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A Season of Lent in Prayer

A Season of Lent in Prayer

I came cross this recent reflection on the nature of answered prayer by Virginia Ramey Molenkott in Speech, Silence, Action! She shares:

“Most of the discussion of prayer I had ever heard centered on whether God answers prayer and how we can know that God does. But during the past decade I have come to believe that prayer is not a matter of my calling in an attempt to get God’s attention, but of my finally listening to the call of God, which has been constant, patient, and insistent in my inner being. In relationship to God, I am not the seeker, the initiator, the one who loves more greatly. In prayer, as in the whole salvation story unfolded by Scripture, God is reaching out to me, speaking to me, and it is up to me to learn to be polite enough to pay attention. When I do have something to say to God, I am rendering a response to the divine initiative. So the question of whether or not and how God answers prayer now seem to me bogus questions. God speaks, all right. The big question is do I answer, do I respond, to an invitation that is always open.”

 This moves us more from a discipline or spiritual exercise to an answer of the call. Prayer might simply be something we do each day to offer our insights on the world that God created, rather than pausing to listen with intent to the One who is the Initiator. Maybe this Lenten season we will not be discerning how many prayers God answers for us but how we might answer God’s prayer.

The Psalmist writes: “What are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them?” (Psalm 8:4)  As we explore what it means to be a member of the body of Christ – the church – may we also discover the call God offers to us to be part of the larger Christian community and the prayer that God is reaching out to us through Jesus Christ – the head of the church!

Posted by David Brown with

Parson to Person

Parson to Person

Dear Friends at Armstrong Chapel,

Sometimes in the wee hours of the night when sleep escapes me, I read a book that I keep near on a bedside table.  It has to have several qualities.  (1) It must not be too involved to read late at night;  (2) It must have print which is easy to read;  (3) It must be light enough to hold above me and catch the glimmer of a small lamp.  The book I’m currently enjoying is The Wind in the Willows by a Scotsman, Kenneth Grahame.  Over the years, I have seen it referenced but never picked it up.  It is classified as “Children’s’ Literature” but it surely is replete with adult themes.  It was composed 110 years ago but is timeless.  It is peopled by animals such as Mr. Toad, Ratty, Badger and Mole. 

 Last night I read a page in chapter 9, entitled “Wayfarers All.”  It reminded me of friends in Ohio and other points north who go to great lengths to enjoy fairer climes.  There is even a text for this spirit of adventure found in Hebrews 11.  In The Message it reads, “…they accepted the fact that they were transients in this world.  People who live this way make it plain that they are looking for their true home.”

Grahame writes, “Nature’s Grand Hotel has its Season, like the others.  As the guests one by one pack, pay, and depart, and the seats at the table d’hote shrink pitifully at each succeeding meal; as suites of rooms are closed, carpets taken up, and waiters sent away; those boarders who are staying on, en pension, until the next year’s full reopening, cannot help being somewhat affected by all these flitting’s and farewells, the eager discussion of plans, routes and fresh quarters, this daily shrinkage in the stream of comradeship.  One gets unsettled, depressed, and inclined to be querulous.  Why not stay on quietly here, like us, and be jolly?  You don’t know this hotel out of the season, and what fun we have among ourselves, we fellows who remain and see the whole interesting year out.  All very true, no doubt, the others always reply; we quite envy you – and some other year perhaps – but just now we have engagements – and there’s the bus at the door – our time is up!  So they depart, with a smile and a nod, and we miss them, and feel resentful.  The Rat was a self-sufficing sort of animal, rooted to the land, and, whoever went, he stayed; still, he could not help noticing what was in the air, and feeling some of its influence in his bones.”    

Love, hope and  prayers,
Stanley Lawrence

Posted by Stan Lawrence with

I Am A Church Member

Lent begins on February 14th, Ash Wednesday, and runs through Easter Sunday, April 1st. No intentional plan with the secular calendar can be responsible for this year’s Christian Calendar. Ash Wednesday, the day we mark our humanity and need for spiritual practices in holy living, coincides with Valentine’s Day. This typical secular day of romantic love notes and chocolates should well be overshadowed by the love the Father has offered creation in sending the gift of Jesus Christ. The resurrection of Jesus is no fool’s day surprise on April 1st.

We started this year with the stewardship theme of “I’m In.” This commitment to partner in the work of the church is central to the vitality of spreading the message of the gospel and offering folks a community of redemptive love. The Lenten small group study and sermon series will help us better apply our promise and strengthen the “I’m In” vision.

I Am a Church Member discusses the attitudes and responsibilities of church members. Author Tom Rainer addresses in detail what congregations should really be focusing on — praying for church leaders, being a functioning member, treasuring church membership, and more.

Six chapters will help to guide the discussions and reflections: 

  1. I Will Be a Unifying Church     Member
  2. I Will Not Let the Church Be About My Preferences and Desires
  3. I Will Pray for My Church Leaders
  4. I Will Lead My Family to Be Healthy Church Members
  5. I Will Be a Functioning Member
  6. I Will Treasure Church Membership as a Gift

 Participate in the worship services starting February 18th. Join a small group or contact Pastor Kathleen to launch a group that fits your schedule and needs.

“Following Jesus involves far more than believing; it involves BELONGING. Only as we belong to Christ’s Body can we become what He intends us to be. In fact, it is impossible to grow to spiritual maturity by yourself. You must be connected to the other parts of the Body. This wonderful little book explains the power of belonging...”—Rick Warren, Pastor, Saddleback Church 

 Copies of the book are available at the Connect Desk in the Atrium or from your favorite online book retailer.

Posted by David Brown with

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