Wednesday, March 22

Therefore, since we have been made righteous through his faithfulness, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.We have access by faith into this grace in which we stand through him, and we boast in the hope of God’s glory. But not only that! We even take pride in our problems, because we know that trouble produces endurance, endurance produces character, and character produces hope. This hope doesn’t put us to shame, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

While we were still weak, at the right moment, Christ died for ungodly people. It isn’t often that someone will die for a righteous person, though maybe someone might dare to die for a good person. But God shows his love for us, because while we were still sinners Christ died for us. So, now that we have been made righteous by his blood, we can be even more certain that we will be saved from God’s wrath through him.10 If we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son while we were still enemies, now that we have been reconciled, how much more certain is it that we will be saved by his life? 11 And not only that: we even take pride in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, the one through whom we now have a restored relationship with God.

Romans 5: 1-11 (CEB)

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When I read this scripture for today, my first thoughts were about boasting and how strange that word is. I tried to remember the last time I used it, but I came up with nothing. I would likely cringe if someone chose to use that word to describe me fearing people thought I was self-centered or bragging too much. I often associate boasting with someone bragging about themselves in an annoying way. However, Paul seems to have a different connotation of what it mean to boast. Commentators even suggest that when Paul says “boasting in God,” it means the same as saying trusting in God. What if we read this passage using the word trust instead of boast?

We talk about trusting in God so much that I wonder if it has lost its meaning. It’s not easy to trust in God, especially if you’re a planner. We want to know exactly what is going to happen, when it is going to happen, and why it is happening. Often when we trust in God, we give up being able to know exactly what will happen, but when we trust in God, we can take comfort in knowing that God is guiding us exactly as God wishes giving us endurance, character and hope.

Some may see this time of Lent as a time of suffering. The world around us seems to be in a state of constant suffering. The nation is divided over many issues that not only matter to us but that will have implications on a global scale likely causing suffering in the lives of many. What are we to do in a world marked with suffering along every turn? Paul tells us to boast or trust in God throughout our suffering, for this suffering produces endurance, while endurance builds character, and character brings hope. Trusting in God brings a sense of hope. In the wilderness of Lent, I think we could all use some more hope. When the world seems so hopeless, we must remember to trust God while we are suffering. We remember that Christ died for the ungodly, and God continues to love us as we are still sinners. While we are in the wilderness wondering which way to go and feeling like we are worthless, we must remember that God still loves us despite our constant shortcomings and failures. We continually forget to boast in the goodness God gives us, yet we are quick to point out when we think God has failed us. If we could trust in God and live like God calls us to, I wonder that the world would look like?

Loving and gracious God, You are truly amazing.
Continue to help us boast and trust in you in when we are suffering and while we are enduring. Remind us again of your proven love for us so that we may do our best to glorify you. Amen

Annie Franklin
Middle Level, M.Div./M.A.C.E.

 


Annie Franklin is originally from Morganton, NC and currently serves as a youth intern at First Presbyterian Church in Richmond. She is excited about exploring areas of youth ministry especially in a camp or conference setting.

Monday, March 20

14 About the middle of the festival Jesus went up into the temple and began to teach. 15 The Jews were astonished at it, saying, “How does this man have such learning, when he has never been taught?” 16 Then Jesus answered them, “My teaching is not mine but his who sent me. 17 Anyone who resolves to do the will of God will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own. 18 Those who speak on their own seek their own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and there is nothing false in him.

19 “Did not Moses give you the law? Yet none of you keeps the law. Why are you looking for an opportunity to kill me?” 20 The crowd answered, “You have a demon! Who is trying to kill you?” 21 Jesus answered them, “I performed one work, and all of you are astonished. 22 Moses gave you circumcision (it is, of course, not from Moses, but from the patriarchs), and you circumcise a man on the sabbath. 23 If a man receives circumcision on the sabbath in order that the law of Moses may not be broken, are you angry with me because I healed a man’s whole body on the sabbath? 24 Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”

25 Now some of the people of Jerusalem were saying, “Is not this the man whom they are trying to kill? 26 And here he is, speaking openly, but they say nothing to him! Can it be that the authorities really know that this is the Messiah?] 27 Yet we know where this man is from; but when the Messiah comes, no one will know where he is from.” 28 Then Jesus cried out as he was teaching in the temple, “You know me, and you know where I am from. I have not come on my own. But the one who sent me is true, and you do not know him. 29 I know him, because I am from him, and he sent me.” 30 Then they tried to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him, because his hour had not yet come. 31 Yet many in the crowd believed in him and were saying, “When the Messiah comes, will he do more signs than this man has done?”

