Archived Meditations

 

Monday, March 25, 2019

“Greeting, favored one! The Lord is with you.” — Luke 1:28

These words spoken to Mary as Jesus’s birth is foretold are words of great comfort and hope. Which is good news, since life becomes increasingly difficult for Mary after these words are spoken.

I often wonder, if in the course of her life, Mary revisited these words. When Jesus was difficult as a child. When Jesus began to grow in notoriety. When Jesus began to get in trouble with those in authority. When Jesus spoke of dying. When Jesus died. When Jesus lay dead in the tomb.

“Greeting, favored one! The Lord is with you.”

Through Pop-up Prayer (a daily live video that I do on Facebook and accessible here) and my work in the city of St. Petersburg, I have come to meet a variety of different people. One such person is a mom who has adopted a number of special-needs children. She loves them wholeheartedly, and in sharing the love of her beautiful family, along with holding as sacred the stories of people’s lives, I have come to see that being favored by God doesn’t make one’s life easy. No, never easy. But, being favored by God does make our lives holy.

Dear ones, each of us is called by God. Each of us is marked “favored.” May we see the holiness of our lives — that God is with us — as sustaining and life-giving through the hardest moments we will face. Because those moments will come, and God being with us is often all we can hold onto.

“Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.”

God is with you indeed — may the holiness of God’s presence guide us always.

— The Rev. Canon Katie Churchwell

Daily Scripture Readings for March 24: Psalm 45; Isaiah 7:10-14; Hebrews 10:4-10; Luke 1:26-38


SUNDAY, MARCH 24, 2019

O God, you are my God, I seek you, my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. So I will bless you as long as I live; I will lift up my hands and call on your name. My soul is satisfied as with a rich feast, and my mouth praises you with joyful lips when I think of you on my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I sing for joy. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me. — Psalm 63:1-8

Each Sunday we listen to four lessons of faith from the Bible. But sometimes it only takes one word or sentence to grab our attention and give us a word of life. For me, that moment came when reading Psalm 63, verse 8: “My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.”

Wow! Can it be said any more plainly? What a perfectly clear message of faith for our Lenten journey. We are encouraged by the psalmist to cling, stick, grab, or adhere to God like Superglue and never let go.

In all of life, facing adversities, in health and in sickness, in moments of great joy or of great trouble, we are reminded to bind our hearts to God, to stick to him, to bond with him again in our very souls. Oh, the Word of God, so simple, so succinct and yet so perfect for our lives this Lent 2019!

— The Rev. John Sumner

Daily Scripture Readings for March 24: Psalm 63:1-8 Exodus 3:1-15 1 Corinthians 10:1-13 Luke 13:1-9


Saturday, MARCH 23, 2019

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul.” — Psalm 23

The opening words of the 23rd Psalm are some of the most healing ever to be prayed. Here is power to change negative thinking, freed from fear, guided into the light.

When the dearest one of my life was stricken with non-Hodgkins lymphoma, the diagnosis was dire. Fear and despair consumed me. Any effort to remove fear and negativity from my thought was major. A priest friend suggested when I slept at night, if I had a small crucifix, I should hold onto it as I slept, and not to worry — the presence of Jesus through the crucifix would do the rest. I prayed those words of the psalm constantly; probably 200 times nightly. Blessedly, I was transformed.

Those words, 3,000 years later or more, still possess power for many seeking God’s healing grace. As we truly embrace God, our Shepherd, guiding us toward the light of positive thinking, little do we realize the blessing of God’s healing gift passing through us, his vessel, to another in need. Everyone has the potential to be God’s vessel of love, bringing his healing gift to others.

King David grew up as a shepherd; he knew much about shepherding; the opening words of Psalm 23 proclaim the metaphor of the psalm: “I lack nothing” gives us everything we need. God is our Shepherd!

