Pastor Henry's Memo

March 2019

Journeying with Lent, with the poor, with Jesus

As we continue our journey through Lent, perhaps we should keep in mind we also journey with Lent.  We don't only find our way to Jerusalem with a single minded focus on the end.  We travel as companions with Jesus.  However the solitude of praying and fasting is practiced along this journey, we cannot be in solitude about alms giving.  I suppose we could do that Lenten discipline by writing a check to some charitable group.  Or making an on-line donation with a debit card.  Even dropping off clothes at a mission or thrift store would qualify as alms giving.  Alas, I'm not sure Jesus had that in mind when he commended to us giving to the poor.  I know times change and mechanisms for charitable giving change with the times.  Now I return to the idea of not making our journey only through Lent, but with Lent.  The poor we always have with us.  Jesus tells us this sober truth.  As he make his way to Jerusalem, the poor are with him all along the way.  Right next to us.  I wonder how that proximity would effect our sharing?  Our generosity?  How often are we "in touch" with the poor?  How often do we travel with them?  Lent is for the poor as much as for us.  Let us journey with them as well as with the Lord.

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Beware Alligator

The Calvary UMC parsonage is located at Camelot, Lakes of the Valley.  Being Calvary's current pastor, Julia and I enjoy the benefit of lake-front property.  We fish and swim and enjoy sunsets that dazzle and delight.  As the ice has now melted and the ice fishermen have retired to their asylums, we will await the coming of ducks and geese and the odd heron.  As the weather warms up we will welcome the jet ski enthusiasts and other water sport participants.  There is one more creature that populates Camelot Lakes.  We have an alligator in residence.  I kid you not.  I have only seen its head and I have only ever seen the one.  It silently and stealthily patrols both lakes and, to my knowledge, no pets have been reported missing.  And it does a great job of keeping the geese and the ducks from taking up permanent residence.  It probably keeps the swimmers at bay, as well.  I do not know who introduced the creature to our placid and pacific waters.  No doubt it was believed to be necessary to keep trespassers at a minimum.   If by chance it should become a nuisance I might know a man who knows a man who knows a taxidermist.  Just saying.

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March 14

This weekly memo has no particular subject.  It's only constant is its Wednesday publication in our Calvary E-Navigator.  I am absolutely free to write about anything I choose.  It can be a history lesson or a reminder for an upcoming church event.  It can be commentary on a news item or a theological reflection.  I can comment on a book I'm reading or express my amazement about learning a new word.  The only thing about which I need to concern myself is my Tuesday deadline.  William Ledra was hanged on the 14th of March in the Year of our Lord 1661.  He was the last Quaker hanged in Massachusetts.  What makes his execution so abhorrent is he was not executed for being a Quaker; a member of the Friends Church.  That would be bad enough.  He was hanged for returning to the state after being banished from it for being a Quaker.  Understand this.  He came home.  And for coming home after being banished, he was hanged.  Can we, in A.D. 2019, imagine doing such a thing?  Three and a half centuries ago such a thing happened.  History is full of such horrors and being reminded of them is a healthy reminder of how we have progressed across the ages.  Then I read about human trafficking (SLAVERY) and car bombs killing hundreds and infanticide and antisemitism and FGM (Google it if you're curious and be shocked and horrified) and...  The list of distasteful human behavior hasn't really diminished; it's only changed categories across the centuries.  Now for a bit of good news at the conclusion of this pastor's memo.  March 14th also marks the 140th birthday of Albert Einstein and the 38th birthday of our eldest son, Keith.  Two men of such genius, I shudder to consider what they may have discovered if they were to have met and collaborated in this life.


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Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday is not for the flippant.  Its themes are the most solemn in the Church's traditions.  Its presence in the liturgical calendar (from as early as the 4th Century) suggests it marks a significant theological reality.  That reality is our mortality.  The first day of Lent invites Christians to consider life and death straightforwardly.  Ash Wednesday provides a time to remember our perishable flesh and the desire we harbor to live in Eternity with God. When ashes are smudged on the brow in the shape of the cross, we receive a symbol which identifies us as creatures of the Living God.  We also receive the sign of our only hope for living in the Kingdom of God.  With a penitential season beginning in such a solemn manner one can understand why the days that follow Ash Wednesday are meant to be lived reverently and fearfully of what Jesus prepares to do on Good/Black Friday.  "Dust we are; and to dust we shall return.  Repent and believe the Gospel."

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