Date: Saturday, Mar 25
Contributor: Leslie Norton
Ready, Set, Flow. At the Vestry retreat we learned to think about events and even prayers in thirds. The example was a Rule of thirds in carpentry. Ready- one prepares the space and assembles the tools. Measures and looks at the plans. Set- one cuts the pieces of wood into pieces. Then the Flow is the finished product and tidying up the space. We all thought of our own examples. I envisioned preparing a meal. The Ready was buying and preparing the foods and cleaning the kitchen before starting. The Set is the mixing of ingredients and cooking the foods. The Flow is serving a meal to others and cleaning the space so that it is ready for the next day. Thinking about the process in thirds makes sense.
We also looked at scripture and prayer with this in mind. The Ready is preparing our minds to pray and listen to the Psalms. The Set is reading or listening to the Psalms. The Flow is going out into the world and sharing with others and telling the world about St Christophers.
5 Great things are they that you have done. Oh Lord my God! how great your wonders and your plans for us! there is none who can be compared with you.
6 Oh, that I could make them known and tell them! but they are more than I can count.
Friday of the fourth week of lent
Date: Friday, Mar 24
Contributor: Mike Sirany
Wisdom 2:1a, 12-24
John 7:1-2,10, 25-30
Psalm 34: 15-22
They reasoned unsoundly, saying to themselves,
“Short and sorrowful is our life.
“Let us lie in wait for the righteous man,
because he is inconvenient to us and opposes our actions;
he reproaches us for sins against the law,
and accuses us of sins against our training.
He professes to have knowledge of God,
and calls himself a child of the Lord.
He became to us a reproof of our thoughts;
the very sight of him is a burden to us,
because his manner of life is unlike that of others,
and his ways are strange.
We are considered by him as something base,
and he avoids our ways as unclean;
he calls the last end of the righteous happy,
and boasts that God is his father.
Let us see if his words are true,
and let us test what will happen at the end of his life;
for if the righteous man is God’s child, he will help him,
and will deliver him from the hand of his adversaries.
Let us test him with insult and torture,
so that we may find out how gentle he is,
and make trial of his forbearance.
Let us condemn him to a shameful death,
for, according to what he says, he will be protected.”
Thus they reasoned, but they were led astray,
for their wickedness blinded them,
and they did not know the secret purposes of God,
nor hoped for the wages of holiness,
nor discerned the prize for blameless souls;
for God created us for incorruption,
and made us in the image of his own eternity,
but through the devil’s envy death entered the world,
and those who belong to his company experience it.
Wisdom (or The Wisdom of Solomon) was probably composed late in the first century BCE. Chapters 1-5 deal with the gift of immortality (which generally shows up late in biblical thought). The verses omitted from the above passage (2:2-11) speak of the unrighteous or ungodly reasoning that life is short, and since we are born into it by random chance, with no one ever returning from death, we may as well “live it up” and take full advantage of our time here on earth, even taking advantage of those less fortunate than ourselves, since in the end, nothing else really matters except our own good pleasure. “Come, therefore, let us enjoy the good things that exist, and make use of the creation to the full as in youth. Let us take our fill of costly wine and perfumes…Let none of us fail to share in our revelry; everywhere let us leave signs of enjoyment…let us repress the righteous poor man…” (Wis 2: 6-10).
Sounds similar to a beer commercial from a few years back. “You only go around once in life, so live life with all the gusto you can…” This observation from Wisdom over 2000 years ago rings true even today, and might be a good reminder of what a healthy religious or spiritual orientation can offer to the world. And since I have often lived a fairly self absorbed or egocentric life, these words call me during lent to reflect on the times I have failed to love or practice charity as fully as I could have. Fortunately, as Bishop Loya recently said, thank goodness we have a God who loves us unconditionally and everlastingly, and we don’t have to do anything to earn that love. So I pray the Jesus prayer in light of this understanding: “Lord Jesus Christ, son of the living God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” And forgive me for the times I too have focused on my own self-interest, instead of the needs of my brothers and sisters.
Date: Thursday, Mar 23
Contributor: Gayle Marsh
They’re back! A few skyward honks bring to remembrance Mary Oliver’s poem “Wild Geese”.
“You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting. You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.”
Her poem corrects the rigors of approaching Lent as a program for self-improvement. The poem invites us to lay aside journeys of self-punishment in hope of divine reward. Her words caution
against giving something up only to grasp it back “after Lent”.
Christianity has been plagued for centuries with dualism. Something is dualistic if the “spiritual” is preferred to the “physical body”. This evolves the idea that the MIND/ THOUGHT is GOOD, and BODY is CORRUPT and needs punishment. It is past time for this plague to depart.
