March 1st - Ash Wednesday

Just as the earth has a seasonal pattern of four seasons, the Episcopal church has a rhythm for our spiritual life by telling the story of God working through Jesus and the Holy Spirit throughout the year.  During Lent, we are invited to prepare for the celebration of Christ’s resurrection through by self-examination and repentance.

When I was growing up, there were times that my peers challenged each other’s devotion and religiousness by the presence of ashes on the forehead on Ash Wednesday. The bigger the smudge, the more pious one was.  It was a reverential competition.

As I read the lessons for Ash Wednesday, I almost hear Isaiah’s people saying “NOTICE me when I fast and when I humble myself to God”.  I hear Isaiah telling us to perform deeds not out of desire to be noticed, but to loosen bands of injustice, let the oppressed go free and share bread with the hungry.
In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus continues those ideas.  Jesus tells the listeners not to practice piety in front of others, but privately, personally, and tells us how to pray – what we now call the Lord’s Prayer.  It’s not about public demonstration of our commitment, but internal preparation of our spiritual life and activity supporting God’s message.

Ash Wednesday and the season of Lent is a time for us to clear our souls in preparation for the resurrected Lord.

I’m glad I’m past the stage of wanting to ask for a bigger ashen smudge to show my friends.  I look forward to repenting in our corporate community through the words of the Great Litany, preparing personally by examining my actions and turning back to Christ.

Join me in the observance of a holy Lent.

– Susan Nance


March 2nd

Let us adore the ever living God!
We render praise unto You,
who spread out the heavens
and established the earth,
whose glory is revealed in the heavens above,
and whose greatness
is manifest throughout the world.
You are our God;
there is none else.

March 3rd


Psalm 31
Prayer and Praise for Deliverance from Enemies To the leader. A Psalm of David.
1 In you, O Lord, I seek refuge;
do not let me ever be put to shame; in your righteousness deliver me.
2 Incline your ear to me; rescue me speedily.
Be a rock of refuge for me,
a strong fortress to save me.
3 You are indeed my rock and my fortress;
for your name’s sake lead me and guide me,
4 take me out of the net that is hidden for me, for you are my refuge.
5 Into your hand I commit my spirit;
you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God.

I had been thinking about this meditation for a few days and in the midst of this cancer ordeal, what I wanted to share. To be a light for the world, even my focused and relatively small world is a theme which keeps resounding. And today in church our Recessional Hymn was This Little Light of Mine and later, as I was browsing the BCP, I found this collect that we won’t use in 2017 (Lent starts after the 7th Sunday):

Eighth Sunday after the Epiphany
Most loving Father, whose will it is for us to give thanks for
all things, to fear nothing but the loss of you, and to cast all…….. our care on you who care for us: Preserve us from faithless
fears and worldly anxieties, that no clouds of this mortal life
may hide from us the light of that love which is immortal,
and which you have manifested to us in your Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the
Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

It seemed to be speaking to me as Psalm 31 did this week, and as the “primitive” sign in Renee’s bedroom did when I was diagnosed:
“God doesn’t give us what we can handle-God helps us handle what are given” (and in my case, helps me see the blessing that even brain cancer can be.)
Julie Reinhardt


March 4th



March 5th


This morning find a quiet place. Listen for the sounds of the earth awakening, and give thanks for your faith, family, and friends. Let go, and trust that our Lord will show us the way through this day.
– Len Reinhardt

March 6th


“Because Jesus himself was tested by what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested.” Hebrews 2:18

Jesus, the wounded healer. He was tested, wounded, suffered, and healed by God. He learned from his experiences and shared his wisdom with others. Through his experience, we share in his struggles and wisdom, and in the hope he offers.

We, too, are called to learn from our wounds and offer hope to others. The hope we offer may be through listening or sharing our story. But it is hope. How can we be an instrument of hope to our neighbors this week?