— Richard Sias

Daily Scripture Readings for March 23: Psalm 75, 76, 23, 27 Jeremiah 5:20-31 Romans 3:19-31 John 7:1-13


Friday, March 22, 2019

“I can do nothing on my own ... I seek to do not my own will but the will of God who sent me.” — John 5:30

Each Sunday, we say the Lord’s Prayer and acknowledge our dependence on God. When we say, “Thy will be done,” I often lower my voice. I find it difficult to put God’s will over my own.

In recovery programs, Step 11 states that “we pray only for knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry that out.” Do I really need to follow such a guideline? Shouldn’t I be able to handle my own concerns? Honestly, I cannot. How often have I imposed my own will on a situation and hurt myself or others? Many times.

So, how do we discern God’s will for us and embrace it? First, we have to be willing to set aside our ego and self-determination. There are ample opportunities privately or in our Cathedral community to do this. For me, morning and evening prayer, meditation, formation classes, a quiet day or a nature walk can help.

Second, we must listen! We can’t listen if we are always busy, always engaged with others. There is no room to hear God’s soft whisper or the subtle intuition we feel when God is nudging us to say ‘yes’ or say ‘no.’

I finish with a prayer from the Benedictine nuns at Kylemore Abbey, Ireland: “Lord, help me to live this day quietly, easily; to lean upon your great strength trustfully, respectfully; to await the unfolding of your

will patiently, serenely; to meet others peacefully, joyously; to face tomorrow confidently, courageously. Amen.

— Kathy Coughlan

Daily Scripture Readings for March 22: Psalm 95* & 69:1-23(24-30)31-38, 73 Jeremiah 5:1-9 Romans 2:25-3:18 John 5:30-47


THURSDAY, MARCH 21, 2019

So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to all the generations to come. Your power and your righteousness, O God, reach the high heavens. — Psalm 71:18-19a

When I was in junior high school, my family lived in a small town where there was a family-owned store downtown that made wonderful chocolate. There were two apartments above the store, and I would regularly visit an old woman who lived in one of them. Sometimes I would go shopping for her, but most of the time, we just talked.

For some reason, older people and I got along. Perhaps it was because of my grandparents, whom I loved to the point that I visited them instead of my parents every chance I got: from college and from every job I had.

To me, the psalmist is pleading for God to forgive and protect him/her in old age, just as “I have been sustained by you ever since I was born.” I once talked about “old people,” and how badly our society treats them. Now that I am one of them, the elders, I hope God will protect me from my enemies: disease, falls, people who push me aside in the grocery store. “And now that I am old and gray-headed, O God, do not forsake me, till I make known your strength to this generation and your power to all who are to come.”

I supposed every generation is the hope of the previous one. But “do not abandon me,” do not let my enemies defeat me. You, God, are my protection and my savior.

— Charles Jaynes

Daily Scripture Readings for March 21: Psalm [70], 71, 74 Jeremiah 4:9-10, 19-28 Romans 2:12-24 John 5:19-29


Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who alone does wondrous things. Blessed be his glorious name for ever; may his glory fill the whole earth. Amen and Amen. — Psalm 72

It is sometimes difficult to think in terms of gratitude for all of the good things of life when the world around us seems to be falling apart — either our individual world or the whole thing. When we focus on the day-to-day, we can see chaos and sadness all around. Psalm 72 reminds us that this is God’s world, and in God’s time all will be made right.

Psalm 72 is also a prayer of intercession, asking God to bring about good things. Meanwhile, we can focus on ways we can help bring about that world by our own compassion and actions. We are part of the solution, and we can be grateful for God’s role in our lives and the lives of others.

— Jean Beshears

Daily Scripture Readings for March 20: Psalm 72, 119:73-96, Jeremiah 3:6-18, Romans 1:28-2:11, John 5:1-18


Tuesday, March 19, 2019

“Unless you people see signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.” — John 4:48

It’s often difficult digesting faith. In this reading, Jesus is asked by a royal official to heal his child. He’s concerned that Jesus must be present and heal him directly. In Jesus’ response, “Go, your son will live,” we see that Jesus’ implied presence is all that is needed, as on his way home the official’s servants meet him and tell him the child was alive. He had, in fact, been healed the moment Jesus said that he would live.

