Art and I are so happy to announce the arrival of our grandson, Harrison Linden Halla-Ragland, born to our son, David, and his wife, Michelle, and big brother, Helios, on Wednesday, Feb. 10 here in Tucson. Everyone is well! With COVID-19 restrictions we haven’t been able to see him in person yet but hope to do that this weekend. We thank God for the blessing of the new life given to us in Harrison.

Speaking of blessings, with Lent beginning on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 17, I’ve been thinking about what practice I might take on during Lent 2020. In an adaptation of a “blessing prayer” in a recent Upper Room Disciplines devotion, I’ve decided on a practice for Lent. Each day during Lent I’m going to stop and pray, “Thank you God for the blessing of … ” and then write down the list of blessings at the end of each day. I expect those blessings will be large, like, “Thank you for the blessing of holding our new grandson,” and small, like, “Thank you for the cool breeze on the morning.” Perhaps you’d like to join me in practicing these blessing prayers. On Feb. 17, a recorded Ash Wednesday service will begin at 6:30 p.m. and includes Holy Communion, so have your bread or cracker and a beverage ready.

Happy Valentine’s Day this Sunday, Feb. 14. In worship that day we’ll wrap up our series on “Grounded in Love” with the story of the Book of Ruth – a reflection on how Ruth – a foreigner in a strange land – becomes God’s instrument in restoring life and love. The title of the message that day is “Wherever You Go.” Who has been like Ruth in your life?

Watch for info this week on drive-in worship in our south parking lot, which we hope to begin on Sunday, Feb. 21. I’m excited about this new venture, which is a next step in moving toward in-person worship and other activities.

Also watch for info about upcoming “Coffees with the Pastor,” which I’ll be hosting soon at 11 a.m. Sundays via Zoom. This will be an opportunity to talk with me and others on the call in an informal setting.

A simple prayer today: God, thank you for the gift of each day, for new life and for opportunities to serve you. Be with us in the challenges we face each day. Heal those who are sick or struggling and bring healing and hope to all of us. We give you thanks and praise, in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Worship at 6:30 p.m. Ash Wednesday and at 9:45 a.m. on Sundays can be found at; Facebook St. Mark’s UMC Tucson; YouTube UMC St. Mark’s Oro Valley. You can also watch the services at a later time.