39 Days and….Praying

We’re one day along on the 2015 Lenten Journey and I’m hopeful! We had a wonderful Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper – more attendees this year even with the bitter cold and quite a nice gathering for the Ash Wednesday Evening Service of Worship as well. It gives me hope that our community will embrace not only the journey of Lent but one another in the midst of it.

Our community is often praised, in my hearing, by visitors and new members as one with such a “welcoming spirit” (“vibe” someone said recently) and that’s a great way to begin a relationship and a journey.

However, the Lenten challenges us right out of that ‘comfort of welcome’ into the bones of our discipleship – that is, how we lead our daily lives through the lens of faith. This is a time when, as individuals and as a community, we look at hard questions of faithful living, giving, sharing, loving, supporting and growing.

I hope this season of Lent will challenge all of us to look deeply at our faithful practices with a willing spirit to live, give, share, love, support and grow ourselves; because individuals at their best build a community at its best!

This Lenten hope got personal right away for me reminding me that work pace and self care are important to good health! My “fussy” back is giving me a fit after too many long days in a row without rest and now I’m stopped in my tracks.

Right away, I am reminded of the power of prayer and the gift of God’s presence and accessibility, even in the dark of night.

Also, the reminder of the community of all believers as friends step up to offer support through these (hopefully few) painful days.

Then comes the ministry of the faithful, who give me grace through work deadlines, working willingly to pick up extra tasks to keep the ministry we share moving forward.

In all of this, I grow as I trust God, rely on others and love the once-again message that I am loved! Thanks be to God.

Friends, I don’t wish any of you back trouble or any other kind of pain this Lent. But, I know that many are indeed suffering in some way, shape, or form. I am also aware that our church suffers, too. The United Methodist Church values the worldwide connection and yet cannot reconcile it’s Book of Discipline with the Biblical Obedience that calls us to Love – ALL people. Pray for our churches and for Pastor Eddie as he begins to lead in what will be a dynamic time in our denomination. Our Circuit suffers the pain of racial injustice and random violence and I ask for your prayers as we work together in our greater Milwaukee Circuit (33) to open conversation through vigils and classes and whatever else the Spirit inspires in the days to come. And, friends, for our local church, here in Bay View, prayer is needed. It is first here where our lack of discipline, our unwillingness to give, our assumption that others will do (when you know you can and yet don’t), and our fear when scarcity trumps abundance that unhealthy is felt. This makes our gift for  enthusiastic welcoming truly important. Our community brings upon ALL of us a sense of ‘joyful response –ability’ for the ministry we share. YOU are an important and needed part of what we do in this place. Each area of ministry requires time, talent and treasure from ALL of us and I will witness to the fact that when I see a person find their niche, help in some way, contribute financially in a regular way and know that their effort matters, that we are BEING the church God calls us to be! Alleluia!

These Sundays in Lent are given to us this year that we might celebrate God’s goodness, mercy and abundance in the very midst of Lenten darkness. Be in worship weekly, friends, to sing Alleluia, to celebrate at the Table and to pray with me. Let it be so.

Peace be with each of you,

Pastor Kelly

       “Whenever two or three of you come together in my name, I am there with you.”

~ Matthew 18:20