“The soft animal of my body,” is the tender, instinctual, deeply human part of you and me that loves; the part that of Ash Wednesday’s gospel (Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21) that Jesus calls heart.
What do we devote focused attention towards? What do we really cherish? Where are my treasures? Jesus reminds us that heart and treasure cannot be separated. “For where your treasure is, there you heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). The heart follows one’s treasures. When I name my treasures then I find my heart, that “soft animal” that loves.
When we face ourselves, acknowledging the treasures we invest our life energy toward and the subsequent directions that follow, then we are free. It will be easier for the wings of goodness to soar. It will be less painful than inflicting the grueling “walk on [my] knees for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.”
Repenting changes the autopilot responses of life, and that takes time to get used to. May we have wisdom to look at attachments we cling to and those that static-cling to us. Some treasures have eternal value and are worth clinging to. Other treasures are flimsy. Much of humanity still suffer from attachment to material gain, self-importance, and the urge to control or dominate others.
We are past the midway point in Lent. May our spirits soar as we return “home” knowing God’s approving gaze desires us to fly, to be uplifted in love and self care. Be tender with yourself, your family and friends, share your food. Honor the laughter that jiggles our “soft animal belly”. May we mount up with wings of geese, soaring in formation, with all grace.
Gayle Mardene Marsh
Fourth Thursday in Lent, March 23. (It just happens to be the 65th anniversary of my baptism).
Date: Wednesday, Mar 22
Contributor: Lyn Lawyer
Saying Grace before Meals
Psalm 145:16-17. “The eyes of all wait upon you O Lord, and you give them their food in due season. You open wide your hand and satisfy the needs of every living creature.”
One of the themes running through today’s scriptures is about food and God’s desire to see us all fed, spiritually and physically. Thus, I immediately thought about saying grace.
As a child we always said the same grace before dinner, which most Episcopalians can say in their sleep. “Bless this food to our use and us to thy service and give us grateful hearts for all thy many blessings. Make us ever mindful of the needs of others, Amen”. My father always made us count to ten before we could start eating, I suppose to make us reflect on what we had just prayed.
Once when my children needed breakfast before heading out to school we recited the collect for grace.
“Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us in safety to this new day. Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (BCP p.100)
After he had heard it enough times our youngest, who I am guessing was about four at the time, interpreted this grace as “Thank you for this food and help us to be good” this has become our restaurant grace ever since.
I have a niece who as a child would not eat a cookie without saying a quick thank you to God for the treat. This intrigued me at the time and reminded me that we need to be grateful for all the little things in life all the time.
Back in the days of the Rev. Henry Hoover, whenever the parish had a meal together he would always use Psalm 145: 16-17 as a call and response grace. He would call out verse 16 and we were expected to respond with verse 17. The memory of that is what spurred me to think about what are we saying to ourselves and to God when we say grace before a meal.
Lately I have been adding at least three specific “thank-yous” to dinner grace as a reminder that we have much more to be grateful for than to fuss about.
May Blessings, Peace, Joy, Love and Grace, all gifts from God, pour down on all of us as we prepare for Easter.
Tuesday of the fourth week of lent
Date: Tuesday, March 21
Contributor: Sue Triebenbach
O God, with you is the well of life, and in your light we see light: Quench our thirst with living water, and flood our darkened minds with heavenly light; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Well of Life
How do you feel, see, hear, understand these words?
All photos were found on the internet using Bing search engine
Monday of the fourth week of lent
Date: Monday, March 20
Contributor: Ann Jones
It is night after a long day.
What has been done has been done;
what has not been done has not been done;
let it be.
This is a passage from one of my favorite prayers, Night Prayer from A New Zealand Prayer Book.
I am a person who makes lists. Each morning, I write a few things on a post-it note to remind myself of my goals for the day. It might include things like practice my recorder, pick up something from the library or to do a simple project around the house. More often than not, I fail to complete the entire list and carry things over for the next day… or the day after… or the day after that. Not completing the goals I set for myself can create stress.
Enter the Night Prayer… Reminding myself that it is OK to just let it be is very comforting to me, and helps me keep my stress levels manageable (most of the time).
Having recently retired from my job as a school nurse, I think back to the days when I felt overwhelmed and could not do everything that was expected of me (or that I expected of myself). I frequently would stop, take a breath, and recite to myself, what is done is done, what is not done is not done, let it be. It gave me permission to walk away, knowing I could pick up where I left off the next day and it would be OK.
I encourage you to visit the Night Prayer from time to time and give yourself permission to stop, take a breath, and let it be. Tomorrow is a new day, with new joys and new possibilities.
A Night Prayer (from A New Zealand Prayer Book)
Lord, it is night.
The night is for stillness.
Let us be still in the presence of God.
It is night after a long day.
What has been done has been done;
what has not been done has not been done;
let it be.