-Susan Nance


March 7th


The Daughers of the King chapter is beginning again and as we work through our discernment process and work toward taking a vow of dedication to prayer and service, we have discussed evangelism. The word itself is off-putting to some but needn’t be. We can make evangelism very personal in word and action…not preachy.
It seems that we naturally turn to God in times of great trial and also in times of great joy. We thank God for his protection and our blessings. Our hope is that we have developed a foundation of tremendous faith in God and knowledge of his teachings. In addition to that, surrounding ourselves with fellow believers helps us to remain strong and to share our joy.
Not everyone, with whom we interact however, is a believer. That is where we have the opportunity to share how we have seen personally, how God has touched our lives…in being there to protect us when we need strength and healing or in sharing our joy and gratefulness for life’s blessings. We can’t describe God completely but we can tell others what he has done for us. Don’t let the indescribable aspects of God’s greatness prevent you from telling others what you know about him. That is evangelizing.
– Carol Waters

March 8th



March 9th

For God so loved the world that He gave…He came down, put on our skin, lived among us in the darkness of this world and died for us, to bring us fully into His Light and Love.
May we, who by Grace have received this Love, be on the lookout for those who are afraid of being seen; those who are hiding in the shadows behind walls of guilt, shame, fear, hurt, anger… May we be willing to dive into their darkness with “this little light of ours” (Julie Reinhardt has me singing that song ).
The flame that we carry is our story, our testimony of Grace…”We once were lost, but now are found…we walked in darkness, but have seen the Light… and we are here to tell you, there is no need to fear”.
For God so love the world…that He gave…He came to where we were…and gave ALL that He had.
May God help us to share this Good News, our story, our testimony… and Light up our world!
-Mishelle Phillips

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March 15th

Psalm 120 or 121 or 123; Jeremiah 25:8-17; Romans
10:1-13; John 9:18-41

“From ghoulies and ghosties, long leggity beasties, and things that go bump in the night…good Lord deliver us.”
As a child, I was assured with this children’s poem almost every night that God would protect me. I found comfort in knowing that I was constantly in his sight. Of course, as I grew older, I checked to see just how vigilant God really was. I tested Him. God remained with me; He has always been faithful to me. I am very thankful that I was given the gift of God at a very early age. I cannot imagine the complete feeling of hopelessness expressed in the first verse of this psalm. I am always reminded that I can look up from my pit and reach out to the radiance of God. And he will always reach back… God’s love for us is more than I can ever understand. But, I can daily give thanks and praise that it is so.
Jessica Hege


March 16th



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Psalm 23
1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not be in want.

2 He makes me lie down in green pastures and leads me beside still waters.

3 He revives my soul and guides me along right pathways for his Name’s sake.

4 Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

5 You spread a table before me in the presence of those who trouble me; you have anointed my head with oil, and my cup is running over.

6 Surely your goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Lenten Reflection
I remember as a young child memorizing this psalm and reciting it each night before going to bed. I was taught that the simple, beautiful verses of perhaps the most memorable and cherished chapter of the Bible—full of honesty and optimism—have an almost magical power to comfort and calm—and to change your life. The psalm does not pretend that life is ever easy, but it offers a masterful guide to living in the world with faith and courage.

But I’m human and there have been times in my life when I have lost faith or lacked courage. Upon reflection, I think the faith I lost was in a certain childish conception of God, only to be replaced with a more mature relationship with God. Paul Tillich once said, “When I was 17 I believed in God. Now that I’m 70 I still believe in God, but not the same God.” Here’s my take on what Tillich is saying — A naïve conception of God is a God who is always there to protect us. As we mature in our spiritual journey, we tend to replace this conception with a more realistic understanding of a God who is there to help us through the difficult times in our lives. Notice the psalmist doesn’t say, “I will fear no evil because nothing bad ever happens in the world.” She says, “I will fear no evil because it doesn’t scare me because God is with me.”

Oh, and how about that awesome final line of the psalm, “I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” I think God is inviting us into a permanent relationship—much deeper and richly textured than just shepherd and sheep. It’s almost like we are living every moment of our day in God’s presence. I hope so. And thank God Easter is coming!

Bob Larson


March 19th



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March 22nd

On this day let us walk in the way of our Lord, and share his teachings with all that seek him. Let us be strong, for it is sometimes difficult to find the way in this world. And let us not be afraid of those that may judge us by human standards.
-Len Reinhardt

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April 5th


The Wisdom of Listening

Could you tell the difference between a thief and a true shepherd-just by their voice? In John 10, Jesus says that the true shepherd calls and guides each sheep by their own name. The sheep recognize His voice and follow Him, but run from the thief- simply because they don’t recognize his voice. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, wants to lead us to a rich and satisfying life. Listen and recognize His still small voice in your life, guiding you by name, when you aren’t sure which way to go or feel alone on your journey? Recognize His voice and follow it. You will be amazed at the difference.

