Comment from Ken
It seems I never know quite where our walk will take us. Today I want you to notice the Book of Worship I am carrying with me. It is a very worn, fragile book.
1“To the angel of the church in Sardis write:
He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars, says this: ‘I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. 2‘Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God. 3‘So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you. 4‘But you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments; and they will walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. 5‘He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. 6‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ (Revelation 3: 1 – 6)
Have you been wondering where I have been? I’ve missed our walks but Dale and I have been away. Every year in August, we travel to The Churchtown Inn located in Narvon, Pennsylvania for our vacation, but of course this year we did not go there because we were in the process of moving. Now that some time has passed since our move and my hospital stay and Dale was on vacation, it was a good time to visit in the Lancaster area.
We had a most relaxing wonderful time visiting with the innkeepers, Jim and Chris Farr. As this is the quiet time of year in Amish country and the inn was rather quiet, we were able to spend much time together. Chris is a wonderful hostess and cook and shared recipes and cooking ideas with Dale; Jim is a widely read person who very much keeps in touch with the present world and conversation with him is always uplifting and, in many ways, inspirational. He openly shares his life with you, and you can trust and share your life with him. At the end of our visit, I know Dale and I feel happier and I think that Chris and Jim do as well. They also have a remarkable dog Gracie who becomes a member of the family during your visit.
As we begin our walk, the temperature outside is only eleven degrees. I hate to tell you but in the Lancaster area of Pennsylvania it had been so warm that the grass was green and the farmers were out plowing their fields and planting seeds. Now their weather was due to turn colder as our weather has turned colder here in New Hampshire, but present there was a very hopeful time of spring. The word “Lent” means spring – a time of lengthening days and the earth growing warmer. But for the Christian, Lent has another meaning as well. It is a time for the Christian to reflect upon his or her faith and to renew a commitment to the ways of Jesus Christ. It is a time to think less of ourselves and more of others and to remember that we have a loving forgiving God. It is a time to look inward and to set new goals toward seeking to be more like our Savior. It is a time to consider if our name is in the Book of Life.
Before we began our walk, I had consulted with some of my books of worship. Many of those books were purchased when I was in seminary many years ago. Several of the books have bindings that are worn and torn. My Methodist Book of Worship that I had in seminary is Scotched taped inside and out. The only thing that holds the cover on is that Scotch tape that has been covered and recovered and recovered. If you open that book, you find there are many notes. There are sticky notes on certain pages denoting certain passages to be close at hand in times of need.
I have held some of those books of worship at so many sacred times. During Advent over the years, I have used the prayers of the joy at the birth of Christ. In Lent, those books have been used for midweek times of service and prayer. Of course, the books have been used on Sunday mornings, at baptisms, weddings and funerals. If those books could tell you where they have been, you could almost follow this pastor’s ministry from year to year, if not day to day.
I have held those books when young people have joined the church and have been confirmed on Maundy Thursday, the night of Jesus’s last supper. In those books, I found the Tenebrae service that has been celebrated in most every church I have served. Those books have seen the candlelight, the Christ candle, the worship candle, and life at Candleberry Chapel and the other churches I have served.
Those books have been out in the cold of winter, in a snowstorm, in the rainy days of spring, and in the bright sunshine of summer. Some of the pages are yellow now and the edges of the pages are worn thin. You can see water stains on the pages – most from rain but also from tears. This pastor has stood by some very sad and stressful times for families who have lost someone they dearly loved.
I am somewhat like those worn books, worn somewhat from so many years of service in the church. When I picked up this book I hold in my hand, I thought how different that I am now that I am separated from the active parish ministry. It is difficult to believe those years of being so busy and stressed in the church are now in the past. I think that Ken Boyle thought they would go on forever, but God takes a hand in our lives and helps us face times of change. I’m kind of like that old book – but holding it gives me a wonderful heart-smile. Having sought to do God’s will, I hold fast to the belief that the gift of His Son can take away my failures and my sins and make me a better Christian. During Lent, I will do my best to pray, to think of others, and to strengthen my faith.
What does your book of life look like? Are the pages new and is there is a lot of a journey before you, or is your book so worn it needs the breath of a loving God to renew it? Remember, we are on the journey with God – each one of us is writing a book to be presented to our Lord, and then if we have been worthy, we will find we are written in His Book of Life eternal. May our journal of life be full of pages worthy of life with Him!
Dear God, we pray that as we have entered the season of Lent, we may consider carefully reflecting upon the book of life that we have written thus far. Like the pilgrim John Bunyan, may we be triumphant in our struggles in life and present to You one day, a worthy book of life. Help us to pray more often and to speak to You in a humble seeking manner. Grant us we pray, your wisdom and strength and a great rejoicing when Lent ends, and Easter is with us, through Jesus Christ our Lord Amen.
Will walk with you again in the near future so
“May the Lord watch between me and thee while we are absent one from the other.”