Pastor’s Corner (2/18/2021)
To pray, I think, does not mean to think about God in contrast to thinking about other things or to spend time with God instead of spending time with other people. Rather, it means to think and live in the presence of God. All our actions must have their origin in prayer. Praying is not an isolated activity, it takes place in the midst of all the things and affairs that keep us active. In prayer a self-centered monologue becomes a God-centered dialogue.
One of my favorite stage plays made into an award-winning movie is “Fiddler on the Roof.” The main character is a milkman named Tevye. Throughout the show he has an ongoing dialogue with God in which he shares all the joys and concerns of his life. Of course, we only hear one side of the dialogue, but one has the distinct impression that God is an active part of the conversation. I thought of Tevye as I read the above quote from the final chapter of the book The Holy Longing: The Search for a Christian Spirituality by Ronald Roheiser. This passage came in the final chapter entitled “Sustaining Ourselves in the Spiritual Life.”
As we begin the season of Lent, we are invited to be more intentional about deepening and sustaining our spiritual life. Here at FCC we will be doing a number of things with these goals in mind. Unlike last year, this season of Lent will look a bit different. Last year we were able to begin the season in the usual way with in-person worship here at FCC and with other Lincoln DOC congregations by gathering for evening worship at SouthPointe. Unexpectedly, all our plans came to a screeching halt in mid-March when we had to suspend in-person activities, like worship, due to the onset of COVID-19. I suspect I have not been the only one to have animated conversations with God about all that has happened during this past year. As we continue to struggle during these unprecedented times we, like Tevye and Rolheiser, are invited to go deeper into dialogue with God. We are invited to “…think and live in the presence of God.” As Rolheiser so powerfully points out: “Praying is not an isolated activity, it takes place in the midst of all the things and affairs that keep us active.”
During these unprecedented times, as we make our way through the season of Lent, we are invited into a prayerful way of being. There are ways that we can nurture this thinking and living in the presence of God. We do this weekly as we gather for worship, whether in person or virtually. We also nurture this sense of living in the presence of God through daily devotion which is supported by use of our daily devotional “Go to Jerusalem.” We also invite your participation in the weekly Lenten Zoom study which will rely on lessons from “The Wired Word.” These are a few of the ways in which we will be invited to think and live in the presence of God. Undoubtedly, you also have your own ways of resting in God’s presence.
May this Lenten season, even and especially in the midst of pandemic, empower all of us to nurture a deeper and more enriching dialogue with God. Hopefully, we will grow in our ability to think and live in the presence of God during all aspects of our lives.
In hope and love,