Writing is a refuge for me. Sitting down to a blank screen, my mind full of words and wondering, is as restful and invigorating to me as running is to an athlete or cooking is to a chef. The inability to write, to put keys to keyboard or pen to paper, is always a sign that something is out of whack with me. Only this morning did I realize that it has been weeks since I’ve written anything but “work” related projects: sermons, reports, emails, notes. When is the last time I sat quietly for hours at a time, undistracted, creative, calm? I can’t even remember.
Fortuitously, I have been asked to contribute to a national religious publication this spring so I will soon be forced out of my malaise. And, of course, Sunday’s sermon has yet to take shape—maybe this week the writing will be life-giving for me (and for you) rather than burdensome, as it has been recently.
What is your refuge? In what project can you get lost? Where do you retreat for restoration? If, like me, you write, I extend an invitation to a brief Lent writing project.
Four area Lutheran congregations will produce a collaborative Lent devotional this spring. We are inviting writers of any age (eight from each congregation) to participate in this project. Our end result will be a complete printed devotional resource for Lent, with a daily email option, from Ash Wednesday through Holy Saturday. Each writer will be given a one-word “prompt” around which you will write a short reflection. The writing pattern will be 1-1-1: ONE Bible verse of the writer’s choosing, ONE 3-4 sentence reflection, and ONE prayer of 1-2 sentences. More information will be shared with writers once our docket has been filled. Please let me know by Wednesday, January 27, if you’d like to join our small stable of writers.
Here’s what I’ll be considering as I write Sunday’s sermon. In these tender post-inauguration days of recovery from violence and division, on Sunday we will read about God’s call to follow. Not a political leader or pop idol, not an ideology or fad, but Jesus—the world-changing, sin-forgiving, plain-spoken human form of God in our midst. The Prayer of the Day sums up the texts’ trajectory:
Almighty God, by your grace alone you call us and accept us into your service.
Strengthen us by your Spirit, and make us worthy of your call . . .
We are called not because of our intrinsic value, disarming charm or area of expertise. We are called to follow even though (or perhaps because) we are weak and unworthy. I wonder what words will land on the preaching page about God’s unusual strategy for assembling an entourage.
Often when I cannot write, I read good writing. Today I’m inspired by the stirring words crafted by inaugural poet Amanda Gorman in “The Hill we Climb.” Her reflection begins:
When day comes we ask ourselves where can we find light in this never-ending shade,
The loss we carry a sea we must wade.
We have braved the belly of the beast.
We have learned that quiet isn’t always peace,
And the norms and notions of what just is isn’t always justice.
And yet, the dawn is hours before we knew it.
Her words thrum in my brain (and stir jealousy). Perhaps when day comes I will have found the words to say, the ideas to pursue, the image that will rouse us all to follow Jesus. All I know today is that God is calling each of us. To what? For what? We’ll pursue answers to those questions together.
“See” you Sunday,
Pastor JoAnn Post