Lenten Thoughts: How long, O Lord, how long?!

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The Perry Ministerial Association will not hold weekly Tuesday Lenten services and luncheons this year, but rather association members will be sharing a weekly reflection with the community here in this space. This week’s reflection is by the Rev. Lynne Hanna, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church.

We invite you, if you feel inclined, to send an offering or donation to the Good Samaritan Fund that supports our community outreach and assistance program. Those donations can be sent to Perry Ministerial Association, P.O. Box 156, Perry, IA 50220.

A year ago, we celebrated Ash Wednesday. The following Wednesday, we held our first Lenten service at St. Martin’s. I remember sitting at lunch with folks from several other churches, looking forward to the coming weeks of Lent, when we would gather again for a short worship service and then enjoy fellowship and lunch together each week at the various churches.

Little did we know that day how our world would change.

Not only did we have no more Lenten services, but most of us moved out of our sanctuaries and began celebrating worship virtually, wondering how many weeks it would be before we would be “back together.”

As weeks turned into months, the Psalmist’s cry from Psalm 13 became a regular part of our vocabulary: “How long, O Lord, how long?!” We began to wonder if God had forgotten us, how long agony would be filling our wits and our hearts . . . and our lives.

Depression began settling in on many of us. “How long, O Lord, how long?!” And when we thought it could get no worse, the Derecho fell upon us. My personal lament turned to “Dear God, How Long?!”

I suspect that many if not most of you have had similar thoughts and responses this past year. It is easy to get pulled down. Yet there have also been many signs of hope in these past months!

Many of us have been able to stay connected to Church, to family, to work and to friends via Zoom. (Who would have thought I, of all people, would be extoling the virtues of technology?!) Our school system has worked diligently to help our children learn in creative ways. Many have been able to continue to work from home.

Numerous people have been very innovative about their work. Some who lost their jobs have become entrepreneurs. Others have learned new skills and found jobs and careers that give them more satisfaction than their previous ones.

I do not want to discount those who have lost their jobs and suffered greatly. The pain is real. This is an opportunity for those of us with the means to reach out with helping hands and pocketbooks in ways we hadn’t before.

As we spend time this Lenten season renewing our relationship with God, may we remember that God never gives up on us! God never abandons us! God is here, guiding and protecting us through all that happens in our lives. There is always hope!

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