Lenten blog | April 8, 2020
There's spiritual exercise too
Throughout the year, the Southern New England Conference of the United Church of Christ produces the Daily Lectionary for use by churches. These are the suggested readings for Wednesday, April 8th: Psalm 70; Isaiah 50:4-9a; John 13:21-32; and Hebrews 12:1-3. I would encourage you to read these short selections as part of your Lenten practice.
Lent is holy. Holy Week is holier. And tomorrow we begin the holiest part of Holy Week. I hope we choose to take advantage of this forced down-time to better appreciate the sacred events that will come in the quick succession of the Last Supper, the institution of Holy Communion, Jesus’ arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane, His trial and torture, the crucifixion, His burial in the tomb owned by Joseph of Arimathea, and also, lastly, gloriously, the discovery of the empty tomb and Jesus’ resurrection.
I’ve read that practiced runners are finding their usual routes unusually crowded of late. People locked in place have discovered the joy and therapy of a walk or a jog (I think dogs count the pandemic as a blessing. My beast, for example, hasn’t had this many walks ever.). Others who had paid for gym memberships are now exercising outdoors while the indoor facilities are closed. People are taking a bad situation and making it a little better by discovering exercise again. There are more people out there than ever before because of the shutdown. It’s a bit of a silver lining to a dark cloud.
It is not unfamiliar to speak of prayer, church, Bible reading and the such as spiritual exercises. As people are rediscovering the blessings of physical exercise with their unexpected and unwanted downtime, let us also take advantage of this unfortunate lull by delving into the spiritual importance of these days ahead of us. As it is written in today’s Isaiah passage: “Morning by morning [God] wakens – wakens my ear to listen as those who are taught.” It is a blessing to be renewed by our faith – every day. So let’s fill-up those spiritual pathways just like all those joggers are clogging paths and trails. Let’s take our spiritual exercise just as seriously as all those people in shorts and sweats. Let’s work at getting more spiritually healthy and fit.
I know we’re locked in place and isolated from each other, but just like Zoom can bring us together in “the cloud” for worship, Bible study and Sunday School, let our social distancing give us the chance to be a part of “so great a cloud of witnesses” as is mentioned in Hebrews today. Let us “surround” each other with this spiritual cloud that doesn’t need to follow the COVID-19 guidelines. Let our power of prayer, worship and learning waken us every day and surround us all day. Let us renew ourselves and each other by diving-in and truly becoming engaged in our observance of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter.
I invite you to join us for our live-stream Maundy Thursday Service at 7PM. The church building will be open from noon to 3PM on Good Friday for private prayer and meditation. Please practice social distancing if there are others in the building with you. On Easter we will not be able to gather for our Sunrise Service, but we will celebrate the glorious mystery of the empty tomb with an on-line worship Service at 10AM. I invite you and I encourage you to join us for all of these “spiritual exercises” that are only a day away.
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