From the Minister’s Study
Lent seems a good time to so some spring-cleaning and sorting out. I plan a few trips to the dump to get rid of the accumulated clutter in our shed and in various corners of the house. I had lunch with Tony Emanuello and on our way we went to the Cohasset recycling center, “boutique” as he called it- one that was well organized, with books, electronics…. (I also met another member there and had a pleasant & meaningful conversation!!)
Lent means spending some time considering what to keep and what to throw away; which is also an appropriate activity for Lent, since Lent is a time to take stock of our lives and consider what is of real value to us – or to put it another way, what are our true values?
Our gospel reading for the start of Lent, on Ash Wednesday, contained the well-known verse: Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Listen to your heart – carefully- and it will tell you what are the things (or relationships) in life that you really treasure – what really matters to you. And that’s a good question to ask yourself in Lent. It’s a question I often ask the family of someone who has recently died, when I go to discuss funeral arrangements with them, and want to find our something about the person whose life we are celebrating. ..What do you think your answer might be? Not surprisingly, for many people the answer is “his/her family” – for in the people we love and who love us, we perhaps come closest to understanding what God put us on this earth for in the first place – to be in relationship with God who is love itself.
If you’re in doubt as to what is most important in your life, consider how you spend your time, and what takes most of it. I recently came across a thought provoking article about a palliative care nurse who works with people in the last 12 weeks of their lives. He has recorded the five most common regrets of people who are dying, and these are what they are:
- I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
- I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
- I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
- I wish I’d stayed in touch with my friends.
- I wish that I had let myself be happier.
I just wonder whether, if these people had thought about their true values, and where their treasure was, they might have lived their lives differently. I am sure that one of the things Jesus learned in that wilderness experience was that he must live a life true to himself, rather than what others expected of him, and many courageous Christians have followed his example. We know that Jesus knew the need to take time off from work to relax. We know that he was never afraid to express his feelings. He was always there for his friends (it was they who let him down); and he would never have been invited to so many parties if he hadn’t mastered the art of happiness. But he had taken time to think through and pray about what really mattered in his life and teaching; and if he did that, how much more do we need to do so too.
This Lent, why not try a sort of spiritual de-cluttering exercise; work out what matters most in your life, give it space, and do some throwing out of the stuff that’s not important. What you decide will be reflected in the way you spend your time and your money. It may also mean that you don’t have regrets at the end of your life.
And remember that the purpose of Jesus’ visit to the wilderness was to take time to be alone and pray – and spending quiet time praying is so often what gets squeezed out of our lives by “stuff that doesn’t matter nearly as much.”
Good luck with your de-cluttering – maybe see you at the “Boutique”
Peace, Joy & Love, Pastor David
We, the Second Congregational Church, are a caring Christian family united in God's love, providing a spiritual home for all seekers and proclaiming the Good News while living and acting out our faith.
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