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As we continue our journey through Lent, we use our senses to reflect on the events of Jesus’ life and death, also called the Passion, and once again we imagine gathering for Bread and Broth. We are invited to think on these weekly words and watch the video message on our website.

Sound (Blessed are Those Who Hear)
Smell (An Odor Pleasing to the Lord)
Touch (Who Touched Me)
Taste (Taste and See that the Lord is good)

Today we consider the gift of sound. Imagine the sound of many voices as we gather in the Purple Room…spirited conversations around the tables, eruptions of laughter, quiet moments of discussion. Listen for the prayer concerns of the church family, and those unspoken, yet still in our hearts. Perhaps Li Ling Liu makes Coconut Chicken soup, Catherine Hiller makes Hungarian Mushroom. Perhaps Joan and Jerry Watkins bring the bread for us to share tonight. Listen for words of grace over the meal, our gratitude for all who prepared and provided for us.

Recall the voices of Jesus and his disciples as they gathered in homes and on hillsides…Who do people say that I am? What have you to offer? Why do you doubt? Let those who have ears to hear, listen. Your faith has made you well. Make a joyful noise to the Lord. Speak, O Lord, for your servants are listening. Hear the table talk around us as we consider tonight’s questions and share our thoughts…Which noises bring us anguish? Which sounds bring us comfort? How do we listen for the still small voice of God? Where do we hear the good news?

Lord God, you have promised to hear the prayers of those who call on you.
May we also hear your call.
Let us listen to those who call on us.
May their cries for help, understanding, or assistance
be heard in our minds and hearts.
We give thanks for the sounds around us –
the singing of the birds, the joys of music, and the delight of speech.
May we also cherish and give to others that gift of silence,
a gift in which you also speak to those who listen.
May we hear the words of our Savior, Jesus Christ,
and may we make joyful sounds to proclaim Jesus’ message
of love, repentance and forgiveness.
We ask you to hear our prayer through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

(By Kevin Scully)

As we begin our journey through Lent, we sense that it is still not safe enough for us to gather on Wednesday evenings, sharing food and fellowship around the tables. In place of that favorite time-honored tradition (which, according to my memory, we have been doing for at least fifteen years), we would like to offer you some “Bread and Broth for the Soul.”

Each Wednesday during the five weeks of Lent we will send out these weekly words, lifting a different theme for reflection and posting a video message on our website. Our program will be “Sensing the Passion,” and each week we will consider a new sense:

Sight (Seeing is Believing)
Sound (Blessed are Those Who Hear)
Smell (An Odor Pleasing to the Lord)
Touch (Who Touched Me)
Taste (Taste and See that the Lord is good)

Tonight we invite you to picture people gathering in the Purple Room. Imagine the tables set with purple tablecloths and place settings…utensils, napkins, salt and pepper shakers, candles. Imagine bread baskets lined with purple fabric and filled with a variety of breads…a basket at the door receiving gifts to the America for Christ offering. Imagine friends and families greeting one another, getting caught up on the week’s events…taking time to share prayer concerns and thank those who have provided the meal.

Perhaps Peg Straub made chicken noodle soup, or Pat Tootell made Butternut Squash soup. Perhaps Gail Neff brought the bread, or Marilyn Benson made the cheddar biscuits. Picture the kitchen crew preparing and moving among us, serving hot bowls of nourishment. Picture the many faces as we say grace, enjoy the meal, have conversation, and pray. Picture the single sheet of paper on each table, suggesting topics for table talk, asking…What do we see these days? What are we NOT able to see? What does God want us to see?

God, we give thanks for the gift of sight. May we use it to see more clearly.
Let us be joyful for the many shades of light and color which it can discern.
May we remember that our view is one view.
Even when it becomes part of a broader picture,
let us recall it is never the complete, overall view.
We give thanks for the Savior,
for Jesus’ vision of purpose and Jesus’ compassionate sight on us.
May the power of your sustaining Spirit bring what we see into the unifying vision of you…
We ask this through our Redeemer, Jesus Christ. Amen.
(By Kevin Scully)

“The Last Word”
(Inspiration from Henri Nouwen)

Forming a community
with family and friends,
building a body of love,
shaping a new people
of the resurrection:
all of this is not just
so that we can live a life
protected from the dark forces
that dominate our world;
it is, rather, to enable us
to proclaim together
to all people,
young and old,
white and black,
poor and rich,
that death does not
have the final word,
that hope is real
and God is alive.

Spoiler alert…these words are NOT found on the first page of this year’s Lenten devotional; they are found on the very last page of the booklet, at the end of the story…as the last word. They are words of affirmation and reflection written by Henri Nouwen; they appear as the final meditation in “Steadfast Love” and are meant to be read on Easter Sunday. Usually we start at the beginning, but sometimes it strengthens us for the journey if we know where we are going.

These Lenten devotionals are ready and waiting for you in the church office; if you’d like one this year, feel free to stop by and pick yours up, or ask us to drop one off or put one in the mail. We also have our traditional matching key tags to help you mark the season of Lent.

This will be our second Lenten season spent apart from one another, and I know it is hard on all of us, yet difficult journeys are always easier when we can share them with family and friends. Last year many of you chose an “egg word” for Lent (or the word chose you). This year I offer you not a word but a thought: you are not alone. I will do everything in my power to put that thought into action…record worship services, send weekly words, call, text, talk, pray, and love. In this year’s wilderness we may proclaim together that hope is real, and that God is alive.

May that promise have the final word…Pastor Claudine