Wednesday: Psalm 45, 46, Exodus 27, Matthew 24:29-51

from Lucia Flaherty

Today's passages list out extreme situations where my failure/our collective failure is written into the structure.  Exodus continues to give instruction for the perfection of God's temple: the altar's construction, the tabernacle court, oil lamps.  As if imperfect people could somehow make something good enough to contain a perfect God.  Then Matthew has those intense "left behind" end of the world passages: Jesus breaking through complete darkness, the utter unknowableness of when he'll return, a call to stay awake and be ready always.  

How can I always be awake?
How can I build a perfect altar?
What happens when I fail?

I find reassurance in the Psalms: 
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. (46.1)
Be still and know that I am God (46.10)
The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress (46.11)

I am called to be still.  And, peaking ahead to Psalm 47, I am called to praise, to turn toward God, to let him shape me into what I cannot make myself to be.  This is how to stay awake, how to build a perfect altar.

Clap your hands, all peoples!
Shout to God with loud songs of joy!

Lucia Flaherty spends her days cultivating patience and joy with Joan and Ursula, who exactly one year ago began reiterating the Biblical call that I stay awake.  (Happy Birthday, Ursy!) 

Monday: Psalm 39-41, Exodus 25, Matthew 23.13-39

from Carson Rockett

O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am! Behold, you have made my days a mere hand-breadth; and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath!

- Psalms 39:4-5

Recently at the Ash Wednesday service each of us was reminded that we are dust, and to dust we shall return. Moses teaches us elsewhere in the Psalms that this reminder can give us a heart of wisdom – that when we number our days it will help us remember what is transient and what is eternal.

I suffer from time-confusion though. Intellectually I know that my days are numbered, yet I can so easily lose sight of the reality that I am dust, and to dust I shall return. There is a real spiritual danger in this.   

CS Lewis speaks to this danger in his book, The Screwtape Letters. Lewis points out how susceptible Christians are to lowering their guard over the course of a long life and falling in love with the world:  “He feels that he is ‘finding his place in the world’, while really it is finding his place in him. His increasing reputation, his widening circle of acquaintances, his sense of importance, the growing pressure of absorbing and agreeable work, build up in him a sense of really being at home in earth.”

I pray that over this Lenten season, we at CotC are a people that number the days of our very short lives. That we are freed from the desires to put our hope and trust in this fleeting world, but rather put our hope and trust in our Lord Jesus Christ, declaring with the psalmist “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing upon earth that I desire besides you.”

I am married to my incredible wife Drue; we are both from the Gulf Coast of Alabama. If anyone would like to drink sweet tea and watch Alabama football please let us know. Roll Tide.

Friday: Psalm 34, 35, Exodus 22, Matthew 21.23-46

from Kelly Williamson

"Then my tongue shall tell of your righteousness and of your praise all the day long."  

ALL THE DAY LONG?!  What do I do all. day. long. except breath?  Seriously.  I work a lot of most days, care for my son some of every day, hold my phone a decent amount every day, and praise my Lord a minimal amount of any given day... if my daily allocation of time was captured in a pie chart, you'd need to zoom in to see what color depicted my "praising the Lord" portion of my day.  

Maybe that's not a useful charting tool, though, because it implies my time praising the Lord is mutually exclusive from other times in my day, and of course its not.  It can, does, and should be integrated into other "actives" of my day.  I find it easiest to praise the Lord in uninterrupted times, like when I'm commuting or exercising (particularly when inspiration strikes from nature or the people surrounding me).  Thankfully, I'm not commuting or exercising every moment of the day, but with that reality, how do I develop a posture of praise continually throughout the day, especially in the disjointed, distracted, uninspired times?

If I instead picture a Venn diagram, since the pie chart proved misleading, with one circle representing time I praise the Lord on any given day and one circle representing everything else I do within a day, you'd question whether the circles were touching.  How do I get to the point where my circles are so overlapping that you question if there are even two circles?

My Sunday venn diagram would look a bit more encouraging, at least, and I actually take comfort in that.  Earlier in Psalm 34, we read the exhortation to praise the Lord together.  "Won't you magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together!"  I'm thankful for community in which to share worship, but, also feeling encouraged by the final line of Psalm 35, will strive to find ways for my praises of the Lord to flow from me all the day long.

I'm a wife to Pete, mother to Malachi, tax attorney to a Back Bay law firm, and recently lapsed member to a couple of Boston dance companies who has planted roots in Davis Square and listens to a Lenten playlist on Spotify each day during Lent to find ways to praise the Lord all the live long day - Fee fie fiddle eell o, strummin on the old banjo.