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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Be at peace

by Tom Pappas

Pastor Jen started me thinking on Ash Wednesday with the question, “Have you decided to do a Lenten discipline?” We were at a local coffee shop where she had made arrangements to impose ashes for people who approached her table. (It was nicely done.) I presented my forehead at about 8:30 and was her sixth sign of the cross.

Her question prompted me to a possible awkward moment where I had nothing to say because I hadn’t really given it much thought. (I don’t lead the way on this planning ahead phenomenon.) But I defied awkwardness this time and we segued into a discussion of previous Lents with the coffee incident of ’84. That was memorable.

She asked me to read Psalm 32, which I present here from The Message.

 Count yourself lucky, how happy you must be—
    you get a fresh start,
    your slate’s wiped clean.
Count yourself lucky—
    God holds nothing against you
    and you’re holding nothing back from him.
When I kept it all inside,
    my bones turned to powder,
    my words became daylong groans.
The pressure never let up;
    all the juices of my life dried up.
Then I let it all out;
    I said, “I’ll make a clean breast of my failures to God.”
    Suddenly the pressure was gone—
    my guilt dissolved,
    my sin disappeared.
These things add up. Every one of us needs to pray;
    when all hell breaks loose and the dam bursts
    we’ll be on high ground, untouched.
God’s my island hideaway,
    keeps danger far from the shore,
    throws garlands of hosannas around my neck.
Let me give you some good advice;
    I’m looking you in the eye
    and giving it to you straight:
“Don’t be ornery like a horse or mule
    that needs bit and bridle
    to stay on track.”
10 God-defiers are always in trouble;
    God-affirmers find themselves loved
    every time they turn around.
11 Celebrate God.
    Sing together—everyone!
    All you honest hearts, raise the roof!

Something happened.

I became aware of a seething anger in me that had to be dealt with. Oddly, as I re-read it, nothing in this passage connects today with the words with which I will describe as my Lenten Discipline. But I know God used the passage and the pastor to work with me.

I am was mad at politicians, who put party above the common good. I am was mad fellow humans who live their extravagant lives as if what they consume and/or waste today doesn’t matter for all of us tomorrow. I am was at Christians who hate in the name of God. I am was mad at world events. I am was mad.

Somehow the words “Peace” and “Peacemaker” came to me. I committed to be at peace, and be a peacemaker where I could.

So far, I continue to NOT be mad in this second week of Lent. I have been at peace and am looking to every situation for Christ’s way to be a peacemaker.

Be at peace yourself.

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