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Salt SpraySalt Spray

   An eastern wind blew against my face as I walked on the beach today.  My glasses quickly covered with salt spray and I couldn’t see the markers that usually determine the length of my walk.  I was cold and huddled inside my jacket, trying to draw breath against the wind.  And all the time I knew when I turned around and retraced my steps, that same wind would propel me home.  What was once an adversary would become my propeller, making the walk easier and swifter.  Thank you, God, for showing me that even in adversity I can take comfort in your presence. On the other side of every painful event there is the joy of your presence.  May the crises of my life give me an opportunity to grown in faith and spirit.  May I pass through hard times and emerge more swift and refreshed in my walk with you. Amen.

Prayer for Palm SundayPrayer for Palm Sunday

Prayer for Palm Sunday  

Dear Heavenly Father—I wonder what it was like for Jesus on that Palm Sunday so very long ago. All the crowds cheering and praising him. Streets crowded with followers, shouting his name, some trying to out-yell the others, so caught up in the frenzy of adoration. The donkey, just as Jesus predicted, found and brought to him so he could ride into Jerusalem as a hero. The scent of crushed palm branches heavy in the air.

And yet, Jesus must have scanned the crowd, looking at individual faces and wondering. “Perhaps that woman waving her palm branch and shouting my name—will she soon be among those shouting “Barabbas—free Barabbas—we’d rather free a robber-murderer than Jesus”? Or that man, so impressed to be near me, so full of adoration, will he be part of the crowd that screams “Crucify him! Crucify him!”. And the disciples, caught up in the scene, basking as part of Jesus’ entourage. “We know him,” they may have shouted back at the crowd, eager for Jesus’ reflected glory. “We know him well! We’re his followers!” How excited everyone was, the weather perfect, the crowds lining the street all of one mind, all intent on acknowledging Jesus and his power, his miracles, his authority.

I’ve had days like that, Lord, days when everything seemed to go so well. Praise ringing in my ears from people I cared about. “Good job!” they said, or “Sandy you scored higher than anyone else!” Or even, “No one but you could have done so well!” Words that stroked my ego, words that wrapped themselves around me and made me feel important, valued loved. But unlike you, Lord, I had no idea of what lay ahead. I never anticipated hearing, from the same people, “We’re disappointed in you, Sandy, we thought you would have done better” or “You surely let us down with that performance”. I tried, in my own mind, to question their authority or their validity, their judgment. Sometimes I took away my love, feeling they no longer earned it.

That palm strewn Sunday, with all its hoopla, all of its celebration, would lead within a few days to a dark afternoon on a hill named Golgotha. And you knew it Lord, you were perfectly aware of the events awaiting you—events that would erase this sunny day and its crowds and its adoration. You knew the agony of torture, dragging through town the very cross on which you would hang. You knew the denials and betrayals and fear that would turn the crowds against you and make them kill you.

The difference between you and me, Lord, is that you knew all of this and, with an intensity beyond my comprehension, continued to love. Continued to love those who shouted loudest and were equally intense spitting on you that same week. Loving those disciples who couldn’t stay awake and watch with you on an agonizing night of pain and fear. Loving those who claimed not to know you because they were afraid they’d suffer your fate. Loving each of us despite our failures and our on/off again relationship with you. Loved us when we didn’t love you back. If there is a message to be gained from that sunny entry into Jerusalem, a celebration like that given to Super Bowl heroes, it is love. Unrequited, undeserved, unwarranted love. Wave a palm branch and scream “Hosanna” or scream equally loud, “Crucify Him!” It’s still love.

And so, Dear Lord, I come to you on this Palm Sunday. Forgive me for the times I betray you, forgive me for my tepid love, and most of all please forgive me for failing to forgive. Remind me always your response to all the crowds—those who come to praise you and those who come to crucify you, your response is the same, “I love you”. That’s all we need to know.

Night ComesNight Comes

  At this time of year, night seems to descend on the island differently than elsewhere.  Like a worn quilt, the sky first has only thin places, worn spots that appear to have been rubbed against by giant ankles or elbows, places where the sun shines—barely.  As if suspended, the quilt hangs heavier and heavier, weighted by the stars that begin to pull id down, down, slowly until there is more darkness than light.  Sometimes, dear Lord, I reach for you and find a hole where the fingers of faith quickly connect.  At other times, I reach into something thick and furry, unable to find you, to touch you.  When that happens, I depend upon others to connect me, others to raise my name in prayer, others who lift me and my situation.  Perhaps I break through to you because of old, memorized bible verses or hymns that appear in my mind, illuminating the darkness.  Thank you, Heavenly Father, for the beauty of night but more importantly, thank you for the beauty of your light-filled presence no matter how deep the dark. Amen.