This reminds me that as difficult as it may be sometimes, Jesus need not be here physically to work with us and through us. We are his body in this world as we carry the good news in witness to others. Charged as ministers, we carry the light.

— Phillip Paree

Daily Scripture Readings for March 19: Psalm 61, 62, 68:1-20(21-23)24-36, Jeremiah 2:1-13, Romans 1:16-25, and John 4:43-54


Monday, march 18, 2019

“Those who dwell at the ends of the earth will tremble at your marvelous signs; You make the dawn and the dusk to sing for joy.” Psalm 65:8

Living in Florida gives us so many opportunities to see wildlife and magnificent sunrises and sunsets that are prepared for us by God to make us “sing for joy.”

In Psalm 65, the psalmist is praising God in Jerusalem, while admitting how overwhelming our “strong sins” are. Thankfully, after confessing our sins, we are living in forgiveness and can go on to experience the joy of our salvation.

From mountains, roaring seas, water for our crops, and flocks of sheep on the hillside, we are free to cry out in sheer joy over creation. Dolphins playing in our gulf waters surprise us and make us feel as though we have been kissed by God just watching them. God’s provision for us, coupled with extra touches of creation, make us sing for joy from the bottom of our hearts.

So — when was the last time you listened to the dawn and dusk “singing for joy”?

— Nancy Lane

Daily Scripture Readings for March 18: Psalm 56, 57, [58], 64, 65; Jeremiah 1:11-19; Romans 1:1-15; John 4:27-42


SUNDAY, MARCH 17, 2019

At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to Jesis, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” Jesus said to them, “Go and tell that fox for me,‘Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work. Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem.’ Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you. And I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.’” — Luke 13:31-35

This Lenten passage invites us to reflect on the meaning of Jesus’s life and death and on the role we, his followers, play in his continuing mission. Jesus knows that many prophets have been stoned and killed before him, all trying to show us how much God loves us. But when the Pharisees came to tell him about Herod’s plan, he replies, “Go tell that fox, I will keep on driving out demons and healing people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.” His goal was, and still is, to gather us all in love.

Leighton Ford, contemporary pastor and social activist, has said: “God loved us the way we were, but he loved us too much to leave us that way.” In Lent, we offer ourselves anew, and ask forgiveness for those things we have done which we should not have done, and pray that he will strengthen us in our commitment to do those things he calls us to do.

God gives us the gift of life. How we live it is our gift to God. That is our continuing mission.

— The Rev. Canon Millard Neal

Daily Scripture Readings for March 17: Psalm 27, Genesis 15:1-12,17-18, Philippians 3:17-4:1, and Luke 13:31-35


SATURDAY, MARCH 16, 2019

“Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” — John 4:13-14

Jesus’ reply to the Samaritan woman’s question makes a clear distinction between the physical water of the well she was thinking of and the “living water” of which he was speaking. He said that those who drank from the water in the well would become thirsty again, but in contrast those who drank the “living water” would never thirst again. This different water would give eternal life.

This passage reveals several truths about salvation. It is once received and is sufficient for eternity. Jesus clearly states that salvation is everlasting. The illustration is that once drunk (or received), salvation is not repeated. It fully satisfies and does not have to be repeated. Salvation is a one-time event and nourishes the believer’s spiritual growth.

Salvation truly is a spring that brings refreshing, satisfying peace and joy to the soul. In contrast the things of the world do not truly satisfy and leave us thirsting for more.

