Abiding in Bosnia-Herzegovina by Gwen Meharg at HeArts Gallery: a beautiful image for today's scriptures for the Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time which this year happens to fall on Valentine's Day! (Click on the image for a larger version)
(Scriptures for today's liturgy)
Like a tree planted beside the waters
that stretches out its roots to the stream...
Curses and blessings - blessings and woes!
And as soon as we hear these words many of us will turn to
circumstances in our lives which we have named
as a blessing, a curse - or a woe.
And the temptation is to think that somehow
it's God who has chosen to bless or curse us:
to imagine that God looks down upon us all
with a bag of blessings in one hand
and a bag of woes in the other
and showers them upon us,
letting them fall where they might
or (worse yet!) that with divine accuracy,
God aims blessings and curses as he decides,
never failing to hit his intended target!
But who would want to believe in such a God?
Who would want to follow such a God?
And not Jeremiah.
And not Jesus.
Jeremiah writes of curses and blessings
but he makes it clear that those who seek blessings
need to plant themselves, their lives and their choices
by the waters of the Lord’s Word,
stretching out their roots to drink in
the sweet refreshment of God’s grace
that courses in the depths of our hearts.
And Jeremiah makes it equally clear
that those who put their trust in human invention,
in their own strength,
those who turn not to the Lord’s but to themselves
for the truth we all seek,
may well find themselves parched and withered
for having chosen to settle apart from the cool streams
of the Lord’s peace.
The blessings and curses here are not prizes and punishments
sent from God to reward or chastise us.
Jeremiah’s noonday desert sun beats down on all of us.
This is not about being spared
the mid-day heat of problems and difficulties, of burdens and griefs,
but rather about where, how and from whom we seek survival
and the deepest of blessings.
What matters is where we choose to be planted,
what waters we choose to drink,
in the soil of whose truth we choose to put down our roots.
So it is, then,
that those who appear to be “blessed”
by health, wealth, success and fame might
in their heart of hearts, face a barren emptiness,
and a thirst for blessings that success can never bring.
And so it is, then,
that those who appear to be "cursed" by the woes
of sickness, poverty, need and hurt might,
in their heart of hearts, be drinking deeply
of the refreshment their trust in God affords them.
It’s often said that we should “grow where we’re planted.”
Today’s scriptures advise us to be careful
of where we are planted, of the waters we drink,
of where we sink our roots.
This week we enter the season of Lent,
a whole season of being careful
of where we're planted, of how we're growing.
Lent is a good time for us:
to see if the choices we make lead us to blessings or woe;
to test the soil in which we’ve planted our hopes and dreams;
to seek the flowing stream that truly quenches our hearts’ thirst;
to place, afresh, our trust and our hope in the Lord.
Lent invites us to cultivate our inner selves
and the stuff of our daily lives
with prayer, fasting and caring for the poor.
What blessing there is in making time every day
to speak with God...
What blessing there is in letting go and giving up
the foolish, useless, even harmful things
we've come to depend on for satisfaction...
What blessing there is in hearing and answering
the cry of the poor, the ones whose trust in God
so often puts to shame our wishes for wealth...
On the Cross on Good Friday, not even Jesus was shielded
from the heat, the pain, the thirst of the noon-day sun
but he trusted in God
and he trusted in God when there seemed to be reason left
to trust in God...
From his side, from his trust,
there flowed forth the saving waters
that promise to nourish and refresh us.
In the gift of the Eucharist at this table,
the sacrifice of the Cross is made our supper
and in the gift of this altar
is the greatest blessing that can be ours. Lent 2010
Posted by Concord Pastor at 1:00 PM