Wednesday, March 27, 2019

LET IT GO

A song that keeps going around and around in my head is from the movie: Frozen. It’s called: Let it go! About 10 days ago, I wrote about one of the great themes of Lent being about stopping and waiting and praying. Another great theme of lent has to do with letting go.

Sometimes we express this in challenging each other to give something up for Lent. And, some of us do try to give something up for Lent, like chocolate, or coffee, or the internet, or tv. I used to challenge my congregations not just to give something up but to take something on by way of sacrifice. Give up a meal during Lent and give the money that it would cost to a homeless shelter. Or, write a letter (does anybody do that anymore) to someone you’ve been meaning to touch base with, or call someone, or visit someone, or...

The list could go on and on. The point is that if I give up something or do something extra these things afford me the opportunity to focus for a bit on God, on my spiritual life, on the meaning of life.

Let it go! Is there something that you need to let go of during Lent? Letting go is a natural part of our faith in God in Christ. It’s a part of life. Maybe you need to let go of a grudge. I don’t know who’s reading this, but I do know you’re human and our human tendency is to stack up things that people have done to us. Make a list; check it twice. And, the normal human tendency is to cut them off, to write them off. In a very few cases, there’s nothing left to do. Even then, we forgive, let it go, and move on. Right?

I know someone who has been a Christian all her life, but years ago someone said something to her in church that hurt her feelings. I’m not playing down the hurt. The hurt is real. But, what could happen, if in the light of God’s love for all, she could let it go? It might open up all kinds of creative possibility. Whatever that person said to you that hurt, said more about her than it did about you. It’s not about you. This would mean that I will not live my life as if others have control over my life. I am ultimately the one who makes the decision to live out my life believing that God in Jesus loves me, no matter what. You are a child of God, precious in his sight. You are loved. You are surrounded by grace in family and friends.

Sure, you have to deal with the feelings. But, in faith we can let it go and move on.

Abraham and Sarah were old when God called them to father/mother the nation of Israel. They had to let go of all the supports of life, family and friends. They left what was familiar and moved on with God’s guidance.

A pastor friend has a wall paper in her office on which is printed the words over and over again: Let go; trust God. Let go; trust God. Let go; trust God.

At every stage of life, we experience things and people and events. It’s a kind of dying. Death means that we let go so that we may come to resurrection.

Henri Nouwen says that prayer is best done with open hands. Open hands can’t grasp too tightly or hold on to what needs to pass. What do you need to let go off this Lent?

Let go; let God.

Blessings!
Dave Nichols

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

THE SEASON OF LENT

The Season of Lent is our season of preparation for Easter. Like Advent before Christmas, it calls us to give ourselves to a time of devotion, worship and prayer, so that we might properly celebrate when Christmas comes. Lent, unlike Advent, is not a time when we are in a rush to get somewhere. Even our secular culture rushes to get to Christmas, getting started with it as soon as Halloween is over. We could argue, maybe, as to why we are in such a hurry to get to Christmas. Is it commercial? Sure. Or, is it because the times are so filled with bad news that we can’t wait...

Lent is not that way. I don’t know anybody who is in a hurry to get to Easter. Also, Lent is longer than Advent and affords us more time to reflect, if we will, on this great journey of faith. Lent, in part, is that call to slow down, for God’s sake.

Being slow has not been a problem with me. (Don’t say a word!) I am by nature a person who enjoys taking my time. Sure I can waste time with the best of them, but taking my time is in my soul. I have always felt that part of being a disciple was going slower than the rest of the world, particularly when this present world seems to be in such a rush to get somewhere, where it doesn’t seem to know.

Now, don’t mistake my slowness with “not caring”, or not being interested. It’s just that the older I get the more I realize that each moment is precious. And, I don’t want to miss a single minute. Now, I know it’s March and I’m into March Madness and I don’t want to miss a single game. OK. I know that’s madness. But more, I’m talking about the moments of our lives. Every minute of every hour, every hour of every day, every day of every week, every week of every month, every month of every year...it’s all a gift. It’s not a burden. It’s not a problem to be solved or figured out. It’s not a space to fill up. It’s a gift.

Lent is a call to slow down. Maybe it’s a call even to stop. It’s a call to stop judging, and earning, and moving, and achieving, and worrying, and doing so that we can worship and pray more. God doesn’t seem to have a problem with stopping for Sabbath. “On the seventh day, God rested...”.

God rested and so should we. We rest in prayer and worship.

Lent is also a time to give up something, something that compels your attention. Most of us know what we need to give up for our soul’s sake. Lent gives us the opportunity to do just that.

Now, Lent is not about just focusing on your own self. God help us. NO. We rest, we stop, we slow down to focus on the gift of God’s love in Jesus Christ for us and for the whole world.

Check back with me in this season to ask: how am I doing?

Blessings!
Dave Nichols

Comments on Lectionary - Sept. 1

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