Notes from Our Pastor: February 2016

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Winter:  time of dormant life awaiting the spring thaw, but content to be still and silent for now.  The season when most are clustered indoors, watching through windows as the winds drive snow across their fields of vision, fearing to tread and slip on the ice, awed by the blizzard’s power and yet pleased to view it from the security of their nestled homes.

Winter is our waiting season.  What we cannot or dare not venture forth to do, we imagine in our dreams—and wait.  Yet as we watch and wait and wonder, we continue to hope and eagerly seek any fleeting sign of the coming Spring.  Winter comes, but like all other seasons of life, it, too, will pass.

In February, when the full reality of the winter’s cold and numbing darkness has settled into our souls, we learn to rejoice in every sunny day, no matter how chilled.  When gray upon gray has darkened our days, the opening of the sky to let the sun in is like a rebirth of hope within our hearts.  Only when we have been deprived of that joy do we really come to appreciate even sunlight as a gift.

In February, too, some of us find the bittersweet consolation which Lent brings.  Understood as our means of shedding the burdens of our souls to be free before our God, Lent can bring the satisfaction of a cleansing shower or Spring cleaning of our hearts.  We can use this opportunity to undertake new activities—reading, study, prayer, service to others, seeking of justice in our world, working for unselfish goals.  In winter, in Lent, we can burrow deeper into our unexplored souls and name the hunger for meaning we all too often mask with busyness.

As Lent begins with Ash Wednesday, February 10th, let us accept the season gladly, undertaking whatever discipline you happen to choose as a means to deepen your spiritual awareness of who  you are and how God might be calling you.  We all have reached the point in life where our routine of life can become sterile, not giving us the joy which we always experience when in the presence of the Spirit.  Perhaps during the cold silence of February, when we remove every distraction which draws us apart from that spirit of joy, we can regain our sense of being called to cast off the need for excessive busyness and embrace the silence out of which the still, small voice of the Lord speaks.

Whether we want it or not, Michigan’s February is where we find ourselves.  Perhaps, this February, including Lent and our chosen disciplines to observe it, may just become where we find ourselves.  Let us redirect our spirit and pay deliberate attention to our inner needs, embracing the innerness of this season and consciously directing our powers to look within to seek our God.  That experience of rebirth within ourselves would surpass even the coming of Spring outside!

Blessing to you in February,



Notes from our Pastor: January 2016

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The New Year is marked by great celebration and a release of pent-up energy which comes with the prospect of a fresh start.  This first of the months of the year takes its name from Janus, a Roman god who is depicted as having two faces—each facing in opposite directions.  In mythological terms this makes sense, for at the onset of a new year, we look both back to what has been and forward to what the future holds.

The year 2015 was marked by violence at home and throughout the world.  It was also a time when people were awestruck by the forces of nature—droughts, floods, massive storms, and other indicators that we had upset the balance of the climate and still do not know how to adapt to those changes.  Looking back on the year past is certainly sobering, but perhaps it was a wake-up call and an opportunity for us to learn some lessons.

Looking forward to 2016, we should not be disheartened.  The disruption in climate which triggered droughts and severe weather may be part of a global situation, but scientists are at work to analyze the changes in climate and their impact;  if humans have created these changes, perhaps concerted human efforts can help adjust to the new patterns.  Medical science may also combat such scourges as ebola.

The past year was a time when the ugly reality of racism, which many had wished to ignore, was thrust into our faces by repeated examples of violence and death.  But I also firmly believe that the strength of our country lies in its ability to grow and adapt to become a more just and compassionate society. If people of faith are willing to hear the cries of those in need and see the root causes of violence and injustice which has cost us so much in human suffering and wounded spirits, surely God will lead us to find a new course and to free us all from the fear and hatred which are the root causes of our national problems. There is much work to be done, by education concerning how institutions thrive by racial discrimination and how few of us understand the power of White privilege which has made us complacent.  I pray that 2016 will prove a prophetic year, when the truth—painful as it will be to face it—will begin to set  us all free from this sin we dare not name.

Let us learn from the experience of the past, that we might renew our efforts and determination to mold our confusion into vision, and to turn from the cycle of hatred, fear, and contempt to work for the justice needed to create a society where all can share in the blessings which God has bestowed upon us.  Our past troubles need not become our destiny; rather, by faithfulness and loving hearts, let us make this New Year a Jubilee and a time of rebirth.

Fr. Bill