Lenten Ponderings—Ordinary

Lenten Ponderings—Ordinary

Goofy cats posing for the camera.  It’s a pretty ordinary sight around here with three extra cats we’re watching these days, two of whom are wonderfully photogenic!  But so ordinary.  I just realized this ordinary morning that we are just over a week from Palm Sunday, our remembrance of one of the most EXTRA-ordinary days in history.  And just like the ordinariness of the cute cat today, the folks around Jesus at the time of that very first Easter probably thought it a rather ordinary time for them as well.  Sure, it was the time leading up to Passover, but that celebration had been a part of life for more than a thousand years anyway, so was it really that out of the ordinary?

One of the things I miss most about having kids in school is that when they were there, they were always preparing for, anticipating and leading up to something special.  Getting ready for a visit from a leprechaun, or even turning an otherwise ordinary day where someone recognized a fun happenstance—like a date of 3.14—into a special “Pi Day.”  But now every day can easily slip into the ordinary.

Yet the ordinary is precisely when and where Jesus bursts in on the scene, turning the ordinary into an encounter with the Eternal—IF we have eyes to see.  Even what might seem the dramatic of court intrigues and a harsh legal judgment and execution were pretty ordinary in a lot of peoples’ eyes in a time when Roman law as quick and firm.  So for many people even around that very first Easter, it might have seemed a pretty ordinary week, if they weren’t close enough to see the Resurrection.

Yet it was a moment that changed the course of history.

We churchy people get a front row seat on the 50 yard line or center court as we come together with eyes wide open to see, and be a part of the Eternal breaking into, and changing the ordinary forever!  Or, depending on what we’re looking at, we might just see the changing weather and have an ordinary smile for anticipating another ordinary Springtime in Ohio, or just get an ordinary little giggle with pictures of goofy critters.

Where is your focus through these ordinary days, so your eyes might get a glimpse of the extraordinary, the Eternal, in these coming days?  Are your eyes open, is your heart open for a visit from the Holy Spirit to transform this ordinary season into a front row seat for this eternal victory?

Getting ready—Pastor Jim


Lenten Ponderings— The Clock

Lenten Ponderings— The Clock


Yesterday was my birthday, but I’d rather not be reminded that “time keeps on slipping, slipping, into the future.”  I imagine those of you who are more chronologically gifted than I might be laughing at me and my musings in this direction—please keep it up!  I need to be reminded of the silliness of these thoughts!


I was reading over Ecclesiastes this morning—you know, the one with that memorable section about there being a time for everything under the sun.  And right after that most memorable section is a wonderful line—“God has made everything beautiful for its own time” (Eccl. 3: 11), and in verse 12, the further wisdom, “I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy do good while they live.”  Ecclesiastes actually has some version of that line four or five times through the book, highlighting the wisdom to enjoy the work of your hands, to do good, and to honor God and keep His commandments.  Almost too simple.  I guess sometimes we just think too much.


There’s a clock in my office whose job it is to mark the time in a quiet reminder that time keeps moving on.  But this clock has never worked since the day I got it (maybe that’s why it was on clearance?).  It’s a cute little clock with silhouettes of both a batting cat and a mouse hanging onto the pendulum.  At times like my birthday, a part of me would want to be like that clock and make time stand still.  But I was reminded just recently that despite it’s being broken, the time it keeps IS right—twice a day at least.  What a price tag though, to keep time standing still—to be broken and only in the right twice a day.


I guess if we want to be in the right more than only twice a day, and find the beautiful that is in God’s timing, then we’ve got to keep moving and embracing the different facets of beauty that come with the different seasons of our lives.  So go ahead, laugh at me in my silliness, but make sure I hear you and your laughter to be reminded of the full range of beauty God provides!


I learned a song years ago that’s been floating through my head this morning based on that line of God’s bringing beauty through time—“In His time, in His time, He makes all things beautiful in His time.  Lord my life to you I bring, may each song I have to sing, be to You a lovely thing, in Your time.”  My sense of time may be a bit off—but when I keep putting my time in God’s hands, He makes all things and all times beautiful, when it is His time.


No matter the time, or in all the time—Just keep being a blessing—Pastor Jim

Lenten Ponderings—Diamonds in the Snow

Lenten Ponderings—Diamonds in the Snow


How often do we look out in our lives desperate to see signs of new life and renewal, looking for a springtime of the spirit, when all we see is frozen mud, frosted with snow?  Yet for those who have eyes to see, that same frozen field often has the sparkle as if of thousands of diamonds.  Do you see them?  CAN you see them?