32 The Pharisees heard the crowd muttering such things about him, and the chief priests and Pharisees sent temple police to arrest him. 33 Jesus then said, “I will be with you a little while longer, and then I am going to him who sent me. 34 You will search for me, but you will not find me; and where I am, you cannot come.” 35 The Jews said to one another, “Where does this man intend to go that we will not find him? Does he intend to go to the Dispersion among the Greeks and teach the Greeks? 36 What does he mean by saying, ‘You will search for me and you will not find me’ and ‘Where I am, you cannot come’?”

John 7:14-36 (NRSV)

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In today’s passage, Jesus begins preaching in the Temple in Jerusalem during the Feast of Tabernacles or Sukkot.  The beginning of chapter 7 records a dispute between Jesus and his followers about attending the festival, and John 7:10 indicates that Jesus attended “not publicly, but as it were in secret.”  All the more reason then that those who hear him are “astonished” with his preaching ability, asking “How does this man have such learning?”  In the midst of his teaching, Jesus speaks in a way that apparently reveals his identity to the crowds, inspiring further shock, as some listening to Jesus are apparently aware of a plot in the works to end his life.  His continuing preaching inspires expressions of both faith and doubt: “many in the crowd believed in him,” but others reject any idea that he might be the Messiah.

As we move through Lent in 2017, over two thousand years later, Jesus’ words continue to speak powerfully to us.  Jesus reveals the core reality of our relationship to him as understood by the author of the Gospel of John when he says, “My teaching is not mine but his who sent me.  Anyone who resolves to do the will of God will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own.”

Theologian Brian Gerrish reminds us that the core assertion of Christianity is a simple one: that we encounter God in the person of Jesus Christ.  In the end, while we may disagree about the nature of the incarnation or hold varying theories of the atonement, we are held together by a common relationship with a man of love who did not come on his own but was “sent” to proclaim truth to a world so often beset my darkness.

The Word that “was God” (John 1:1) is still present among us and our very existence is defined by relationship with that Word.  We are nourished in this relationship as we hear the Gospel preached.  We gather with the family of all those also in this relationship as we come again and again to share a simple sacramental meal of bread and cup around the altar or table.

But as with the crowd in Jerusalem, the choice of how to respond is ours.  Grace is offered.  Love’s feast is ready.  The table has been set.  But only we can determine how we will react.  Will we be like the “many in the crowd” who responded in faith?  If so, Jesus promises us that we will be witnesses to the glory of God.

The choice is simple, but not easy, because as Jesus points out, it demands that we truly “resolve to do the will of God.”  This means that we embrace different values – not the values of a world that all too often elevates materialism, greed, and self-absorption, but the values of a different world, the kingdom of God that is possible but remains ever just over the horizon.  Here on earth, the kingdom will always be coming, never fully here, because there is a struggle between light and darkness, as the author of John understood so clearly.  Love and hate battle with each other.  Inclusivity and intolerance compete not only in our society but deep within our own hearts.  Justice and injustice struggle in the public sphere, in our business relations, and in our daily lives.  This Lent, how will we respond?

God of love,
you sent your only son Jesus Christ into the world to bring a message of justice, peace, and truth. Help us understand the choice that lies before us this Lent, to respond to your grace and love or to remain mired in the darkness, to heed the sound of your voice,
or to remain buried in the silence of sin. As individuals and as a society.
grant us the gift of repentance and the courage to believe
that your kingdom is still coming into this world,
so that we may love and serve you wherever our lives may lead us.
We ask all this in your holy name,
Amen

Matthew White
Middle Level, M.Div.


