Rev. Lee A. Ireland is a long-time Interim Pastor having served in many churches, most recently in Groton, CT.
Scripture: Isaiah 42:1-7 (NRSV)
Here is my servant, whom I uphold,
my chosen, in whom my soul delights;
I have put my spirit upon him;
he will bring forth justice to the nations.
He will not cry or lift up his voice,
or make it heard in the street;
a bruised reed he will not break,
and a dimly burning wick he will not quench;
he will faithfully bring forth justice.
He will not grow faint or be crushed
until he has established justice in the earth;
and the coastlands wait for his teaching.
Thus says God, the Lord,
who created the heavens and stretched them out,
who spread out the earth and what comes from it,
who gives breath to the people upon it
and spirit to those who walk in it:
I am the Lord, I have called you in righteousness,
I have taken you by the hand and kept you;
I have given you as a covenant to the people,
a light to the nations,
to open the eyes that are blind,
to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon,
from the prison those who sit in darkness.
Reflection: Walking the Hard Days
Here we are! Stepping into Holy Week …after a year of wandering through the desert of the pandemic and not being able to walk together in our sanctuaries to nourish one another on our faith journeys as we have done in the past. Holy Week - that precious time - when Jesus was living into the fullness of his life’s purpose and journey. The week that brings wonder and mystery and awe into our lives and, for many of us, moments when tears flow down our faces as we pause from the daily busy-ness of our lives and listen to the details once again that are the foundation of our faith walk as Christians, followers of the humble man known as Jesus.
Never before have I felt the call to teach and live into what it means for him to a human being and not just focus on his title as our Savior. Our Savior: from what to what?
May we look again at the words of scripture to help us know what was guiding Jesus as he walked these hard days - knowing the love he would need to face all that was here. What was guiding him? The words of Isaiah and the Psalmist give us insights. I see how he was living into the Covenant described in today’s passages: “to bring the light to the world; to open the eyes of the blind; and help set the prisoners free.” He modeled for us someone who knew deep within that God alone was his salvation…no matter the circumstances and no matter what came, he could place his trust in YHWH (Yahweh) and not follow the voice of fear which I’m sure he heard within. To keep his eyes on God no matter what and listen deeply.
In our own walks this week, may we be able to keep our eyes there as well. May we be able to offer our responses to help be a part of that covenant – no matter where we are on life’s journey – and stay open so that the light can come within us and flow through us. For as we do, others can experience something and know it’s safe to come and talk. We then are a part of the ongoing covenant and can help people walk out of the prison and darkness in which they are living - out into the light and freedom they so long to experience and live.
For some reason, as I am pondering this further, I am remembering the words from one of our Christmas hymn words: “the hopes and fears of all our years are met in thee tonight.” (O Little Town of Bethlehem). Oh! That Jesus’ story had had a different ending for the conclusion of “our hopes and fears.” Many don’t like the way this story goes and walk away from listening to the deeper message. But for those who stay, we learn how God, of course, knows that our worst fears are a cruel and suffering death – and thus, makes visible – what we most fear. But conversely, the hard part is that it also reveals what cruelty is deep within all of our hearts; no matter who we are and what we proclaim. But... that God’s love can even triumph over all.
As we enter this year’s Holy Week, may we have the courage to listen with honesty, and take the steps so that we, too, can stand at the foot of the cross and be witnesses and then go into the grief of Holy Saturday to see what will be revealed to us this Easter morning.
Let us choose to follow the voice of Love and then share that love. Amen.
New Prayer Requests:
We ask churches and church leaders to join us in the following prayers either by sharing them during worship, printing them in bulletins, or sharing them in some other way. To make a prayer request, please contact Drew Page at firstname.lastname@example.org
Prayers of Intercession:
- For those grieving for the more than 546,000 dead due to the Covid-19 disease
- For the victims and their families of the 115 mass shootings already carried out in 2021, including the shooting in Boulder, CO where 10 people were killed.
- For those grieving or suffering as violence increases in Myanmar
- For those suffering after a Palm Sunday bombing in Indonesia at a Roman Catholic cathedral
Prayers of Joy and Thanksgiving:
- For Holy Week
- For the bright colors and bees of spring (image courtesy Rev. Ryan Gackenheimer):
This Week in History:
March 29, 1958 (63 years ago) The first regular measurement of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere begins in a lab in Hawaii. Started by Dr. Charles David Keeling, the measurements led to the discovery of the Keeling Curve, which showed definitively that global atmospheric carbon dioxide levels were increasing rapidly. This was one of the earliest steps in understanding the reality and danger of our current climate change.
“Study the past if you would define the future.”
Interim Pastor of the First Congregational Church UCC in Westbrook, Connecticut