Life Returns

Meet Honey Bunch.

For 42 years she thrived contentedly in my sister’s home. Then she met Nina the cat.

I don’t know what the cat’s purpose was but it was nearly the end of Honey Bunch.

My sister rescued her, tended her lovingly, and brought her back to life. Here’s Honey Bunch a year later.

Sometimes in our lives things beyond our control hammer us and tear us apart. We may feel like it’s over, we can’t go on.

But there is One who can rescue us, care for us tenderly, and heal us. If we trust Him and place ourselves in His hands He can restore us to life. Even if we’re powerless, like Honey Bunch, God is all powerful. He can heal us and renew us.

Not long ago my front yard was a barren landscape of snow. Plants were brown. Everything looked dead.

Now I see green stems in the bushes and daffodils and irises emerging from the ground. The cycle of life continues. After the harshness and stress of winter, the world is reborn.

Life returns.

Are You Needy?

When I wrote about giving up burdens last week I wasn’t thinking about pride. I guess I didn’t see it as a burden. That’s telling.

God has ways of reminding us of our need. Not long ago I was trying to navigate the narrow path through the ice wall created by the snowplows in front of our house. Suddenly I slipped and fell.

The busy traffic came to a halt. People came running to help but the only thing hurt was my pride.

Volumes can – and have – been written about pride. I’m not trying to go in depth here. I’m just thinking about when pride keeps us from asking for, or accepting, the help we need.

Last week our minister of music was playing “I Need Thee Every Hour.” The chorus goes: I need Thee, Oh I need Thee, Every hour I need Thee. Oh bless me now my savior, I come to Thee.

It was supposed to be an instrumental selection but I couldn’t help singing along softly. The song spoke deeply to something in my soul.

It’s good sometimes to be reminded of our neediness. We need each other, but abbove all we need God. No number of online mentors, self-help gurus, friends, family, or even church fellowship, can fill the place only God can.

Can we let go of our pride and acknowledge our need?

“I need Thee, Oh I need Thee…”

Lighten up.

Ashes.

Images of devastation.  Fire.  Ruin.

Yet last week millions of Christians received a cross of ashes on their foreheads and heard the words, “dust you are and to dust you shall return.”

A reminder of our mortality and the brevity of life.  Surely over the past two years we’ve all had plenty of those.  But the season of Lent is also a time to pause, to focus on our lives, to work on our relationships with God and others.

It’s a time to let go of busy-ness and be present to God and the leading of the Spirit.

I was raised with the practice of giving up something for Lent.  In recent years I’ve begun taking on something positive instead.  Yet even with this positive approach it can become a time filled with “shoulds” and “oughts” and a burden of guilt.  This is missing the point, which is to draw closer to God.

This week at our Lenten study each of us had a picture of a camel.  On that camel we wrote our burdens,  things we carry which interfere with our relationships with God and His plan for us.

Here is my suggestion.  This Lent, instead of giving up chocolate or some other indulgence, let’s try giving up our burdens.

Anything that keeps us from God; that holds us back from hearing His voice and doing His will –

Let’s give those up.

Let’s lean on Him and simply enjoy His love.

“Come unto me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

He can handle our burdens much better than we can.  It will be hard, and we’ll probably have to do it over and over, but let’s lighten our loads and trust Him.

Grace Kennedy March 10, 2022

Seasons of Grief, Part 2

I remember how devastated I was when the death toll from coronavirus reached 100,000.

Now, almost a year later, I hear 500,000 and barely bat an eye.

Have I grown callous? Or is the enormity of it somehow just to great to take in, too difficult to process?

Yes, this has been a season of grief for most of us. But it has also been an opportunity for growth, for change, for re-creating our world and making it better.

We have had to confront systemic racism in new ways. Yet despite all the protests and publicity, we continue to hear about acts of racism and injustice. How will it end? Can it end? Repeated images of George Floyd and others killed unjustly tear my heart open. We must make it end.

We must begin to act and advocate for justice wherever we are. We must turn our grief and sorrow into action to build a better future for ourselves and our children.

As we come out of the season of Lent I hope we have taken time and allowed ourselves space to heal, to grieve, and to discern what is needed now.

As we move into the hope and joy of the Resurrection, let’s remember that God is still sovereign. We can’t see what His plan is but we can be obedient to whatever He is calling us to do at any given moment, trusting in Him for the outcome. We can be co-creators with God, working together to build His loving kingdom in a fallen and hurting world.

Together, let us move with faith into a brighter future.

-Grace L. Kennedy

Introduction

In a world full of strife and discord, grace can be hard to find.

Our culture prizes action, productivity, and personal responsibility. All good things, but I think there’s more to life. Grace is a rare commodity.

What is grace?

Grace is helping someone who hasn’t earned it.

Grace is loving the unlovable.

Grace is forgiving someone who doesn’t deserve it.

That may sound crazy. That’s not the way the world works. It’s not practical.

True, it’s not the way the world works. But it is the way God works, and I want to grow in being like God.

Grace is holy.

I pray this will be a place of life-affirming grace, a place to find healing and joy.

Since it’s my name, I’ve thought long and hard about grace. There’s so much more to explore, so let’s do it together. Thank you for joining me on this journey. Together may we offer hope, healing, and grace to a hurting world.

Seasons of Grief

When my mother died in January I hoped that signaled the end of a long season of grief.

I had no idea we were all about to be plunged into a worldwide season of grief.

Many are grieving the loss of a loved one, and our prayers go up for them.  But we’re all grieving for something.  They may seem like small things; going out to dinner, seeing a movie or a show, gathering with friends.  We are grieving lost opportunities, sporting events, proms and graduations.  We miss the routines of dropping the kids at school, going to work, attending worship services, hanging out at the mall and shopping without face masks.  I miss hugs and chatting with friends over coffee.

They may seem small, but these are the threads that make up the fabric of our lives.  Basically, we’re all grieving the lives we used to have and wondering if things will ever be “normal” again.

The other night, seeing the news that COVID19 deaths had surpassed 100,000, I felt overwhelmed.  Not only are we all grieving, but we are mostly isolated.  Grief needs to be shared.  We need to comfort each other.

Since we can’t physically hold each other, let’s hold each other in prayer.  And remember that God is holding all of us.

Remember the children’s song, “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hand.”?  I think now is a good time to remember it.  Even sing it to yourself, motions and all.  Because it’s true.