Reflection for Sunday – February 18, 2024

Readings: Genesis 9: 8-15; 1 Peter 3: 18-22; Mark 1: 12-15 
Preacher: Patrick Fox

As I began to think about our readings for this First Sunday of Lent in the midst of our present moment in time I found myself re-reading a poem from John O’Donohue.

For Presence

Awaken to the mystery of being here

And enter the quiet immensity of your own presence.

Have joy and peace in the temple of your senses.

Receive encouragement when new frontiers beckon.

Respond to the call of your gift and the courage to follow its path.

Let the flame of anger free you of all falsity.

May warmth of heart keep your presence aflame.

May anxiety never linger about you.

May your outer dignity mirror an inner dignity of soul.

Take time to celebrate the quiet miracles that seek no attention.

Be consoled in the secret symmetry of your soul.

May you experience each day as a sacred gift woven around the heart of wonder.

So in our readings, I find the story of the rainbow a the sign of a covenant and a Gospel that offers a lean story of the temptation in the desert absent all of the detail that another account offers.  Our epistle on the entry to Lent focuses more on Resurrection and how through Baptism we are reborn in a covenant.

As I look back on the poem and think about the beginning of a Lenten journey,  

I ask myself:

How present am I to my covenantal relationship with other and with the Divine?

How willing am I to rest in mystery?

What encouragement do I seek to continue on the journey?

How am I called to respond in this present moment in the milieu?

What anxiety causes me pause on my journey?

How do I stand in my own dignity and that of others?

What peace do I find in the symmetry of my soul?

I set off on another Lenten journey not seeking answers but seeking conversation that opens me to growth—and I invite you along. I come to a table that feeds my soul with all of the gifts and questions, burdens and joys that are the unfolding steps along the road of our lives together.

Lent offers an invitation which I find echoed in our Psalm response, “Your ways, O Lord, are love and truth to those who keep your covenant.”

How do I keep covenant with God, others and self?

There is, in this challenging time, room to slow our pace, to intentionally rest in our thoughts. There is hope, a hope not born of myth and memory, but born in bringing our dreams to reality.

There are times to refresh our soul and gather wood for the fire. There is time to smoor the fire so it is ready for a coming day. There is time to sit by a warming fire and welcome its comfort. There is a time to raise the fire in a blaze of change.

 Lent is a season to take some time to reflect, to embrace a covenant, to question, to receive calm grace, to rest with unanswered questions.

We are called to a desert, one not necessarily of our own making, but it is where we find ourselves. We can choose what we will do with the time and the place.

We are offered the grace of space and time.

I would close by offering this reflection by William Ernest Henley in 1875;


Out of the night that covers me

Black as the pit from pole to pole

I thank whatever gods may be

For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance

I have not winced or cried aloud.

Under the bludgeonings of chance

My head is bloody but unbowed.

Beyond the place of wrath and tears

Looms but the horror of the shade.

And yet the menace of the years

Finds, and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,

How charged with punishments the scroll,

I am the master of my fate,

I am the captain of my soul.                   

Please join me in seeking this Lent to rest in the questions, in building the hope, of affirming a covenant, of rising from ashes to life.

Patrick Fox
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