From the Pastor- April 2024

As we approach the season of Easter, a profound sense of hope fills the air. It’s a time when nature awakens from its winter slumber, bursting forth with new life, and the promise of renewal uplifts hearts. Easter is more than just a holiday; it celebrates the triumph of light over darkness, life over death, and hope over despair.

The essence of Easter hope lies in the central event of the Christian faith—the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This miraculous event is a testament to the power of God’s love and the promise of eternal life. In the resurrection of Jesus, we find hope that transcends the limitations of our earthly existence and points us toward a future filled with promise and possibility.

But Easter hope is not merely a distant concept or abstract idea; it is a tangible reality that permeates every aspect of our lives. It is the assurance that no matter how bleak our circumstances may seem, there is always the possibility of transformation and renewal. It is the belief that even in the darkest of moments, light will eventually break through, illuminating our path forward.

In a world marked by uncertainty, suffering, and division, Easter hope offers a beacon of light amidst the darkness. It reminds us that even in the face of adversity, we are not alone—that God is with us, guiding us and offering us the strength to persevere. Easter hope empowers us to confront life’s challenges with courage and resilience, knowing that nothing is impossible with God.

Easter hope invites us to embrace a spirit of reconciliation and forgiveness. Just as Christ’s resurrection brought reconciliation between God and humanity, it calls us to seek reconciliation in our relationships—to extend grace and forgiveness to those who have wronged us and to seek forgiveness from those we have wronged. In doing so, we participate in the transformative power of Easter hope, bringing healing and restoration to our broken world.

As we celebrate Easter this year, let us embrace the hope that springs from the empty tomb—the hope that reminds us of God’s unfailing love, His promise of redemption, and the assurance of new beginnings. May this season fill our hearts with joy, our minds with peace, and our souls with renewed hope.

Wishing you a blessed and joyous Easter filled with hope, renewal, and the promise of resurrection.

From the Pastor- March 2024

How do you pray? Many of us were taught very little about how to pray. It is something that we picked up along the way as we encountered prayer in worship services. We may have learned a few spoken prayers for bedtime and meals.  If we were lucky we had someone who taught us some different ways of praying. But if we are honest, a lot of us feel rather limited in this area.

Some of you may have heard me say before that there is no one right way to pray. There are so many forms of prayer. It is simply how we open ourselves to come near to a God who is already near to us. One way to pray that I have been appreciating this Lenten season is the prayer of Lectio Divina or Divine Reading. St. Benedict is often credited with this sacred form of encountering scripture. But even in Paul’s writings, we have recognition that the Holy Spirit is present in our comprehension.

The goal of Lectio Divina is not to read the text so that it can be studied and the correct interpretation extrapolated. The goal is to read, to meditate, to contemplate, and to integrate the text.  It is a way of experiencing the text that allows you to experience the text in a personal way.  During our Lenten Wednesday services we engage in a modified form of Lectio. Here I would like to offer to you a more traditional format for your devotional reading.

There are four stages to Lectio Divina.

Prepare for prayer
Before entering into the prayer, prepare yourself physically and mentally. Begin by sitting comfortably, placing both feet on the ground, with posture upright and hands open on your lap as if waiting to receive a gift from God. Then, abandon any agenda, worries or thoughts you bring to this prayer and entrust these things to the providence of God. Ask for the grace to be receptive to what God will speak to you through this Scripture reading.

Read (lectio)
Begin by slowly and meditatively reading your Scripture passage out loud. Listen for a particular word or phrase that speaks to you at this moment and sit with it for a time.

Meditate (meditatio) – Read the same passage a second time. As you re-engage the text, let the word or phrase that stood out become your invitation to dialogue with God. Allow the word or phrase to wash over you and permeate your thoughts and feelings.

Pray (oratio) – Read the text a third time. What is God saying to you in these words? What do you want to say to God? What feelings do these words raise up in you? Share your answers with God.

Contemplate (contemplatio)
Read the text a final time. As you do, release the word or phrase you have been praying with. Be still and rest in God’s embrace. What gift has God given you to take away from this prayer? To what action might God be inviting you? Thank God for this gift and invitation as you conclude your prayer