I write these words early on a dreary, cold, rain-soaked morning. The darkness and the solitude seem appropriate as I put the final touches on the publicity for events and programs which will be part of our Lenten program. Over in the sanctuary, there are folks who are praying – or will soon be praying – to ready their spirits for the Lenten journey to come.
I write these words two days after the rash of texts and phone calls that told us that my brother’s wife had suffered a stroke, was not responding, and yes, had then left us and slipped into the mystery. She was the “other” Linda Walling – I have her in my phone as “Linda Walling 2” but she preferred the moniker “Queenie.” I have no idea how or why the rest of the family bestowed that nickname on her, but it kind of fit other than that she had a certain regal air about her. She was still a child when she lost her parents and was raised by relatives. She and Dale married when his boys were still pretty young, and she brought a great deal of love not just to Dale but to Max and Sam. In addition, she has two sons and two granddaughters. She will be deeply missed.
I write these words in the wake of the painful United Methodist deliberations about who can be ordained to ministry and who can be married to one another. We have good Methodist colleagues in ministry who feel deeply violated by the outcome of the vote, and we all have friends in Methodist congregations who are now left to suffer through one more judgment about the rightness of their loves.
I write these words with a congregation in mind that is enduring surgeries and illnesses, grief and mourning, loss and anxiety. I have often heard it said that “a mother can only be as happy as her least happy child.” It makes you wonder if a pastor can only be as happy as his or her least happy congregant. Probably not, but it is a reminder that we – you and I – are at every moment tied in love to someone who is walking uphill and carrying a burden.
I write these words . . . well, you get the gist of what I am saying. Lent will be upon us soon. Lent – those days of death and darkness . . . that season of sin and sadness. Lent – that wilderness time that is a reminder that Jesus spent time in the desert. Indeed, there is nothing that we experience that our Lord has not shared with all humanity. The Gospels assure us that the only path to resurrection is through the rough country . . . that the only true experience of resurrection is revealed in loss.
So, join me in the journey.
Write your words – your experiences of the painful quiet and the dark loneliness of our spirits’ winters.
Blessings and Peace,
And a Postscript . . .
And let me offer you a little heads-up about a new offering for us beginning this summer. Some of our worshipers have come to find communion by Intinction – that is by taking bread and dipping it into the cup – to be a most meaningful way to celebrate the Lord’s Supper. So, for the next several weeks, we will have one of our Deacons presenting a plate with bread and a chalice with juice somewhere at the front of the sanctuary. It could be a little rough as we work out the logistics, so bear with us. For most of you, the wafer and cup of juice will be served to you in the pews. But if you are one of those who prefers a loaf and a cup to dip in, find our Intinction Station.
These thoughts and reflections come from our Senior Minister, Minister of Music and Board Chair. We hope that they provide both challenge and inspiration for your spiritual life.