Lincoln’s Log 2-28-2021

Growing in Trust

“If God is for us, who can be against us?”
Rm. 8:31b

“How deeply do you believe that since God is for you, no one can destroy you?”
Question of the Week

In the story of the Transfiguration we hear of a powerful encounter with God. A few disciples travel with Jesus to a grand mountain vista. There, before their eyes Jesus begins to glow with a radiant light. Ancient prophets appear with Him and a voice booms from heaven declaring Jesus, “My beloved Son.” Wow!

How would you react if you were one of those disciples?

Mark tells us that the disciples were “terrified” (Mk. 9:6). The whole scene was overwhelming. The disciples didn’t know how to respond.

And suddenly, it was over. The disciples look around and there is no one else there, “but Jesus alone with them.”

As they come down the mountain and return to their lives, the questions keep coming. What does this mean? Jesus “charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone, except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead” (Mk. 9:9). They don’t even understand what Jesus was talking about but are questioning in their hearts “what rising from the dead meant” (Mk. 9:10).

This powerful encounter with God didn’t provide the disciples with answers. It spurred them to deeper questions. The mystery of God’s love for them in Jesus didn’t come all at once. It was only after the resurrection that the meaning of Jesus’ transfiguration began to become clear to these disciples. It took time for them to trust what had been said to them in that powerful mountaintop experience. They had to grow in their ability to trust Jesus, even though it had been revealed to them.

We all make a similar journey. We know that God loves us. We have heard the Gospel and we celebrate it week after week in our walk with the Lord. Yet, like the disciples we need to grow in our ability to trust. Every morning we open our eyes, every disaster averted, every prayer answered, every experience of forgiveness, generosity, or love reveals the trustworthiness of the Lord. We trust a little more. Some days are better than others. Some experiences challenge our ability to trust and others make the Lord’s steadfast love clear.

This week we explore the heart of that trust with our question, “How deeply do you believe that since God is for you, no one can destroy you?”

Pray with the question. Share it with others. Ponder it in your heart. It can lead you to deeper trust if you allow it.

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln
Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 2-21-2021

Ministered to by Angels

“The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among wild beasts and the angels ministered to him.”
Mk. 1:12-13

“When or how could you step away from your daily responsibilities to renew yourself, so that you can do a better job of following in the footsteps of Jesus?”
Question of the Week

I still remember the first retreat I led. It was for people who were preparing for baptism. Lent wasn’t too far off and this was the first retreat for all of them. They were all a little nervous, but I had been walking with them for several months and knew them well. They trusted that I wasn’t going to do anything too strange. Besides, it was only a few hours on a Saturday morning. I think most of them expected an extended version of what we did at our normal sessions.

But that wasn’t it at all.

After sharing a few readings from Scripture, I talked with them about spending some time in quiet. I stressed that the silence had a lot to teach us. I challenged them not to spend the time thinking about all the things they could be doing instead of being quiet but to allow the silence to teach them. I gave them a handout with a few spiritual questions on it about the readings we had read, but urged them to ignore the handout unless they were going crazy with the silence. I would be available to visit with them if they needed someone to talk with and we would discuss their experience with the silence after our time was up.

And the silence was powerful.

As I sat and prayed for them, I could see them settling into the quiet. They spread out throughout the building. They were all very quiet. A sacred silence descended.

After our time was up, we gathered together and shared our experience with the silence. One woman said that she felt a deep peace. Another man said his mind was racing for the first 20 minutes or so, but finally settled down and he could hear the beating of his heart. One woman said that she cried most of the time we were in silence, but she didn’t know where the tears came from. After the tears she felt that part of her had been healed. Several people said it was strange at first but they were able to settle in after a while. Some folks struggled and honestly admitted that it was hard, but they could see that it could be valuable to have silence as part of their life.

Jesus experienced a profound silence in the desert. We read that he was tempted by the devil, surrounded by wild beasts, and that angels ministered to Him. When we allow ourselves to be led into silence the same things can happen to us. All of our temptations are exposed, our inner wildness becomes apparent, and we can experience the ministry of angels… and we are renewed. Take some time this week to ponder our Question of the Week: “When or how could you step away from your daily responsibilities to renew yourself, so that you can do a better job of following in the footsteps of Jesus?”

