I have been enjoying watching the Winter Olympics the past couple of weeks. Most nights I am able to catch an hour or so if I skip the 10 PM news. The half-pipe, downhill skiing, figure skating, and ice dancing I have watched thus far … and thoroughly enjoyed. Probably because I could never see myself doing any of these sports!
No, this morning I am hardly interested in skating or sliding to my car on the thin layer of whatever that is that came down in the night. No, I am content to sit inside, hot tea in hand, and ponder a bit.
My mug of choice today is one from a Starbucks in Seoul, Korea, in the summer of 2006. I was on a seminary immersion trip to China and Korea when this mug and another from Starbucks in Beijing, China, were purchased as gifts for my husband, the coffee connoisseur.
I remember parts of that trip as if we had been there yesterday. How my claustrophobia kicked in when we landed at the airport in China … so many people! Everywhere. How I got through two weeks without communicating with my husband by phone or email. How the Koreans long for peace and reconciliation for their people. All people.
I wonder if the Olympians, their coaches, and fans are experiencing the gracious and generous hospitality of the Korean people. Will they be moved to consider their own ways of welcome?
I wonder if, amidst the practices and competitions, they have seen the beauty of the peninsula … in the mountain, the architecture, in the people … and recognize that life is far different in the north.
And I wonder if those of us who have not experienced separation from family and homeland, brought about by outside forces, can fully comprehend the pain, the loss, the longing for reunion.
Just some of the thoughts twirling around in my head today.
Welcoming Reconciling God, help us to put ourselves in another’s shoes and ask the deeper questions … Why? How? When? Amen.
. Grace and peace … --Pastor Pat
Each week I receive an email reflection from The Fellowship of United Methodists in Music and Worship Arts. I was delighted to learn details from Catherine Stapleton Nance, Director of Music Ministries at St. John's UMC in Aiken, SC, about a traditional Lenten hymn we are singing today. I am happy to share portions of it here.
Lord, Who Throughout These Forty Days, #269 UMH.
The text of this hymn is fascinating considering its origin as a children’s devotion. The text doesn’t say those forty days but rather these forty days, highlighting the continued relevance of Christ’s wilderness journey, retelling the story of the journey, and relating it to our own journey of faith.
Consider this prayer-structured text and its retelling of the events of Jesus’ wilderness journey. Does God need the story recounted? Certainly not! I believe God loves to hear us recount the narrative, lest we forget. … The first phrase of stanzas 1 through 3 of this hymn narrates Jesus’ trials. The second phrase of all of the stanzas contains a prayer to guide us as we follow Jesus’ path during Lent.
1. Lord, who throughout these forty days for us did fast and pray, teach us with you to mourn our sins and close by you to stay.
2. As you with Satan did contend, and did the victory win,O give us strength in you to fight, in you to conquer sin.
3. As you did hunger and did thirst, so teach us, gracious Lord, to die to self, and so to live by your most holy Word.
4. And through these days of penitence, and through your Passiontide, forevermore, in life and death, O Lord, with us abide.
5. Abide with us, that through this life of doubts and hope and pain, an Easter of unending joy we may at last attain!
"Lord, Who Throughout These Forty Days," United Methodist Hymnal 269. Text from Claudia F. Hernaman, Child's Book of Praise: A Manual of Devotion in Simple Verse (1873).
Do you presently feel “sent” into the wilderness? Take these forty days of Lent and ask God what lessons you need to learn.
Grace and peace … --Pastor Pat
I can’t be sure, but it seems that cabin fever may have set in here at the Norris household. Arapahoe and Xian have been begging their Mom and Papa to take them for walks … whether the wind is blowing from the north or the south. Arapahoe, especially, will push her nose underneath your hand or arm to get your attention … as if to say, Mom, quit doing what you’re doing and pay attention to me!
Mr. Pat has been trying new soup recipes, and we have found some new favorites. He has also been checking out the seed catalogs, and just yesterday placed an order for all new garden seeds. Some are new varieties. Some are the old, tried and true. No doubt, he’ll have his best garden ever! Seed catalogs and cookbooks can help the winter days go faster.
Speaking of books, with the deadline looming for year-end statistical tables, I am three books behind in reading for the seventh session of Two-Year Academy which begins this week. Ugh.
And apparently today I have writer’s block because I’ve been at this for over an hour. And today … It is Just. So. Difficult.
Some days are like that. Is it cabin fever? Is it boredom? Or something else? Seems like a good time to quit what I am doing. And don my hiking boots. And go with Arapahoe and Xian and their Papa for a walk on the prairie. And pay attention to the wind.
Soul Whisperer, may we hear you and feel you in the wind. Help us to pay attention to the nudges and noses in our lives. Amen.
Grace and peace … --Pastor Pat
Pastor Pat Norris
Something to Ponder is by Pastor Pat and is printed on the back of the bulletin each week.