Sisters in Scripture
Mondays of Lent - March 23rd
3/23/2020

 
This is where today's Gospel goes--to the love of parent for child, and the fear every parent feels for the life of their child. In this story, a royal official comes to implore Jesus to come and heal his sick son. The fear-stricken father has traveled from Capernaum to Cana, a distance of about 20 miles, two days of walking. We can only imagine the anxiety that prompted him to take off in search of Jesus, and the thoughts that filled his mind as he hurried. We can only imagine his dismay when Jesus replied, speaking in terms of "you people." He further pleads, "come down before my son dies." Jesus gives a simple reply, "Go, your son lives." We are left to imagine again how he must have felt. His plan, his request was clear--come with me; my son's life depends on this--not I speak it from afar, now go.
 
Could he rejoice at the promise in Jesus' words or was he too stunned at Jesus' declining to come? The anxious father is left to consider what to do next. He could give in to his anxiety and further beg that Jesus come with him. Or he can accept the words of Jesus, turn, and return, trusting that Jesus is, indeed, as good as his word. 

That moment is our moment. We can remain paralyzed with anxiety and indecision or we can decide to move toward hope. If this experience of Covid-19 is about anything for me, it is about believing that we, like Jesus, with Jesus, can effect good for others, even from afar. Our Christian faith clearly teaches that. 
 
We rightfully follow all the latest Covid-19 news that concerns us, but we also see countless stories of compassion as people reach out in creative ways toward one another. I love the story of the two kids, 9 and 11, who set up their cello and violin on their elderly neighbor's porch and played a concert for her. The smallest acts of kindness hold remarkable power to lift the human spirit. 

Underneath it all, we are being transformed in ways we do not yet know. Jesus has given us the promise, "he lives," but has also directed us to "go." Like the father in the Gospel, we place each foot in front of the other as we hasten toward the hope that Jesus offers. What-if's, no doubt, accompany us on our way, but the directive is clear. Blessings on your journey, my friend. We are on this road together.

Provisions for the Journey: Here are some offerings to inspire and sustain

Pandemic

by Rev. Lynn Ungar

What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath—
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
Center down.
And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.
Promise this world your love-
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.

To visit Lynn's website

 

Pastors, priests, rabbis and others are reaching out with wisdom and guidance. I found this post of fear from Hallack Greider to be among the best: Maplewood Presbyterian  (click on box that says "read.")

Sometimes there are no words. We are called to pray but it can be overwhelming. A creative approach I use myself comes from Sybil McBeth's book Praying in Color. This YouTube shows you how: Praying in Color.

Some responses from readers to last week's MONDAYS OF LENT:

• I love the idea of touchstone prayers. While I am drying my hair I pray for all those affected by abortion. I am now saying a prayer while washing my hands.for all those affected by this pandemic. - Karen, WA

• Thank you for MONDAYS OF LENT. Please ask others to pray for those in third world nations as the pandemic is now reaching them. A missionary friend in Nairobi asks, "How can we wash our hands without clean water? How can we practice social distancing when we are all jammed together in buses and tiny houses all packed together?" - Mary, AZ

• I have begun to keep a journal for this. It is, after all, history. The statistics and facts will be recorded but the smaller personal story that is mine, is also important. This helps me focus on the future. - Ginny, CT

• Thank you for reminding me that "offer it up" is still a great practice for Lent. - Margaret, WA


First Reading:
Isaiah 65:17-21 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
17
"For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth;
And the former things will not be remembered or come to [a]mind. 
18 
"But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create;
For behold, I create Jerusalem for rejoicing 
And her people for gladness. 
19 
"I will also rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in My people;
And there will no longer be heard in her
The voice of weeping and the sound of crying.
20 
"No longer will there be [b]in it an infant who lives but a few days, 
Or an old man who does not [c]live out his days; 
For the youth will die at the age of one hundred
And the [d]one who does not reach the age of one hundred 
Will be thought accursed. 
21 
"They will build houses and inhabit them; 
They will also plant vineyards and eat their fruit.




Gospel 
John 4:43-54 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
43 After the two days He went forth from there into Galilee. 44 For Jesus Himself testified that a prophet has no honor in his own country. 45 So when He came to Galilee, the Galileans received Him, having seen all the things that He did in Jerusalem at the feast; for they themselves also went to the feast.
46 Therefore He came again to Cana of Galilee where He had made the water wine. And there was a royal official whose son was sick at Capernaum. 47 When he heard that Jesus had come out of Judea into Galilee, he went to Him and was imploring Him to come down and heal his son; for he was at the point of death. 48 So Jesus said to him, "Unless you people see [a]signs and wonders, you simply will not believe.” 49 The royal official *said to Him, "[b]Sir, come down before my child dies.” 50 Jesus *said to him, "Go; your son lives.” The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and started off. 51 As he was now going down, his slaves met him, saying that his [c]son was living. 52 So he inquired of them the hour when he began to get better. Then they said to him, "Yesterday at the [d]seventh hour the fever left him.” 53 So the father knew that it was at that hour in which Jesus said to him, "Your son lives”; and he himself believed and his whole household. 54 This is again a second [e]sign that Jesus performed when He had come out of Judea into Galilee.









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