Lenten Challenge #10

Dear Friends,

Your Challenge for today is to read and ruminate on Psalm 130. Psalm 130 is the scripture passage for tomorrow’s worship service. It is a psalm of lament. What is the lament of the psalmist here? What are they asking for? This is poetry so find a quiet place and take your time living with these words.

Stay well.
Sherard

Psalm 130
Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord
Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications!
If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, Lord, who could stand?
But there is forgiveness with you, so that you may be revered.
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning,
more than those who watch for the morning.
O Israel, hope in the Lord!
For with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with him is great power to redeem.
It is he who will redeem Israel from all its iniquities.

Lenten Challenge #9

RS Thomas

Your Challenge for today is to read a poem, specifically The Bright Field by RS Thomas. RS Thomas was Welsh and an Anglican priest. He served a small parish in the coal country of Wales. It is an understatement to say that Thomas was not a “people-person.” According to his son, his sermons could be long drones on “the evil of fridges, washing machines and televisions.” What is unarguable is that he was a great poet who incorporated religious themes into his work without being the least bit trite or sentimental.

After you have spent some time with this poem, it would be wonderful if you could leave a comment below. In a sentence or two, please share what you believe this poem is saying.

The Bright Field
RS Thomas

I have seen the sun break through
to illuminate a small field
for a while, and gone my way
and forgotten it. But that was the
pearl of great price, the one field that had
treasure in it. I realise now
that I must give all that I have
to possess it. Life is not hurrying

on to a receding future, nor hankering after
an imagined past. It is the turning
aside like Moses to the miracle
of the lit bush, to a brightness
that seemed as transitory as your youth
once, but is the eternity that awaits you.

Lenten Challenge #8

Lenten Challenge

Your Challenge for today is simple—pray for someone. Identify someone that you know (or know about) and spend several minutes meditating on their life and then pray for them. Pray for their healing, pray for their happiness, pray that they may feel loved, pray for the decisions they make, pray for their relationship with God, pray that they may know the fullness of God in Jesus. Just pray.

Luke 11:9
And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.

Lenten Challenge #7

Your Lenten Challenge for Wednesday is to contact a relative with whom you’ve lost touch or with whom you haven’t spoken to in a while. Whether it is a cousin or an uncle, please reach out and say hello.

John 15:12
This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.

Lenten Challenge #6

The Wilderness

Your Lenten Challenge for today is to read and meditate on the account of Jesus’ Temptation in the Wilderness. Jesus’ 40 days of fasting and prayer is the template for our own Season of Lent. In the wilderness Jesus is stripped of the comforts of civilization. Any person in that situation would be most vulnerable to temptation. Yet Jesus keeps God first in his life and ahead of his own personal needs and desires.

In a quiet place, read the story and let its words wash over you.

Luke 4

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.” Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone.’” Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And the devil said to him, “To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.’” Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you, to protect you,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’” Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time.

Lenten Challenge #5

junk drawer

Your Lenten Challenge for today is to clean out and organize a drawer. It doesn’t have to be a big drawer, just one drawer. Pick a drawer (or cabinet, or shelf, or …) and empty, sort, discard, organize. Make this a spiritual exercise. As you work, take the time to reflect on what is cluttering your spiritual life. Is it a grudge against someone? Is it a lingering guilt? Is it a hidden gift that you stashed away and forgot? What piece of spiritual detritus is cluttering your God drawer?

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
Romans 8:1

Lenten Challenge Photos



Lenten Challenge #4

Your challenge for today is to Pray for 3 Minutes. Find a quiet place and set your egg timer or phone alarm. And when you pray, just try and listen, try and become attuned to God around you. As a focus for your prayer, I would like you to meditate on the refrain from Psalm 80:

Restore us, O Lord God of hosts;
let your face shine, that we may be saved.

Lenten Challenge #3

Dear Friends,

Your Lenten Challenge for today is to read and reflect on Jesus’ parable of the surprising Samaritan.

You can find it in your Bible in Luke 10:25-37 or read it below. Please don’t speed read the parable but sit with it for a while and let the words wash over you. You may be surprised by what washes up.

Blessings,
Sherard

Luke 10:25-37

Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?” He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.” But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.’ Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

Lenten Challenge #2

Your Lenten Challenge for today is simple. Watch this video, “Lent in 3 Minutes.”

Although intended for a Catholic audience, its message is solid.

Social Distancing

Dear Friends,

I would like to share with you two articles that I found to be helpful in explaining/showing why social distancing is important in the fight against COVID-19. Both articles rely on animations so I would recommend looking at them on a desktop computer if possible.

The first article is from the Washington Post (no subscription needed). Using four simulations, this article demonstrates how we infect one another and why social distancing is effective in slowing the rate of the virus’ spread.

Washington Post surge

The second article is from the New York Times (might require a subscription??). Using a simplified model, its interactive graphs show the difference between best case and worst case and why it is so important to “flatten the curve.”

We not only need to protect ourselves and our loved ones, but we also need to protect the community from the potential “surge” that could overwhelm the health-care system.