Friday, February 20, 2015

This, rather, is the fasting that I wish...

"This, rather, is the fasting that I wish...Sharing your bread with the hungry..."
Isaiah 58:6-7
Raise your hand if you have ever had this thought: "These pants should fit better after Lent!"  Come on, be honest! Each year I get this powerful message through prayer and readings:
If my Lenten sacrifice doesn't benefit someone else, it's a waste of my time and, basically, God yawns.
Any sacrifice I make must directly transfer to someone else's pocket or purse.  Period. This year, perhaps more than any other, I realize that any prayer I pray, deed I do, solitude I enjoy is only to prepare me for going out and serving others. "Others" being the operative word there, in that sentence.  I wonder how many Lents I will need to experience before I can finally practice what You preach, O Lord?  Love, heidi

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Come, follow me...

"Then Jesus said to all, 'If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.'"
Luke 9:23
That really doesn't sound much like a recruiting spiel, does it?  Why would anyone want to sign on to an invitation like that?  I have read somewhere that we certainly do not have to go looking for our crosses in life.  They find us, surely, just in the course of living a human life.  Living as humans, we are vulnerable to illness, financial setbacks, relationship failures, and, face it: we sometimes aren't very nice to each other and people suffer.  So what is the point of all that?  Why do we suffer and why must we bear these crosses?  It is a question for pondering today, Friends.  I don't have the answer, unfortunately (if I did maybe I'd be a famous Theologian!) I do believe we need to trust Jesus, though, that as the Father did not abandon him throughout his earthly mission and passion, God does not abandon us in ours.  When we go through difficulties God is right there with us, supporting us and shoring us up.  Any wee bit of strength we find we can attribute to God.  The love and support we feel from others is also God, using the hands and feet available for that very purpose.  So, yes, the recruiting poster may seem a bit harsh to us and we may wonder why we'd sign up to follow Jesus.  But it means that our lives are lived with the One who loves us more than any other.  Through thick and thin, happy and sad.  And that seems well worth it!  Love, heidi

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

It begins...

"Behold, now is the acceptable time, now is the day of salvation."
2 Corinthians 6:2
And...we're off! Lent begins today with the familiar readings:
"...return to me with your whole heart." (Joel 2:12)
"Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned." (Psalm 51)
"Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them." (Matthew 6:1)
It is so much easier to start Lent.  We can get excited about the disciplines and our need to get closer to God. We may have fond memories of Lents past; the purple shrouds, the smells and bells, the 6:30 daily mass.  But, forty days can drag on and we can lose our zeal easily.  I think it's more about how we finish Lent than how we begin.  Can we see the growth as we draw closer to God? Can we see changes in our attitudes or behavior toward others? How will we be different after these next forty days? It is exciting to think about!  Today is the acceptable time.  Here we go! Love, heidi

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Shrove Tuesday

 "Jesus enjoined them, 'Watch out, guard against the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod."
Mark 8:15
On Pray-As-You-Go this morning, they invite listeners to think about what that leaven may be.  What traps and pitfalls do we encounter in our lives as we journey with Jesus?  Shrove Tuesday (today!) is a good time to give these traps a ponder and see what we can do about them in our lives this Lent. I came up with a few, but your mileage may vary. What traps do you tend to fall into?  My first and most annoying one is pride; spiritual pride and just plain pride-pride. Second, materialism; I can easily fall into a buying stuff trap and it's hard to dig my way out.  And the third would be self-righteousness. I don't even need to explain that!  So, here I go into Lent with a good deal of the wrong kind of leaven to work on! This bad leaven can grow just as the good leaven can, so it's a good idea to nip it in the bud.  Lent is a great time to do that! So, let's spend some time today thinking about what leaven we need to rid ourselves of these days of Lent.  And remember to get your "Ash" in church tomorrow!  Love, heidi