Matthew’s home parish is St. David’s Episcopal Church in Chesterfield.  After graduating, Matthew hopes to pursue a CPE residency and a full-time career in hospital or hospice chaplaincy.

Wednesday, March 15

19 Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise. 20 The Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing; and he will show him greater works than these, so that you will be astonished. 21 Indeed, just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whomever he wishes. 22 The Father judges no one but has given all judgment to the Son, 23 so that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Anyone who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. 24 Very truly, I tell you, anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life, and does not come under judgment, but has passed from death to life.

25 “Very truly, I tell you, the hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. 26 For just as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself; 27 and he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. 28 Do not be astonished at this; for the hour is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice 29 and will come out—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.

John 5:19-29 (NRSV)

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Have you ever caught yourself doing something that you don’t normally do after seeing other others doing it?  Or do catch yourself repeating phrases your friends frequently say?  I am sure you know what it’s like to see someone else yawn and fight back your own urge to stretch your jaw.

While working at a Presbyterian camp I learned the incredible power of imitation.  I watched as campers imitated their counselors’ attitudes about whatever activity they were performing.  If the counselor was excited to go swimming, the campers were too.  If the campers saw their counselors upset about an activity, the campers would mirror their counselors’ lack of enthusiasm.

We are creatures of imitation.  We do what we see others do around us.  Even in our creativity we mimic what we have seen before.  Even when we try to be totally original we do it because we saw something else original and want that same thing that we saw, originality.

John 5 tells an amazing story of healing.  On a day when no one was supposed to do anything, Jesus encounters a man laying down ill.  Jesus tells him to rise up, take his mat, and go.  When the man miraculously is able to walk again after 38 years of illness, others complain that Jesus worked when he wasn’t supposed to.  Jesus’ response is brilliant; he says, “My father is working at this moment, I too am working.”  Then he goes on to speak the words in our text for this devotion.

Jesus has a beautiful way of reframing the hostility toward what he is doing.  Instead of taking all the credit for the healing and boasting of his power, Jesus points the attention back to the creator God.  You would think that after witnessing a miracle, it makes more sense to praise God than to attack the healer, but Jesus has to remind us of that here.

Jesus explains, “The Son can do nothing on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever that one does, the Son does likewise.”  Clearly this isn’t Jesus catching a contagious yawn, but it does remind me of how campers look to their counselors to follow their example.

Jesus doesn’t simply follow the example out of a subconscious social contagion; Jesus does it with the purpose of life.  Just as Jesus told the man to rise up and go, he also says “the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whomever he wishes.”  Jesus follows the example of the Father in giving life.  Raising us up from our sicknesses and out of the dead areas of our life.

When we see God at work in the world giving life to others, it’s contagious.  How awesome would it be to have a holy infection, where we see God at work in the world and we can’t help but jump into the action, partnering with God in the work that leads to real lasting life here and now.

So where do you see God working in the world around you?  Where do you see God breaking into the dead areas of this world and raising it up to new life?  And most importantly, are you going to hear the call, get infected, and jump in, finding new life for yourself?

 Creator God,
You formed us with ability for imitation.
Show us what you are doing;
Infect us with actions that follow your example.
Speak to us out of your love;
Renew us by the sound of your voice.
Raise us up out of our apathy and fear;
Resurrect us real and lasting life,
So that we join you in work that leads to stirring up pools of life.
And in everything that we do, all glory and honor are yours,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, now and forever, Amen.

Nate Taylor
Final Level, M. Div.

 


After graduating this June, Nate will move to join his wife at Holmes Presbyterian Camp and Conference Center in Holmes, NY where she serves as the Summer Camp and Youth Programs Director.  Nate hopes to find an opportunity for non-ordained ministry in Christian education in the Hudson River Valley, New York City, or Long Island Presbyteries, focusing on sharing this contagious and wonderful faith with others through creative outlets. 

Monday, March 13

11 The Lord asked me, “What do you see, Jeremiah?”

I said, “A branch of an almond tree.”

12 The Lord then said, “You are right, for I’m watching over my word until it is fulfilled.” 13 The Lord asked me again, “What do you see?”

I said, “A pot boiling over from the north.”