— Ken Wolfe

Daily Scripture Readings for March 16: Psalm 55, 138, 139:1-17(18-23) Deuteronomy 11:18-28 Hebrews 5:1-10, John 4:1-26


FRIDAY, MARCH 15, 2019

“For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” — Hebrews 4:15-16

What a wonderful gift God gave us by sending us his son to live among us — to see and experience our lives and shortcomings during our time as mortals, and to teach us that our shortcomings can be overcome by keeping our faith and belief in God. During Jesus’s ministry on earth, we see many times in scripture what he has taught us about the power of faith — that by belief, the afflicted could be healed; thousands could be fed from a few fish and loaves; and rough waters could be calmed. And isn’t it so in our own lives? Having been tested so many times on earth himself, Jesus understands why, because of life’s pressures, we sometimes stumble, sometimes fall, and sometimes fail. We can all take comfort that we have Jesus as an understanding representative on our behalf when we seek God’s forgiveness in finding our ways back in times of doubt; his guidance when we are seeking answers; and his healing and comfort in times of need.

— Shar Nudelman

Daily Scripture Readings for March 15: Psalm 95, 40, 54,51, Deuteronomy 10:12-22, Hebrews 4:11-16 John 3:22-36



Thursday, March 14, 2019

Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. — John 3:17

I AM calls into being the magnificence of creation, from the subatomic to the expanse of the galactic. A grand design (Logos), complex, beautiful — a gift freely given. But we are willful, broken, and prone to miss the mark. So Steadfast Love sends us the Logos — “that the world might be saved through Him” — redemption free to all who might accept it.

Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us ... and thank you.

— Tony Gecan

Daily Readings for March 14: Psalm 50 [59, 60] or 19, 46 Deuteronomy 9:23-10:5 Hebrews 4:1-10 John 3:16-21


WEDNESDAY, MARCH 13, 2019

Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Humanity must be lifted up. — John 3:14

To understand what Jesus may have been referring to, we turn to a story in Deuteronomy. As the Israelites were wandering in the wilderness, they so angered God that poisonous snakes were sent among them. As many were bitten and died, the people called to Moses to save them. God instructed Moses to create an image of a snake and lift it high upon a pole. Those who looked on the image were healed and given new life. God had taken the image of their fallenness and death and transformed it into their salvation.

When we see Jesus lifted high upon a cross, we are, at once, gazing upon the image of our own fallenness and the image of salvation. We see the worst of our fallen humanity that would subject an innocent to pain, humiliation, and degradation — the result of our brokenness. Yet we are called to look beyond that broken brutality to see the face of who we are created to be. We see the face of our God who loves us so much that Jesus became human so that we might see our perfected humanity. We see a God who loves us so much that he once again lifts up the very image of our fallen humanity and transforms it, so that we might gaze upon the Son of Humanity and be saved.

— Betsy Adams

Daily Readings for March 13: Psalm 119:49-72, 49, [53] Deuteronomy 9:13-21 Hebrews 3:12-19 John 2:23-3:15


TUESDAY, MARCH 12, 2019

Therefore, brothers and sisters, holy partners in a heavenly calling, consider that Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession, was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses also “was faithful in all God’s house.” Yet Jesus is worthy of more glory than Moses, just as the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself. (For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.) Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant, to testify to the things that would be spoken later. Christ, however, was faithful over God’s house as a son, and we are his house if we hold firm the confidence and the pride that belong to hope.

Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says,
“Today, if you hear God’s voice,
do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion,
    as on the day of testing in the wilderness,
where your ancestors put me to the test,
    though they had seen my works 10 for forty years.
Therefore I was angry with that generation,
    and I said, ‘They always go astray in their hearts,
    and they have not known my ways.’
As in my anger I swore,
    They will not enter my rest.’ ”
        — Hebrews 3:1-11

The audience in this text in Hebrews represents folks like us, followers of Jesus Christ. As in the days of the early Church, we are confronted all the time with distractions that can lead us away from God. The writer reminds us to stay focused on who Christ was as the Son over God’s house. In this way, we should focus on the ministry of Christ and consider how we can participate in that ministry. What talents or time do we have to offer God? How can we help in some type of ministry?

We are then encouraged in verse 7 to listen and actually hear God’s message if God reaches out to us. This may be hard for many of us to do, particularly if it’s not convenient, or if it doesn’t fit neatly into our current schedule or into the plans we may have created for our lives. Yet, history gives us plenty of examples of people not listening to God’s voice, and they never come out ahead. Can we avoid this mistake? Listening to God may be hard, but responding to what seems to be a whisper from God may be even more challenging for most of us.

