by Pastor Vera Guebert-Steward
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, one of my absolute favorite theologians, wrote so many profound things in his short lifetime. I can’t even imagine how much more he would have written had he lived another 30 or 40 years of life. One poem that is particularly poignant for me during the season of Lent is called, I Cannot Do This Alone. In his profound words, he owns up to who he is and how desperately he needs Jesus. While I am not despairing nor am I desperate, this poem touches me today and blesses me for my continuing, Lenten journey. I hope and pray it might bless you, too.
I have been keenly aware that my sermons during the month of February have spoken of suffering and despair; perhaps I have focused on this too much. We are all cognizant of the atrocities going on in our world that can lead us to feelings of sadness or vulnerability.
I know there is plenty of despair and chaos to go around. But, every day I’m mindful of our children. I can’t imagine the fear they must feel when they go to school after another school shooting. And, day in and day out, I find myself attending to the struggles our members have regarding their health and well-being; the cancer, the hospice palliative care, the knee and hip replacements and chronic pain. I have also experienced deep sadness when earlier this month, I was present for one of our member’s pet’s euthanasia.
People often ask me how I do it. How do I manage to stay upbeat and focused when I am inundated with people’s hardships and pain on a fairly regular basis. Re-read Bonhoeffer’s poem and you will know how I do it. Early in the morning I cry to you, Bonhoeffer writes. Indeed, that should be our first prayer each day. “Help me, O God, to concentrate my thoughts on you. I cannot do this alone.” Nor, do I want to.
I think one of the many gifts of Lent is the extra gatherings we have on Wednesday evenings where we share deep fellowship, a good meal and then an even better meal; the body and blood of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. This extra family time helps me. I hope it helps you, too, to journey this difficult season and come out the other side whole and well. These forty days plunge us into a bit of restlessness and even darkness. But what awaits us on Easter morning makes this entire, challenging journey so worth the effort of self-reflection; so incredibly worth the wait.
“For the Love of God,” our Lenten theme continues through the month of March. May you come on Wednesday evenings to encounter those whose lives interfaced with Jesus’ life and because of their encounter with him, they were deeply affected, even changed. Enjoy two meals, some laughter, maybe even tears, and quiet time to worship, give thanks, and find peace. All are welcome and really should come. Blessed Lenten journey for your heart and soul…and, “For the Love of God.”