In an attempt to nurture and hydrate our (sometimes) weary souls, at Fair Street, we are picking up a September Reading Challenge – otherwise known as ‘Let’s Read Together!’ Each day of September, check back here on the Pastor’s Blog for a scripture reading that I will share here. The idea is that we will be reading God’s Word together, in hopes that we will be reminded of God’s faithfulness, promises, presence and love for us. In my experience, remaining connected doesn’t make my challenging circumstance go away, but it has centered me and filled my depleted feeling soul with life and hope. This is a brief explanation of our Let’s Read Together series, but you are invited to keep reading the rest of the story that continues below.
Grace and Peace,
Tired & Weary…
About a year ago, a friend gave me a peace lily plant in which I received it with hesitation. Not because I wasn’t appreciative of the gift, but rather I just don’t have the best green thumb when it comes to caring for plants. I graciously accepted the gift and knew right where I would put it … so I put it in my car! It was my hope that I could enjoy the beauty in my study (and my secret hope that I would be able to ask the Office Manager to help me in keeping the plant well-watered.)
The plant, however, never made it to my study. Not because it died before it got there, it just never made it out of the sanctuary. It quickly became a fixture in the sanctuary. At times is was visible for everyone to see, while other weeks it would sit off to the side, where I would see it and occasionally remember to water it. (I recall a couple times where one choir member would let me know that she watered the plant for me because it was looking a little peaked).
At the end of July, I left for Michigan for three weeks, and having a tad full plate prior to leaving, making sure the plant was cared for in my absence slipped my mind. Upon returning, I walked into the sanctuary one early Sunday morning only to discover that after three weeks of no water and extreme heat, the poor plant looked like this.
If you have ever been dehydrated, you know the impact and toll it takes on our bodies. What do we do to feel better? We drink water. It is the same with our bodies, when we feel unhealthy or out of whack…we do something to feel better; we go to the gym, strive to eat healthier, go for a walk, we try to get more sleep, etc. We do all these things in hopes that physically and emotionally we might begin to feel better.
But what about when we are feeling weary and tired and even dehydrated spiritually? What do we do then? Do we let it sit and ignore it, or do we attempt to hydrate our thirsty and weary souls?
In Psalm 63, (reading for Day 2), the Psalmist was exhausted, painting a picture of being tired, weary and left to feel alone. When I read this Psalm, I not only think of David the Psalmist, but I picture that plant, wilted, weary and drained of life, much like the farmers crops after a drought, there is nothing but dust and dryness.
But then he pauses, and in the weariness of where he finds himself, he begins to remember and reflect. He remembers God’s presence, God’s faithfulness, God’s work in his life in the past, he recalls the times in his life when God had been present, when God had provided.
The Psalmist reflected throughout his day, from the moment he wakes up to the moment he lays his head wearily on his pillow. In his reflections, it is as if he remembers that small seed of faith and trust that he had in God, and vows to continue to trust, continue to hang on, continue to give thanks and to worship the God who shows up, the God who is present, the God who loves… and at the end of the day he will lay down and recall where he witnessed God’s presence and love.
We are reminded throughout Scripture to be engaged in our faith relationship with God. In John 15, we read Jesus’ words “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me as I abide in you”. It is important that we remain connected, connected to the life giving source. Paul wrote to pray without ceasing (I Thessalonians 5). And in Acts, we read about the early church who met together to worship, to pray, to be in community, to break bread together … they knew the importance of not cutting themselves off from community, from one another, from God.
There are many things that we can (and should) do that will be life giving to our souls, to nurture and hydrate our faith relationship with God. Praying, recalling God’s faithfulness, worship, reading the Word of God are just few ways to remain hydrated.
This is where the Let’s Read Together, September Reading Challenge comes in. I invite you to join me on a 30 day reading challenge. For the month of September, I will post a scripture reading here on the Pastor’s Blog. You are all invited to read it, sit with it, and pray through it. At the end of the reading, I might share a few of my own reflections, or questions for you to ponder and pray through.
I can’t guarantee that this will make your life better, smoother, or easier. But what I do believe is that when we remain in Christ, and Christ is in us, when we continue to gather for study, for worship as a body of Christ, when we are in prayer, when we read the Word, when we share in communion and community, when we remember and reflect on where we have witnessed God at work, when we find something to be grateful for … we find that our souls/our beings are in a place that grants us perspective, life and peace in the midst of chaos.
Grace and Peace,