Date: March 31
Lectionary Link: https://www.lectionarypage.net/WeekdaysOfLent/ThursFourthWeek.html
Contributor: Ann Trapnell
A dear friend from St. Christopher’s recently reminded me of a passage I’m sure most of us are familiar with; it has caused me to reflect quite a bit about friendship over the past few days.
"Today was a Difficult Day," said Pooh.
There was a pause.
"Do you want to talk about it?" asked Piglet.
"No," said Pooh after a bit. "No, I don't think I do."¬¬¬
"That's okay," said Piglet, and he came and sat beside his friend.
"What are you doing?" asked Pooh.
"Nothing, really," said Piglet. "Only, I know what Difficult Days are like. I quite often don't feel like talking about it on my Difficult Days either.
"But goodness," continued Piglet, "Difficult Days are so much easier when you know you've got someone there for you. And I'll always be here for you, Pooh."
And as Pooh sat there, working through in his head his Difficult Day, while the solid, reliable Piglet sat next to him quietly, swinging his little legs…he thought that his best friend had never been more right."
~ A.A. Milne
Today’s collect is a wonderful prayer discussing what I find to be a very important Lenten intention, although it sounds quite difficult to me:
Almighty and most merciful God, drive from us all weakness of body, mind, and spirit; that, being restored to wholeness, we may with free hearts become what you intend us to be and accomplish what you want us to do…
Life is often difficult. Perhaps being what God wants us to be, and doing what God wants us to do, doesn’t always have to be.
Some days, this may mean nothing more than Be a Friend. One who is happy to sit in quiet but loving solidarity with another. A simple act with the capacity to strengthen and nourish both parties.
It is this strength and nourishment I find sitting in the pews (or online!) at St. Christopher’s. Sitting in quiet but loving solidarity with so many friends. Whether today is a Pooh Day or a Piglet Day for you, may the discovery and intention of this Lenten season bless you with community and friends.
Date: March 30
Lectionary Link: https://www.lectionarypage.net/WeekdaysOfLent/WedFourthWeek.html
Contributor: Bruce Warkentien
Most mornings I sit in a chair by our bay window for morning prayer. As I stare out the window at God’s creation, I see two trees; one is a maple in a neighboring yard, the branches straight and true reaching for the heavens. In another yard is a scraggly scrub of a tree with its branches twisted and turned in every direction, like the Crown of Thorns. “They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him.” Mark 15:17. Oh! How this resembles life. Like the maple tree, we strive to live our lives “straight and true” according to God’s word, but so often we find life can be “twisted and turned”. As our own lives often get twisted, it is hard to remember those whose lives are turning in every direction to deal with their own pain and suffering. For comfort let us look to two verses in Psalm 7: “Lord my God, I take refuge in you; save and deliver me from all who pursue me” Psalm 7:1, and pray “Bring an end to the violence of the wicked and make the righteous secure ~ you, the righteous God who probes minds and hearts” Psalm 7:9. May God’s love make straight your paths today and also untwist the roads of those who are suffering.
Date: March 29
Lectionary Link: https://www.lectionarypage.net/WeekdaysOfLent/TuesdayFourthWeek.html
Contributor: Marilyn Baldwin
I was assigned this day for a meditation, and was happy to see that the lectionary for the day includes one of my favorite psalms, Psalm 46. I remember as I was first working in a pastoral setting in seminary being told to memorize a favorite psalm, and to pray it as I made my way to a bedside or home visit. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble…,” I would begin as I neared my destination. Like any good meditation, it never fails to calm me and help me remember that there is nowhere that God is not, and nothing that God can’t do. It’s not about my gifts, but about God’s power, and that I am simply the messenger sent to share God’s peace and care.
It seems like a mantra for the world these days, as we (hopefully) come out of two years of a world pandemic, only to see the suffering, death, and destruction occurring in Ukraine, and the mass exodus of millions of people into other countries. What can I do? What can we do? We can pray, we can help any number of charities on the ground in Eastern Europe. We can seek the mind of God, knowing that love alone can overcome hatred and even war. Only then can we begin to understand that “The Lord of Hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold.”