14 The Lord said to me, “Trouble will erupt from the north against the people of this land.”

15 I’m calling for all the tribes of great nations from the north, says the Lord, and they will set up their rulers by the entrances of Jerusalem, on its walls, and in every city of Judah. 16 I will declare my judgment against them for doing evil: for abandoning me, worshipping other gods, and trusting in the works of their hands. 17 But you must prepare for battle and be ready to utter every word I command you. Don’t be frightened before them, or I will frighten you before them. 18 Today I have made you an armed city, an iron pillar, and a bronze wall against the entire land—the kings of Judah, its princes, its priests, and all its people. 19 They will attack you, but they won’t defeat you, because I am with you and will rescue you, declares the Lord.

Jeremiah 1: 11-19 (CEB)

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Every day like Jeremiah, we see not only the move of God but how much humanity has fallen.

Our greatest challenge in seeing these sights is our response when God speaks. For instead of giving God an honest response, we try to come up with an answer that we feel would please God and at the same time confirm our narrow view of what God can and will do.

Too many times we look through our rose-colored lens of theology, tradition and culture and fail to see the hand of God in the simple things of life. If when we looked at a branch, we called it for what it is, instead of trying to make it something else. God could say to us, we are correct. And like Jeremiah we would be assured by God that he is watching over us.

The same holds true for the second question. For we cannot ignore the pots we encounter every day or say these pots don’t even exist. For everywhere we turn, not only in the north, but also the east, the south and the west, pots are boiling over.

There are pots that should concern us everywhere we turn. The pots of poverty and lack of opportunity in our inner cities, the post of greed and excess in our financial and political centers of power, the pot of terrorism on just about every continent, the pots of distrust between many nations, the pots of racism that may sit outside our doors or maybe inside our very doors.

These pots exist and like Jeremiah as men and women of God we must not only admit they exist. We must do our part in removing the greed, the hate and the fear, provide by others and sometimes ourselves, that is causing these pots to boil out of control.

Just as Jeremiah was given an opportunity, we are being given that same opportunity. For many this is not the first time we have heard the Good News that we serve a God who continues to give a chance to accept his call and become like a fortified city, an iron pillar and bronze wall.

Those attributes are not attributes of power, they are attributes of strength. Strength to fight the many battles we face in this thing call life and the battle between even sin and death.

As we prepare for Calvary’s Cross and the Empty Tomb, let us take on those attributes knowing that while being a Christian does not remove pain and suffering from our lives, we can live with the assurance that sin and death cannot prevail because the promise of deliverance has already been paid for.

So, if we come under attack because we have accepted the call, a call that is not just verbal, but a commitment to stand and a commitment to act. We must act against those pots and not only say what they said for is wrong but to do everything in our power to make sure they have no power. We can be assured that even though our efforts may not succeed, we will not be defeated because God is not only with us. He will rescue us in our time of danger.

Almighty God, we live in a world filled with choices and we admit that too many times we do not make the right choice, even though we have answered your call. We pray prayers that we think you want to hear. Prayers that excuse our actions, instead of praying genuine prayers because you already know our situation.

Give us 20/20 spiritual sight. Un-stop our spiritual ears so that we might not only hear you
but also the ones we are called to serve.

Please speak and give us not only the encouragement we need
but a better understanding of the plans you have for us to serve others.

Let us gain strength from this journey to Calvary.

This prayer we pray in the name of Jesus.  AMEN

Leonard Edloe
Th.M., Theology and Ethics


Leonard is a Th.M. student studying Theology and Ethics under Dr. Cannon. Because of her leave of absence, I will be studying until December of this year. After completion of his studies, Leonard plans to continue serving as Pastor of New Hope Fellowship in Hartfield, Virginia. He also plans to continue teaching Christian Ethics at the John Leland Theological Center.

Wednesday, March 8

12 Watch out, brothers and sisters, so that none of you have an evil, unfaithful heart that abandons the living God. 13 Instead, encourage each other every day, as long as it’s called “today,” so that none of you become insensitive to God because of sin’s deception. 14 We are partners with Christ, but only if we hold on to the confidence we had in the beginning until the end.

