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Pastor’s Pen

“For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day and consecrated it.” Exodus 20:11

         Yesterday the storm surge at high tide broke the barriers at Long Sands Beach, hurling rocks the size of fists at unsuspecting cars. I went there, turned back by one of our local police officers who must surely have thought the string of us looky-loos had enough sense to avoid being creamed by flying rocks. The sight of waves crashing over the road is at once thrilling and terrifying. We can’t NOT look, in awe at the unleashed power of an angry sea.

         I suspect we’re drawn to the intensity of such potential disaster, in part because it makes our own lives seem less anxious, more, well normal. We may be struggling to resolve some tangled issue, but at least we’re not losing our house to the sea, or so the logic goes.

         It’s not just the winter sea at high tide that stirs our soul. On this Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent for Christians, we respond to God’s invitation to find our rest in the Holy One who desires our greatest good. We engage habits of faith intended to free us from anxiety and worry: a prayer walk through the wintery landscape, a reading of the Psalms at the kitchen table before the stirring of the house, an eager gathering for Sunday worship.

         The journey of Lent begins with a reflection on that which makes us anxious, and then responding to God’s call to Sabbath as a way to resist the frantic activity that oppresses our greatest joy. If Lent sneaked up on you this year, take a moment to consider the words of retired Professor of Biblical studies Walter Brueggemann who wrote that in the Ten Commandments we see, “The odd insistence of the God of Sinai to counter anxious productivity with committed neighborliness.”

         In other words, if you are feeling anxious, call a friend and go for a walk or share a cup of tea. You’re not meant to bear your burden alone. Abstain from the tendency to hold it all inside. God loves you and is with you, even in this.

Prayer: God grant me a resting place in this storm of life, remembering that there is no rest, until I rest in you. Amen

God’s grace, mercy and peace be with you,

Pastor Verlee