Dear Kind and Gentle People,
Yesterday the Newfield Community Church observed the first Sunday of Lent with the placement of our Lenten wreath. Simply put, an elegant wreath of six rich purple candles that are a-kindled each week and with no fanfare or blabbing. The correlating number of candles are extinguished after the sermon. Alas and alack, I extinguished the first candle yesterday with my fingers pinching the flame, no worries, having done this for years. However, a bit of rich purple wax stuck to my paws and before you could say “Rumpelstiltskin” the keys on the Steinway had received an unexpected Lenten blessing. A blessing because it certainly made me even more aware of the musical phrases and texts of our hymn playing with blobs of purple goo under my fingertips. How often the Universe gives us what appears to be a challenge and we fail to see the positive result that can unfold.
The season of Lent can be such a joyful time for letting go of the old ways that hinder us and for expecting good results in our walk with our Creator, especially in ways that we have not pondered before. The Newfield Community Church hosted “Ash and Dash” again this year at 7am and 5pm, ministering from the back of my trusty 2005 Scion XB in the parking lot. After shoveling the new fallen snow and fortifying myself with a prayer and giant swig of coffee, a most holy day unfolded.
Cars and trucks beeped and waved and the morning dog walkers sent me joy! Then it happened! A mother who had seen this event on Facebook and had sent a message at 10pm the night before brought her two children, probably 9 and 11, who were eager to participate. So eager that they got up early on school vacation day. This was a sacred and holy experience for them, and although they pray each night and read the Bible daily, they had never been into a sanctuary.
Our church is unheated but the door is latched open with a trusty bungie cord so all may be welcome to enter. After receiving ashes, this nuclear family went into the church for about 10 minutes and came out with such JOY! People, truly this was a mystical and natural unfolding. Who knew!
At the end of the day, the spiritual life is never about us or about what we can and cannot do. It is about the Universe and its powerful magical workings. Lent is a time to truly embrace God’s mysterious gifting, inviting help as you reside in your holy dust-formed body. This year perhaps you might use the purple candles out of your toolbox as a physical act of intent.
Beyond what you can see are the spiritual gifts including grace or unmerited goodness. Indeed, all the holy gifts that never fail, such as divine love, holy joy, forgiveness, perfect peace and empowerment by the Spirit. During this Lenten season embrace the gift of light and do your due diligence in letting go of the old and being transformed with a new awareness. Be open to the workings of the Spirit. You will not fail. You have everything you need!
Gobs of Blessings and Heaps of Happiness,
Rev. Dr. Peter Stickney, Chaplain
UCC Musicians Association
P.O. Box 370631
West Hartford, CT 06137
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