There’s an old story about two old men sharing a hospital room for weeks on end eager for any sign of hope.  The one was by the window, and could easily see out, while the other was positioned so he could not see.  The one by the window each day described scenes out the window of children playing in the park across the way, girls collecting flowers, couples walking hand in hand, beautiful clouds and sunshine, all in an effort to cheer the other who was growing more bitter in incapacitation by the day.


One night, the man by the window woke up choking, but had knocked the buzzer button away and couldn’t reach it.  The other man saw his struggle, reached for his nurse call button, but then hesitated and thought to himself, “It looks like he’s about to die.  If he does, then I can be moved to the window to see the hope he is describing, but if I call…”  Sure enough, within moments, the man by the window choked out his last breath.  When the nurses checked on him later, it was too late, and after the bustle surrounding death, the other man asked to be put by the window.  When he was moved, he eagerly looked out the window, only to be shocked to see a solid wall just across the garbage strewn alley.


We really see what we are looking for.  Whether seeing acres of diamonds in the snow or frozen mud, whether seeing the hope of inspiration and imagination, or a blank wall, we see what we look for.  Several of our Bible writers spent time in prison under worse conditions than the worst of our prisons, yet even from such cells, saw an abundance of blessing.  What do you see?


It’s all there—it just depends on where you focus.  My favorite Bible passage these days is Philippians 4: 8, where we are encouraged to “think on these things”—whatever is beautiful and of good report.  Not that we pretend there is no ice or mud, but when we focus on the sparkle of diamonds, and help others do the same, that’s where we find blessings enough to share.


Those who have eyes, let them see.  Pastor Jim

Lenten Journey–Lost Sole/Soul

Finally made it skiing this year!  Found out that it’s a good thing not to lose your sole/soul in the process– just a little parable pointing to a much deeper truth– check out the video–



Keep being a blessing!

Pastor Jim

Lenten Ponderings—Lent or Lint?

Lenten Ponderings—Lent or Lint?


Years ago, taking care of the home front lent me the idea to use lint for Lent. To put it a bit more clearly without the bad dad joke language, I did a children’s message in worship during Lent using lint as an illustration.  Lint– the stuff you’ve got to pull out of your dryer all the time– is composed of little bits of brokenness and detritus (now that’s a fun word I never get to use!), collected and pulled off of our clothes as a part of getting them clean.


Detritus– waste or debris of any kind according to Oxford, also “loose material that results directly from disintegration,” according to Merriam-Webster.  You ever feel like your life has more than its share of brokenness?  Or is your story perhaps one of trying to keep up with life, trying in vain to remain “integrated,” with parts of you just can’t keep up, and you have more of a sense of “dis-integration,” rather than being the whole person God has called you to be?  Yup, that’s me.


Perhaps we need a “Lent trap” as we journey to Easter, as much as our dryers need a lint trap for our clothes.  As the old song goes, “Fix me, Jesus!”– fix me for what you’re calling me to be, or at least in this season of Lent, help me get rid of the spiritual lint, the sinful brokenness and detritus that gets in the way of my relationship with God.


And how regularly do we clean out our dryer’s lint trap?


Maybe that’s a clue to how regularly we should do some intentional cleaning out of the spiritual lint in our lives—and the season of Lent is a great time to do that!  But don’t stop there—just like cleaning the lint trap is not just an occasional or seasonal thing, keep on keeping on, not just in Lent, but throughout the year, intentionally clearing out the brokenness and detritus, so we can perhaps get a little bit closer to being integrated souls being a light for those around us.


Rev. Jim

Does God Purr?

Can you hear it?  If you listen closely to the picture, you just might be able to hear the purr!  As magical as a cat’s purr is to convey what a convey what’s going on in its heart, if God is capable of doing anything to express God’s love for us, especially when we are in some way cuddling in God’s lap, I imagine God is capable of quite a hearty purr!  And perhaps in the same way that we can do things that encourage that cat to purr, though God certainly loves us at all times, perhaps we can in various ways, curl up with God to bring that rumbling purr from the voice of God!

Lenten Ponderings—NUNYA!?

Lenten Ponderings—NUNYA!?

Remember back in the day hearing “Nunya!” when someone thinks someone else is getting into their “business” (YOU were probably too polite to say something like this…).  Or the more clear version, “None of your business!,” or as my sister in her ever loving and sweet way would sometimes put it, “None of your bees wax!” (no idea where she got that one!).  Maybe it was just a Florida thing, but behind this button that was too often pushed, is the sense that it’s a terrible sin for somebody else to get into my “bidness.”