15 When it says,

Today, if you hear his voice, don’t have stubborn hearts
as they did in the rebellion.

16 Who was it who rebelled when they heard his voice? Wasn’t it all of those who were brought out of Egypt by Moses? 17 And with whom was God angry for forty years? Wasn’t it with the ones who sinned, whose bodies fell in the desert? 18 And against whom did he swear that they would never enter his rest, if not against the ones who were disobedient? 19 We see that they couldn’t enter because of their lack of faith.

Hebrews 3: 12-19 (CEB)

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I often think of Lent as a time of slumber and turning inward. The season starts to shift, but winter is still upon us with its grey skies and dark, chilly mornings…the kind of mornings that are perfectly suited to the contemplative prayer practice that I’ve journeyed with throughout the Lenten season. I’m not sure about you, but fasting during Lent has never satisfied my spiritual hunger. Instead, most Lenten seasons, I try to explore a different spiritual practice- centering prayer, Lectio Divina, journaling, yoga. Through these practices, I try to engage the Divine and deepen my relationship with Christ. Those chilly, grey winter mornings are often the perfect time for me to engage in these practices, still my wandering mind, turn my heart to God in prayer, and look ahead to awakening on Easter morning.

However, today’s text does not provide for an opportunity to still one’s mind, or to wake up slowly in contemplative prayer… it’s all about a change of pace with action and urgency. For the writer of Hebrews, today is the day.

Today is the day to encourage one’s sisters and brothers in Christ. Perhaps this means that you’ll care for a friend or family member in need, or be present to someone who may be lonely?  Or maybe today, you will pray for your church family, the Church at large and the world.

Today is the day to turn away from sin and towards Christ. Will you confess your faults and failings and seek Christ’s healing and restorative forgiveness?

Today is the day, to listen for Christ’s call amidst all the chaos. Can you look for Christ’s presence in the news headlines or in the calm of the storm? Can you respond to Christ’s call of discipleship?

Indeed, today is not a day for slumber, but a day for action! The writer brings in words from the 95th Psalm, and together these texts speak of an urgency to embody one’s faith and deepen one’s relationship with God. And isn’t this what our Lenten journeys are all about? Rather than a time of slumber, we’ve actively journeyed towards the living God through these past few weeks. We’ve sought to draw nearer to God, and in so doing, to have our perspectives toward the world and our actions within it shaped by our faith. Indeed, we have become partners with Christ to live lives of love in a world that so desperately needs to be awakened from its slumber of brokenness.  So, friends, wake up! What are going to do today?

Creator and creating God, turn our hearts toward you. Enable us to encourage and care for one another, and remind us that we do not journey alone. Today is the day that you have created and call us to live into. Guide us to partner with you and live lives of love in a fractured and broken world. To you, Three in One, we pray. Amen.

Rosy Robson
Middle Level, M. Div./ M.A.C.E.


Rosy is passionate about creating spaces where people can come together and build relationships, whether that’s worshipping together in a pew or over a basket of tacos at a local eatery. Rosy feels called to parish ministry and is looking forward to discerning how bonds between church and community can be forged and strengthened.

Monday, March 6

My soul languishes for your salvation;
I hope in your word.
My eyes fail with watching for your promise;
I ask, “When will you comfort me?”
For I have become like a wineskin in the smoke;
yet I have not forgotten your statutes.

Psalm 119: 81-83 (NRSV)

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Psalm 119 holds rank as the longest psalm in the Bible. Throughout the psalm, the Psalmist spells out in various ways the refreshing and delightful qualities of submitting to God’s instruction. In this extended prayer, the Psalmist makes certain that his or her obedience to God’s instruction is made plain. As the longest psalm, it is difficult for our increasingly distracted minds to absorb the repeated variations on this theme. As a result, many contemporary Bible reading plans split the psalm into two, three, sometimes four different sections spread out across the week. In my opinion, this renders the psalm less effective.

