Ups and Downs

I’m going to begin today with a prayer and then write about “ups and downs.”

Prayer: God of hope and healing, comfort those who mourn, especially those affected by the shootings in Atlanta this week. We pray for healing for the injured, whether that injury is in body or spirit. Help us, God, as individuals and as a nation to bring an end to the violence that ravages the lives of your people. We earnestly pray in Jesus’ name. Amen

One of the characteristics of this last year is ups and downs. We can easily name the downs of the pandemic, struggles with racial justice, divisions in our country and last summer’s unrelenting heat. These are just examples of worrisome and fearful things from this last year.

We can pretty easily list the uplifting moments, too. These are too many to name but just in our church we’ve been able to try lots of new things, connect in unexpected ways, continue our mission work by providing food for hungry people and so much more. I’m sure you have your own healing and hopeful times, too.

Our family has experienced these ups and downs, too. Our daughter, Julie, had a recurrence of breast cancer that led to intensive chemotherapy and then surgery on March 9, from which she is recovering slowly but well. Our son, David, his wife, Michelle and their son Helios joyfully welcomed their new son and brother, Harrison, on Feb. 10. My upcoming retirement the end of June brings both joy and sadness.

Yet in the midst of all that has characterized the past year, there has also been a sameness – staying isolated, wearing masks, distancing physically from others, working mostly at home. On and on, the sameness.

As I reflect, I realize that Lent is often like this for me. Lent is a time of ups and downs – of sadness as I look deeply at what needs to change in my life, joy when I’m able to do that changing, and the same steadiness of turning to God every day. The greatest steadiness of all is God – always there, always pouring out grace upon grace.

This Sunday, March 21 is the fifth Sunday of Lent, so we’re drawing close to Holy Week (beginning March 28) and Easter (April 4). We’ve focused on the book of Philippians and this week go into chapter 4 to look at two little phrases – “rejoice” and “do not worry.” How do these connect? What helps us “not to worry”? These seem a little like “ups and downs,” don’t they?

This is the last Sunday for 9 a.m. drive-in worship in the south parking lot. Join us! Then join me at 11 a.m. for the last (for now) Coffee with the Pastor on Zoom.

Blessings, Sharon

Worship at 9:45 a.m. on Sundays at; Facebook St. Mark’s UMC Tucson; YouTube UMC St. Mark’s Oro Valley. You can also watch the services at a later time.