace of God that passes all understanding. Let us learn from Jesus, not only by His words, but by His actions. In His Holy Name. Amen

Mary Carolyn Lawson

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Saturday of the Second Week of Lent

Psalm 75Jeremiah 5:20-31Romans 3:19-31John 7:1-13

The lessons today challenge us to walk in harmony with the LORD. Jesus is just coming into his ministry, wary of showing himself in a hostile country. But in the following passage Jesus demonstrates an astute understanding of the “law and the Prophets” yet sets out to reveal a new relationship with GOD.

As repeated in Paul’s letter to the Romans, it is not obedience to the law but faith in Jesus by which we are saved. Jesus’ self-sacrifice is a redeeming act for his sinful people, not earned by ritualistic blood sacrifice, liturgical correctness or adherence to the law but “to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous because, in his divine forbearance, he had passed over the sins previously committed.”

Yet despite this unearned and undeserved gift we continue to face the choice of living in right relationship with the creation. Jeremiah’s words decry those who “have eyes but do not see, ears but do not hear.” We are virtually in the Garden of Eden, yet people “take over the goods of others, [becoming] great and rich, [knowing] no limits in deeds of wickedness,” failing to act with justice or to defend the weak and needy. Our present prophets and priests teach falsely and lead with no shame “and my people love to have it so.” In Jeremiah GOD wonders “shall I not bring retribution on a nation such as this?”

Thankfully, the message of Jesus life and death has answered that, but still Jeremiah’s last words echo: “What will you do when the end comes?”

Pam and Peter Dennison

Friday, March 25, 2011

Friday of the Second Week of Lent

Psalm 69Jeremiah 5:1-9Romans 2:25-3:18John 5:30-47

My meditation is based on John 5:30-47.

My understanding of this passage is as follows:

After discussing his relation to the Father in terms of his will and actions being the same as the Father’s, Jesus says that his judgment is that of God and, therefore, is just. In order that his followers may believe him and, therefore, be saved, he offers three ways in which God has given witness to Jesus as His son. He has witnessed to him through the ministry of John the Baptist, through the works accomplished through Jesus, and through the scriptures (if they believed Moses, they would believe Jesus).

Then he criticizes those who do not believe him as basing their judgment on human pride. They do not have the love of God in them.

In this passage, Jesus seems sure of who he is and bases it on his relationship with God. Those who believe in him enter into a relationship with God through their relationship with Jesus. Those who do not have the love of God in them choose to follow one another rather than the glory that comes from God.

During Lent, those of us who are followers of The Way try to spend more time discerning and deepening our relationship with God as experienced through Jesus.

Helen Reynolds

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Thursday of the Second Week of Lent

Psalm 70Jeremiah 4:9-10, 19-28Romans 2:12-24John 5:19-29

Thus says the Lord . . . the whole earth shall be a desolation. . . .
When courage has failed
Anguish is felt
When we sense the alarm of war
When cities are in ruins
And darkness is known
in destruction and waste
in anger and haste
in fear and loneliness
and grief
in the desolation of
in so many forms

We cry out to God
To make haste to help us
To hasten to us
And not delay

And we hold out somehow
A small flicker of hope

For “Thus says the Lord . . . I will not make a final end. . . .”
“For truly truly I say to you whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life”

Thus where there is darkness let us bring light
Where there is sadness joy
For it is in giving that we receive
And in pardoning that we are pardoned.
Anne Cressin

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Wednesday of the Second Week of Lent

Psalm 72Jeremiah 3:6-18Romans 1:28-2:11John 5:1-18

My kids are able noticers, for good (“a ladybug!”) or ill (“why are you still bald?”). Unencumbered by experience, children see things that have been overlooked by adults (except when cleaning their rooms).

By noticing the noticers, we can try to see the world around us with new eyes, moving away from our prejudices and preconceptions to a vantage point where God’s will is revealed.

Jesus saw a man, disabled for 38 years, who went unnoticed day after day, year after year. Jesus recognized his suffering, and, in spite of its being the Sabbath, healed him.

New eyes lift us out of our quotidian worries and habitual reflexes, allowing us to judge without being judgmental, act without thought of reward, apologize without fear of retribution.

God, give us new eyes to see more clearly the world around us, and strengthen us to better do Your will.

John Frazee

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tuesday of the Second Week of Lent

Psalm 61Jeremiah 2:1-13Romans 1:16-25John 4:43-54

In today’s Old Testament reading, God is angry because the Israelites have rejected the rich land he brought them to, choosing instead to seek “that which does not profit.” He laments, “My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.”

