Praying the Psalms

Do you ever pray with psalms?  If you come to our church on Sunday, you do.  Our call to worship is taken from the psalter, usually the reading for the day.  But when else?  The psalms are a rich and powerful collection of prayers, praises, laments, celebrations, theology and more.  In many ways, they cover the whole breadth of the human experience.  I would encourage you to draw on this treasure of the Bible to enrich your prayer life.  Try committing yourself to reading a psalm each day.  As did generations before ours, you'll be surprised and inspired by what you find.

Spring ... Then Winter, Again.

Here in New Hampshire the forecast for today is for temperatures in the sixties.  Spring has sprung.  Alas, not so fast: tomorrow the mercury will be back in the thirties.  So, what to make of this weather anomaly.  The first is to recall the tired old adage, "It's New England, if you don't like the weather, wait a minute and it will change."  The second is to stumble into a fruitless debate about climate change.  It's here, the science is settled, discussion over.  Third is to reflect on anticipation and the Kingdom of God.  We long for a world that is healed, where all walk with God, where righteousness abounds.  But that's not our world.  Ours is fallen.  But we can get a glimpse of this Kingdom world when we see people helping one another, loving God, doing something for the church and the community.  These grace-filled moments are more common than we let on and we should look for them to see what God's future will be like.
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Tuesday doesn't have any real significance on the calendar.  Sunday is the day we worship, Monday is when Federal holidays fall, Friday's can be the start of a long weekend, Saturday's a day off.  Wednesday is hump day and Tuesday is, well, Tuesday.  Sure, have church council meetings on the third Tuesday of the month and my trash and recycling are collected every other Tuesday.  But, by and large, Tuesday is a non-event.
And that's not bad.
Days when nothing supposedly happens are days when we can regroup, think, plan, rest, get ready for what comes next. Tuesdays are a gift.
Reflect on the wonder of this most unremarkable of days during this Lent and give thanks for God for all that you may do on this Tuesday in Lent.  Thanks be to God!

A Useful Lesson

I'm old enough to remember when we marked the birthdays of Lincoln and Washington individually.  But then the Federal government announced President's Day, which would honor all of the holders of that office.  I have no evidence, but I suspect budgets drove this decision, enabling two holidays to be wrapped into one.  But the upshot of this is that we wound up honoring some decidedly unworthy men.  Andrew Johnson?  Really?
But the day is what it is, a reminder that while we don't always get what we want, we should make the best and most of what we have.  A good lesson for President's Day, a good lesson for Lent.  May we learn how to actually do this during this season of repentance and reflection

First Sunday. So What?

It's the First Sunday in Lent.  So what?  What does this mean?  What should we do?  Who cares?  These may seem like flip questions, but they're not. They ask us to look at this season with fresh eyes, to try to approach these days and weeks with a sense of possibility and appreciation of the profound.  Take some time this day, and each day in Lent, to think about why you need to repent, then do it, then try to make amends.  Sounds easy?  Then you're not really trying.  Sounds too tough?  Not when we know that God is waiting for us.
It's the First Sunday in Lent.  Be excited. Be faithful. Be grateful.

Thoughts and Prayers and ...

I've been at a loss for words since this week's shooting in Parkland, Florida.  Yet again, someone with easy access to a gun murdered people, this time 17 students and teachers.  Yet again, there are demands from some to 'do something' and from others a call for 'thoughts and prayers' that spur a response of anger and incredulity.  I'm sympathetic to the call to take action.  I thought something would be done after Sandy Hook and that was back in 2012.  But I don't criticize the call to reflect and pray.  What I do think is lacking is any follow-on action.  This Sunday, we'll read of Jesus heading into the wilderness where he will pray, be tempted, and make ready to embark on his ministry.  The Hebrew word for repent has "to turn" as its root. We take action when we repent.  Prayer without follow through is not enough.  So let us think, pray, and resolve to act in all areas of our life.

Are We There Yet?

Ash Wednesday is now behind us.  Lent stretches before us.  Now what?  We've imposed our ashes, done all sorts of "Ash Wednesday" things.  Can't we just skip to Easter?
No.  Lent is like any journey.  We can focus on getting to our destination and, most likely, become impatient and dissatisfied. Or we can focus on making the most of our trip.  Look around, take in the sight, be prepared to see or experience something new.  The journey can be rewarding in itself.
I urge you to live into Lent.  Make the most of the moment.  You'll be surprised at what God has in store for you.