A prayer we can make is for a sensitive ear to listen to God and a receptive heart to respond to God’s urging to participate in Christ’s ministry.

            — Gary Patterson

Daily Readings for March 12: Psalm 45, 47, 48; Deuteronomy 9:4-12; Hebrews 3:1-11; John 2:13-22


MONDAY, MARCH 11, 2019

Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God. — Deuteronomy 8:1

We have an old Arabic saying framed in our living room. The translation reads, “He who denies his heritage has no heritage.”

I think of this saying often, and did so immediately upon reading this verse. It is tempting, when we are doing well, to be proud, and to attribute our good fortune to our own ability and hard work. But really, all that we are, and all that we do, is in large part due to our heritage. I remind myself that we must always be grateful for the lessons we have learned — good and bad — from our ancestors.

While it might then be tempting to credit our ancestors and our earthly circle of influence with shaping us and guiding us, that, of course, wouldn’t be sufficient. It is God who gives us (and our ancestors and influencers, for that matter) the abilities and strength that lead us to success. Without God, we would be nothing, and we would have nothing.

It is so incredibly easy, in the chaotic bustle of today, to forget the power and the grace of God. Let us remember, and let us be grateful.

            — Sarah Albert

Daily Lectionary Readings for March 11: Psalm 41, 52, 44; Deuteronomy 8:11-20; Hebrews 2:11-18; John 2:1-12


SUNDAY, MARCH 10, 2019

“…Grant that in all our troubles we may put our whole trust and confidence in thy mercy, and evermore serve thee in holiness and pureness of living, to thy honor and glory; through our only Mediator and Advocate, Jesus Christ our Lord.” (from the Great Litany, BCP pg. 133)

This excerpt from the Great Litany invites us to call upon the name of Christ, just as Paul advised the Romans in his epistle. There are so many temptations around us each and every day, and unlike Jesus, who resisted temptation in the desert, we likely find ourselves lured in the wrong direction by our own vices in ways that leave us feeling separated from the God who created and loves us just as we are.

Since moving to St. Petersburg, I have often used Waze, a map application on my phone, to help me find my way around. I completely trust its directions, and it has never left me feeling lost. Relying on this app has made me think about my confidence in God’s mercy. Do I live as if I fully trust God’s love and guidance?

On this first Sunday in Lent, take a deep breath and remember that Christ is with us even when we seem to be walking in the wrong direction. This Lent, may we continually turn to God and trust that God’s love is guiding each of us in the way of truth, for ourselves and for serving Christ in all that we do.

            — The Rev. Paige Hanks

Daily Lectionary Readings for March 10: Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16; Deuteronomy 26:1-11; Romans 10:8b-13; Luke 4:1-13


Saturday, March 9, 2019

I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. — Phillippians 4:12

A spiritual journey “having little and having much” is an ebb and flow for me. I have indeed known times of extreme want and times of extreme plenty. Both events I have chosen to witness with gratitude. There have been deserts and periods of barren territory that have filled me with moments of despair; many I have selected as my badge rather than them selecting me.

When I have found myself at my lowest, I am lifted up. I have received gifts of spirit in human and divine forms. I get made “whole” even at the time I want that least because God says “you will be filled up.” Some of the smallest moments are those of biggest grace. God can be found in the quiet, peaceful places; the sad and heartbreaking places; and the places where thousands of people are.

God’s grace is mystical and magical, and my needs are satisfied so I can easily give it back as a God-child, and receive it freely from another.