In trying times, our more desperate prayers hover between anxiety and hope. Striving to make sense of our place in the cosmos, words and phrases get repeated over and over. Imagine, if you will, these words being prayed by an inmate on death row, or a young mother facing eviction with no family and no place to turn, or the many Syrian refugees who have witnessed the unraveling of their lives into dismal chaos. This is far from an exercise in exploiting the tragedies of others to make our daily Bible reading more compelling since the

Psalmist speaks of his own desperation.

The Psalmist writes that his soul languishes waiting for God’s salvation. The Hebrew word for “soul” should be understood as referring to the very core of a person’s existence, the very fiber of one’s being, not some spiritual substance, as is commonly understood. Understood this way, the Psalmist speaks of how worn out he is within the very core of his being. His eyes have strained and grown dim with watching for God’s promise. The very fiber of his being has shriveled like a wine skin in the smoke. And yet, the Psalmist has not forgotten the goodness of God’s character as revealed through God’s promises.

When we begin to question God’s presence or activity in our lives, our faith calls us to attend to the things God has entrusted us to do whether or not our prayers are answered in the way we desire. Sometimes when we find ourselves too burdened by the extent of our longings, too prayed out, or too exhausted with coming before God, we can look to others to bear our burdens prayerfully until we regain our own strength of spirit. A believing community shoulders hope when circumstances seem hopeless. A believing community speaks boldly into despair and longing and suggests that things do not have to remain as they are in the presence of a holy, imaginative God. For this reason, Psalm 119 is not an individual’s prayer, but a communal prayer.

 Lord God, we are hungry for your counsel. Don’t ever deprive us of truth. Help us to see you acting in those who surround us. Guide us down the road of your commandments. Amen.

Christopher Speaks
First Level, M. Div.


Before seminary, Christopher worked as a Financial Analyst for Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Continuing Medical Education. His call to ordained ministry has been in the making for many years. After graduation, he plans to pursue a Th.M. (most likely in Old Testament theology) before going where God needs him.

Ash Wednesday, March 1

12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.

Consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And you have forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as children—

“My child, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
or lose heart when you are punished by him;
for the Lord disciplines those whom he loves,
and chastises every child whom he accepts.”

Endure trials for the sake of discipline. God is treating you as children; for what child is there whom a parent does not discipline? If you do not have that discipline in which all children share, then you are illegitimate and not his children. Moreover, we had human parents to discipline us, and we respected them. Should we not be even more willing to be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share his holiness. 11 Now, discipline always seems painful rather than pleasant at the time, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

12 Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed.

14 Pursue peace with everyone, and the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.

Hebrews 12: 1-14 (NRSV)

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We have all attended school of some sort in our lives. We have all had to learn to study, to work hard for what we want, and to accomplish goals. Rarely, do we do this on our own. Rarely, do we do this without teachers, mentors, friends, family, or pastors. We usually work hard with a community. Rarely, do we accomplish tasks, goals, on our first try without hardship. We fall, we slip, and

we mess up. Sometimes, we end up with a bloody nose and bruised knees. The mess-ups aren’t always small, they’re not always big, but they exist. They exist to show us what we are doing wrong, how we can do things better, and that we can try again.

In these moments of setting goals and working hard for them, we learn. We learn to endure the pain, the struggle, the self-doubt, and the failures. We, alongside, our people, our communities, pick ourselves back up and we try again until we succeed.

Happy Ash Wednesday, not many people say that. Ash Wednesday is the start of our season of Lent. It is the exact opposite of Advent where we are waiting with joyful anticipation for the Christ child to be born. In Lent, we are waiting with solemn anticipation for that same Christ child to die. We are waiting in this time, recognizing our failures and our sins. We are in this season where we repent, and we try harder to be better. This season is about healing and reconciliation.

We heal, we do better, with the help of our community. Hebrews 12 says it well “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses”. We are not alone in any of this. We are surrounded.

 

God of Grace and Mercy,

We come today with ourselves laid bare before you
We come with our sins, our failures, our self doubt
We come with hope in another chance
We come surrounded by our communities, our cloud of witnesses
We come waiting
We come waiting for healing, for reconciliation.
Lord, stand by us, teach us, surround us.

Amen.

Rebecca Cummings
Final Year, M. Div.


Following graduation, Becca hopes to serve in parish ministry.