Mid Week Reflections

Mid-week reflections with Pastor Heather
April 8th, 2020
Friends, it is Holy Week and this is your mid-week email.  This will definitely be a Holy Week to remember.  I am certain the church has never celebrated like this before, each one locked within their own homes, each one living in fear for their health and the health of those they love.  These are surely trying times.  What does it mean for us to ponder the suffering and death of our Lord while living in a world crushed by a pandemic?  This is the question swirling around in my mind.  And as a Pastor, how do I lead the people of God through a time like this while we tell our familiar story of death and resurrection?  In this strange season everything seems to take on a new significance.
This week’s Psalm is Psalm 116:1-2,12-19:
I love the Lord, because he has heard
   my voice and my supplications.
Because he inclined his ear to me,
   therefore I will call on him as long as I live.

What shall I return to the Lord
   for all his bounty to me?
I will lift up the cup of salvation
   and call on the name of the Lord,
I will pay my vows to the Lord
   in the presence of all his people.
Precious in the sight of the Lord
   is the death of his faithful ones.
O Lord, I am your servant;
   I am your servant, the child of your serving-maid.
   You have loosed my bonds.
I will offer to you a thanksgiving sacrifice
   and call on the name of the Lord.
I will pay my vows to the Lord
   in the presence of all his people,
in the courts of the house of the Lord,
   in your midst, O Jerusalem.
Praise the Lord!
This is the Psalm for Maundy Thursday, the night Jesus gathered with the disciples in the upper room and shared with them the Last Supper.  It is also a Psalm for thanksgiving for recovery from an illness.  What messages of hope do you find in it today?
I notice that in the first verses the Psalmist is clear that they love the Lord because God has heard their cries.  Personally, I think it is so much easier to continue our prayers when we have a sense that they are being heard.  When we feel like God is listening, we are more ready to tell God our hopes and dreams.  When we feel neglected and alone it is much harder to pray.
I also notice that the Psalmist longs to respond to the gifts of the Lord.  They say that God has given them a bounty.  This too I can connect with.  Even though these days are difficult I have never felt so blessed as I do now.  I am so thankful for our home, our health, and our financial security.  I am thankful that my parents live nearby and I am able to care for them by doing their shopping.  I am thankful my kids are (fairly) well behaved so I can work from home.  I am thankful for heat and air conditioning, a comfortable place to sleep, and enough (too much) food to eat.  I have counted more blessings in these past few weeks then I had ever noticed before.  They were all there a month ago, I just wasn’t looking.
So, what can I return to the Lord for this bounty?  Faithfulness and prayer.  I continue to love and care for God’s people.  I continue to look for God in this world.  And I continue to tell others about the goodness of our Lord.  I am paying my pledge and I am sharing what I can with those in need.  Like the Psalmist I am a servant of the Lord and I am happy to pay my vows (serve my God) in the presence of God’s people.
“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful ones.”  That line is less cheerful but I connect with it as well.  As the world death toll continues to climb, I am comforted to know that God sees and loves all these people.  Every death from Covid 19 is precious in God’s sight.  No one who dies is forgotten. God sees and loves them all.  It is a sad thought, but it is one that gives me comfort as these dark days pass over.
Friends, this Holy Week is certainly a unique one for our reflection and prayer.  Look for an additional email from me on Friday to mark a Good Friday moment.  And of course, Easter Sunday is on the horizon.  I know it won’t be the same but we will still celebrate our risen Lord.  Inspired by the Pedersens I encourage everyone to wear a silly or beautiful Easter bonnet (hat) and we will laugh and smile as we celebrate together.  And for those watching the calendar, I know this is a communion Sunday but I am going to hold off and we will celebrate that together on the 19th. 
Know that I love you and you are in my thoughts and prayers.  God is with us as we struggle together.  Holy Week Blessings to you. – Pastor Heather