Offering Patience, Giving Space for Perspective, and Praying

Lenten Reflection, Friday, March 26

By: Macon Moring

It is very common to hear people asking when life will get back to normal. Some people think that we may never get back to normal: that we will have to create a “new normal” for the greater good of society. This year, I will look at the new normal with hope: the hope of a new creation. 2020 offered us the opportunity to think about others rather than ourselves in completely new ways. When rebuilding our fallen world, putting others before ourselves is the perfect example of what 2020 taught us. The arrival of a new year provides a perfect opportunity to rebuild our world after a difficult year.

When I think of points of focus to reshape our world, I think of patience, perspective, and prayer. Nearly one year later, COVID-19 is still with us, and patience should dictate what we say and do until we find a solution to the virus. Next, perspective helps us put ourselves into the positions of others and realize what they are going through. It is possible that the virus has not affected us on a personal level, but letting ourselves think about those who have been affected personally helps us put others before ourselves. Lastly, thinking of others and retaining the virtue of patience is what our Christian community is built upon. If we use the concept of prayer to help us perform these first two actions, getting through these turbulent times will go by more quickly than we think.

Today, I will try to offer patience, give space for perspective, and pray.

The Community includes Each and Every One

Lenten Reflection, Friday, March 19

By: Jane Fawley

A community is a group united by similar location, interests and ideas, or experiences. We at St Mary’s identify ourselves as a “Community of Faith”. From this group of similar-minded beings we [receive-enjoy] the affirmation of our faith with and often through other members. We were created to be social beings; that is, we thrive in the company of others. Yes, John Donne, “…No man is an island…”

That big empty building on River Road is just an empty shelter unless it is filled with people. Our Community of Faith gathers here to practice our Faith. Our interaction makes it a church. From these participants we give and receive, i.e., share…

The warmth of fellowship
The joy of music
The inspiration of preaching
The comfort of prayer
And support during loss.

A constant, fluid giving and receiving, make us a church. Together. We participate in the gathering of the community, and each is needed to make the whole.

The community includes each and every one. And what a joy it is to be together!!!!

What a gift is Community!

And HE will be in the midst of them.

What will it be like when we can come back together at church?

We are Fallen

Lenten Reflection, Friday, March 12

By: Owen Conway

More than a decade has passed since I began meeting with the majority of my clients in the jail, separated by a thin glass window. I have represented many troubled people charged with varying degrees of criminal offenses… the epitome of our fallen world—or just humans? People who cry real tears, have real fears, are broken, addicted, lost. Most are people like us who need help and hope. I have found the majority to be appreciative of a listening ear, an offer to help, and a glimmer of hope. But often they are told that they must wait… things will get better.

While we all have our experiences with living in a fallen world, this is my daily reminder. It provides me an overwhelming awareness of the darkness, disparity, suffering, addiction, hatred, and division in our world today. It is all relative, but I see it around me, and I recognize it in me. I deal with it by having hope.

In the past year, the Pandemic and deep political and racial divisions have emphasized the depth of our fallen world. Things are far from perfect, downright depressing. Many are isolated and lonely. Others are filled with hatred and anger over current events. The reality is that we have all sinned, and we continue to struggle with sin daily. We are fallen.

Like inmates in jail, we must also wait. We must take comfort in the hope that God so graciously offers us through his son, Jesus. We will be free from our fallen world, free from our fallen minds and bodies. We eagerly await restoration, our glorious freedom. Don’t miss God’s final invitation to ALL fallen people: “Come!” (Revelation 22:17)

Today, I will wait with hope.

Emotions are Gifts from God

Lenten Reflection, Friday, March 5

By: Allison Dunaway

Last March, I was forced to press “pause” on my frantic schedule. I was suddenly free from many of the obligations taking up space on my calendar and in my life. It was like walking from a busy, noisy city street into the quiet calm of a library. Thoughts I’d been too busy to fully develop and emotions I’d been too distracted to deeply experience rushed into this unfamiliar quiet. It’s all been rather unsettling!

I’ve been left speechless with emotion after experiencing the commonplace things that connect us to each other, such as gathering for outdoor worship, seeing my kids’ smiles, and listening to music. I’ve become even more urgently and painfully aware of poverty, neglect, and systemic racism. In “Life Before COVID,” I was empathetic, but admittedly somewhat detached, to these injustices. In the stillness of quarantine, there was nothing to buffer me from them.

Our emotions are not only what make us human, they are gifts from God that drive us to action. They sharpen our focus and provide urgency in our fight against hunger, poverty, and injustice. They stir in us a desire to be together and to develop caring and nurturing relationships. I will therefore give thanks for the unexpected tears and moments of deep contemplation I’ve experienced in the last year. With God’s help, I will channel those emotions into the good work of bringing God’s kingdom a little bit closer to earth.

Allison reminds us that our emotions are gifts from God. Why do you think God has given us our emotions? How are they gifts?

Figuring Out Who We Are

Lenten Reflection, Friday, February 26

By: Cabell Jones

My earliest memories of Lent are mite boxes and Lenten suppers. As I got older my Lenten practice was giving up something, normally some type of food. I tried to give up my favorite food, but I often backed down because it seemed too hard. One year, as I considered who Jesus is and all he sacrificed for me, I gave up chocolate for forty days! My decision felt like a breakthrough. Nonetheless, I struggled more than I care to admit.

More recently, my Lenten practice became adding a spiritual practice. For several years I attended Lenten retreats at local churches given by the brothers of the Society of Saint John the Evangelist. These retreats helped me to slow down and focus on God. One practice they shared that was particularly helpful is a gratitude journal.
Cabell Jones

Cabell invites us to ‘figure out who we are and who we are not.’ What do you think about this?

A few years ago, David suggested we read A Season for the Spirit: Readings for the Days of Lent by Martin Smith. I enjoyed this book but if I missed a day’s reading I felt guilty. Eventually, I realized I was being silly and let go of the guilt.

Our Lenten experiences help us figure out who we are, and who we are not, just like Jesus’s wilderness journey. The good news is that Jesus knows who he is and he encourages each of us to remember that our identity is linked with his. So, start your Lenten journey knowing that you are a beloved child of God with whom He is well pleased.

Cabell invites us to ‘figure out who we are and who we are not.’ What do you think about this?