Broken cisterns. Where are the broken cisterns in our lives? Have we coped with loss, fear, or conflict by adopting attitudes and behaviors that seem to offer relief—yet, with time, only serve to keep us separate? Some of us have done this by:
  • remaining estranged from family or friends instead of asking God for the words that might begin a conversation;
  • using food or alcohol in a way that interferes with the rest of our lives, unwilling to believe that by releasing those bonds we could soar;
  • staying in a job that draws on none of the talents, skills, or dreams God has given us;
  • relying on material possessions to assure us of our worth, ignoring the riches God holds out in less alluring—but more precious—forms; and
  • enabling a loved one to continue abusing alcohol or drugs instead of learning how good it feels to walk without crutches.
Robert Frost wrote, “The best way out is always through.” It is—but it’s a journey best made without broken cisterns. Put them aside. Step into God’s living waters. Let them carry you.

Barbara Nordin

Monday, March 21, 2011

Monday of the Second Week of Lent

Psalm 56Jeremiah 1:11-19Romans 1:1-15John 4:27-42

In God I trust without a fear that I may walk before God in the light of life.
from Psalm 56

It seems to me that we take “the light of life” for granted until we find ourselves surrounded by the dark. How can we trust God and live in the light when all around us we experience fear, violence, illness and loss?

What can sustain us is often a combination of things which shine a small light here and there leading us on. I believe a most important shift comes when we remember to put ourselves in a place to receive the source of love and light. Being in and listening within silence and prayer or attending a worship service supports us in our journey. God’s presence can come to us as we walk in nature, spend time with a child, or risk and reach out to another in need.

Paul says in chapter one of Romans, “I long to see you that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you, that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith. . . .” You and I can inspire hope in one another as part of the spiritual community of Saint Paul’s. I am grateful for our worship together and all the opportunities for sharing and growing as we learn to “trust God without a fear” thereby seeing and being the light of life.

Brenda Peterson

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Second Sunday of Lent

Psalm 121Genesis 12:1-4aRomans 4:1-5, 13-17John 3:1-17

I’ve decided to ignore all the other weightier readings for this Sunday and just focus on the psalm which seems meaty enough for Lent. Psalm 121 is the first of the Songs of Ascents and might have been used during a pilgrimage. The singer is looking up at the hills where she presumably is going.

What are these hills? Are they entirely benign as in the refrain from The Sound of Music, “I go to the hills when my heart is lonely,” or are the hills ambiguous, sources of danger, wild animals, shadows, unknown threats? We don’t really know, but in my version of the psalm, the next part is a question, “from where will come my help?”

The singer needs assistance on this journey and she answers her own question, or perhaps it’s a communal response, “my help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth.” Is she simply bragging here about how powerful her God is, as if my god were bigger and badder than your god?

The rest of the psalm refutes that suggestion. God is not just the creator who made heaven and earth but a shepherd who keeps and looks after his people. God becomes the subject of the psalm, he keeps us, our whole lives, even in our coming and going, through birth, death and all manner of changes, we are kept.

I work in a middle school and transitions between classes or to buses are always when bad stuff happens because the students are not under anyone’s direct supervision. God, says the psalmist boldly, won’t abandon us in those dangerous times. We might abandon God or quit the journey but God is still there, forevermore.

Peggy Galloway

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Saturday of the First Week of Lent

Psalm 55Deuteronomy 11:18-28Hebrews 5:1-10John 4:1-26


I resemble everyone
but myself

A. K. Ramunujan

You sit there, content in your hardened oils,
Savoring this moment amongst shifting hills,

A story waiting, lurking in the diptych.
Two nudes, oaken: a he and a she,

Placid cenotaphs under tree’s shade –
Her left arm, glossing its trunk,

Reaches into a leafy sky, grasping;
The man, gaze fixed on her,

Searches for a word beyond the Iris,
Virginal, that, only you, mysterioso,

Can pronounce.

Sean Bugg

Friday, March 18, 2011

Friday of the First Week of Lent

Psalm 40Deuteronomy 10:12-22Hebrews 4:11-16John 3:22-36

Immediately after noting that nothing can be hidden from God, but that God is aware of everything, that “everything lies naked and exposed to the eyes of the One with whom we have to reckon,” the writer of Hebrews enjoins the reader to “hold fast to the religion we profess.”

