Archive for February, 2013

Lent: Become Aware

Dear Beloved Kindred,

Lent is a favorite season of mine, as I hear it is for many of you. It offers such contrast: comfort and challenge, freedom and struggle, sweetness and the lack thereof (if you’re one of “those” who insists on giving up chocolate). ┬áIt reminds me of the prayers of Walter Brueggemann which are all at once, lovely and hard. In his book, Prayers for Privileged People, he invites those of us born into some privilege, to a life of reflection, yielding and glad obedience. Glad obedience — not words you often see together and yet, when this Old Testament scholar makes a case for it based on his life-long study of the Hebrew texts, you can understand and go along for the ride. He offers the following prayer for the State of the Union which I will need when I tune in and am confronted with the rancor of our political system (no matter which station you choose to watch it on).

We will watch and listen tonight for the State of the Union message:
We will hear as the Sergeant of Arms says dramatically, “Mr. Speaker, the President of the United States.”
We will watch the choreographed procession down the aisle with much backslapping, applause, and good humor;
We will all be there:
the leading military people, the chief justice, the senate leader, the house leader, no doubt a few momentary “heroes” in the balcony.
We will listen to hear that the union is in good shape:
the war is being won; the economy is coming back; migrants are facing new rigors; unemployment is down.
There will be much applause–and we will be glad for such political performance.

Except, of course, we know better.
For this is not an assembly of the union, this is a gathering of “the suits,” the men–and some women who have good educations and even better connections.
It is a meeting of wealth, and entitlement, and privilege.
We will watch and notice with some wistfulness all of those who are absent from the meeting:
the poor who lack voice, the pensioners who lack health coverage, the unemployed who lack benefits, the gays who still live under threat,
the victims of disasters who still need our help, the prisoners who live at the very edge of their constitutional rights.
We will embrace the buoyancy of the speech with gladness and with great dis-ease, because we know better.
We know better because our Lord has told us about
the lame and the blind, the hungry, the homeless, the poor,
the prisoners, the ones who thirst.
And we are in touch, by our baptism, with them.

We hope and pray and work for a more perfect union,
a binding of all by dignity and security and well-being, and less binding by money and connections and power.

Our Lord is so weak and so foolish and so poor, and yet he is our Savior.
We are pulled apart by our double awareness of self-satisfaction and dis-ease.
We submit to your goodness our vexed lives that we cannot resolve.
Give us honesty and openness that we may become aware of the true state of our union. Amen.

On this week leading into Lent, we might do well to read the lectionary gospel lesson of Luke 4:1-13 where Jesus is tempted in the wilderness to gain power, prestige, political will. Let us remember that his reign is not the same as any one nation’s, his will is not that of any one party or government, his kingdom is unlike any we have seen, and because that is so, we pray for the honesty and openness to become aware of the true state of our union and for the strength to work for a more perfect union.

Join us on Ash Wednesday (Feb. 13) as we begin our Lenten pilgrimage reflecting on the wisdom of those who make a literal pilgrimage on The Way of St. James. We’ll watch the movie The Way together followed by the imposition of ashes.

Shalom, revkelly

A Pinch of Salt is an occasional, devotional mailing from East Longmeadow UMC. Anyone is welcome to join the POS e-group. Just send the office your email address (office@elumc.org). If you wish to have your name removed, let the office know.



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