Thursday, March 28, 2019
Message from Kelly
All winter long, an enormous snow bank has been building up on either side of my driveway. Since December, I’ve taken to backing in to park. You know why: Better to inch out forwards to survey for oncoming traffic on the road when it’s time to head out. But the brighter and warmer days recently are working their magic: Just yesterday, I realized how dramatically the snow mountains had shrunk. Yes, the drive is very muddy, and I need to choose my parking spot carefully. But I can see up and down the road again, and that’s a relief.
The season of Lent feels a bit like those snow banks, too: they (the snow banks) and it (Lent) are still with us: this Sunday is the fourth in Lent, and there are five Sundays in Lent. Holy Week begins Sunday, April 14 with Palm Sunday/Sunday of the Passion. We have a ways to go on our Lenten pilgrimage, and yet, we have come a good way, too.
Be on the watch for this “already-but-not-yet” feeling in your life, whether it presents itself in a longing for spring, or in thoughts about forgiveness brought up by working through our Lent devotional, or about any sort of coming change. That spot of in-betweeness can be very uncomfortable, but it is also a holy place, and one where (count on it) God is working to speak to you. Be like Moses (as we heard last Sunday): pause, turn aside, and listen.
PS: A huge THANK YOU to the Ashland Fire Department (and our own Gordon Ellinwood and KB Hughes) for their assistance in relocating and rebuilding the baptismal font at St. Mark's. Photos next week!
Thursday, March 21, 2019
Message from Kelly
On Monday evening, sixty-some people gathered in downtown Plymouth, to sing, to hold silence, and — candles lit—to hold peace in their hearts. A sign, reading “We are one family,” spoke the deep truth that we gathered to share. Present in compassion, in solidarity, in grief , with those who mourn the members of New Zealand’s Muslim community, murdered at prayer days earlier. We entered into silence with these words:
Let us hold, in our silence, a collective longing: for peace, for an end to hatred, for the growth of compassion, mutual understanding, and care.
It was good to see people from many faith communities, from several towns, and from the Plymouth State community (even as students were just returning from spring break) standing together in this way. It was a blessing to be a part of a community that could coalesce so quickly, and so decisively: we announced the vigil at both our worship services on Sunday, and on our Facebook page, even before fellow planners, the Rev. Linda Barnes (of the Starr King UU Fellowship) and the Rev. Bret Myers (the interim pastor of the Plymouth UCC) and I met Sunday afternoon to iron out the details of the event. Thank you, those who gathered, and thank you, you who couldn’t be there but held the gathering in your prayers.
In recent days, news from New Zealand has shown a nation working to embrace its diversity, insisting that “they are us,” and rejecting any hatred that tries to divide. If you’ve ever worshipped from A New Zealand Prayer Book, you’ll know that our Anglican siblings in New Zealand, decades ago, wove the “multitude of voices” that speak in their island home into the fabric of their prayers.
Including, of course, prayers of repentance and lament, for failures to love, in great ways and in small ones. May the prayer below, a gift from the church in New Zealand to the world, guide us now.
Thursday, March 14, 2019
Message from Kelly
What is it about 40? Forty days that the deluge fell on Noah and crew; 40 years that Israel spend wandering in the desert on the way to the promised land; 40 days of fasting for both Moses and Elijah; 40 days that Jonah gave Nineveh to repent; 40 days that Jesus was tested in the wilderness…And what does all that have to do with marking 40 days of Lent?
We don’t need to dive deep into historical-cultural symbolism here. For now, simply notice the pattern, and the way these stories each share elements of requiring profound patience. Patience to trust God; patience that the waiting would be worth it; patience to do what they were called to in the mean time, confident that effort would strengthen and prepare them for what was to come.
We are just a week into Lent. We are waiting, we are praying, we may well feel puzzled and frustrated by what God is putting before us. As Lent continues—and, as here in our northern world, the light and warmth and mud of spring draw ever closer—may eagerness and curiosity take root and grow in us, as we wait for God’s gift of resurrection.
Wednesday, March 6, 2019
Message from Kelly
Dear People of God,
Today, Ash Wednesday, the Book of Common Prayer gets the first and last word:
I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the
observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance;
by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and
meditating on God's holy Word. And, to make a right beginning
of repentance, and as a mark of our mortal nature, let us now
kneel before the Lord, our maker and redeemer.
Those words conclude the pastoral invitation to observe this holy season. During worship, they are followed by a time of silence. Whether you worship at 11 am today in Ashland, or at 5:30 pm in Plymouth (at an ecumenical service hosted by the UCC), or at some other place or time, do pause today to mark the start of Lent. Perhaps you already know what you will give up, or what practice you will take on, as a way of setting aside these 40 days as a time of spiritual growth.
Let us pray, in the words of the Litany of Penitence:
Accomplish in us the work of your salvation,
That we may show forth your glory in the world.
By the cross and passion of your Son our Lord,
Bring us with all your saints to the joy of his resurrection.