Updated: Mar 6
“Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted...” (Luke 4:1-2a)
We begin our Lenten journey together having made the decision to spend time, deliberate time, with the One who first walked into the wilderness of the human experience in order to bring us into the Light of God’s Kingdom. Prayerfully, each step we take on this journey will lead us into a deeper relationship with God and with one another. Each week of this journey we will have the opportunity to read the thoughts of different members of our church family, as they share a part of their personal journey, a part of their relationship with the One who gives us everything. In this way, we will be walking on this journey together; this journey called Lent. Come, let us walk together...
This Week's Breath Prayer: “You are my refuge, Lord. I will trust in you.”
A DEVOTION FROM FRED THOMAS
Lent. Forty days, starting Ash Wednesday and ending Maundy Thursday, symbolizing the 40 days that Jesus spent fasting in the wilderness.
I’m supposed to give up something, right? What will it be this year? Coffee? Alcohol? Cussing? The internet? My afternoon nap?
Those would all present some measure of difficulty. But they would be easy-peasy next to this. I’m going to attempt to give up indifference to injustice. And I’m going to invite you to join me.
Is it possible that, while loving and celebrating the sisters and brothers who are members and regular attendees at Milford First, I have forgotten or ignored those who could be here – even want to be here – and aren’t? Is it possible that we are also guilty of this as a church?
Can it be that some children of God are even deliberately excluded from full acceptance into God’s house based on factors over which they have absolutely no control? Have I been complicit in allowing this to happen? Have we all?
When I am indifferent to injustice, I am violating Christ’s command to love my neighbor. That’s not the person that Christ created me to be. When a Christian church discriminates, it becomes a social club. That’s not the church that Christ created us to be.
I can do better. With God’s help, I will.
We can do better. With God’s help, we will.
A DEVOTION FROM OPAL YOUNG
“In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” (Proverbs 3:6)
Fellow travelers, I urge you to post this verse where you will see and read it every morning. I believe God will bless your journey through life.
When I was a child there was a boulder, a large rock, near my house. I chose this rock for a place to pray in my times of need. It was a place of comfort. I would also ask God to give me “stuff.” In my childish ways, I would even ask God to “make my mother give me permission to make candy.”
Today we laugh about those requests. Even so, I am thankful for my journey with Jesus on this solid Rock.
A PRAYER: Dear Lord, “your Word is a lamp unto my feet and a Light unto my path.” We sing, "Amen!"
A DEVOTION FROM BILLIE SUE JONES
"For complete healing, you need to spend some time in silence." These words from my voice therapist (Dr. Steve Gorman) started me on the path toward my most exciting and inspirational life experience with God.
After my family and friends finished laughing about my ability to be silent for even a day, I committed to one week of total silence. The questions “Where?” “When?” and “How?” were answered smoothly. My rented cabin on Cumming Lake in Canada was the perfect place, and fall was the perfect time. God led me to the book Time Away, a guide for a week spent with God in silence and solitude that provided scripture readings, suggested outdoor activities, prayer time, rest time and a daily activity looking back at my life, concentrating on God’s presence. So I packed a week’s supply of food, my clothes, my kayak, made some coke-can alarms (there were no locks on the doors), and set out for a week alone with no radio, television or phone service. A can of bear spray would be my only constant companion. Seeing me kayaking or hiking daily reassured my neighbor (and family) that I was alive and well. My silence began on Friday evening.
Throughout the week, I gathered rocks, pine cones, feathers, etc., making a centerpiece around my candle in the center of the coffee table. A black bear spent every evening lying next to my cabin eating apples from my tree. Every morning and evening I enjoyed the plaintive cries of the loons (my favorite birds). The sun rose and set over the lake, and the brilliant reds, oranges, yellows and burgundies of the leaves in high color – the joy in God’s creation was overwhelming.
Kayaking has always been a spiritual experience for me, and as the only person boating on the beautiful three mile lake in the north woods, I felt a magical connection with God, the earth and the water. When Friday came back around, I didn’t want to leave this spiritual place.
The main focus of the program was to take stock of when in my life I had felt God’s presence or absence. The guidebook led me to take stock of my life through six steps, which are detailed below. I chronicled the important events of my life, divided them into chronological “chapters,” and categorized them by ups and downs, times of grace and times of brokenness. As I worked through the process, I realized I was blessed to find God with me all the time. At the end, the title of my life story was Joy in the Morning, taken from Psalm 30: "weeping may linger for the night but joy comes with the morning." I continue to ponder the penultimate question of the book: "What is God seeking to say to the world through my life?"
As you go through Lent, I encourage you to take a few hours of silence once a week to work through each of these steps:
List the important events in your life
Group the events into sections by age (mine ranged from 3 to 8 years)
Name each section as a chapter of your life (mine included “chaos” “joyful living”)
Make two columns: “Signs of Grace” and “Times of Brokenness and Pain”. Write the events in each chapter that fit one of the columns. Identify the times that you felt God’s presence. (GWM: God With Me)
Name your life story.
Write your answer to “What is God seeking to say to the world through my life?”
The next year, I faced one of the most difficult times of my life: a diagnosis of Stage 3B Melanoma, facing a year of interferon treatment (feeling like the flu every day), with a 50 percent chance of living five years. That was 2011. I know God used my week of silence to remind me that He has always been present throughout my life and will walk with me through the rest.
A DEVOTION FROM DENISE BURGESS
The time of Lent invites us to prepare our hearts and minds for remembering Jesus’ death and resurrection. For me, the beautiful artwork of this church helps me to focus and remember.
Due to the pandemic, I have not worshiped in person for nearly two years. While I am very much thankful for the opportunity to worship online; I have missed you all and the wonderful feeling of comfort and peace I feel when sitting in our sanctuary. I dug out these photos recently, taken many years ago for a Missions Calendar.
Let the beauty of the stained glass help you to pause and take the time to be inspired by the life of Jesus the Christ – and to remember His resurrection.
A PRAYER: Dear God, help us accept and give us an understanding of the depth of the sacrifice that was made to atone for our sin so we may fall more in love with you and others, to grasp who we are and who we shall become. In Peace, Amen.
A DEVOTION FROM MARGE SUMNER
Our sunroom is my favorite room. It's a place of light where I read, paint, or just sit still.
I feel close to our family surrounded by their photos. I'm working on our granddaughter Olivia's requested painting of her bird house and bluebirds.
Especially in winter, this room comforts me. I look out at all the birds at their feeders, the nearby woods, and my sleeping shade garden. In the garden the green of hollies, ferns, and early blooming lenten roses reminds me of God's faithfulness. My spirit finds daily renewal from all the stress of our busy lives in this peaceful place.