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Thoughts for Holy Week
In recognition of Lent, Saint James has been studying Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers. This bestseller was written by Presbyterian author Anne Lamott and is filled with wisdom. I was particularly moved by this passage, where Lamott considers the intersection between life’s frustrations and sorrows and life’s precious gifts of relationship and care. She writes, “periodically something awful happens, and I think that this time God has met Her match – a child dies, or a young father is paralyzed. Nothing can possibly make things okay again. People and grace surround the critically injured person or the family. Time passes. It’s beyond bad. It’s actually a nightmare. But people don’t bolt, and at some point the first shoot of grass breaks through the sidewalk.
Lent is the recognition that “periodically something awful happens.” Life can seem terrible and, sadly, even good people will be ensnared in the mess and will suffer. Some wonder, either silently or aloud, if the pain that they or their loved ones endure is representative of some sort of metaphorical cross. Perhaps. Sometimes, bad things just happen (e.g. natural disasters, dementia). We are certainly in pain, and Christ is there with us helping us to heal. Other times, the blame lies in human agency (e.g. breaking a just law without the intention of ensuring one’s survival). Christ is there, too, calling us to repent and helping us to become reconciled to God and neighbor. Finally, and on rare occasions in the Western world, we are persecuted by others because we dare to take a stand for the faith that we profess. Christ is there also, helping us to carry our cross. After all, this is a pain that Jesus knew very well.
I am not the first to say that the Lenten journey leads us from sorrow to hope, and from death to life. There are many times along the way when it all might seem like “a nightmare.” And yet, miraculously, “people don’t bolt, and at some point the first shoot of grass breaks through the sidewalk.” What else could we call this but the joy of resurrection?
Saint James Presbyterian Church is a beacon on the hill where the people respond to the opportunities that God sets before us. We celebrate our rich past as we continue our journey into the future together. We worship the triune God in our beautiful, traditional sanctuary with music, prayer and learning from the word of God. We joyfully welcome youth and young families into our intergenerational and loving community of faith, nurturing relationships that bridge our differences. We are witnesses to God's presence and the grace of Jesus Christ as we address social justice issues locally and internationally through education and action. We are open and affirming, welcoming all to join us in discipleship.
Our Sunday morning church service and sermon lessons are made available on the web for the home-bound as well as for those who are curious about the living teachings of Saint James Presbyterian Church.
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