Lenten Journeys: Let Us Journey Together

Father Manny in Lenten purple, 2015

Father Manny in Lenten purple, 2015

It is a mere forty days. Jesus ventured in the desert for the same number of days and nights. There, Jesus prayed, meditated and fasted, all in order to prepare Himself for the sacrifice He was to make of Himself, for us.

The desert is a stark, desolate environment. There is life in the desert…but it is hidden, minimal and scarce. This is where Jesus chose to spend time, alone, to commune with God the Creator.

This Lent, our worship space will be plain, bare and simple. The plants have been removed as have most of the images of saints and holy women and men. The intent is to create an environment that, like the desert, is simple.

Baptismal font filled with sand and iron spikes

The small baptismal font is dry and filled with sand and iron spikes instead of blessed water

Let us journey together: To better prepare ourselves for the great Paschal Feast of Easter, let us journey together, in prayer, in silence, in worship and in the faith that Christ Jesus is with us, accompanying us on our venture through Lent.

Vicar’s Corner: The Slotted Spoon In Lent

“A slotted spoon holds little soup, but a slotted spoon can hold a potato.”

Cuiller à trous 02

At first glance, one may ask what does this phrase have to do with anything remotely related to Lent? Well, ones’ questioning such a statement is warranted. It’s not what one would expect to hear in any church setting let alone use in the same breath as Lent and all that is spiritual or sacred.

Then again, let’s think about it, shall we?

When we approach our faith like a slotted spoon, we are certainly not going to “hold” or “retain” much. All that comes to us slips through and is lost. However, we are certainly capable and afforded the opportunity of retaining much if we embrace and hold tight to those “solid” elements of our faith:

That Jesus loves us unconditionally.
That Jesus forgives us our sins when we are truly and sincerely sorry for our offenses.
That we are at our best when we celebrate the gift of our faith as a community, a family of believers.
That there is nothing we can not bring to the Lord and receive His strength, His guidance and His support.
That Jesus truly sacrificed Himself for us so that we can gain Eternal Life in Paradise.

When we take these teachings; embrace them fully, and completely intertwine them as part of the very fiber of our being, we are connecting ourselves with our God in such a way that nothing can overcome or conquer our faith. Nothing is more powerful than the love God has for us and the love we have for God, Jesus the Son and the Spirit that is ever-Holy.

Slotted spoons have their place in a kitchen cupboard, but have no role when it comes to our relationship with God the Creator, God’s Son Jesus the Christ and the Paraclete — the Holy Spirit. We are not to let these most sacred and divine gifts slip through and be lost. Even at our best we are prone to fall and err. Fortunately and blessedly so, God understands and continues to be present, to be attainable and listens to our call and plea. And so, slotted spoon or not, God stays with us, Jesus remains ever close and the Holy Spirit continues to be firmly and lovingly within our heart and soul.



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Ash Wednesday Video: Isaiah 58 1-12 Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice

This reading from Isaiah by Cindy DeBock contrasts fasting and repentance with hunger and the struggle against oppression, and incidentally reminds us all why offering a food pantry to the working poor in our area is so important.

Isaiah 58:1-12

Thus says the high and lofty one
who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:
Shout out, do not hold back!
Lift up your voice like a trumpet!
Announce to my people their rebellion,
to the house of Jacob their sins.
Yet day after day they seek me
and delight to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that practiced righteousness
and did not forsake the ordinance of their God;
they ask of me righteous judgments,
they delight to draw near to God.
“Why do we fast, but you do not see?
Why humble ourselves, but you do not notice?”
Look, you serve your own interest on your fast day,
and oppress all your workers.
Look, you fast only to quarrel and to fight
and to strike with a wicked fist.
Such fasting as you do today
will not make your voice heard on high.
Is such the fast that I choose,
a day to humble oneself?
Is it to bow down the head like a bulrush,
and to lie in sackcloth and ashes?
Will you call this a fast,
a day acceptable to the LORD?
Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of injustice,
to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover them,
and not to hide yourself from your own kin?
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up quickly;
your vindicator shall go before you,
the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer;
you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am.

If you remove the yoke from among you,
the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil,
if you offer your food to the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the afflicted,
then your light shall rise in the darkness
and your gloom be like the noonday.
The LORD will guide you continually,
and satisfy your needs in parched places,
and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water,
whose waters never fail.
Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;
you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
the restorer of streets to live in.