This Lent has gotten off to a “wobbly” but impactful start.   (I know I feel a little off balance, but we continue to look towards our friends and families for a simple shoulder or hand to hold for a moment.) Our generosity towards each other is astounding…meals provided, houses shared, clothes washed, plumbing assistance, and water delivered – all from those we “commune” with here at Christ Church.  We know that the heart and soul of Christ Church goes deep and stretches in many directions!

The generosity of Christ Church astounds me over and over.   After church today, I arrived home to find 180 more packages of Ramen noodles, in addition to the 24 that were delivered to the church at today’s service.    And an additional 6 jars of Peanut Butter!   This increases our total to and over 330 Packages of Ramen and 35 jars of Peanut Butter (along with canned items and pasta, rice, and beans.)   They will be distributed this week to those in need through CTLC… a need that continues to increase (This need will spike for the next few weeks – and our generosity touches lives through CTLC and the other organizations that we contribute to.)    *We have taken coats, hats, blankets, to Salvation Army and they were immediately used. 

As I mentioned last week, CTLC  has asked that we start collecting another popular cuisine item:   Macaroni and Cheese!  (I never did develop a great desire for it – but for my son it has ALWAYS been a go-to!)   So, please replace the request for Ramen and Peanut Butter with Macaroni and Cheese boxed dinners.   Please bring them to Christ Church when you come for the in-person services, or during Sally’s office hours on Mondays and Thursdays (9-12…and please call.)   You can also have them sent to my home address.   Our Goal:  300.

In addition, the warming shelters that were set up for last week offered care to a number of those who needed heat and food to get them through the frigid days that also brought scarcity.    On a couple of nights, IMPACT served meals and offered a place to rest in warmth for over 80 people.   (The need was so great that other warming centers were opened at several other churches.)   Some of these facilities need their resources replenished…. We are asking for donations to the Discretionary funds of Mother Janice and me so that we can help these facilities recover… so that Christ Church continues to be known as a place of great care and support in Temple.   (We ask your help to collect at least $2,000 for this effort.)

With that care in mind, I want to bring your attention to a group who has just started the Episcopal Church’s offering of Sacred Ground.   With Mother Janice’s encouragement, Christ Church has offered studies in several books over the last few months and offered the movie and discussion of Traces of the Trade     These have spurred an interest in some to go even deeper – to commit to more intensive study in race relations and racial justice.   In the Sacred Ground Study, “Small groups are invited to walk through chapters of America’s history of race and racism, while weaving in threads of family story, economic class, and political and regional identity.”   Those involved are encouraged to consider their own responses and feelings on these issues, leading to a greater understanding that will foster connection and understanding. (The study includes books, videos, and a number of publications.) Participants in this group are all being trained as facilitators and will be available to Christ Church and other community groups as areas of inequity and injustice are considered…with the objective of healing. (Currently at least 3 different churches are represented) The study is intensive and will continue until May.  (Please pray for this group and for the opportunities that they are being prepared for.)

This Lent is already more different than any we have experienced – and different from even last year.   As we follow the path of Jesus in revealing Himself and connecting with the world, let us maintain a focus that leaves our heart open to His touch, and to being His instruments of tenderness to a world that is struggling to find His love.   And let us be open to the joy that comes in even the smallest of experiences.