Lego Ash WednesdayRiding my bike daily is one of the practices I have decided to take up for Lent. While we often think of Lent being a time when we give up something or when we take up a ‘spiritual practice’, something like prayer or alms giving, Lent can also be a time of reflection, repentance, and change. I need to turn from my unhealthy practices I have fallen into and take up healthy practices – my bike is quite literally a vehicle of change.

view from my bike

My goal is to ride 40 minutes each day for the 40 days of Lent. There is no speed goal. No distance goal. Only time and movement. The first day I fell short by 9 minutes. On day 2 Jenn rode with me and as I came to the point when my driveway was – RIGHT THERE – Jenn said, “Want to ride to the end of the street and back?” My head screamed NO! My legs concurred. But my mouth said “Sure”, because I didn’t want to appear weak and we rode a loop that gave us the extra 5 minutes we lacked to have gone the entire 40 minutes.

As we were out for our ride, we came to a place where the road is dirt (sand actually), that gives way to broken pavement and loose gravel. To make this all the more treacherous it’s a decent downward incline (I live in Southeastern NC, most everything is pretty flat) with a giant mud puddle at the end. As I was riding I was constantly looking ahead, choosing my path though the danger that created the possibilities for a crash. My safest way was very clear. I began to think about how easy it was for me to see the safest path and direct my bike tires to follow. Which reminded me of a scripture I loved as a teen Proverbs 3:5-6 (CEB)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
don’t rely on your own intelligence.
Know him in all your paths,
and he will keep your ways straight.

It was easy for me to trust my own judgment in choosing the path for my bike tires to follow yesterday. I was confident and self-assured that I would not fall and I would safely stay on my bike. But seeing life’s path is not as confident a place for me. Seeing God’s path for me isn’t always clear but  staying on God’s path is even harder. I don’t think I am alone in this struggle.

So, in this season of Lent, while riding my bike, I’ll be meditating on God’s path (while watching for cars and loose impediments); and engaging with those who can help me discern my path and spur me on.

I am not feeling much of a holiday spirit this year. As usual, I can find many reasons to explain why ‘THIS” year I don’t feel the spirit – but the reality is it’s every year. Christmas is stressful! From what do you want for Christmas; shopping; and gatherings; to shopping, decorating; and gathering….it is all stress!

Yesterday, I said a line I think I say every year “I want to like Christmas!” to which Jenn replied “Yeah, you like the idea of Christmas – reality not so much.”

I saw this video touted as the best holiday video this year, Maybe it is! Although I don’t know what’s Christmasy.

It’s a cute video! With a cute dog (always a bonus in my book). I read it was filmed in Poland in English. I hope it helps you find your Christmas Spirit!

This morning I awoke to outside temperature of about 32 degrees….our first frost of the season. Last nigh, we had turned on our heat for the first time this fall. Over night we had run  out of heating oil and the house was about 50degrees…..BURRRRR. Obviously, I needed to get heating oil.

Anyway, I called the company I deal with, Atlantic Coast Oil and Lubes. The owner, Randy, answered the phone. I told him who I was, and that I needed oil, he asked if today or tomorrow was okay…I said sure but I’m out…he said today it is. See you about noon.

Just about noon, I saw the truck pull in my drive…. and oil was delivered! Probably there are many companies I could have called. But Randy had not been here in over a year….but still didn’t need my address (he remembered me). He made it a priority to be sure I got heat (he always does when I mess up and run out).

This is why I believe in doing business with locally owned and operated businesses. Customer service matters!! If you live in Wilmington and have a need for fuel oil, call Randy! He’s a good guy.

In case you missed it, there was an election in the United States last week. It was a particularly nasty run-up to this election; the worst I can remember in my almost 54 years. I’m not sure what was the worst in our history but History.com lists seven as the most contentious US elections (1800, 1824, 1860, 1876, 1912, 1948 and 2000). In my humble opinion, we have a new one topping the list. So since the election I have been trying to find some perspective. And this story keeps rattling around in my head. It’s a story we no doubt know, we learned it in Sunday School.

the-good-samaritan

I must admit to spending time labeling people I know as characters of this story. Who is the man on the side of the road? Who is the Priest or the Levite? Who is the Samaritan? Sadly, I label people in my mind as a way of shaming them. A way of diminishing what they think or what they do (or more often don’t do).

All of us are the lawyer

This week I have come to realize, I am attaching the wrong labels (at least part of the time). In this story, we are, ALL OF US, the lawyer. We know what we should be doing – “loving the Lord our God with all our heart, and with all our soul, and with all our strength, and with all our mind; and our neighbor as ourselves” – but we, like the lawyer look for the loophole.

We want there to be a reason we do not have to love someone.

They’re too brown.
They’re too white.
They’re too liberal.
They’re too conservative.
They’re too religious.
They’re not religious enough, or heaven forbid their religion is different from mine.
They’re too straight.
They’re too gay.
Their family arrived in the US yesterday.
Their family fought in the Revolutionary War (or somewhere in between).

There are as many reasons to decide someone is not our neighbor as there are ways we are all individuals, with our own loves and dislikes. God knows, we have our own opinions! But you know, that’s what has always made this country a pretty cool place.

We’re Far from Perfect

Not perfect! Far from it. We have much work to do! There is great injustice. We are overrun with hatred. As a society, we are incredibly self-centered and egotistical. We are seemingly less tolerant of others than we have ever been. The divide between socio-economic groups is widening. There are problems! Major MAJOR problems!  But at the end of the day we are all neighbors. And even in this past week, I have had wonderful love and support from my friends on both sides. I’ve engaged in meaningful conversation with those with whom I greatly disagree but the conversation was civil and in the end, I still love them, and they me.

There is Only Love

Which is the point I think Jesus is trying to make. There are no loopholes. There is only love.
dr-martin-luther-king

Sermon: Look UP

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A few weeks ago when Shawn asked if I would speak today I immediately began thinking about a topic. I first went to the lectionary to see what the scripture was for today…it’s Luke 10: 25-37 the story we know …

 

Be Like Me

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Love ’em or hate ’em in the past 48 hours  the ‘Be Like Me’ or ‘Be Like Bill’ memes have taken over the world, at least the social media world. None of the ‘canned’ ones suited me. So, I made …