But does what might make some sense in a secular kind of way really make sense for Jesus kind of people?  We often recognize how the Jesus way is countercultural in our offertory prayer with the ancient words, “All that we have and all that we are, are gifts from You, O Lord.”  We sometimes use the term “surrendering” ourselves and all we have to Jesus when we come to faith—think of the classic hymn words “I surrender all… all to Jesus I surrender, I surrender ALL.”  Are they just nice, sentimental words, or do we really mean it?

So while it MIGHT be appropriate for a Jesus person to exclaim “Nunya!” to the nosey neighbor, the overstepping boss, the “friend” who’s trying to be too helpful (though it might be a little crass and childish!), would it ever be appropriate to tell Jesus “Nunya!”—if even in a more reverent and spiritual way– perhaps to the tune of “I Surrender All”—“Not your business, not your business, I just give my soul…”

I don’t think so.  At least not how I read the Gospels.

To put it in more religious terms, you might say that when I first decide to try to trust Jesus is when I find salvation, a point sometimes called justification.  But the life-long process of growing in faith, of discipleship, of entrusting more and more of my life to Jesus, is what’s called sanctification, or sometimes in Methodist language, “moving on to perfection.”

Which is why we are offering Financial Peace University—starting this Sunday in fact!  Financial Peace is certainly about helping people better manage money, so is a great resource for our community, and can be offered to your friends and neighbors regardless of church affiliation.  But is it really about how we’re managing “our” money–because what I do with MY money is “none of your bees wax!”?  Or, if as a Jesus person, “I surrender all,” does that mean I finally realize that MY money is not really mine at all, but resources God has entrusted into my hands to see how I can use them to bless my little corner of the world?

Hope to see you Sunday—starting about noon with lunch provided!  Pastor Jim

Link to my first video devotional

My feeble efforts at trying a little video devotional effort are off to a stumbling start.  I did the recording on my personal facebook, but am not smart enough to get it directly here yet!  Anyway, here’s the link, with a glimpse at a start to our Lenten journey in the apparent lifelessness of a frozen garden:  https://www.facebook.com/jim.lewis.7370013/videos/586059266881623



Lenten Journey- Hope in the Cold

The frozen ground crunched underfoot beneath dreary gray winter skies.  I almost stepped on this rare glimpse of color on that drab day– God’s sign that hope springs eternal.  How many gray skies have any of us been under when we’ve almost stepped on God’s signs of hope, rather that opened our eyes to the God- sighting so close at hand?  Lent is a season of hope for all those who have eyes to see.

Pastoral Ponderings—Paczki Poison?

Pastoral Ponderings—Paczki Poison?

Not that I have anything against Poles, paczki, or anything remotely resembling a donut.  If anything, I love them too much!  But the Polish practice with paczki—and all the other traditions like Mardi Gras relating to “Fat Tuesday” right before giving up anything “good” for Lent, has detracted so much from what Lent is supposed to be about.  Though I love donuts– whether Polish or not– we often go into Lent a bit handicapped, when we primarily think of Lent as a time of “giving up” all the good stuff like paczki, as a spiritual practice.

Many Protestants don’t think much about Lenten practices at all, but when we do, we too often think they mean some kind of sacrifice, or giving up something good, as somehow a being a spiritual thing to do, without much further thought.  But the millennia long Lenten traditions in whatever form, of special spiritual disciplines for Lent are intended to be practices that deepen our relationship with God, to perhaps deepen our spiritual hunger rather than make our bellies hungry.  And deepening our relationship with God is a GOOD thing to be embraced—not good stuff we give up!

Perhaps I’ve over-reacted across the years to this misunderstanding, so rather than doing any kind of Lenten disciplines, I’ve tended to ignore this facet of Lent instead—and I have thus NOT benefitted from the blessing that could come from such practices.  I was visiting Christ Episcopal Church in Kent for their Ash Wednesday service years ago, when their priest, Father Reid, was describing his Lenten discipline of smoking his cigars more.  He said that for him, smoking cigars slows him down, giving him time to pause, reflect and pray, in ways he was not able to do in his otherwise hectic life.

What if we think of Lenten practices less in terms of “giving up,” and more in terms of how to take on, or be more frequent in practices that grow us closer to God—as Father Reid did with his cigars?  It might put Lenten practices in a more positive light, something to look forward to, rather than dread.  So that’s what I’m trying this Lent.  I’ll be doing more of what deepens my journey, and sharing it with you, as what helps me most is writing, sharing, and reflecting (often with pictures)—so keep your eyes out on our church website and blog postings for more.

So has Paczki Day poisoned how you think of Lent, to think of as giving up the good stuff for Lent?  Would my Dr. get upset, you think, if I were to take more time to reflect with another cup of coffee or two each day for Lent, rather than reducing my coffee intake?  I mean, it’s not taking up smoking cigars, after all…

To more ponderings with Pastor Jim