Happy Saint Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick’s prayers for the faithful capture the wonderful spirit that made him Ireland’s patron saint and one of the Church’s most beloved missionaries.  He was born in Britain shortly before the 5th century.  He was taken captive to Ireland by raiders at the age of 16. He lived there for six years as a shepherd under harsh conditions and became intensely devoted to God in prayer, as he puts it, “because the spirit was then fervent within me.” Tradition has it that divine dreams inspired both his escape from captivity in Ireland and his return there later in his life as a bishop.

A Variation of St. Patrick’s Prayer:

I arise today
Through the strength of Christ’s birth with His baptism,
Through the strength of His crucifixion with His burial,
Through the strength of His resurrection with His ascension,

May the Strength of God pilot us.
May the Power of God preserve us.
May the Wisdom of God instruct us.
May the Hand of God protect us.
May the Way of God direct us.
May the Shield of God defend us.
May the Host of God guard us.
Against the snares of the evil ones.
Against temptations of the world
May Christ be with us!
May Christ be in us,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
Christ be over all!

May Thy Salvation, Lord,
Always be ours,
This day, O Lord, and evermore
AMEN

Finding our way this Lent

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Perhaps you to have memories of traveling in the loaded down family station wagon to unique points of interest.  Nearly all of the memories I choose to keep are good ones.
I was thinking this week of the number of times I heard Dad say, “We aren’t lost. We’re just taking a more scenic route!”

That comment was often followed by comments like:

“Haven’t we already passed this place?”
“This doesn’t look like (fill in the blank)”
“Daddy, are you sure we aren’t lost?”

I think that scene played out in more than a dozen states during my youth. It made me think about this week and the beginning of the Lent season.

Every year it seems Lent sneaks up on us. With snow on the ground it can’t be Lent! Spring and Easter seem so far off on the calendar. Are you sure it’s time for Lent?

And yet it is time to do this Lent thing all over again.

Lent is time to remind us that although we know where we are going, we aren’t there yet.
It serves as a time to remind us that we are lost. It is a time to experience “deja vu” all over again, as we travel this seemingly familiar path.

So, hear again the words of John the Baptist, “Prepare the way of the Lord and make straight the paths!” (Mark 1:3b NIV)

Perhaps your path has become overgrown with the weeds of life.

Perhaps this familiar path seems strangely different this year.
Perhaps life has cluttered this once familiar path.
I invite you to use this season of Lent to discover again the path that leads to Easter and an empty tomb.

We are lost, but the path to being found lies just ahead.

So, Prepare the way . . .

If ever we needed an Ash Wednesday …

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Later a few religion scholars and Pharisees got on him. “Teacher, we want to see your credentials. Give us some hard evidence that God is in this. How about a miracle?” Matthew 12:38 The Message 

So you are the Messiah? Prove it.

A common response seemingly in any generation.

The earth isn’t the center of the universe. Prove it.

The earth is round. Prove it.

All men are created equal. Prove it.

Your team is better than mine. Prove it.

We want evidence. We want proof.

But here is the problem . . . what will we do, when we are given proof ?

“Show us a sign—then we’ll believe you are the Messiah!” That was the challenge the religious leaders of the day issued to Jesus. They wondered if this man was the Messiah, as some were claiming—and they demanded that He prove it!

What did Jesus do?

He gave them a sign, telling them: “A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.” Matthew 16:4

Another gospel records these words of Jesus: “This is an evil generation. It seeks a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah the prophet. For as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so also the Son of Man will be to this generation.”Luke 11:29–30 

Christ’s miracles were amazing signs of God’s power and ministry.

John the Baptist wanted a sign – Jesus said tell Him what you have seen.

What was the sign of Jonah and what does it have to do with us today?

The seemingly obvious answer is the three days. Jesus spent 3 days in the grave. Death, burial, and resurrection will be the sign. But there is also another part to the “sign of Jonah.” Jesus’ call for those in His audience to repent was like Jonah’s call to repentance.

The inhabitants of Nineveh responded to Jonah’s call to repentance:
From the least to the greatest, all turned from their sinful lifestyle. And God saw their works that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that He had said that He would do unto them; and He did it not. Jonah 3:10 KJV 

A call to each of us to repentance comes as we begin our journey towards Easter.

Tonight, we take on a sign – A sign of the cross taken from the Ashes of our celebration.

It is easy to get caught up in the hype of Lent. Yes, I said hype of Lent as we declare with loud voices, “I gave up this . . . I gave up that . . .”

Hear the hype talking? That is not Lent. Lent is not a period of time where we replace a vice with the declaration that we are doing good.

Lent is an inward journey – a journey of reflection – a journey of choices.

And so today, we make a choice – A choice to believe – A choice to seek – A choice to journey to Easter.  On Our journey to Easter we will see many signs. Our journey will culminate as we witness the one sign Jesus spoke of – the sign of Jonah – resurrection.

Some will see the signs and choose to believe.

Some will see the signs and still question.

It is your choice.

Jonah had a choice – initially he ran.

His second chance (and his response) created a great revival.

Now is your chance.

What will you do?