This has been the kind of day I love most about Parish Ministry. We’ve been finishing our financial reports and News and Views both of which are just chock-full of information, programs and ideas and church events. I spent an hour with the prayer-shawl group, poring over skeins of colorful yarn and patterns, talking about the recipients of prayer shawls and, in general, stitching, which is one of my favorite activities. I’ve been working on the information about and for the new members we will be receiving into membership this Sunday. I’ve had several difficult phone conversations concerning resources for parishioners who are suffering through terrible illnesses of loved ones. I tried to get to the campus ministers’ luncheon to hear Dartmouth President Jim Kim but too many other things got in the way so I’ll enjoy hearing about it from Rob Grabill. I spent a happy half hour on the phone with Carl Fuller, construction supervisor and dear friend in Mississippi about our upcoming work trip. And I read through Mark Twain’s The War Prayer, in anticipation of our Friday musical programs during Lent. Oh, and I dreamed up a sermon title for Sunday!
Our church is a busy place, but busy by itself is not all that productive. Sometimes busy needs to be stopped so that purpose can be reevaluated. Why am I doing this activity? Who is being helped here? Am I going the direction God has chosen for me? I’m convinced that’s why we observe Lent. It’s not about giving up chocolate (heaven forbid!) or swearing off swearing. Rather, Lent is a time set apart during a busy church year to ponder our purposes.
I think we have cooked up a really good selection of Lenten opportunities to help you all stop and ponder. There is Bible Study, taught by Fred Berthold – lucky us! And in response to many of the requests from the pastoral care survey, Ann Bradley and I are leading the six-week series entitled Faithfully Facing Death, written by a task force appointed by the United Church of Christ. The conversations we will have together are sensitive, sometimes painful, but so important. I hope many people will choose to enter this conversation with us. And finally, at the end of each week in Lent, Ernie and I are cooking up musical programs that will include readings and a variety of musical forms – choral and instrumental. We want people to take time out from their busy days (over the noon hour), to receive the gifts of music and words. Bring a sandwich and come to receive the nourishment of music and poetry.
What are you doing for Lent this year? Perhaps this would be a good year to commit to a time of study. Shed some of those other demands on your time – they’ll still be there after Easter – and come apart for a while, into the wilderness, to learn, pray, and prepare for whatever purposes God may have in store for you. And do it with the rest of your CCDC family. There will be a place prepared for you.
Love to us all -