Good morning, everyone,
A sun-filled morning in Bethany's beautiful columbarium, wouldn't you say? Here are the devotions from now through the weekend. The office will only be only partially staffed on Monday, March 19.
Be sure to bring your cards for Dorothy Webb as we celebrate her 90th birthday during the fellowship hour on Sunday. And take time to enjoy the pre-worship slideshow this weekend, as I have photos not just of Dorothy, but also of Sid Malbon, who celebrated his 90th birthday on March 10.
Rachel Pritchett, office administrator
Thursday, March 15
Dear abundant and generous God,
We give you thanks for the amazing natural world that is all around us – for newly formed blooms of Daphne which pierce the still-winter air with spicy fragrance, for rosy-tinged clouds that fill the view of the sky from my window, for the tiny brown creeper that can barely be seen as he hops up a Douglas fir and then flutters back down, for the flamboyant moon that casts shadows on midnight fields, and for the barely moving river that reflects the soft, gray light of an early morning. The wonders all around us remindus that creation was not a one-time event that took place eons ago but is an unfolding process that is happening all around us every minute of every day.
...and God saw that the light was good. Genesis 1:4
Dear kind and compassionate God,
The world is divided and wounded. So many are hurting. People are afraid, lonely and in pain. There are those without decent homes, those who feel unwelcome, those whose voices are not heard. It is so hard to know what to do and how to make a difference. We humbly pray for guidance and courage. We ask that you show us the path and that you give us the strength to take it. Help us to remember that no matter how difficult our journey may be we are never alone. You are always present. Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another about yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lordʼs people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Romans 12:9-13
Dear mysterious and luminous God,
We are in awe of your terrifying power. Your timeless and boundless presence is incomprehensible to us. We may study the world around us but our understanding and knowledge remains limited, flawed, small. We are frightened by the vastness of your wisdom but we are comforted as well. There is no god but God. But Yahweh was not in the hurricane. And after the hurricane, an earthquake. But Yahweh was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake, fire. But Yahweh was not in the fire. And after the fire, a still small voice. 1 Kings 19:11b-12
Friday, March 16
I know You didn’t create the liturgical season of Lent – You left that to the early leaders of your Christian Church – but let me just say I am thankful for it! Those leaders associated Lent with the 40 days Jesus spent in the wilderness – following his baptism – facing a tempting devil and preparing for his ministry; I associate Lent with a time of consciously acknowledging my less-than-laudatory attitudes and behaviors and of consciously trying harder to be the kind of person I think You are encouraging me to be. Of course I’m far from perfect at doing this, but for 40-plus days I try to pay more-than-normal attention to the dark side of my psyche, and I try to foster a habit or two that helps me feel better about how I am in the world.
In facing the dark side of my psyche – or for that matter the dark side of our world – I take comfort from, find solace in, the words of poets and sages. My friend Roger recently sent me two poems that are particularly timely in reminding me to not be afraid of the dark.
Says David Whyte in his poem Sweet Darkness: “When your eyes are tired/the world is tired also./When your vision has gone/no part of the world can find you./Time to go into the dark/where night has eyes/to recognize its own./There you can be sure/you are not beyond love.
And, says Rainer Maria Rilke in his poem You Darkness: “You darkness from which I come,/I love you more than all the fires/that fence out the world,/for the fire makes a circle/for everyone/so that no one sees you anymore./But darkness holds it all:/the shape and the flame,/the animal and myself,/how it holds them,/all powers, all sight–/and it is possible: its great strength/is breaking into my body./I have faith in the night.”
Often these days after dinner I take a night walk or sit for a while on my front porch with the porch light off. I am awed by the creatures – domesticated and not – who scurry and flap in front of my path, by the rustling of foliage in the wind and rain, by clouds parting to let the moon and stars show themselves. I have a glimpse, in these dark times, that me and my sins and sorrows, that the world and its sins and sorrows, are far from all there is. Trite or ironic as it may sound, in these dark times I experience comfort and solace in feeling that I am but a very small part in your apparently never-ending creation.
So, here’s to Lent!
Saturday, March 17
Joseph, Guardian of Jesus
Dear God, Loving Parent of all,
You have made us in your image. You gave Joseph the eyes and heart to see Mary, his beloved –who carried a child that wasn’t his – as worthy of his ongoing commitment. That child became a Light for the world, our Savior. Thank you for people like Joseph, faithful to your call to love and grace.
My great grandfather, Jacob, was an immigrant to Wisconsin from Luxembourg. He was a young farmer, a widower, who somehow met and married my German immigrant great grandmother Barbara. She was a widow with a 3-year-old boy and a 2-week-old girl when they married. Jacob also showed love and grace, and one result is generations of grateful descendants.
Help us to look past outward appearances of others to see the souls that you so lovingly created. We all have burdens and need the acceptance of others. Help us to follow the examples of Jesus, and Joseph, in looking deep and responding to all in need of your love and grace.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Sunday, March 18
2 Corinthians 1:3-7 (Consolation)
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation, who consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are abundant for us, so also our consolation is abundant through Christ. If we are being afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation; if we are being consoled, it is for your consolation, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we are also suffering. Our hope for you is unshaken; for we know that as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our consolation.