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Wednesday Lent Devotion -- March 25th

I walked into church past Sunday morning to make sure that we had correctly overridden the signal for the furnaces to automatically kick in and heat up the church. It was dark and quiet. As I made my way up to the front of the church look at the thermostat, I found myself drawn to the Christ figure on the altar. It was then that I had an overpowering feeling to apologize to Jesus. “I apologize that you’re alone today, Lord. I apologize that the heat won’t warm you up on this day. I am sorry that the lights won’t be turned on, and the clavinova won’t belt out a great hymn or three. I apologize that your children won’t be filling up the church and singing out your praises this morning.” I know it sounds kind of funny, but I know how much our Lord loves our Sunday gatherings. I know in heaven he rejoices that we come together to praise him and bless one another. I know he loves that we confess our sins, accept his grace, and promise to do our best in the coming week. I know he misses this as much as we missed gathering this past Sunday. But I also know that Jesus knows what its like to be alone and can handle it. I know that after a wonderful and intimate meal with his disciples on Maundy Thursday, he later found himself all alone. He was alone after his arrest and when he was brought into a hostile environment before his judges. I know Jesus was alone all that night. And on Friday, I can only imagine how the loneliness grew as he was taken before Pilate and received his death sentence. None of his children there to help him through the time. And, I know Jesus experienced the worst of all feelings of aloneness on the cross, as in this dark and cold despair he cried out, “My God, my God, why have even you forsaken me?” Jesus knows all about being alone while living through a dark and frightening future. Or does he? On Maundy Thursday, he spent hours by himself in prayer (even though he had asked James, John and Peter to pray with him), and in the course of that intense time with his Father, he ended up saying, “If you are willing, remove this cup form me; yet, not my will but yours be done.” – Jesus was not alone for any part of Maundy Thursday, he knew his father was there. On Good Friday facing such brutal treatment and left on the cross to die, he cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Yet, his words of aloneness gave way, a short time later, when, as he felt his life ending, he said, “Father, into your hands I commend my Spirit.” It might have appeared Jesus was alone at the cross, but he was not – his Father had him all the time. We have now entered a new phase in this Covid-19 crisis. We have been asked to shelter at home. We are – and for good reason – asked not to gather as a community for the time being. I know many of you may be feeling lonely and a bit lost, separated from your friends and community of faith. I know the news from all angles seems to be dark, darker and darkest. In the isolation, this darkness always seems worse. But remember this – WE ARE NOT ALONE. We are not any more alone than Jesus was during Holy Week. The times might have been dark and he might not have had his community around him, but he was NOT alone. God was with him and despite the disciples failure, I have no doubt they were praying for their Savior. Not alone. Separated for a time, yes, but not alone. A grandfather was once walking through the woods with his five-year-old grandson. As they walked deeper and deeper into the woods, they lost sight of the farm house. Despite the unfamiliar surroundings and the little boy having no concept of where they were, he didn’t appear to be frightened at all. The grandfather decided to see if his grandson feeling as safety was as it appeared. When they came to a three way split in the path, the grandfather asked his grandson, “Which way do we go now: left, right or straight?” The little boy, in a very matter of fact way, replied, “I don’t know.” “You don’t know? It sounds then like you’re lost?” replied Grandpa. “No,” smiled the boy, who then came up and grabbed hold of his Grandfather’s hand, “I’m with you.” “I’m with you.” That is Jesus’ message for all of us today. We are not alone. Reach out, take hold of his hand and trust your Father in heaven will lead you safely home. God’s blessings you precious children of God. ~ Pastor Dan P.S. A while back I asked everyone to do the breath prayer which draws a person closer to Christ. The way to do that is by taking a slow deep breath in through your nose and as you do, in your mind, here Jesus says to you, “Your name, my beloved child.” Then slowly let your breath out and hear Jesus say, “I love you.” Steve and Kennlyn Vernier have changed their breath prayer recently to “Name, by beloved child ... I got you.” That seems so appropriate right now. Give it a try!

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