The Heart of Darkness

The Heart in Darkness
By Bob Stains

I have always struggled with why God allows bad things to happen: crippling disease, suffering, grief, etc. I still do. I probably always will, to some extent. I am deeply suspicious of anyone who tells me -- in books or in person -- that they have "THE answer" to what I think is an eternal mystery. This is one of those things that maybe Paul was speaking about when he said "we now know only in part...." The mind of God and all. A bit bigger than ours.

But there are bits of suffering and darkness -my own or others' -- that sometimes fall into my hands like bread and feed me in ways I never could imagine. That's what I want to focus on now.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about "the four-sentence challenge" to tell our stories of being touched by God. A Sunday before writing, I had given this challenge to a group that I was working with in another church. It was a tight time-frame: 45 minutes to help a group of 20 t…
"Once Was Blind; now I see!" ... What's Your Story? By Bob Stains
"Once I was blind; now I see!"So said "the man born blind" in John 9. It's a great story. A beggar blind from birth who, with his parents, is suspected of having committed some sin that caused his blindness.
Jesus has a different idea about the man. He sees him as he could be -- whole -- and He heals him. He says he's come to bring light to the world. Spits on the ground, makes mud, puts it on the man's eyes and tells him to wash it off in the Pool of Siloam. When he does, he can see for the first time: the light flows through him.
Can you imagine how he felt? Can you see him shouting and leaping; laughing with tears at seeing his parents for the first time; running about and inspecting every last thing for color, shape, texture and movement? See his parents fall on their knees, weeping with gratitude, hugging Jesus' legs? And there's Jesus smiling, happy with the h…
By Rev. Marya DeCarlen

The liturgy for Palm Sunday was created for those who worship, so that we feel a range of emotions, all found in two separate processions.

The first procession to Jerusalem is filled with joy and exultation as we wave our palms and shout joyously, “Hosanna (save us) to the King of Kings!”

We step into the shoes, for a moment, of those who await the promise of hope as Jesus reveals all that is possible with God: peace, love, redemption.

The next procession to Golgotha is brimming with fear and anger as the joy-filled followers
drastically change their tune and lead with shouts of threats rebellion and hostility.

Jesus had a history of summoning his followers to live beyond their routines and live deeper offering forgiveness, mercy, and generosity.

This time, engulfed by fear for their own safety and expectations for his “kingship” that he did not meet, they refused bitterly and raged against him.

In this procession even his close friends would not stand up to de…
By Leslie Blake

“Father forgive them……..”
Powerful words spoken by our dearest Lord Jesus as he was dying while upon the cross.

How…? How could He in the midst of pain & anguish, feeling the sting of mockery & abandonment, struggling to breathe & remain conscious…… could He still request forgiveness for the very ones who did this to him?

The word forgive by definition is a “verb,” something that requires an action to complete; for something that does not require actual physical labor, it is oftentimes one of the hardest tasks to accomplish.

How often do we think about the word forgive? Really, truly think about it?

We say it every time we recite the Lord’s Prayer:  “And forgive us our trespasses…..” We are asking God to forgive us on a daily basis. In fact, we probably expect it. But do we follow through on the next line? “…As we forgive those who trespass against us.”  That’s much more difficult.

It’s easy to use the word loosely as we accidentally bump into somebody or are…
By Elizabeth Jane Wheeler
I value and look forward to the Lenten period. It reminds me that I should quietly reflect on this past year and all that has transpired in my life; what I have accomplished as a Christian and what I need to improve on as a Christian.

I look back across the centuries, when Jesus walked on this earth, and think about all the wonderful philosophies HE brought to us. HE really changed the World in the short span of His life. I think about the struggles HE endured to help people change from Paganism to Christianity.  
HE never gave up that struggle. And likewise, we should be strong and never give up in what we believe -- even if sometimes we are misunderstood and we have to struggle to help those who misunderstand us.
And so during this Lenten period, as I retreat for a "moment" to reflect and to pray, I ask my Lord, Jesus Christ, to give me the patience, the wisdom, the courage, (in love for all) to help wherever I can -- in my community and at All S…

Save Us From the Time of Trial

By Elizabeth Losa

The Book of Common Prayer’s contemporary Lord’s Prayer seemed such an improvement to me that I began using it in my private devotions even while my church continues to use the traditional form. The newer translation calls a sin a sin, rather than a stroll across the grass. It speaks person to person rather than using "Thy" which is artificial to my speech, and it allows us to contemplate the kingdom, the power and the glory before ascribing them. 

And saying “Save us in the time of trial…” answers my childhood objection that a good God would not even think of leading us into temptation.  Indeed when older persons explained to me that God tries us and it makes us stronger, I never bought it.

But I realized this week that I was reading the phrase incorrectly, it is actually rendered, “Save us from the time of trial.”  At first I thought that perhaps the preposition was just the choice the translators made for some difficult word.  So I went to the BibleGateway W…
By Fran Weil
A member of the All Saint's Blogging Team
It's that time of year again: Lent.
Many of us who are Christians walk the walk of this somber time, but can't quite talk the talk about why we observe. Why do we celebrate Shrove Tuesday and what -- beyond walking around with an ash cross imposed on our foreheads -- is Ash Wednesday really about?
We listen to the homilies, we read and hear scripture, but for many of us, absorbing it all needs a Cliff Notes version of Lent, or a "Lent 101."
Want to dig a little deeper and unpack the various, intriguing aspects of Lent? Read on.
Why do we celebrate Shrove Tuesday? (Hint: it is the last day before Lent, which ushers in a time of abstinence, of giving things up. So Shrove Tuesday is the last chance to indulge, share and make good use of foods that might otherwise be wasted. And yes, we eat lots of pancakes flooded with syrup and fatty bacon and sausages, and cookies and cakes! Waste not, want not! )
What about thos…