Why? If God knows everything, and we are imperfect, of what use is it to hold fast to a religion—of any kind? Aren’t we doomed, anyway? Well—doesn’t that depend on the religion we profess? And here the writer of Hebrews comes to our aid. In one of my favorite passages from scripture, the author writes (verse 15 of chapter 4):
“For ours is not a high priest unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who, because of his likeness to us, has been tested every way, only without sin.”

When I dishonor my commitments to another, my advocate with God understands he has been tempted to do the same thing. When I put myself first, my advocate understands he has been tempted to do the same thing. When I get things all wrong, my advocate understands he was tempted to do the same thing.

Does it matter? The writer does not say. Does he tell us what we can do? In a sense, he already has: “hold fast to the religion we profess.” And that is?
“Let us therefore boldly approach the throne of our gracious God, where we may receive mercy and in his grace find timely help.”
Again, is any response possible, except “WOW!” or its equivalent? A merciful, gracious, and helpful God! Jesus has totally changed the context for our understanding of God from the jealous, vengeful Jehovah to the loving and understanding father. Do we still need help? Yes. Do we still need mercy? Yes. Are they available to us? Graciously, Yes.

Paul Brockman

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Thursday of the First Week in Lent

Psalm 50Deuteronomy 9:23-10:5Hebrews 4:1-10John 3:16-21

The passage from Hebrews is a meditation on the concluding verses of Psalm 95, the familiar “Invitatory” of Morning Prayer (Book of Common Prayer, p. 82). Actually, these verses are usually omitted from Morning Prayer, as they start the day with an allusion to God’s wrath:

Oh, that today you would hearken to his voice!
Harden not your hearts, as your forebears did in the wilderness,
. . . . . .
They put me to the test, though they had seen my works.
Forty years long I detested that generation and said,
“These people are wayward in their hearts; they do not know my ways.”
So I swore in my wrath, “They shall not enter into my rest.”

The author of Hebrews notes that God’s “rest,” that is, God’s reality, justice, and love, is always there like a backdrop to human history, always there to be found to those who listen, those whose hearts are not hardened . We lose faith, we put God to the test, we wander in the wilderness with hard hearts, and God appears as a God of wrath. Yet the door to a relationship with God never closes. God’s “today” is the rest after the six days of creation. It was “today” for those who followed Joshua and again “today” for the author of the psalm, and again today for the writer and the first readers and hearers of Hebrews, and again today for us in Lent 2011. “. . . the promise of entering God’s rest is still open. . . . Let us therefore make every effort to enter that rest.” Let us take the time to enter daily and weekly into a sabbath rest, a time of quiet, prayer, and contemplation where we cease our work and “hearken to his voice!”

Vickie Gottlob

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Wednesday of the First Week of Lent

Psalm 119:49-72Deuteronomy 9:13-21Hebrews 3:12-19John 2:23-3:15

Whenever I read any of the accounts of the exodus from Egypt (or watch The Ten Commandments), I feel rather smug: “Those silly Israelites, they don’t see that God is with them in the wilderness, and so they look to idols for help.” I turn out the light and go to sleep, feeling secure. I then wake up the next morning, read the paper, and discover anew that the world is not so safe; I receive a phone call and hear that a loved one is facing a crisis; I get a reminder of a doctor’s appointment and tension builds as I think of what he might find. I comfort myself that there are buffers, people and institutions, between me and the dangers that abound. Hazards pile up and I seek more safeguards, disregarding how they can fail. These buffers have become my personal golden calf, constructed to help me avoid the wilderness.

The wilderness, however, is far more powerful than any golden calf I can find. The wilderness has the power of God within it. I cannot decide if God places us in the wilderness deliberately, or if, since that is where we are going to be on a fairly regular basis, that is where God waits for us. It is certainly in the wilderness that I find myself turning to God on a daily, even hourly, basis. When life is good, I pray to God and offer thanks, but it is almost perfunctory since I am not in need. And it is in need, in the wilderness of hurt and anger, that I perceive God most.

In some ways, I envy the Israelites that golden calf is hard to deny. My idols are dangerous in that they are not so blatant. The sooner I recognize them, the sooner I encounter God. That is my daily struggle.

Michelle Allen

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Tuesday of the First Week of Lent

Psalm 45Deuteronomy 9:4-12Hebrews 3:1-11John 2:13-22

John’s Gospel is filled with a wide range of stories that are full of theological overlay and were written some years after the other Gospels.

