Reflecting on Bread….

Yes, that’s snow in Old Town Warrenton. After such a mild Christmas week, cold, arctic air arrived with a vengeance last night. We awoke to find a very grey morning, followed by a dusting of snow. So I was drawn to this amazing photo by my friend Cecilia. I love how the streetlights seem to twinkle amidst the falling snow. Christmas lights adorn the street lamps and wrought iron fencing in the church yard. Then of course, there is the clapboard sign, in front of our newest bakery, the Great Harvest Bread Company. On a morning when most of us would rather sleep in, Pablo has already been baking for a number of hours. I can imagine myself sitting at one of the tables by the window, enjoying a cup of coffee and a slice of warm bread, while looking out at the cold and snow. It’s hard to say what is more magical, the snow or the bread. For centuries, bread has been a symbol of the body in the Jewish and Christian traditions. The Jewish people made unleavened bread when fleeing captivity in Egypt, and during Passover each year to remember God’s faithfulness. Each Sunday during communion, Christians consider bread the body of Christ, recalling the Last Supper and celebrating the new life possible through salvation. In both traditions, the faithful remember into the now, embracing the mystery of God’s eternal love, a love without beginning or end. Take time today to consider God’s love in the simple, ordinary things of life. Pause to give thanks for your bread, simple yet complex, the fruit of the labor of many. Seek to see your current situation through God’s eyes, enfolded in God’s steadfast love. And remember, no matter what you face today, new life is always possible through the same God who conquered sin and death on the cross. Photo by Cecilia Carr

Reflecting on Resurrection….

It’s a dreary fall day, so I am glad we took the opportunity to go hiking last week. School was out for election day, and the weather was remarkable. We headed up to Shenandoah National Park, a short drive from our home. While my daughter and her boyfriend were scurrying over rocks, I encountered this unusual tree on the path. I was surprised to see how the branches had recovered from so severe of a pruning, growing straight up instead of continuing along their natural curve. Perhaps the branch had be removed to clear the path. Then I noticed the matching branch on the opposite side, and finally saw how these branches formed a cross. Yet there was more than just a cross. I was looking at resurrection, renewal, continuing life. This tree chose to grow upward, to respond to the struggles of life through rebirth. Rather than continue on the same old path, this tree had changed direction and flourished. I don’t know about you, but I believe the greatest good news of the Gospel is this – we don’t get what we deserve. The wages of sin are death, and we all sin. I know sin is not a popular topic these days, so bear with me. We sin when we fall short, when what we attempt to accomplish is less than perfect. We sin when we hurt others, intentionally, and yes, even unintentionally. We hurt those closest to us; we compromise our relationships with one another and with God. We are comfortable with ‘to err is human’, but are unwilling to accept that to err is to sin. So I take comfort in knowing I do not get what I deserve, in knowing that our Savior conquered sin and death on the cross. Take time today to confess your sins, to repent and grow in a new direction. Accept God’s endless forgiveness and learn to forgive yourself through the healing power of the Holy Spirit. Claim the promise of resurrected life, today and every day. And remember to start your prayer as the Benedictines taught us, ‘today, we begin again’. Photo by Connie Chintall

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