A beautiful red cardinal landed under a nearby shrub as I was hustling the kids out the door to school one morning this winter. It only registered with me a few hours later that I‘d seen this wonderful bird, red coat stark against the white snow and brown branches, a sign of life and spring around the corner.
That I noticed and remembered this special moment at all may be proof that God works miracles! After all, it can be so easy to go on autopilot and travel through life distracted and without noticing the blessings of the present moment.
And the present moment is full of potential gifts.
The season of Lent marks the time in the Church year intended to help us especially focus on renewal and restoration, spiritual growth and deepening of faith. During this season we are invited to turn away from things that distance us from God, and allow God to open our eyes and hearts and lives to see God’s gracious love in Christ poured out in forgiveness - for us. Lent is a present-tense opportunity to ponder and pray on how the resurrection of our Savior Jesus gives us new life and new birth and new eyes and ears to see the world around us.
By Jesus Christ we are freed from our past and no longer need to worry about our future. So even as redemption by the power of the cross gives us the mysterious and marvelous gift of eternity, redemption also gives us this present moment, and the ability to know that this moment, and all of us, are held within God‘s resurrecting and redeeming love from the cross, just as that red cardinal was held within the safety of those protecting branches.
I hadn’t noticed that I’d seen the cardinal because my mind was preoccupied with being late after kids struggled to get out of bed for school. I was preoccupied by the extra long list for work that day (including this article). I was preoccupied by feeling as though there wasn’t enough of me to go around and that much of what I was striving for might fail, personally and professionally.
But now, as God in Christ once again works the redemption story in me by the power of the cross, I am brought back into this present moment. I am given the ability to be present as the quirky and often confusingly made human that I am. I am given the ability to recognize that God loves me and God desires to extend the gift of forgiveness and grace so as to snip me free from the bonds of sin. This most powerful gift of love from the cross is mysterious and beyond our knowing, yet also practical and active, striving to wake us up, call us back to Christ‘s living and present-tense embrace.
I hope you’ll join me on this forty-day road to the Feast of the Resurrection we often call Easter. I hope you’ll check out the list of opportunities you’ll find on our website, in our e-newsletter, and the weekly bulletin including opportunities for worship, service, learning, and growing together as individuals and stronger as a community for the sake of “Sharing Christ’s Welcome” and Love with the world.
New life, resurrected life, awaits us all.
Opportunities for Renewal during the Season of Lent and Easter
Weds, March 6th, 12pm and 7pm: Ash Weds Worship Services at Redeemer, New Paltz. The Season of Renewal known as Lent, a time for restoration and spiritual and moral growth, begins with these worship services, including the receiving of ashes for those who wish, as a reminder of the impermanence of life and invitation to be rooted to the deep, eternal, and everlasting grace of God through Christ.
Sunday, March 10th, 10:45am-12:15pm: Introduction to Journaling as a Spiritual Practice. Join us for this intergenerational opportunity to learn more about journaling as a practice to deepen our journeys of faith through this Lenten season and beyond. Facilitated by Amy Westberg and Rebecca Maher.
Five Wednesdays, beginning March 13th, 6-7:30pm: “Mind, Soul, Body.” Join us for a soup and bread supper and study on how to engage respectfully in difficult conversations (topic: The Refugee Crisis). Each session is followed by a brief vesper service of prayers and hymns. Facilitated by Rich Carroll and Pastor Paul Walley.
Saturday, March 23rd, 11am-3pm: Hands-On Holy Communion and Youth-led Worship Preparation. Children and Youth gather at Redeemer to make Communion Bread and Learn about the Means of Grace that is Holy Communion, as well as preparing for Youth-led worship on Sunday, March 24th. Facilitated by Pastor Tobias and Kathy Carroll.
Saturday, April 6th, 2-4:30pm: Pinecrest Youth Event. Forming amazing relationships, strengthening soul, heart, mind, and body, all while learning about God and having incredible fun! For over 95 years, youth and young adults have been
Sunday, April 7th, During Worship: Love Offering to Support Pinecrest Summer Camp Scholarships.
Sunday, April 14th, 9am: Palm Sunday Worship. We enter this holiest of weeks raising palms high in the air while singing “Hosanna to the King,” then hearing a dramatic reading of the Passion.
Sunday, April 14th, 1:30pm gather, 2pm step off: Palm Sunday Parade. We join with our New Paltz ecumenical partners to bring the story of Jesus’ love to the world as we walk down Main Street. The event concludes at St. Joseph’s with prayer, song, and a time of food and fellowship.
Thursday, April 18th-Saturday, April 20th: Triduum Worship. Come experience the deep holiness and divine drama of the Triduum or “Three Days.” The Triduum is one worship service in three parts, beginning with Maundy Thursday worship at 7pm, Good Friday worship at 12pm or 7pm, and concluding with the Easter Vigil, beginning at 6:30pm and followed by a Community Feast.
Sunday, April 21st, 8:00am - Easter Breakfast
Sunday, April 21st, 9:30am - Easter Morning Worship followed by a children’s Easter Egg Hunt.
Sunday, May 5th, 9am: Gospel Music Worship. Upright bassist Robert Bard and jazz pianist William Norman return and join Pastor Tobias and other Redeemer musicians in raising a joyful song unto our Savior Jesus!
Sunday, May 12th, 9am: Special Prayers and Flowers for Mother’s Day during Worship.