The writer of the Gospel of John takes us in our text today on a visit of Jesus to the temple, usually and rightfully thought of as a place of worship.

We often think of Jesus as a gentle, kind, and even-tempered man who had messages that somehow disturb us, but we seldom see an angry Jesus. Often we can imagine that he was sick in his soul about the wrongdoing and thinking in the world especially among the religious of his day.

The cleansing of the temple is for John not really a matter of getting rid of the marketplace and the moneychangers. It is rather a matter of replacing the whole temple structure as such and not just attacking the marketplace and the moneychangers. For it is now the resurrected Jesus who is the place where God and human beings are now joined.

It is only after Jesus was resurrected that the disciples came to understand what the real meaning of the temple action was. This is what John often does with his stories, combine the present with what is to come.

Margaret and Dan Via

Monday, March 14, 2011

Monday of the First Week in Lent

Psalm 41Deuteronomy 8:11-18Hebrews 2:11-18John 2:1-12

The wine gave out, so Jesus’ mother said to him, ‘They have no wine left.’ He answered, ‘That is no concern of mine. My hour has not yet come.’ His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’
John 2:3-5

Today’s reading recounts one of my favorite miracles: Jesus’ turning water into wine. The setting is a wedding in Cana and, no doubt, much celebrating is taking place. While the wine has run dry certainly a serious problem no one is blind or paralyzed or possessed; no one has leprosy or has died. And thanks to Jesus’ transformation of water to the “best wine,” the festivities will continue.

As of late, though, Mary’s role in this story has captured my imagination. Rather than a casual observation about the party, her comment is pointed: “They have no wine left.” How could she be so assured that Jesus could and would resolve this problem? Had he been turning water to wine since his childhood, upgrading their meal-time libations? We certainly hear Jesus’ resistance with his retort: “That is no concern of mine.” Despite his negative response, Mary’s directive to the servants assumes that he will act. Her faith and confidence are clear in his abilities to produce the “best wine.”

How fitting for this first “sign” in the Gospel of John to involve wine. This first miracle leads to another miracle. As all the gospels testify, miracle leads to miracle leads to miracle, leading to another fateful celebration. A Passover dinner of wine and bread leads to the cross, then resurrection and then ultimately to our own experience each Sunday at communion.

This miracle, as I see it, is the first domino of many to come. As Jesus’ first and most unswerving disciple, Mary presses the first tile.

Kelli Olson

Sunday, March 13, 2011

First Sunday of Lent

Psalm 32Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7Romans 5:12-19Matthew 4:1-11

I have planted you a garden. All kinds of trees will grow out of the ground. Trees that are pleasing to the eye and good for food. You will take care of this garden. Trust in what I will give you. It is mine to know good and evil. Do not eat of that tree or you will surely die.

Did God really say, “You must not know good and evil?” Why would that be bad for you? Surely if you know good you can do good. And when you see evil you can call it by its name. You will not die, you will judge, just as God does. It is yours to judge.

But God’s judgment is not the judgment of Adam.

Adam’s first judgment was of himself. Adam felt shame in the body that God had lifted from the dust of the ground, whose nostrils had taken in the breath of God. Adam saw what had been made and he did not know it was good. The serpent had lied. He was not like God. His judgment was a trespass.

But the gift is not like the trespass. The trespass of our judgment, of ourselves and of others, can only bring condemnation. If you eat of that tree you will surely die. God’s judgment was delivered in one person. It is the gift of abundant life that is our own and yet also from God’s breath, of righteousness that belongs to each of us and yet comes to us from another’s death, of justification that can neither be deserved nor claimed but only received. God’s judgment is a gift not a trespass. It is the gift of grace.

Gillian Breckenridge

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Saturday After Ash Wednesday

Psalm 30Deuteronomy 7:17-26Titus 3:1-15John 1:43-51

Lent, a season marked by fasting and penitence, has always been a conundrum to me. And today's readings only add to my perplexity. Easter marks the Christian like no other. Christmas doesn't. One can relatively easily believe that Jesus was born of Mary in Nazareth over 2,000 years ago. However, it is the unyielding belief in Jesus' death and resurrection that defines a true believer, a "Jesus Christian."  That is what we celebrate at Easter.

Then why not celebrate during Lent, rather than grieve with all its attendant activities of denial and penitence? Why not celebrate the life and teachings of Jesus during that period instead? Paul writes to Titus, "I desire that you insist on these things, so that those who have come to believe in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works: these things are excellent and profitable to everyone.”