            — Neal Ward

Daily Lectionary Readings for March 9: Psalm 30,32,42,43; Ezekiel 39:1-4,25-32; Philippians 4:10-20; John 17:20-26


FRIDAY, MARCH 8, 2019

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 3:12

  We are very familiar with the language in the last sentence of this passage, as it mirrors the blessing at communion. (BCP 339). Our catechism tells us that prayer is responding to God, by thought and by deeds, with or without words.  (BCP 856). An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church indicates that we can pray through words, acts, or silence. Any act or activity offered to God in a spirit of dedication may be prayerful, such as offering ourselves in oblation. We address God in prayers of adoration, petition, penitence, intercession, praise, and thanksgiving. Some prayers are in the form of listening, as in contemplative, meditative, or centering prayer. There are many ways to pray, but our catechism tells us that there are seven principal kinds of prayer and defines them for us (BCP 857). We can be creative in prayer individually, and we can unite with our faith community in corporate worship. There are many ways to the peace of God.

            — Susan Churuti

Daily Lectionary Readings for March 8: Psalm 95, 31, 35; Ezekiel 18:1-4, 25-32; Philippians 4:1-9; John 17:9-19


Thursday, March 7, 2019

Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. — Philippians 3:12

Have you ever been on a long journey and begun to wonder if you would ever get there: “Are we there yet?” I have experienced that several times, but most definitely on a trip from Los Angeles to Melbourne, Australia several years ago that lasted almost 15 hours. I indeed got there, even though it took a long time.

However, Paul, in his letter to the Philippians (3:12-21), speaks about his journey to reach the perfection of God through Jesus and exhorts the Philippians to do the same: “I have not yet arrived. My journey is not complete. I am not complete. God still has work to do.” He makes it clear that, while we are still on the earth, our Christian journey toward the “high calling of God in Christ Jesus” can never be fully realized, but we must constantly strive for it. He warns that it may be a difficult course and might require perseverance and discipline.

He tells us that if we are going to press on toward the goal before us, we cannot keep looking behind. There is no profit in agonizing over what has happened in the past; berating ourselves for some act in our past is not moving forward. The past should not drag us down nor should it ever be used as an excuse for not continually moving forward. Complimenting ourselves for what we have achieved or feeling that we have arrived is not moving forward. Christians should not live in the past, but with an eye to the future.

Paul is encouraging all of us to join him in pressing on in our walk in faith. We have not yet arrived, but we must fix our eyes on the goal and strive in God’s strength to reach that for which we are called. We must never ever consider turning back. There is no level of attainment that is high enough; there is no level of attainment so high that we are allowed to slack off in our journey.

We, just like Paul, are awaiting the day when we will fully know Christ Jesus our Lord. A day when we will truly know the power of his resurrection because we will have experienced it for ourselves – a day when we are finally complete and have arrived.

            – Ray McColgan

Daily Readings for March 7: Psalm 37:1-18, 19-42; Habbakuk 3:1-10 (11-15), 16-18, Philippians 3:12-21, John 17:1-8 


ASH WEDNESDAY, MARCH 6, 2019

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. — Hebrews 12:1

Today, the calendar reads Ash Wednesday — but Ash Wednesday is any day when our lot is cast with those who can no longer plan, set goals, have portfolios that secure a place in ordered society. Our lot is cast with those whose stars are no longer aligned, and the “cloud of witnesses” passing by the bus bench on which we are drawn into a self-protective heap are those who are feeling burdened by our social disarray.

Ash Wednesday is any day we know ourselves to be beyond mercy; any day we see that the full consequences of time have come. But we come, suppliants with outstretched hands, to receive grace. Those outstretched hands reveal our part in the order that builds walls, shuts doors, and disregards the wreckage caused by fiat. In those hands we bear the marks of our frailties, the inadequacies of our ideas, our halting willingness. We fear. Has our Lord’s forbearance reached an end?

Yet we come. We have no other hope. We have received mercy before. Perhaps again this Ash Wednesday, coming with downcast eyes and owning our burden of shame, we will receive a word — “seek the Lord and ye shall live.”

            Gabriele Stauf

Daily Readings for Ash Wednesday: Psalms 95, 32, 143, 102, 130; Amos 5:6-15; Hebrews 12:1-14; Luke 18:9-14