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Snowfall

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.
The snow is falling, drivers were taking care this morning.  All is quiet.  It feels like Christmas is just around the corner.

But we know that's not the case, right?  We're in the midst of Lent, after all.  We've already celebrated the birth of the Christ child.  Now, in our daily and weekly readings, Jesus is grown, a man with a calling, heading to the cross and Calvary.  There, God-with-us, Emmanuel, will die and then be resurrected, in the process defeating sin and death and offering to us new life.

Hmm.  That sounds like quite a gift.  In fact, it sounds like the best gift ever.  So, you know what? Maybe it is beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

A Response to Violence

In the aftermath of yesterday's terrorist attack in central London, the Rev. Dr. Sam Wells, the vicar of St. Martin in the Fields, wrote this Prayer for Peace in the Heart of London:

God of justice and mercy
your Son Jesus placed his body in the way of cruel and violent attack.
By your Holy Spirit come close to the hearts of those who work in Parliament,
to the souls of all who work to the protect the public,
and to the fears of any who visit central London to relax, discover, and enjoy.
Heal wounds, soften painful memories, calm anxieties.
Turn the minds of those who make terror their instrument,
that they may see the harm they do,
and come to share the horror the rest of the world feels.
Transform their hatred into dialogue, understanding, and reasoned disagreement.
Make this city a place where diversity is cherished and public space is secure,
that we may walk together in the ways of peace,
in the footsteps of your Son, our saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Read, pray these word…

A Blustery Day

The wind began blowing hard early this morning and it hasn't let up since.  If March is supposed to go out like a lamb, somebody in weather central appears not to have received the memo.

The gusts got me thinking about the Holy Spirit.  The Spirit is depicted as descending upon the first Christians with wind and fire in the Book of Acts.  Sometimes, the wind of the Spirit that touches us is like a zephyr, other times more like a hurricane.  We cannot control the Spirit.  But we can be alert to its promptings, to its movement in our lives.  Yes, we may be buffeted on occasion, but this is the presence of God we're talking about, something we all too often ignore in the midst of our daily routines.

Today, give thanks for the Spirit.  And pray that you and I will be more alert to its presence in our lives.

Spring?

Today is supposedly the first full day of spring but looking out my window, one wouldn't know it.  The sky is leaden and snow still covers the ground.  While it's not bitterly cold, it is also not quite warm.  Bottom line: it's still looking a lot like winter.  This seasonal dissonance reminds me of our eschatological reality: the already-not yet state of things that Paul so powerfully explored in his epistles.  Jesus has triumphed on the cross (the already) but the Kingdom doesn't seem to have arrived in full (the not yet).  As Christians, we are called to witness to what Jesus has done and not be swayed or deterred by the world as it is.  Unfortunately, we all too often give up.  Lent is a good time to acknowledge this reality and recommit ourselves to being people of God's New Creation.  For while it may not look like spring, it most certainly is!

Vacuum

Vacuum.  That's what I'm experiencing this morning as I try to think of something original to write for this day's reflection.  Nothing's coming.  Yet here I am typing.

Ah.  There's something.  The Spirit perhaps?  An insight, perhaps, is at hand: what I'm experiencing this morning is something that has happened when I've wanted to pray.  The desire is there, but the words are not.  Still, I try.  Prayer is one of those activities of the life of faith that is worth giving a go even when we fell the proverbial tank is empty.  In part, because the act of doing can bring us closer to God.  In part, because trying and trying can sometimes help us succeed.  And, in part, because sometimes in the midst of that vacuum the Spirit will appear, surprising us, touching us, bestowing upon us in an unexpected moment God's grace.

Complain, Complain

This morning's lectionary reading from the Hebrew Bible (Exodus 17.1-7) finds us in familiar territory: the Israelites are complaining.  They seem to do this a lot.  One would think they might show a little bit of gratitude to God for leading them out of slavery but that act of grace seems to have been filed away to be forgotten.  Their interest is in what the Almighty can do for them now.  The ingrates!

Before we get too comfortable in our righteous indignation, we would do well to remember that we are as bad as they were.  As individuals, as communities, even the best of find ways to forget what God has done for us and to instead focus on what he has not done.  This seems to be a part of the human condition.  While wanting more, entertaining ambitions, and dreaming dreams can help us as individuals and as a people grow, we would do well to remember the blessings we currently enjoy.

This Lent, let us repent for our ingratitude and pray that God will renew our sense…

Week's End

This evening, as the second full week of Lent comes to an end, I invite you to join me in reflecting on the seven days gone by.  How are you doing with your Lenten disciplines?  How do you feel about your Lenten journey?  With four weeks of Lent left to go, it may be tempting to think we have all the time in the world to reflect, repent, and reorient ourselves to God.  But the truth is, we're already a third of the way through Lent!  Think about that, pray on it.  Then get a good night's sleep and join me tomorrow in diving into the third week of Lent.