• Pastor Jerry

"Open the eyes of my Heart" a Lenten "Fast" week 1

“Open the Eyes of My Heart”

Michael W. Smith

Open the eyes of my heart, Lord Open the eyes of my heart I want to see You I want to see You

To see You high and lifted up Shinin' in the light of Your glory Pour out Your power and love As we sing holy, holy, holy

Greetings my friends!

I always take joy in sharing regular reflections with you however, for the next few weeks my heart will be overflowing with joy because the people of our community of faith will be offering the “food for thought” in these reflections.

My hope was that Lent 2020 would be a transformational time for us all! That we would hopefully have the eyes of our hearts opened to how God walks with us and works through us in the world! My greatest hope is that this intentional time of reflection will help lead and guide us all in becoming stronger and more faithful disciples for Jesus Christ, not just during the season of Lent but for the whole of our lives.

Every week in worship we have been sharing a “Lenten Fast Journal.” This journal is based on the prophet Isaiah’s words about how God desires us to “fast.”

“Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? 7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin? 8 Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up quickly; your vindicator[a] shall go before you, the glory of the Lordshall be your rear guard. 9 Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am.”

Isaiah 58:6-9

Each week our community of faith has been asked to “fast” according to Isaiah’s words. What follows are the responses that were shared for the first week of Lent.

“Share a time this week, when something happened that would normally warrant an angry reaction, but rather you witnessed, or participated, sharing “kind” and “forgiving” words or actions rather than allowing anger to “rule the moment.””

· Being falsely accused is always a trigger point for me. It generally ilicits an immediate visceral response. While I’m not sure “kind” words came out of my mouth this week in this situation; I was able to temper my response by reminding myself of this “fast”, removing myself from the situation and in giving myself that space, return to the situation trying to calmly discuss the circumstances surrounding my anger.

· I was in line in front of two young men at a soda machine and stepped aside telling them they should go ahead of me because I’d be slower than they. They did so, teasing that the one who wanted to use the soda machine might be slower than I. He did have a problem and was indeed slower. When I started to use the machine it ran out. I started to look for help and asked these same two young men where to go for help. They went to the proper person and asked for me. Then as I was leaving they held the door for me. By their dress these two young men could have been “looked down upon.” .. yet there were such nice young people!

· I made it through ten minutes of watching the national news without throwing a stone at the television.

· When I was playing with my grandchildren.

· I felt blessed not to have any angry situations this past week.

· My cousins reaction to her sister – who was unable/couldn’t help in a situation.

· I found out that my grandson is failing most of his classes. I didn’t yell at him, rather we talked about his future.

· When the car was not fixed properly and had to be returned to the garage for them to get it fixed correctly. The garage continue to “make things right” to accommodate us at no extra charge for work and parts.

“Be filled with gratitude” – Make a brief list of the things that you are “grateful” to God for sharing with you.

· Warm home, plenty of food, plenty of resources for an enjoyable life, all of which pale in comparison to the warm, overwhelming feeling of the gift of God’s love I feel when I allow the Spirit to be present in my life.

· Parents, sisters, husband, children, extended family, grandchild, health, my life, everything I have and everything I am.

· My joy, family, church family, UPG, health, security. This week I helped feed the homeless, visited some sick friends and comforted the lonely.

· The caring that others always share with me.

· “Joe Biden”

· I joined a “positive outlook” group. I also joined an “inspirational thought for the day” group.

· Each day that my granddaughter is in recovery, my friend’s tumor not being cancer, my grandson’s safe drive home from college for spring break, two friends and one new acquaintance who shared unhappiness in their lives (I am glad they felt confidence and trust in me).

· Family, friends, health, having enough to share with others.

· My grandchildren are healthy and happy and have friends in school, our close friends, that I have been blessed to be able to help people in need at this point in my life, for having God be such an important part of my life, my wife, and my family.

· A doctor who continues to reassure us that our actions are making a difference, that my children still want to be “tucked in” at bedtime!

As you are able to “see” from the responses that were received this week, when we set our “gaze” to look for God instead of being focused on the immediate situation, we will often find that God is right there beside us, guiding our thoughts, our words, and our actions to allow us to be “beacons” of light to the world in which we live. In sensing God’s presence dwelling within and among us, we are then “freed” to focus on those things in life which we can honestly and openly be “grateful” about.

May God’s presence among the people of our community of faith continue to be “seen, felt, and experienced” by more and more people within our midst.

Peace for now!


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