This time of year is a bit odd. Sometimes it feels like winter and sometimes it feels like summer. Sometimes it is pouring down rain and sometimes I’m unexpectedly sunburnt. Some of the plants around my house are starting to show signs of life and others look like winter destroyed them and there is no hope. Parts of the country are getting incredible unexpected snow fall and others are getting tornados.
It’s been said March comes in like a lion and out like a lamb. It starts fierce and strong and ends gentle and lovely. Until then, it is a bit odd.
No matter, it is a weird time of year, but it will be amazing.
I often feel like this is where we find ourselves in life and faith. In the “already, but not yet”. In the place where we find hope and joy, but also devastation and pain. Where we cling to the eternal Kingdom of God, but also see people we love come to the end of their life. Where we can see the cross and empty tomb in the distance, but find ourselves journeying up towards Jerusalem.
For my birthday this year we got a pizza oven. It is great. It can get to nearly 1000 degrees. I’m not sure why it needs to get that hot, I’m making pizza, not pottery…but it can. One of the things I love to do when making pizza is make homemade dough. Listen, store bought dough or preprepared dough is fine, but there is something beautiful about making it yourself. When I put the yeast, water, flour, oil, and salt together, I have started making the dough, but it will be hours before it will be ready. I have pizza dough, but it’s not ready yet. It is a bit odd. It is a weird wet consistency, but it will be something amazing. After hours of the yeast activating and releasing gases that cause the dough to grow and come to life, then we have something awesome to eat. That process is slow and cannot be rushed. In fact, the best pizza dough is when you can make it way in advance so it has a long slow rising process. It gives it more flavor and depth.
We are similar. Many of us have responded to the call Jesus has put on our life. Many of us have started to follow after him. Many of us have received the salvation he offered. Though life is still hard. Life is still messy. Things aren’t beautiful and perfect yet. It feels a bit odd, but I believe it will be amazing.
When the Hebrew people would journey to Jerusalem for one of the pilgrim festivals, they had road trip music they would share along the journey. They had psalms that each of them would sing or pray or listen to as they were making that trek. Jerusalem is at a much higher elevation than most of the rest of the surrounding areas in Israel. So when they went from their home wherever that is, to Jerusalem, they were going up in elevation. They were ascending. So these Psalms in the Bible that they would share along the journey are called Psalms of Ascent. Psalm 120-134
Psalm 121 is one of the more well known ones. It says,
I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come?
When we are experiencing a time of need, we instinctively look up. The psalmist is looking up, towards the hills, towards Jerusalem, or towards the sky hoping to find where hope is from. Where help is from. Then the following line answers.
My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
Our help isn’t in the hills. Our hope isn’t Jerusalem. Our help and hope isn’t the sky. In fact, our help and hope is the one who created those things. Our help comes from the one who made the heavens and earth. Our help is the Lord.
Though we can know God. We can follow after Jesus. We can have the Spirit lead us and guide us. We are not to the hills yet. We are still on the journey. But this journey is not meant to be mailed in. We are not meant to fall asleep until the plane lands at the final destination. Even in the weird in-between, when seasons seem odd, when it just feels like slowly journeying, we are called to faithfully participate in the here and now because something amazing and lovely is on the horizon.
Every day and every moment are opportunities in the midst of this season as we ascend. I believe this journey is worth it. I believe life is meant to be lived with our eyes fixed on the one who brings help.
On this journey, there are a few great things for you to connect with.
- This Sunday, March 5th we will share in communion at 9am. It will be a brief communion service from about 9-9:15. Join us for that service and visit with others before we have our regular gathering for worship at 10am.
- This Wednesday, March 8th is our last Bible Study for awhile. We will take a break over the rest of the month and we will reconvene after Easter on Wednesday, April 12th. If you join us, Men gather at 8:30am and Women gather at 10am.
- If you haven’t grabbed one of our Lent Guides, we may have a few hard copies left, but you can certainly access a digital copy and all the Lent and Easter details and resources at thechapelatseaside.com/easter
- Finally, we are taking a trip to the Holy Land in March of 2024. If you would like to join us, get the information and register at https://www.eo.travelwithus.com/tours/hl24030824f60537#.ZADtwy-B1pQ We know lots of you have questions about this trip, so we will have a brief informational meeting on Sunday, March 12th in person after worship from 11:30am-noon. And an online informational meeting that evening, Sunday, March 12th from 5-5:30pm. If you are interested in attending our online meeting, please email [email protected] for the link.
We love the journey we are on. It is a joy to be on this journey with each of you. Join us in this journey, because I believe even though it sometimes is weird, in the end it is quite lovely and amazing.