Happy Monday! Three weeks until Palm Sunday and just four until Easter; I hope that your Lenten time has brought you joy. I have been working on memorization this Lent. So far, I’ve captured 1 Corinthians 13 (the one about love), and I’m now working my way through Isaiah 46 (the one about God’s unending faithfulness: “even to old age I am he…”).
I missed another Ash Wednesday service. Unfortunately, I was traveling for work this past Wednesday and didn’t take the time out to find a church in San Francisco and go consecrate these days. Nonetheless, I pray that they will be for me and for you as much a preparation as Advent is each year.
Don’t you love that feeling of checking a giant task off your to-do list? I did that about four times last week, only to have the task pop right back up: “not finished yet!” I pray that this week, when you knock your tasks down, they stay down.
This week was full of unexpected surprises at work, so most of my Bible reading notes are pretty surface-level. But that’s the only place we can ever start: reading the words the Holy Spirit has passed down to us. Only after we know what they say can we start asking harder questions.
We’re about a week into February, so it’s time to check in on those resolutions. Some huge fraction of people have given up by now, less than 40 days in. How have my resolutions gone? Well, for one thing, it’s February, and this is the first e-mail this year. So… I’m in that fraction. But I haven’t been idle; some good things are happening.
It’s been a whole summer since the last time I wrote to you. I’ve been doing a lot of reading and a lot of writing, but not a whole lot of posting. I’m going to fix that starting this Friday—stay tuned for my plan to shift gears for October.
My parents sent my wife and me some calla lilies for Easter. In contrast to most of the plants we try to grow, they’re still pretty and blooming today, and that’s reason to celebrate. We’ve been fortunate enough to finish our vaccine regimen, too, and that’s another reason. It seems a bit late this year, but spring is here, and there’s hope around. My prayer is that you too have some of that hope today.
Our second COVID Easter is coming up next week, and I’m worried we won’t have the energy to celebrate. I’m worried we’ll feel more like Psalms 137:4: “How can we sing the songs of Yahweh in a foreign land?” But I have the cure! Ancient songs for people who feel like you do today.
It’s been a strange Lent this year. When you’ve already had to give up so much because of global factors outside your control, it’s hard for any additional sacrifice to seem meaningful, or even worth it. Remember, though, that Lenten sacrifice is a tradition of remembrance, not a command; God wants your heart and your obedience, not your sacrifice (1 Samuel 15:22). So if giving up even more has been hard this year, give yourself a break. Sit somewhere quiet and see what God has to say.
Lent is one of my favorite times of the Christian year. Like Advent, it’s a time of reflection: looking backward to Jesus to look forward to Jesus. The past year bears more reflection than most, and I hope you have the time to sit and see and savor the presence of God throughout the troubles we’ve seen.
It’s been a while since we’ve talked here. That’s on me. Sorry.
It’s been a while since I posted about the Moabites. Sorry about that! I’ve been a little busy with the coloring book, but we’re back with another story, this time about Lot’s other son/grandson, Ben-ammi, father of the Ammonites.
Did you know Ruth was related to Abraham?
I hope you enjoyed reading about King Jehoshaphat’s prayer as he responded to what seemed like overwhelming opposition with fellowship and faith.