By Rev. Robert Naylor
Read Matthew 5,6,7 – The Instructional Book for a Christian Who Plays the Most Important Game of Faithful Living with Skill
I spent the day today at the spring training facility of the Philadelphia Phillies. There was no pre-season game, just dozens of players going through basic hitting, pitching, and fielding drills. From minor leaguers trying to make the major league to seasoned veterans who needed to retool their athletic craft, all were there to polish up their skills before the regular season which will begin in April. If you do the math, from the start of spring training until opening day runs about 40+ days.
Does that number sound familiar? This year let’s make Lent our spring training in the Spirit as you, the members of First Congregational Church of Pembroke, get ready to prepare for a new WINNING season in your life together. And here are the skills to practice from our Christian playbook.
- It begins with the skills mentioned in the Beatitudes – learning humility, seeking to be righteous, being merciful (forgiving), and honing our peacemaking skills
- It then turns to working on not “killing” others with our words – anger
- Then it focuses on moving beyond retribution – no eye for an eye living
- Loving enemies and not judging others (unless we first take the log out our own eye) – these are to difficult to master
- Reflective and non-ritualized prayer and a heart that leads to expansive generosity are two skills that undergird the rest of what is needed for a winning season
Why not take a moment to read the playbook for yourselves and then start to brush up on those spiritual talents during our Lenten spring training? Without a proficiency in coach Jesus’ life enhancing insights for a championship season, it is hard to have a winning record in our life together in our church community or in the wider communities in which we live. As we begin Lent it is interesting to note that most good baseball bats are made out of …….. ash! Our spring training begins this Ash Wednesday! (I am looking forward to our March 21st “Teaming and Dreaming” event as we prepare for a new victorious spirit at First Church of Pembroke. Hope to see you there.)
Before praying, reflect upon the gifts you bring when you come to the plate in your ministry. Thank God for those gifts that you share with others.
(A few moments of centering and silent prayer.)
God of the ever-changing seasons, help me to use this Lenten season as a time to reflect upon and practice the skills needed to follow in the footsteps of Jesus so that when the open tomb season arrives we will find new life in our church. Amen.