John 10:1-18.
Robin Hensley


April 6th



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April 9th

Speaking TRUTH to POWER

Holy Week begins in a confrontation with the Temple authorities, moves to a confrontation with the Roman Empire authorities, and ends with God’s Authority. In today’s passage from Matthew 12:21-17, Jesus challenges the everyday practices in Temple at Jerusalem. Quite often, we focus on what Jesus did, turning tables over and the like. We must also focus on why he did it. Temple authorities wanted to ensure that sacrifices were carried out in obedience to the law. Jesus wanted the people to experience the love and healing power of God.

 

Instead of rituals and sacrifice to appease an angry God, Jesus put the emphasis on prayer and connecting directly with God. Temple authority was producing moneychangers and driving revenues from the sale of doves for sacrifice. Jesus’ authority was the prayerful opening of the eyes of the blind and healing the limbs of the lame.


April 10th

The POWER of Popularity

Today in the Gospel of John 12: 9-19 we find Jesus with Lazarus who he had raised from the dead. Lazarus was the living embodiment of the POWER of Divine Authority. When Jesus raised Lazarus, his credibility with the people was strengthened and the chief priests were hard pressed to provide an authority of equal magnitude. Healing the sick and raising the dead were clearly beyond their pay grade and hardly in their repertoire of options. The people believed that no one could raise the dead unless they were imbued with Divine POWER.

 

The resurrection of Lazarus only brought disgust and fear for the Pharisees and was perceived as a threat. They feared his growing popularity would undermine their authority and that his POWER could overwhelm them.


April 11th

The Secret of Divine POWER

In John 12:20-26 we discover the prerequisite for experiencing Divine POWER. It is surrender and humility. It contradicts our common sense and presents us with a “new normal,” God’s NORMAL.” Divine POWER is not for the proud, the bully or the clever. It is a gift to the “poor in spirit.” It is for the meek. Two people called meek in scripture are Moses and Jesus. The Pharaoh of Egypt couldn’t back Moses down and the Fifth Prefect of the Roman province of Judaea, Pontius Pilot, couldn’t back Jesus down. Clearly, meek doesn’t mean weak.

The power of the Empire was no match for God. The Divine POWER belongs to God and to those who humbly surrender and love God, seek first the Kingdom and for those who have become like a little child.


April 13th

Opening to Divine POWER

How to dwell in the direct experience of God’s LOVING POWER and be lead by God’s HOLY SPIRIT is a key theme in the 17th chapter of John’s Gospel. This chapter is often referred to as Jesus’ “high priestly prayer.” I personally think it is much more than “priestly.” It brings us to the heart of the Christ PRESENCING within us all. Its message is that God dwells in us and as we experience that indwelling we can indwell God.

 

Wow! Now that is important stuff in a world fraught with continual strife, violence and emotional turmoil. God never abandons us, but many of us abandon God. The Kingdom of God is within us and the Divine POWER is accessible 24/7. Prayer, especially contemplative prayer, holds the key to experiencing Divine POWER.


April 14th

What makes Friday GOOD?

How could a day with the arrest of an innocent man, followed by a mock trial, a merciless beating, followed by a brutal crucifixion be good? How could submission and forgiveness of one’s executioners demonstrate authority, let alone POWER? And yet, over two thousand years of history suggests just that. Billions of people over the centuries have believed that the greatest example of Divine POWER was set in motion that very day in that very way.

 

Through sorrow and tears, shouts and jeers, a drama of pain and suffering unfolded to manifest Divine LOVE, PEACE and JOY. It would reveal the POWER of transformation and resurrection. In John 19:38-42 Joseph of Arimathea and a Pharisee named Nicodemus initiated an early instance of PTSD (post traumatic stress death). They moved the body of Jesus from a cross to a tomb. What happened next changed the world for good. Hence forth, we have GOOD Friday.


April 15th

The POWER of Divine SILENCE

In the darkness of a tomb of death on that Holy last day of the week, the Divine SILENCE transformed the tomb of death and darkness into a womb of new life and resurrection. In Romans 8:1-11 the Apostle Paul summarizes the essence of Holy Week. In verses 5 and 6 Paul writes, “Those who live on the level of [their] lower nature and have their outlook formed by it…spells death: but those who live on the level of the spirit have the spiritual outlook, and that is life and peace.

 

Jesus said those who seek their life will lose it, but those who lose their life for my sake will find it. The Mystery of Easter is learning to die to our ego self and be resurrected to our “Image of God self.” Now that is REAL POWER. That is ETERNAL LIFE.