Pastor Henry's Memo

February 2018

The Shapes of your Lenten Disciplines

I know it's Lent and our spiritual focus should be directed to praying, fasting, and alms giving.  These three disciplines are what Jesus commended to us in The Sermon On The Mount.  You can read all about it in Matthew 6:1ff.  As I was eating lunch at Pizza King Monday I noticed what I had always noticed but this time I noticed with my "pastor's memo brain."  Pizza King cuts its round pizza in squares.  Let that sink in for a minute.  Round pizza cut in squares.  I've been eating Pizza King pizza since the 1960's.  It suddenly occurred to me Pizza Hut cuts its round pizza in wedges.  I've known that from the 1960's, too.  And guess what?  I have never once asked either pizza place to cut my pizza differently.  I take it as it comes.  I do decide what toppings will comprise my meal.  But, as to its shape, I don't care.  The shape of the pizza doesn't change the taste.  Back to Lent.  The "shapes" of your Lenten disciplines are immaterial to their efficacy.  Disciplines work because you perform them; whether they're squares or wedges.  And, if in performing them they aren't noticed, well, "having done them in secret, your Father who sees in secret, will reward you."  I think I'll have an irregularly shaped tenderloin for lunch today.

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Six Canes at New Market

Once in a while I notice something which gives me reason to pause.  This time it’s in the New Market Grocery Store office.  In the far right corner stand six canes.  You know the kind.  One of them has a three-pronged foot.  The rest are more typical cane used by someone who needs a steady aid for walking.  There they stand; or should I say, lean.  In the corner.  I'm not sure they're in "Lost And Found."  But I have noticed them there for the last couple of months.  Now, the question which pops into my head is this: Who goes to the grocery store with a cane and leaves without it?  Have there been six miracles that didn't make the paper?  "READ ALL ABOUT IT!  HEALING ON AISLE 6 AT NEW MARKET!  AGAIN!  Repeat that five more times on any aisle or in the produce department or the check-out.  Wouldn't you think, if you loaded your groceries in the car, you would then need your cane to get safely into your car?  What about when you arrived home?  Wouldn't you look for the cane before trying to enter your home?  Wouldn't it occur to you the missing cane might be back at the grocery store?  How do six canes remain lost?  Anyway, as I said, once in a while I notice something that gives me pause.  "READ ALL ABOUT IT!  THIS JUST IN!  Six lonely canes at New Market office await their owners!"


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Ash Wednesday & Valentines Day

One day. Two different loves.  Valentines Day is all about romance and chocolate and flowers and candle light dinners.  Ash Wednesday is all about fasting and prayer and alms giving and death.  Is it any wonder we'll weigh more on Thursday?  Who would choose privation and discipline and the grave when "eat, drink, and be merry" is also on the menu?  Life is full of choices which make fools of us all.  Over and over is the table of our lives set before us.  Over and over are we invited to "taste and see that the LORD is good."  Over and over our mortality is front and center.  There cannot be a day go by when death does not intrude on our living.  It may not be our own or even in our family.  But down the road and around the corner and across the field some life comes to an end.  The flesh we inhabit is frail regardless of how many years we accumulate.  From before we are born the death that is appointed to each of us awaits.  It will not be denied.  Oh, we can delay it or inhibit it.  We can even pretend it isn't there at all.  But we fool no one with our bravado, least of all, death.  Our mortality is built in to the flesh we bear.  Paradoxically, it is the mortality of our flesh which makes the living and breathing and loving we do valuable.  Our worth is determined not by the quality of our living, nor by the beauty of our bodies, and certainly not by the balance in our bank.  It is God who sets the value of our worth and for each of us it is the same: One Jesus, Son of the Living God.  It is Jesus who shares with us our breath-infused dust and offers own his in our stead.  Ash Wednesday begins a season of remembering this truth.  Come tonight at 7pm that we might remember together and await the great Good News of our salvation.

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Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday ushers in a season of repentance and reflection for the Church.  In seven days we will begin a journey toward Holy Week and will find ourselves once again remembering how Jesus demonstrates how he is faithful to his messianic identity.  He demonstrates compassion and forgiveness.  He bears witness to a life full of hope and joy.  He commends that life to us.  Our baptism unites the entire Church as one living body; a body consecrated to God.  As such, we are called to join Jesus in living a life that bears witness to the Good News and the coming of God's Kingdom.  Once again Lent provides a time for us to consider the life we live and amend our ways where necessary.  Our mortality is front and center in Lent.  I invite you all to attend our Ash Wednesday service at 7pm on the 14th.  Come prepared to receive your ashes and own the promise God makes to all the world in Jesus.

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