Date: March 28
Lectionary Link: https://www.lectionarypage.net/WeekdaysOfLent/MondayFourthWeek.html
Contributor: Karla Cole
As far as any eye could see
There was no green. But every tree
Was cinder black, and all the ground
Was grey with ash. The only sound
Was arid wind, like spirits' ghosts,
Now gasping for some living hosts
In which to dwell, as in the days
Of evil men, before the blaze
Of unimaginable fire
Had made the earth a flaming pyre
For God's omnipotent display
Of holy rage. The dreadful Day
Of God had come. The moon had turned
To blood. The sun no longer burned
Above, but, blazing with desire,
Had flowed into a lake of fire.
The seas and oceans were no more,
And in their place a desert floor
Fell deep to meet the brazen skies,
And silence conquered distant cries. 1
This could be the hellscape that has become Ukraine and dozens of other places around the globe. And surely God is angry. Angry at us for failing to hear our neighbors’ cries of distress, for failing to act in preservation of the planet, for neglecting the common good, for quarrelling and fighting amongst ourselves, and for making war between nations.
And yet, the prophet Isaiah speaks of a God who will make all things new again and take delight in them. A loving, forgiving, merciful God who offers grace and peace if we but ask.
I am about to create new heavens
and a new earth;
the former things shall not be remembered
or come to mind.
But be glad and rejoice forever
in what I am creating;
for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy,
and its people as a delight.
I will rejoice in Jerusalem,
and delight in my people;
no more shall the sound of weeping be heard in it,
or the cry of distress. 2
1 from “Glorified” by John Piper
2 Isaiah 65:17-19
Date: March 26
Lectionary Link: https://www.lectionarypage.net/WeekdaysOfLent/SatThirdWeek.html
Contributor: Karen Hartman
As I am thinking about what to write the news is reporting in the background and my mind immediately goes to the crisis in Ukraine. My heart hurts thinking of all the people in harm's way. Where do these people like you and me get their strength to go on? I know I think where is God in all of this and like Marilyn said, “he is with the Ukraine people giving them strength to go on.” I felt the Collect for today is a perfect one to reflect on:
O God, you know us to be set in the midst of so many and great dangers, that by reason of the frailty of our nature we cannot always stand upright: Grant us such strength and protection as may support us in all dangers, and carry us through all temptations; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
During this Lenten season, I am focusing on the good in the world and praying for the Ukrainian people, and urging everyone to hold them in your daily prayers.
Date: March 25
Lectionary Link: https://www.lectionarypage.net/YearABC_RCL/HolyDays/Annunc_RCL.html
Contributor: Fr. Randy Johnson
I Can’t Do It By Myself!
I entered the kitchen to see our 3-year old granddaughter Ramona attempting to pour orange juice from a half-gallon container into a small juice glass—all while balancing perilously on top of a tall kitchen stool! Exciting stuff! I flew across the room just in time to catch her near face-plant dive from her perch and rescuing the splashing jug fluid from almost certain destruction. The glass she was attempting to fill remained upright—but it was filled to overflowing several times over! There was no more room for any further filling.
“Papa…I can do it by myself!” Ramona emphatically exclaimed! Well, she may believe she can, but in reality our wisdom learned of experience speaks to our truthfulness more than the pure exuberance of youth…
In the recent years, it seems as though we are mired up to our axles in the mucky, gritty grime of one devastatingly tragic event after another. We cannot seem to catch a break from the continual piling on of anxiety, fear, and worries for ourselves, our neighbors, and the world. Compassion fatigue is rampant. Our “cups of compassion” are filled beyond capacity and overflowing. Our “generosity of spirit” is besieged, leaving us beleaguered and broken. We are at a place of reckoning, with the unblinking stare of reality glaring into our hearts. “I can do this by myself!” is truly a false hope, and in many ways a false God.
The opening Collect for today, The Feast of The Annunciation, is a most marvelous statement;
“Pour your grace into our hearts, O Lord, that we who have known the incarnation of your Son Jesus Christ, announced by an angel to the Virgin Mary, may by his cross and passion be brought to the glory of his resurrection; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.”
Pour grace into our hearts, O Lord. But, in order to do so, we must off-pour the accumulating “stuff” that we have already absorbed and gathered into our vessel of human hood—to make room for the overflowing gift of God’s grace. As we are human, we have a finite capacity of compassion, emotional reserves, and coping skills. And as Ramona learned, we really can’t do this by ourselves. We need to trust in God’s grace to help and guide us, to remove impediments to our ability to love and care for others and ourselves, and to provide us with the capacity to empty our vessel of concerns—making room for sharing and receiving God’s grace.
Sound impossible in this time of trials and tribulations?
