Restore to Me . . .
Post date: Jun 19, 2020 1:58:32 PM
Dear Middletown Reformed Church Family and Friends,
Grace and peace to you!
I hope you are continuing to stay safe and healthy during these challenging times.
First, allow me to thank the Elders of the Consistory/Great Consistory for leading worship last Sunday so I could recover from my illness. I heard they did a faithful and wonderful job, as I knew would be the case. As you all were worshiping online, I went to the Meditation Garden to talk with and listen to God, and to pray. It was some much needed alone time with the Holy One.
Still basking in the glow of that time with God, I must say I had a moment afterwards this week that stopped me in my tracks. Have you ever read something and felt like the Holy Spirit was looking right at you with her hands on her hips, saying in a strong voice “See there?” You know, rather like she was tapping you incessantly on the shoulder in order to get you to pay attention, saying, "God is here now." It was a blessing posted on Facebook by one of my friends that gave me this pause.
For One Who Is Exhausted, a Blessing
When the rhythm of the heart becomes hectic,
Time takes on the strain until it breaks;
Then all the unattended stress falls in
On the mind like an endless, increasing weight.
The light in the mind becomes dim.
Things you could take in your stride before
Now become laborsome events of will.
Weariness invades your spirit.
Gravity begins falling inside you,
Dragging down every bone.
The tide you never valued has gone out.
And you are marooned on unsure ground.
Something within you has closed down;
And you cannot push yourself back to life.
You have been forced to enter empty time.
The desire that drove you has relinquished.
There is nothing else to do now but rest
And patiently learn to receive the self
You have forsaken in the race of days.
At first your thinking will darken
And sadness take over like listless weather.
The flow of unwept tears will frighten you.
You have traveled too fast over false ground;
Now your soul has come to take you back.
Take refuge in your senses, open up
To all the small miracles you rushed through.
Become inclined to watch the way of rain
When it falls slow and free.
Imitate the habit of twilight,
Taking time to open the well of color
That fostered the brightness of day.
Draw alongside the silence of stone
Until its calmness can claim you.
Be excessively gentle with yourself.
Stay clear of those vexed in spirit.
Learn to linger around someone of ease
Who feels they have all the time in the world.
Gradually, you will return to yourself,
Having learned a new respect for your heart
And the joy that dwells far within slow time.
from To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings by John O’Donohue
I believe as we live now in the fourth month of a pandemic many of us may be exhausted, weary, tired — emotionally, physically, spiritually. But hopefully, as we claim the blessing above, no longer rushing through the small miracles around us, we will carve out the space to return to ourselves with “a new respect for our hearts” and the joy which “dwells far within slow time.” This is a joy that only God can give; it is a joy that even though suffering and hurt may surround us, is always beckoning us back to the Source of our life.
I hope to see you online this Sunday when we will gather at 10:15 AM to check in with one another, and then worship together at 10:30 AM. As this Sunday is Father's Day, we will celebrate the fathers among us who love and care for their families and beyond. Our anthem was recorded in the Sanctuary, featuring Sarah Hanvey and Dan Pannebaker singing “Waterlife.” Judith Daugherty will be playing “Grace Alone” on the organ for our Sermon-Prayer-Reflection. I am preaching from Genesis 21.8-12 and my sermon title is Water-Life in the Wilderness. I’ve attached the Scripture readings and bulletin to this email for your reference.
“Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit,” prays the Psalmist (51.12). I needed the blessing from John O’Donohue this week to remind me of God’s joy and the need for rest. Perhaps you do too.
In gratitude for the privilege of being your pastor and the holy call of loving you,