These next two were written to the web audience while I was between churches.
I noticed a garden area in the backyard of the manse. Gardens need care in order to flourish. There are times to reap and sow, times to change the type of crop you plant, and times to let the land lie fallow after it has worked hard to bear fruit.
This congregation has worked had.It has born fruit. And now it is time to lie fallow for awhile. This does NOT mean that we stop feeding the hungry people to come to us once a month, but it DOES mean that we focus on caring for ourselves. What ministry fills you with joy when you perform it? What is it that you want? What do you want from your pastor? From each other as members of the Body of Christ? What is it that you need from God?
Lent is a good time to ask such questions. It is the one time of the year when we KNOW how much God loves us. Yes, it is a time of wandering through the wilderness and examining our relationship with God. But Lent is that time of year when we KNOW that God gave us Jesus Christ so that we could have eternal life. God sent Jesus to travel through Holy Week to Easter Sunday to “save the World.” And we are certainly part of that world that Jesus loves.
We cannot reach the joy of Easter Sunday without going through all of Holy Week. Good Friday is NOT my favorite day, but without it we do not receive the gift of resurrection. Healing from past hurts is not fun, but it is the way to find new life. And new life is what Easter is all about.
And so we begin a time of lying fallow and healing.I plan to be spending Wednesday evenings (except Session Wednesday and the Wednesday of Holy Week) in the chapel praying from 7:00 – 7:30, beginning the first Wednesday in March.Come and join me some Wednesday. I will put together some prayer booklets.Bring the names of the members of our congregation who need healing, bring the names of members of the community as well.I f you feel a need to speak with your Pastor after prayer time, I will be available.
As we move through Lent, spend time nurturing your relationship with God. Remind yourselves of the awesome unconditional love that God has for all of us. And when Easter finally arrives after our journey through Holy Week and Good Friday, rejoice with the resurrection of our Lord.
“The Light in the Darkness”
I look outside this morning and I see darkness. This time of year, we leave to go to work in the darkness and when we arrivehome, it is dark as well. Winter is the time of snow and cold . . . and darkness.
We’ve turned the corner and the days ARE getting longer, but it is still the season of SADD. The lights inside our home don’t quite cut it. Something is missing. I have a mild case of SADD (seasonal affective disorder) that is luckily cured by using the right light bulbs; all I need is a few full spectrum light bulbs scattered about the house and my energy returns. I feel filled with life in spite of the darkness outside.
Darkness, it isn’t just something physical, is it? We just missed a big dose of it on Christmas Day when the underwear bomber was caught before he could deliver the present he had been planning for us. And it seems darker this year than it did just a few years ago, and a lot darker than it did Christmas time 2000, before 9/11.
I’ve had a bit of culture shock moving back here to New York after spending 4 years in North Dakota. Walking into the Motor Vehicle department, I expected to hand in my North Dakota license and walk out with a New York one. Didn’t happen. I ended up having to make a 300 mile round trip to pick up a copy of my birth certificate, find my Social Security card and a few other proofs showing that I was really me. And even then I didn’t walk out of there with a license with my picture on it. That came in the mail ten days later with some really strange 3D effects on it.
Darkness doesn’t rule. All we need to have the fullness of life return is one full spectrum candle. The Christ candle.
That’s why my favorite church service is the Christmas Eve candlelight service. The Christ candle shines in the darkness - all by itself it defeats the darkness around us. Then the service leaders light their candle from the Christ candle, and share that light with those on the end of the aisles. Then those people share, and the next person shares, and the next. And darkness is chased out of the sanctuary as the people of God share the light that they have been given. Christ – “the true light that gives light” to everyone.
We as Christians have a two-fold responsibility here. We cannot stand in the darkness with an unlit candle. Then the darkness wins, at least temporarily. Darkness doesn’t rule, no matter how thick it gets. That full spectrum Christ candle rules. We need to allow the grace of God to light our candle. We need to allow our friends’ love for us to light our candle when it goes out. We who love Christ cannot stand in the darkness with an unlit candle, because the next step after getting our candle lit is to light someone else’s candle. One lit candle defeats the darkness, one million begins to change the world.
We as Christians are the light of the world. We are called to light our lights from the Christ candle, be filled with light - and life - and truth and grace. And we are called to share the gift of life that we have been given.
It may be dark outside, but the sun IS coming.
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