Today’s Gospel from St. Luke (1:26-38) points the way to the greatest truth of all, “For nothing will be impossible with God.”
I can’t do this by myself. However, I have faith and trust that all things are possible with God. Amen.
God’s peace and grace be always with you. Randy+
Date: March 24
Lectionary Link: https://www.lectionarypage.net/WeekdaysOfLent/ThursThirdWeek.html
Contributor: Becky Lucas
6 Come, let us bow down, and bend the knee, *
and kneel before the Lord our Maker.
7 For he is our God,
and we are the people of his pasture and the sheep of his hand. *
Oh, that today you would hearken to his voice!
What does it mean to be the people of his pasture and the sheep of his hand? The vast beauty of the landscape in this grazing sheep photo speaks to me about what it may mean to hearken to his voice. It is not hard to image that a sheep could wander off and get lost in this vast landscape and it is a comfort to know that Jesus will leave the other 99 and look for his single lost sheep. I know there have been times in my life when I was indeed lost from my God and fellow sheep. I can identify with the stories of people who choose not to follow God’s voice but instead decide to listen to the council of others or themselves. I think that Lent is a good time to reflect about whose voice we are inclined to hear and to sharpen our ears so we recognize God’s voice when he speaks to us. May God speak to all of us this Lenten season and in the months ahead so that we can hearken to his voice and walk in his ways.
Date: March 23
Lectionary Link: https://www.lectionarypage.net/WeekdaysOfLent/WedThirdWeek.html
Contributor: Sally Brown
I'm still amazed that I signed up to be a part of the Lenten Reflections, as this is way out of my comfort zone. I'm sure that I am not alone, so here I go.
As I gather my thoughts together each morning I pray for my family, friends, St Christopher's, our leaders, daily happenings around us and read some scripture. I've used Forward Day by Day for a number of years to give me some direction and I continue doing that on my Lenten. journey. I know this time helps me feel God's presence as I go about my day.
Using the 23rd Psalm for discussion and prayer has been helpful on on my Lenten journey.
Thanks be to God.
Date: March 22
Lectionary Link: https://www.lectionarypage.net/WeekdaysOfLent/TuesdayThirdWeek.html
Contributors: Cindy & Pete Lee
At this midway point in Lent, Psalm 25 seems particularly contemplative, and it provides an appropriate pathway through our continuing Lenten journey. In the verses excerpted in today’s lectionary, God’s ‘steadfast love’ is mentioned three times. We ask God to ‘teach me your paths’ and ‘lead me in your truth’, acknowledging all of our doubts, regrets, foibles and fears, and seeking assurance that God’s steadfast love will be there for us. Lent always seems to give us a time to pause, listen, and ask God to lead us along the right paths.
Date: March 21
Lectionary Link: https://www.lectionarypage.net/WeekdaysOfLent/MondayThirdWeek.html
Contributor: Madisen Crow
6 Why are you so full of heaviness, O my soul? *
and why are you so disquieted within me?
7 Put your trust in God; *
for I will yet give thanks to him,
who is the help of my countenance, and my God.
When I got the email with the date I would be offering my Lenten reflection, which is a particularly chaotic day in an extremely busy time of year for me professionally, I will admit, my first thought was why did I sign up for this? (Sorry, Marion!) But I try to see Lent as a time to re-center myself, and this exercise pushed me to do that in a way that I really haven’t so far this Lenten season.
The first thing that stuck out to me when I was reviewing the readings for today was the final two verses of Psalm 42, about putting your trust in God when your soul feels heavy and disquieted. When I am overwhelmed by the gravity of world events, or struggling to figure out my place in it or my path going forward, it sometimes feels easier not to contemplate it at all. I could let this Lenten season pass me by with an “I’ll just catch it next year!” attitude, but then I remember that when I’m feeling heaviness in my soul, turning to God, rather than away from God, is always the best choice.
At the time I was thinking through this reflection I came across a quote from a letter written by the author E.B. White, and it’s been on my mind ever since. I have always believed that spiritual messages can show up anywhere at any time, not just when you open your bible, and finding this quote is a perfect example of that for me. If you are also feeling heaviness in your soul, as so many of us are, I will let a famous author send a message to you too.
“I think it is a fine thing to be headed in the right direction, whether you find what you are looking for or not.” –E.B. White
These are difficult and uncertain times, but if we put our trust in God and continue on the journey we’ll be heading in the right direction, and that’s a pretty good start.