The Bible Sampler quilt project continues with another border piece done and more chapters of Hosea read:
As a resident of California, I’ve been hunkered down with my husband and dogs for 28 days now. (Our governor mandated the shelter at home order on March 4th.) Internet conversations are cropping up about homemade hair dye solutions, and spouses cutting each other’s hair. It’s been quite pleasant to give my face a breather from makeup, and my wardrobe choice has been “loungewear”. A girl could get used to this!
I find it interesting that all this mandatory shutting down and pulling inward coincides with the Lenten season. I was taught that “Lent” means “To remember”. Traditionally, believers practice Lent by choosing to give up something for these forty days. Typically it’s something like alcohol, or meat, or sugary foods, but sometimes it’s TV, or even the radio news talk stations. Believers purposefully clear a space in their hearts, bodies, and minds that they usually fill with things like these. Then when their thoughts go there, because they’re missing that thing, they are to replace that thought with remembrance of the life and death of our Savior.
Whether they want to or not, the world has been practicing Lent. We’ve had to give up the social distractions that preoccupy our minds. Hours that were once filled with dressing up, going out, commuting, and observing the mores of our work and social lives are now wide open for reflective thought. Gone is the distraction of keeping up appearances, even in our church life.
I know of a few church friends who actually breathed sighs of relief when their special event got cancelled. The work of pulling together that Mother’s Day Brunch, that youth group lock-in, that preschool fundraiser, was a lot of, well, work. Forming committees and attending meetings and keeping busy “doing church” is now stripped away. Our faith life has been boiled down to the bare essential, which is found in Jesus’ words to a Pharisee in Matthew 22:
Pharisee: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’. On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”
I’ve read this same message over and over again in the books of the Old Testament: “To obey is better than sacrifice.” God’s always telling His chosen people, the children of Israel, that He wants their hearts, not their church offerings.
In Hosea 6:6, he says it again: “For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.”
And now we, the church, can reset and follow this same message. Now’s the time to not “do church”, but to “be church”. If we have to stay home (such a sacrifice!) then we have time to read the Bible (gain knowledge of God) and love on our families (show mercy). And while we’re praying for extra doses of patience to show that mercy to our loved ones, we can remember in prayer all of those service workers on the front lines of this crisis.
James 5:15 says: “And the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.”
Speaking of accomplishing much, I’m participating in the One Monthly Goal Challenge:
And April’s UFO finish, Lord willing, is to get the Celtic Solstice done.
Binding, burying threads, fixing skipped stitches. That’s it. It’s not much, but it’s realistic. I’m sticking with achievable, stress-free goals these days.