Spiritual shape up
From the Pastor's Desk
March 16, 2019
Have you ever trained for a marathon, about 26-miles of running? It's not something most folks just jump into without training and shaping up ahead of time. Usually, there will be weeks of waking up early to get in lengthy runs, before other events of the day get in the way. Coaching and learning about what to eat and how often to drink are all part of the preparation. It can also be very helpful to have a training buddy to support the major effort and to encourage each other on.
I see Lent as a spiritual season for shaping up, so that we can partake in walking with Jesus the long way from the region of Galilee to Jerusalem, a distance of 123-km or about 76-miles - approximately three marathons.
This would have been a grueling long trek. I often wonder why anyone would leave the beauty of the Sea of Galilee to head toward hot, dry, Jerusalem, with scorpions, snakes and thorns all along the way. The lakeshore is so pleasant. I'd have been a lousy disciple; stop fishing and leave the lake to walk toward guaranteed political troubles and witness my friend being tortured and killed - who does that?
Fortunately, that ancient tragic journey is not actually what we are being called to today. We are being called instead to challenge ourselves and struggle over our priorities - to find our place in meeting and responding to the suffering of others. This season of Lent encourages us to become more mindful of our spiritual lives - to draw closer to the divine - including the divine spirit in each one of us, so that we might be transformed and live more meaningful lives.
Some people resist the somberness of this season, preferring the light of Advent and the joy of Christmas, but I love Lent. Instead of looking out, I relish in looking in, fasting and snuggling up closer to God. One thing I practice and encourage others to do is to keep a journal of "God Sightings" and to share some of them. I believe we become more aware of miracles and grace when we keep an eye out for it and the funny thing is that the more we believe and see, the more these things happen all around us.
This year, I am encouraging/coaching my church members to walk the "Stations of the Cross" during Lent. This is an ancient practice of reflection. Many Catholic churches have a series of stations set up in gardens and beautiful outdoor settings for people to pause and ponder events that occurred along the final route of Jesus' journey to Jerusalem. Our stations will be inside our sanctuary and each will have meditations to ponder written for our modern age. Meditations and questions can allow some inner spring "soul cleaning," to occur. The stations encourage us to consider grudges we might be harboring and behaviors that may be holding us down and preventing us from being fully alive, as God desires. It's hard to run with such things weighing you down. My hope is that with a bit of spiritual shaping up, cleansing and heavy lifting, we might find our hearts getting lighter and our souls more fit as we journey ever onward. Come and work out with us!
Peace and Blessings,
Pastor NancyAbout Tehachapi Community Church, UCC:
No matter who you are, no matter where you are on life's journey, you're welcome here!
The Tehachapi Community Church, UCC is an open and welcoming community of faith that believes that each person, created in the image of God, holds a piece of the truth. Therefore we respect each person's unique spiritual journey. We invite you to experience the difference that religious freedom in a caring community can make in that journey.
We are located at 100 East E St., in Tehachapi. Worship and Sunday School are at 10:30 a.m. on Sundays. Please join us for coffee and fellowship at our Friendship Hall after worship (approximately 11:30 a.m.).
All are welcome.