Wednesday, February 24, 2021
Tuesday, February 23, 2021
Is God silent? That is a question that many have pondered. . .
Monday, February 22, 2021
As I said in worship recently, the time-length of Lent provides us an opportunity to not only reflect on our sinful choices, but we also find time in Lent to begin practicing our faith differently.
For some that practice might include ‘giving something up for Lent.” Others will take time in this season to be mindful of their sins and resolve to live differently—as best as they can. Still other Christians that I know will just silently walk through Lent thinking about how much God loves us. They reflect on the suffering Messiah and quietly give thanks to God. All of these responses and choices are right and appropriate.
Thursday, February 18, 2021
We are exactly one day into our Lenten journey. Lent is a long season. While Advent is four glorious weeks of carols, candles, and the expectation of a the Newborn King, Lent is different. . . Lent is longer. . . It is six weeks instead of the quicker four of Advent. There are no Christmas trees or lights to brighten our hearts today. This is Lent, and Lent begins in the winter. The season will end as spring arrives. We will move from darker colder days to ones filled with more sunshine; more warm breezes that chase away the cold.
Wednesday, February 17, 2021
Today is Ash Wednesday; the beginning of Lent. Christians from around the globe will pause in their day and they will remember their sins. For some, ashes will be administered to the forehead as a mark of our ‘baptism into death.’ Others will witness this action and it will be meaningful for them also.
Tuesday, February 16, 2021
As I was preparing the sanctuary for Ash Wednesday’s worship service, I was reminded of the words of Mary Oliver. As Lent begins tomorrow, the poet reminds us about the power of presence and the power of the moment. Her words can provide a transition point for us as our journey to Calvary begins again as the Body of Christ. . .
I want to climb some old gray mountain, slowly, taking
the rest of my lifetime to do it, resting often, sleeping
under the pines or, above them, on the unclothed rocks.
I want to see how many stars are still in the sky
that we have smothered for years now, a century at least.
I want to look back at everything, forgiving it all,
and peaceful, knowing the last thing there is to know.
All that urgency! Not what the earth is about!
How silent the trees, their poetry being of themselves only.
I want to take slow steps, and think appropriate thoughts.
In ten thousand years, maybe, a piece of the mountain will fall.
Monday, February 15, 2021
On Friday afternoon I heard a story retold to me and I wonder if you have heard it before. . .
Thursday, February 11, 2021
This morning as I was walking over to the church, I was struggling. This was not an emotional struggle, but one born of the winter and its coldness. . . I gingerly walked across the driveway and out into the parking lot. The ground under my feet was slippery—very slippery. Each step required careful examination and thought. Sure a fresh powder of snow fell last night, and that helped me walk a bit because it provided something to ‘crunch,’ but it was not enough. It was slippery, and I worried that I would fall if I was not alert to where I put my steps. I tried to follow the tracks other cars have made, but that was not very helpful either. . .
Wednesday, February 10, 2021
In the book, which is entitled “The Christian Experience of Forgiveness,” Scottish theologian H.R. Mackintosh wrote the following words for us:
Tuesday, February 9, 2021
It is very quiet here. . . very. . . very quiet. Outside the window of my office I see large snow flakes trickling down into the yard. It is beautiful to see (not so safe to drive in, but pretty to look at). I can no longer see my footprints in the snow as I walked to the church this morning while sipping coffee. If the lights in the building were not on, no on would even know that I was here. School is not in session because of the snow and ice that it feel upon. Across the hall there are no children learning their letters, shapes, and lessons. They are not singing songs are talking about what day of the week it is.
Thursday, February 4, 2021
Today I am having a hard time focusing. . . This happens periodically. The reasons are multifaceted; some are deeply personal—personal in that they are part of my personhood that I cannot escape. My mind, at times, runs faster than the rest of my body. I have even had my mind running so fast that my words cannot keep up with what’s happening in my head. The whole thing is frenetic when I wish that it could be still. But that is not how I was made. This is partly what I pace so much when I talk on the phone—my mind is moving a million miles an hour so my body tries to keep up.
Across the hall I hear the 3-year-olds of our nursery school talking about the letter “D” and a pesky groundhog who lives in Punxsutawney and seems to like saying that spring will never come! Plus, Jennifer and I are excited to welcome home a certain 18-year-old from college for the weekend. It feels like he has been gone forever even though it has only been two weeks. We are excited to have him home and to have him come to church with us this weekend (I suspect that he is excited to see his dog and sleep in his bed—the Edinboro bed is very uncomfortable for him).
With that frenetic pace at work in me, I remembered the woods of Gordon Hempton from the podcast On Being. In the interview Grodon talks a lot about being present to listen, which for him, involves slowing down and paying closer attention to what is happening around him. His words spoke to my heart and my placement today as I am thinking frenetically. . . He says:
In other words, I had been paying a lot of attention to people, but I really hadn’t been paying a lot of attention to what is all around me. It was on that day that I really discovered what it means to be alive as another animal in a natural place. That changed my life. I had one question, and that was, how could I be 27 years old and have never truly listened before? I knew, for me, I was living life incredibly wrong, so I abandoned all my plans, I dropped out of graduate school, I moved to Seattle, took my day job as a bike messenger and only had one goal, and that was to become a better listener.”
Wednesday, February 3, 2021
Tuesday, February 2, 2021
Do you do good enough?
Monday, February 1, 2021
For Christmas JonMark gave me a number of books that he thought that I would enjoy. One was a Star Wars book that I am looking forward to reading soon. The other three books were military books. They retold famous stories. I completed the first 2 books quickly. As with most books in this genre, the reading is easy and flows smoothly. I read about famous operations and the life of US Marine general as he served in Iraq.
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