From My Perspective

Reflections through a Lens of Faith from Pastor Jen

Walking Through Holy Week

Walking Through Holy Week

The Via Dolorosa (“Way of Suffering”) is a walk through the Old City of Jerusalem tracing the path that Jesus may have taken on his way to the cross. Although the route has changed over the years, pilgrims have flocked to Jerusalem especially during Holy Week to make this walk as they prayerfully pause and reflect on passages of Scripture leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion.

I invite you to walk with me through Holy Week.

There’s something missing if we skip through the Hosannas of Palm Sunday to the Alleluias of Easter Sunday. The joy of the resurrection rings hollow if we miss the days in between. Each day of Holy Week we will pause for a brief time of prayer on Zoom at 7:00 PM.

This evening, Holy Monday, we will pray the way of the cross as we focus on artwork of Mary Button. She has created a series of paintings connecting the COVID-19 pandemic to the passion and prayers of Jesus.

On Holy Tuesday, we will pray for our community of Andover and beyond as we consider how Jesus’ passion might speak to our neighbors – families and children, emergency responders, those who are hungry, and more.

We complete our Lenten series on spiritual practices with our final Wednesday evening worship time with the theme of holy rest – sabbath – as we recall Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Maundy Thursday begins the Great Three Days of the church year as we celebrate Holy Communion on Zoom and recall Jesus’ last gathering with his friends in the upper room.

Our Good Friday service will include the reading of the passion of Jesus from the gospel of John and we will experience deepening darkness as candles are extinguished throughout the service…but reminded that the light of Christ never completely goes out.

As the Good Friday service ends we wait…we wait with hope and expectation for what we know is coming next. Easter is coming…wait for it!

In Christ,

Pastor Jen

Week 6 of Lent – Go

Week 6 of Lent - Go
Photo by ConvertKit on Unsplash

My passport expires at the end of August. A couple of weeks ago I filled out the paperwork and wrote a check for the new one. If I wanted “expedited” delivery, I could pay some more money and get the new passport back sooner. But let’s face it, I’m not going anywhere I need my passport any time soon.

As we think about spiritual practices of Lent, the practice of being sent – of going out into the world – makes me feel a little wistful for the days when we could just get up and go.

“Go in peace. Serve the Lord.” is the liturgical piece called the “dismissal” we say at the end of the worship service. Go where? Into the kitchen for a snack?

The dismissal doesn’t mean we have to take a special mission trip in order to serve God. The dismissal at the end of the service means that worship connects with our daily lives. As we sign off from Zoom, we’ve heard a Word from God, and we are meant to take that Word along with us – even if it’s only into the next room. It comes with us as we FaceTime with friends and family across the country; it shows up when we attend an online book group or business meeting; it connects us to God as we take a walk around the neighborhood, share a social media post, or order takeout.

Our ‘going’ may look different these days, but as a spritiual practice we can nevertheless commit ourselves to “Go (online, outdoors, socially-distanced) with God.”

In Christ,

Pastor Jen

Week 5 – Bless

When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he struck him on the hip socket; and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. Then he said, ‘Let me go, for the day is breaking.’ But Jacob said, ‘I will not let you go, unless you bless me.’
Genesis 32:25-26

Week 5 - Bless
Photo by Brittany Colette on Unsplash

This week as we continue in the Way of Love for the season of Lent, we consider the spiritual practice of ‘blessing.’

The word “bless” shows up quite frequently in ordinary speech. Next time you sneeze, someone around you might somewhat reflexively say, “Bless you.” How did that practice come to be?

One story is that the practice began around the 6th century when the bubonic plague was ravaging Europe. People knew that a sneeze could be an early symptom of the disease so when someone sneezed, it was a prayer for good health to say, “God bless you.”

At other times, you might be asked to ‘say a blessing’ for a meal. It is a prayer of gratitude that there is food on the table.

When we take on the spiritual practice of blessing, however, it doesn’t need to be restricted to times when someone sneezes or before a meal. Blessing can happen in any encounter with others.

The poet John O’Donohue dedicated his life to retrieving the lost art form and practice of blessing. By blessing, he meant, “words that create a circle of light drawn around a person to protect, and strengthen.”

A friend of mine tries to end every conversation whether it be with a family member, a coworker, a neighbor, or a friend with such a ‘circle of light.’ She says her goodbyes along with an accompanying word of affirmation or encouragement. She blesses them.

When we take on the spiritual practice of blessing we will look for opportunities to bless those we meet. What a gift we can offer!

In Christ,

Pastor Jen