The night is dark.
Let our fears of the darkness of the world and of
our own lives rest in you.
The night is quiet.
Let the quietness of your peace enfold us,
all dear to us,
and all who have no peace.
The night heralds the dawn.
Let us look expectantly to a new day,
In your name we pray. Amen.
Saturday of the third week of lent
Date: Saturday, Mar 18
Contributor: Mary Rowe
Lent marks a parenthesis of time in the life of the church. It is a time set aside to pray, reflect, fast, and or study in order to better understand our journey to God.
The ashes of Lent remind us of the parenthesis of our own life. “We are but dust, and to dust we shall return”.
Like all parentheses, our own time on Earth is part of an incredibly larger reality.
God beckons us to live through the parenthesis of our own lives into this greater reality.
Love is the one force that plows through the boundaries of each of our lives and into kingdom life. Love incorporates faith and hope. Love never dies.
“God so loved the world that he gave his only son…” John 3:16 “Love one another..” John 15 The references go on.❤️
Friday of the third week of lent
Date: Friday, Mar 17
Contributor: Marilyn Baldwin
This day always brings me back to my childhood in a Catholic school. I have mostly good memories of those times, but especially warm ones of this particular date. Our priest at that time was a first-generation Irish immigrant and spoke with the classic brogue. He was older, sometimes gruff, but had a warm heart and always a twinkle in his eye. Mostly, I remember that because of him, we had a holy day with a festive Mass in honor of St. Patrick, and no school! Considering that St. Paddy’s Day always falls in Lent, it was a bit of a stretch.
Traditions - whether societal, church, family, or our own personal ones - don’t need to become burdensome. We are urged in each reading today not to make idols of anything earthly.
Our readings today remind us that human rules - including traditions of all kinds - were meant to be broken at some point. Even Jesus distilled the sacred Ten Commandments into two: “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” While the others are important, they are really outgrowths of these two.
If we seek to follow Jesus, to feel God’s presence, we must make openings for the Spirit in all we do. The Spirit calls us forward, away from those things that hold us back. Some are good things but become idols in the way we use them or think of them.
What things have become idols to us? How can we rethink them, and make more room in our lives to encounter the Spirit in new ways?
A blessed St. Patrick’s Day to you! ☘️
Thursday of the third week of lent
Date: Thursday, Mar 16
Contributor: Ross Ackerman
Jesus was casting out a demon that was mute; when the demon had gone out, the one who had been mute spoke, and the crowds were amazed. But some of them said, “He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons.” Others, to test him, kept demanding from him a sign from heaven. But he knew what they were thinking and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself becomes a desert, and house falls on house. If Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? —for you say that I cast out the demons by Beelzebul. Now if I cast out the demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your exorcists cast them out? Therefore, they will be your judges. But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out the demons, then the kingdom of God has come to you. When a strong man, fully armed, guards his castle, his property is safe. But when one stronger than he attacks him and overpowers him, he takes away his armor in which he trusted and divides his plunder. Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.”
The above Gospel reminds me of Lincoln’s famous speech, “A House Divided against itself Cannot Stand” given a couple years before the Civil War. The state of the nation was heavily divided at the time and ultimately led to the Civil War. Our own times seem to be almost as rife with division – capitol insurrections, those threatening to secede as they tried to do over 150 years ago.
History may not repeat itself, but it certainly rhymes. Lincoln surely was inspired by this Gospel passage when he penned these words. Jesus gives us all an object lesson on division: whether a kingdom, country, house or even Satan and his demons.
While it’s impossible for humanity to seek a utopian unity, Jesus and Lincoln both remind us how destructive and dangerous rampant division and strife can cause individuals and communities in whatever forms they take.
In division, we certainly can’t endure half-one thing and half-other without dissolution. In this Lenten time it is important that we reflect on the words of Jesus and the inspiration Lincoln used to craft his famous speech.
Date: Wednesday, Mar 15
Contributor: Karen Hartmann
Lenten Poem by Ann WeemsLent is a time to take time to let the power
of our faith story take hold of us,
a time to let the events get up
and walk around in us,
a time to intensify our living unto Christ,
a time to hover over the thoughts of our hearts,
a time to place our feet in the streets of
Jerusalem or to walk along the sea and
listen to his Word,
a time to touch his robe
and feel the healing surge through us,
a time to ponder and a time to wonder….
Lent is a time to allow
a fresh new taste of God!
Perhaps we’re afraid to have time to think,
for thoughts come unbidden.
Perhaps we’re afraid to face our future
knowing our past.
Give us courage, O God,
to hear your Word
and to read our living into it.
Give us the trust to know we’re forgiven
and give us the faith
to take up our lives and walk.
Reflections provided by members of our Faith Familly and compiled by Marion Hunner