Today's Lectionary Text
I Thessalonians 5: 12-21But we appeal to you, brothers and sisters, to respect those who labor among you, and have charge of you in the Lord and admonish you; esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. And we urge you, beloved, to admonish the idlers, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with all of them. See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise the words of prophets, but test everything; hold fast to what is good;
We’ve escaped the enclosed Zoom room
in which we’ve become accustomed
to seeing each other from afar.
On this Sunday afternoon we meet
at nearby Mahoney State Park
standing near, masked face to masked face.
Pausing at the side of the rink
expecting to see this nine-year-old
skater wipe-out on the hard ice
like nearly everyone else I’ve
ever seen, staring at their feet in
their premier adventure on ice skates.
We stand amazed, her dad, sis, and I,
as we see her take off with arms
swinging, somehow knowing this is
the way it’s done, without ever
having been on the ice before.
She appears confident in her
own powers, not grasping for support
but acting as one Super-Girl
especially pleased with herself,
as though she had no doubt, she could
trust and balance perfectly.
Rare distress shows on her face when
able to stop only by slamming
into the wall of the ice rink.
Then her sister-teacher kindly shows
her how to turn her toes inward
to slow down, and to lean on the
outside of the blades to loop around.
This nine-year-old’s victory on ice
brings even more joy than the steaming
mug of cocoa stirred with an
unbroken peppermint stick.
Slurp it gingerly and enjoy
the wonder of the winter season!
At our annual church sledding party this past Sunday, there were many glorious moments like the Super Girl mentioned above. It was also fun to watch a teenager who has notably improved each year in his skating skills. We delighted in seeing a nine-year-old boy sledding all the way down the long hill on a saucer that he uses as a snowboard. The girls circling round and round while increasing in speed with each turn brought a sense of calmness. And two other teenage boys who skate unconcerned about skill level, are great to see palling around together at whatever the activity.
On the other hand, people fall left and right. The prospects for wiping out are high when on the ice sliding on a narrow blade of steel. And certainly, with sledding! The good thing is that there were countless opportunities to help one another up with the “sweet eye of kindness,” as Julian of Norwich would have said.
Oh, that we would regard one another’s everyday failings with those same sweet eyes of kindness while fully appreciating this human experience we call life. Could we learn to be grateful for metaphorical- falls that teach us that we have the strength to rise up once more, and that God’s forgiveness knows no limits? Imagine how different the world would be if we didn’t live in shame and act out of pain for mistakes that are made.
In Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians*, he instructs the people to “pursue the good for each other and everyone else.” Remember that every one of us has weaknesses and strengths which God uses for divine purposes. May we use our strengths to reach out to pull one another up, no matter how many times it takes.
Let us continually take a pause in our day, then go within to seek the Spirit of Christ in prayer and release what is past. Then we can truly live in the wonder of the moment and enjoy life.
Know that we love you and are wrapping a warm quilt of prayer around you.
The grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
-Rev. Marta Wheeler
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