Friday, February 19, 2016

Lenten Journeying

Lent started for me and my church on Ash Wednesday.  We all were marked with ashes and heard the historic words of scripture: You are dust and to dust you shall return.  It's a powerful time when we look into each other's eyes and proclaim the truth of what it means to be human.  We could not do this were it not for also knowing that God is love.

Just two days before I was struck by the "crud", cough and cold and had to spend some time at home, away from anyone.  It was a time to get ready for the power of Ash Wednesday.  So, after some time of sickness and prayer time, I came to worship and was able to lead the church in remembering that indeed we are mortal sinners.

Then, immediately two persons died and I was involved in their funerals.  One of the people who died is someone who had been away from this area for over 20 years; the other, was a faithful member of our community of faith.  What followed was typical.  I met with the out of town family and got to know the person who had died, and then I planned the service.  The other person, here and faithful, had a son who was special needs.  I went with family and others to tell him, but before we got it out, he guessed why we were there.  He asked: "Is something wrong with Dad?"  His mother said: "Yes".  Then, he asked: "Did daddy die?"  His mother nodded her head and we went inside to embrace and pray and do what we do in our humanness.

The two funeral services were both on Sunday afternoon: one at 3pm; the other, at 4:30.  Of course, they were at opposite ends of town, but I though I could make it work.  We always try to accommodate the families' needs and the funeral homes needs.  So, in a weak moment, I agreed.

The 3pm service went well but we were not done at the church until nearly 4pm and then it was almost 4:30 by the time we got everyone to the graveside.  So, I did the committal and ran to my car.

I got to the 4:30 service at 4:50 and found a chapel full of people at the Mortuary waiting on me.  I ran in and consulted with everyone, apologized, and we got started.  An hour later, we had worshipped God and it was a time of celebration and emotional sharing.  A number of people shared their love for the deceased and the family.

I went to the door and spoke to as many others as I could.  Then, I went to my car to let Mary know that I was on the way home.  Exhausted, I collapsed in my chair and ate supper.  Watching TV I drifted off to sleep.  

It hit me that this was Lent and a time of greater self-giving and love.  And, it reminded me that in our humanity we meet the love of God with us.  This is what it feels like to give ourselves away for Christ.  It is utterly exhausting and wonderfully fulfilling.  You've felt that way as you've poured yourself out for family or friends or church.  What a way to begin this Season of Lent- on my knees.

Dave Nichols

Monday, February 1, 2016


You know it’s Lent when Transfiguration Sunday happens. This is the last Sunday before Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. You know it’s Lent when people start talking about Easter, although it’s not appropriate yet to talk about it. It doesn’t help that the stores start decorating for Easter with candy and bunnies, etc. You know it’s Lent when the pastor starts looking for ashes to use on Ash Wednesday. Usually, ashes are made by burning last year’s Palm Sunday branches. When that doesn’t work, the Catholics have a great kit to use. Ashes, of course, mean death but it’s more. It also means change, repentance. You know it’s Lent when you see the color purple in the Sanctuary. Lent, like Advent, is a Season of preparation and repentance. Purple means to repent, turn around, in thinking and living. Lent is hopeful. You know it’s Lent when everything points to the cross, when all that we know about Jesus is grounded in the truth that he “set his face” to go to Jerusalem. Blessings! Dave Nichols


Thanks for checking out my blog. I'm new to this, as you can probably see. But, I, like you, have convictions and ideas worth sharing. I hope this will be an opportunity to connect with others who are Christian and/or religious. I am happily United Methodist. I am committed to the basic teachings of our church, and to the compassionate outreach to the world.

I hope these pastoral ponderings will generate something in you that is hopeful.

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About Me

A graduate of Newberry College and Duke University Divinity School.  I have served as a pastor in the United Methodist Church since 1975.

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