We all know some people who view the denial of pleasurable things during Lent (e.g., alcohol, chocolate, etc.) as more of a test of will than a sacrifice made in honor of Jesus' suffering. Or a way to lose weight, or quit smoking. Would it not be more reflective of the life of Jesus, and the great joy at our belief in his resurrection, to ADD something to our lives during Lent rather than to take something away? Would it not be more Jesus-like to ADD extra acts of kindness and other ways to follow the teachings of Jesus as a Lenten activity? Or perhaps giving more time to others during Lent is a sacrifice. In any case, addition has always been more meaningful to me than subtraction during Lent

Diane Wakat

Friday, March 11, 2011

Friday After Ash Wednesday

Psalm 95Deuteronomy 7:12-16Titus 1:1-15John 1:35-42

3 For the LORD is the great God, the great King above all gods.
4 In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him.
5 The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land.
Psalm 95

Encounters at the End of the World, a documentary by Werner Herzog, is about Antarctica a place I have never been, nor imagine that I will ever go before I die. The photography is visually stunning and the score includes Tibetan overtone chanting and otherworldly electronic passages. In one scene, a group of scientists lower their bundled bodies prone to the ice. They turn their heads, presenting wool-covered ears to the ice, listening for the clicks and booms of sea lions that travel breathlessly below. They are quiet and still as a prayer.

With similar reverence, we are shown the scientific outposts at the edge of glaciers, penguin rookeries, holes in the ice through which intrepid divers descend to see first-hand the water and land below the frozen ocean. We see the crater of Mt. Erebus, filled with molten lava come up from the depths of the earth.

Beneath the ice that fringes the shore are orange and purple starfish with delicate and deadly legs, poised for dinner. Their prey is a scallop-like mollusk that propels its body through seawater that is colder than the blood of fish.

The people who have been drawn to live and work at the end of the world the mechanics, IceCat drivers, laboratory workers they are like pilgrims, whose travels have brought them to the continent where humans cannot survive without food, shelter, music, companionship, and above all water and warmth. Where scientists track icebergs that are flung into the Southern Ocean, in accordance with the physics of a warming earth and changing global currents, they are witness to the Maker. Making.

6 Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker;
7 for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care.

Leslie Middleton

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Thursday After Ash Wednesday

Psalm 37:1-18Deuteronomy 7:6-11Titus 1:1-16John 1:29-34

We enter the season of soul searching, reflection and repentance. Lent is the period of forty days which imitates Jesus’ withdrawal into the wilderness before his death and resurrection. We each have been in the wilderness for a time.

Today’s scriptures offer us hope and direction for Lent and for our
lives . . .
Listen . . .
Do not fret . . .
Do good . . .
Delight in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart . . .
Commit your way to the Lord . . .
Trust in Him and he will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn . . .
Be still and wait patiently for Him . . .
Refrain from anger and turn from wrath . . .
The Lord upholds the righteous . . .
The Lord chose YOU . . .
The Lord your God is God . . .
The Lord is faithful . . .

In this season of Lent let us spend time quieting our spirits and reflecting on God’s amazing gift to us.

Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away our sins and the sins of the world.

Amen and Blessings

Susan Cluett

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Ash Wednesday


“How’d that guy get in?”
an usher whispers to his partner
“Far end of third row right.”

Could be Jesus sitting there,
for all Sam knows;
but how did the man
get past the door?
Not very neat
pretty scrungy, truth to tell.

Later, while driving home,
Sam wondered what to do in future
about visitors “not of our kind.”
Bits from past sermons flashed
“Could that have been Jesus,
lonely hoping for reception;
maybe wondering (as I have done)
whether sermons actually bear fruit
to educated folks like us.
But, why come here?”

Middle of the night,
“On the other hand, why not here?”
Sam couldn’t sleep,
pondering when,
if ever,
the Lord might be acceptable
in church
his very presence
interrupting service flow.

Maybe at the altar;
time of consecration;
distant from the congregation.
You know, when the pastor says,
“This is my body” and so forth.

Good try at imagining, Sam;
but, no; not up front either,
unless he first stopped
to vest ‘acceptably.’
Never in a pew
with that puzzled look
which might disturb the preacher!
“We’d better get a plan,
just to be sure next time;
otherwise well,
might get out of hand!”

Doug Vest