As war continues to rage in Ukraine, the start to our holy season known as Lent was marked by the imposition of ashes this past Wednesday. As I reflected in my Lenten meditation (click here to view), the sounds of alarm of which the prophet Joel speaks of the coming of the day of the Lord is a striking juxtaposition to the sounds of alarms ringing through cities as they warn of potential air assault. I don't mean to imply in any way that an act of war is ever the will of God - this we can be assured of in the loving covenant with which God carries God's people, encouraging us to love our neighbors as ourselves, to be agents of healing, to be vessels of grace in a world that doesn't believe grace is possible.
On the occasion of Ash Wednesday and the opportunity we are provided in this time to assess again the ways we miss the mark as disciples, however, I wonder what God may be alarming us to pay attention to. We, that is, people in the world whose actions have an effect on others. We - who rely on one another for strength and care, as we do our best to care for others, albeit imperfectly. How might we change our ways so as to better take on practices of grace, putting aside judgment and picking up a new energy to keep "working on the problems" we face? The process of repentance is an ongoing process - it is communal, it is societal, and it is also individual. Perhaps this Lent is a chance for us to see more widely the connections we have with our fellow human family, here and around the world. I wonder what such realization would look like. I wonder what would have to be given up so that others might live. I wonder what resurrections may come as we listen more closely for the Spirit and approach our God with an open heart and mind.
Among our community’s joys, we lift:
Our return to in-person worship, this Sunday! As always, we will also stream worship on our usual online platforms. Let us lift up a prayer of gratitude for all our staff and musicians who have worked so hard to allow us to continue in worship, as we took an "Epiphany in the cloud."
Congratulations and blessings on Jessica and Jeremy Turnley who are celebrated their 25th anniversary together this past week!
Among our concerns, please add to your prayers:
Carmon Watson, a volunteer with our ministry partners at B&G who is in critical condition due to COVID.
We continue to pray also for:
Charlene Houseman, continuing recovery from wrist surgery
Marylu Mills, recovering at home from a series of medical issues
Jan Ginter, former co-minister of Eastside Christian Church and friend to many in our congregation who is currently in the ICU with complications with a chronic medical diagnosis
Daniel Davis, friend of Susan Pearson, who is combatting a difficult brain cancer diagnosis
Rachel Morford, daughter of Mary Morford, who has begun treatment for a resurgence of cancer
Kathie Call and her son, Michael
For our homebound friends, Helen Bosley, Elaine Jonson, Harry and Margaret Lobberegt, Mereidene Moore, Jane Nelson, Verena Reese, and Jim and Kay Thompson
Among our local and global community prayer concerns:
We pray for those in harm's way in Ukraine, and for peace to prevail in the midst of conflict and oppression as it rears its ugly head around the world. We pray also for those facing ongoing violence and oppression in nations around the world, including Yemen, Afghanistan, Palestine, Ethiopia, and Syria. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayers.
For the Village on 6th and Orchard, for all who live there, have lived there, work, volunteer, and/or give in all kinds of other ways to support this important cause. We also pray for the courage to continue working and advocating for substantive change from the bottom up, so that all people are given the dignity and love in life that God so calls us provide for one another.
For Global Ministry partners and the important justice work they are doing in Kenya, in particular, the Organization of African Instituted Churches (OAIC) whose work is aimed at providing care for women and children in the Kibera community who experience maternal health challenges.
Gracious God, bless these 40 days of self-examination, that we may find space for your Spirit to stir our hearts as we walk the road of repentance, forgiveness, love, and resurrection. In the name of Christ Jesus, amen.
With love and blessing, Pastor Doug