The United Methodist Church of Enfield
Monday, April 19, 2021
Open Hearts. Open Minds. Open Doors.

 

 

March 18, 2021

 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me.  Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit.     (Psalm 51:10-12)

To the faith-filled sisters & brothers of The United Methodist Church of Enfield – 

During Lent, I invited you to try a variety of ways to pray.  How is it going?  Did you know that if you’re hesitant to pray, you’re not the only one?

So many times, when it comes to prayer, people tell me they don’t want to pray or don’t know how, or won’t because they think they have to be in a ‘religious’ frame of mind – however they define it.  But…and this is not a secret at all – not all prayer is filled with words of composed phrases.  Most prayer is as casual as a conversation with a friend.   

Why don’t you take inspiration from the verses at the top of this letter, and try a different kind of prayer?  Below are a couple of suggestions for approaches to pray that might work for you.  

Doodle Prayer – If you like images, you might try this visual form of prayer.  To pray for a person (including yourself), write their name on the page. Draw around the name with whatever design comes to mind, seeing each stroke of your pen as a prayer for them.  Add color, if you want. Keep drawing as you release the person into God’s care.  Add other people to your drawing. Say “Amen” between each person.  Or name a situation in your life or the life of the world.  Write a key word or draw an image, doodling around it in prayer.  

Breath Prayer – I also call this short form of prayer a “stoplight prayer” because you can say it in the time you are waiting for the red light to turn green.  You can pray in this manner with any two short phrases from scripture or a hymn or by using your own words.  (See the examples below.)  Breath in as you say the first phrase, and breathe out as you say the second phrase.  You can say breath prayers out loud, in a whisper, or silently.  Breath prayers are wonderful as a calming, meditative practice.
“Create in me a clean heart, O God…& put a new & right spirit within me.” (Ps 51:10)
“Restore to me the joy of your salvation…& sustain in me a willing spirit. (Ps 51:12) 
   
We’re almost at the beginning of Holy Week!  May these last days of Lent be a time of growing closer to Christ.  

Peace & grace,
Pastor Janet 

 

 
 
 

 

 

 

March 11, 2021


To the faith-filled sisters & brothers of The United Methodist Church of Enfield –

One year ago today, March 11, was the date that the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the spread of a new virus so pervasive that the disease had become a pandemic.  The reach of COVID-19 across the world had been fast and furious and deadly.  Within one week, most of our social, educational, economic and spiritual lives closed down.  We found ourselves wearing masks in public, being cautious of the groceries we brought home and the mail we picked up.  Most difficult of all, we found ourselves no longer able to be in the presence of other people with whom we did not live.  Not friends or family or neighbors or church community or co-workers or anyone whatsoever.  

And so began the wait – The wait for the coronavirus to go away, the wait for the restrictions on our social and economic lives to be lifted, the wait for news of our beloveds affected by the disease, the wait to be in worship together again, the wait to return back to normal.  

It’s a year later, and we’re still waiting.  This waiting has changed us.  As people of faith, we can choose how the wait has changed us.  We can choose to become impatient and frustrated and angry with what’s different – and who hasn’t?  We can choose to see in the wait the presence of God.  

The people of Israel in times of difficulty chose to ‘wait for the Lord.’  Over and over again in scripture, we hear this phrase.  If it brings up images of sitting in chairs in a lobby, think again.  Waiting for the Lord is not a passive process. Waiting for the Lord engages one’s whole self in trusting that God’s presence is there. With you.  In the waiting.  In the despair.  In the hoping.

I recently came across a prayer written by Walter Brueggermann, an Old Testament scholar, in response to the pandemic.  I share it below with all of you now as we continue to journey through Lent toward the cross – and the sure and certain hope of the Resurrection. 


Peace & grace,

Pastor Janet 

 

 

Let the Dance Begin 

(Written by Walter Brueggemann)


We now miss out on so much

     the graduation of a granddaughter, the wedding of a niece,

     the Final Four, the beginning of Baseball,

     the great Easter liturgy,

     the day by day interaction of the street. 

The virus has imposed a huge silence among us. 

It is a silence that evokes loneliness, 

     and domestic violence, and job loss,

     and the end of life in the bars, and on the beach and on the street. 

We wait; we may wait in despair, or at least in deep disappointment. 

But we may also wait differently: 

     we wait in confident faith; we wait in eager longing; 

     we wait on the Lord.

We wait for the future and against despair, 

     because we know that you, the God of life, will defeat the force of death. 

We know that the Friday execution could not defeat the life lived by Jesus 

     nor the life lived by his faithful people. 

As we wait, we practice our next moves for the coming dance; 

     it is only a little while. . .” yet a little while”;

     we will walk the long march of obedience;

     we will run the race of discipleship; 

     we will soar like eagles into God’s good future of neighborliness. 

We know you will overcome the silence 

     because the silence. . .no more than the darkness. . . 

          can overcome the Lord of life. Amen. 


 

 

 

 

Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths.  Lead me in your truth, and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all day long.
(Psalm 25:4-5)

 
February 24, 2021

To the faith-filled sisters & brothers of The United Methodist Church of Enfield –
 
Last Sunday in worship, we proclaimed the passage above from Psalm 25.  For how are we to know God’s ways, unless we learn them?
 
During Lent, I invite you to try a variety of ways to pray.  This week, I encourage to try “lectio divina”, a way of praying with scripture.  It means listening to God so that the Word of God can reach deep within us.  Lectio divina is a Latin expression meaning literally “sacred reading.”
 
There are four steps to lectio divina.  The first steps involve doing, but the last step entails simply being.  You may go back to the passage and read it until another word strikes you.  Over time, lectio divina forms a listening heart in us so that we become more reflective and more attuned to God in everyday events.  You might begin by using the passage from Psalm 25 above. 
 
1) Lectio – READ. Select a brief passage of scripture. In the first reading, allow a word or phrase to speak to your heart as a special word from God.  What catches your attention in the passage? 
 
2) Meditatio – REFLECT.  In the second reading, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you in what way this passage has a direct connection or touches your life at the present moment.
 
3) Oratio – RESPOND. In the third reading, let your heart respond in a silent or expressed prayer, sharing with God how you feel in response to this passage.
 
4) Contemplatio – REST.  In the fourth reading, simply rest in God, consenting in the name of Jesus to the presence and action of the Holy Spirit within you.  On this level, we know the Holy Spirit in an experiential way.
 
By immersing ourselves in God’s Word, the Word takes flesh in us!  What better way to learn God’s ways? May the presence of Christ be with you.
 
Peace & grace,
Pastor Janet