Rev. Dr. Anna Verlee Copeland's Blog

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February 25 Post

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“Let me hear of your steadfast love in the morning,
For in you I put my trust.
Teach me the way I should go,
For to you I lift up my soul.” Psalm 142:8

I knew my neighbor John only a few months since moving here earlier in the year. We’d talk as he ventured unsteadily down the street, clutching his walker. He had hoped to regain his former vitality after surgery, and the weakness in his legs frustrated him.

It was a long year for my neighbor, whose wife died a year ago this week. No longer able to drive, he increasingly depended on a cadre of help and neighbors who watched over him. Like everyone else this year, he was lonely. While out walking the dog, a neighbor told me. “John died this week, you know.”

The sadness has been with me all day, his death a reminder of all we’ve lost. It’s not for me to know what the Coroner typed on his death certificate. It could have been anything given his advanced years, yet I wonder. The heartbreak of losing a life partner or perhaps the loneliness and isolation of the year of CoVid took their toll. Nevertheless, his smile and gentle spirit remained undiminished to the end.

I will miss my neighbor John. As we greet one another up and down the block on our morning walks, we will speak his name aloud. We will remember him. I cannot help but be glad for him. As we say in the prayers of thanksgiving at memorial services: “We thank you God that for our beloved, all sickness and sorrow have ended, and death itself is past and that our beloved has entered the home where all your people gather in peace.”

Today we remember the more than half a million lives lost to CoVid, and we name the names and we tell the stories, and we count the cost as we commend their lives to God in glory. As we lament this week, we remember the words of the Psalmist that will see us through this difficult season as even now our faces turn toward the dawning that surely will come: “Let me hear of your steadfast love in the morning, for in you I put my trust.”

God’s grace, mercy and peace be with you,

Dr. Anna

February 17 Post

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"Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me." - Psalm 51:10

My mother had eyes in the back of her head. Or so we thought. She could tell when my brother and me were acting up. She seemed to know when I was reading my library book instead of doing my math. She could also turn around, look me in the eye, and know before I said a word whether I was about to tell a fib.

I remember the day, sitting in our small-town Methodist church, when Rev. Folkers talked about forgiveness. I was sitting between my mom and dad, and I was separated from my brother by my mother who didn’t want us poking at each other during the sermon. I knew I didn’t always treat my brother as I should, and I knew for sure that he didn’t treat me the way I wanted to be treated. So, when Rev. Folkers started talking about sin, he definitely had my seven-year-old attention.

This was long before computers of any kind, when we had chalk boards at school and erasers that we got to bang clean out back if we were well-behaved enough to be teacher’s helpers. The school even had an automatic cleaner that you could run the erasers through and it would suck up all the chalk. Oh, the joy of a clean eraser.

Rev. Folkers told us that when we do something that hurts somebody else, something we wish we hadn’t done, or when we say something, we wish we hadn’t said but said it anyway, or when we had a chance to do something nice for somebody and didn’t, it all feels like it’s written up on the chalkboard for everyone to see.

He told us that when we tell God what we’ve done, and when we say we’re sorry, it gets erased. It’s not like during the day when you can still see the outline of what was written there. It’s like afterschool when the chalk board is wiped down with a damp rag and the cleaned erasers get set back into their trays. What was written there is gone, forgotten.

We come now to Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. This season is like that. When we confess, repent, forgive and are forgiven, all is made well and new. We get a Divine do-over. “If anyone is in Christ, they are a new creation, the old has passed away and is gone. The new is come.” You are forgiven. I am forgiven.

Receive this good news, and live.

Prayer: God of life, thank you that you have forgiven and forgotten all we have done or failed to do that separated us from you and our neighbor. Help us to keep our eyes upon you and begin anew, as we walk the Lenten road to Jerusalem with Jesus. Amen

God’s grace, mercy and peace be with you,

Rev. Dr. Anna V. Copeland

 

 

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