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln

Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 2-14-2021

Scary Words, Scary Questions

“Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.”
1 Corinthians 11:1

“Would you have the courage to tell others to do as you do in order to be a Christian? Why or why not?”
Question of the Week

This Sunday’s short second reading from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 10:31-11:1) contains some very scary words. Paul writes, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.”

Paul is holding himself up as a model for others to follow. He is saying that when people look at him and the way he lives his life, they should see how a Christian is supposed to live. Paul is putting himself out there as an example saying, “look at me and you will get a glimpse of Jesus.”

What makes these words scary is not that Paul says them, but that as Christians we are all called to live them. Each of us has been immersed in Christ at our baptism, confirmed in the Holy Spirit, and fed the Body and Blood of the Lord. Because of this close connection with Jesus we should be able to use those same words that Paul says. “Look at me and see Christ!”

Our lives should be models for others to follow. The truth is, that our lives are models, whether we admit it or not. We look to one another for guidance through life. Children look up to adults as models. If we do something, more often than not, they follow our lead.

Now you know why those words are scary!

But “Be imitators of me… “ is not all Paul says. He goes on to say, “… as I am of Christ.” Paul is holding himself up as a model only because he is following Jesus. Paul knows that his life is not about him. He knows that he is weak and that he fails. But Paul is striving to be the best disciple of Jesus that he can be. Paul keeps his focus on Jesus, and not himself. He trusts that by focusing his life on following Jesus, he will lead others to him. By surrendering to Jesus, Paul is able to influence others.

Lent begins this Wednesday and we have a chance to take stock of where we are in our desire to follow Jesus. Do we share Paul’s confidence? Are we able to hold up our lives as a model for others? In what ways do we still need to grow as disciples of Jesus?

This week’s question of the week makes the point clear, “Would you have the courage to tell others to do as you do in order to be a Christian? Why or why not?”

Now that’s a question that can lead us into a fruitful lent!

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln
Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 2-7-2021

The Meaning of Life

“Job spoke, saying: ‘Is not man’s life on earth a drudgery? Are not his days those of a hireling? He is a slave who longs for the shade, a hireling who waits for his wages.’”
Job 7:1-2

“Jesus told his disciples, “Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose, I have come.” So he went into their synagogues, preaching and driving out demons throughout the whole of Galilee.”
Mk. 1:38-39

This weekend’s readings confront us with the question of meaning. Job shows us the depths of despair. We see Job, in the midst of his suffering. He reflects on the lack of meaning in life. He asks, Why do I get up morning after morning? Every day is like yesterday. The sun comes up. The sun goes down. I get up. I go to work. I come home. I eat. I sleep. What does this all mean?

Despair is lurking at the gate of Job’s heart. And it lurks at the gate of our heart, too. These same questions can haunt our days and keep us awake at night. Everyone I know has struggled with these questions.

And Job doesn’t really get an answer to his questions. Instead, later in the book of Job, he has an encounter with God. This encounter changes the way he sees everything. In some mysterious way, meeting the Lord helps Job discover meaning in his life. He realizes that he is part of something bigger than himself. He has a role to play in the great drama of salvation, even if he can’t fully understand what it is. The answer to Job’s question of meaning is encountering the Lord.

The same is true for us. It is only in the light of an encounter with the Lord, that we discover life’s true meaning. It is much bigger than the answer to a question. It is a new relationship with everything because of our relationship with Jesus.

The gospels we’ve read since Christmas give us a glimpse of what this encounter can look like. When the first disciples encountered Jesus they dropped everything and followed Him (Jn. 1:35-42; Mk. 1:14-20). When the people in the synagogue encountered Jesus they discovered a “new teaching with authority” (Mk. 1:21-28). And in today’s Gospel Jesus heals those who encounter Him. He tells Simon that He has come to bring good news to all people – “For this purpose, I have come” (Mk. 1:38b).

Every day we have a chance to encounter Jesus by inviting him into the “meaningless” parts of our lives. He may not give us an answer, but He will be with us.

And that changes everything.

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln
Parish Pastoral Leader