Rev. Ron Robinson
"I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!"
It is the time of Lent, the days and weeks of journeying with Jesus toward Jerusalem, ministering with Jesus along the roads lined with the crosses displaying the power of the oppressor, as warnings not to interrupt the status quo. But it is Lent. This is the time when we pause, take stock of what we have made our status quo, and discern ways to take back the power from it, and give it to God whose quo is dynamic, transforming, liberating.
So the psalmist in the readings for this week (see www.textweek.com) of the Revised Common Lectionary, of which the UUCF was a key partner, says first "I believe." So this Lent let us ponder what we believe, let us know the miracle of freedom to believe, and let us seek to know the beliefs of others.
So the Psalmist says "I shall see" and let us know this Lent that we too can see, truly see what the rest of the year and so much of the culture tells us to be blind to. We are swamped with awareness and bombarded with information, and yet do not see. This Lent can be different. William Ellery Channing, the influential minister of the 19th century and one of the founders of our movement, used to tell new ministers in their ordination sermons: "Teach them to see." As we close our eyes in prayer during Lent, may it open our hearts to see where God leads.
So the Psalmist says "the goodness of the Lord" is "in the land of the living." This Lent it is hard perhaps to find shelter in the goodness of the Lord. There is the continuing worsening suffering of the earthquake damaged people of Haiti and of Chili; so many continue to suffer and die in the United States from inadequate health care access while as a nation we find ways to continue to divert our attention with things of entertainment and the marketplace; we enter into prayer more in Lent and yet that prayer brings us closer to the suffering and injustices. And yet, the Psalmist, who knew suffering, says to find what we are seeking this season and all seasons not in the land of the dead but of the living. We read this and we get glimpses of what we are waiting for, in the words of the one who said not to look for the resurrected Jesus among the dead but among the living. So this Lent let us find ways to show the goodness of the Lord within us, and let us dwell in the land of the living, where the Spirit still moves, and let the Spirit of the Living God remake us.
So the Psalmist says, in the watchword for the weeks ahead, "Wait for the Lord." "Wait." Don't rush your own searching this season. Wait. Don't do something; just stand there. Wait. Let this Lent remind us that the world waits for those who wait for the Lord. Waiting is an action itself. It is an opening up. It is a posture of hope. Wait.
Prayer: Oh God of all the seasons, this season that is winter to many of us has been specially hard on many of us, and it is continuing week after week. Be with those whose lives are hampered and put in danger by the winter weather. Be with those who know the storms all too well no matter where they live. Give us patience with one another, and with You, in the grayness of the days and the cold of the nights. Help us to see these days as blessings still of yours; may they help turn our hearts to You and our hands to one another. May we find true warmth in the goodness of the Lord, true shelter in the land of the living, and hope in waiting and wondering about your ways. Lift us up, O Lord, and open our eyes and minds, that we may be more mindful of those whose suffering calls out for our presence.
In Christ, Amen