Rev. Dr. Anna Verlee Copeland's Blog

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March 4 Post

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“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything…" -- Philippians 4:4-6a

Up north where I come from, everybody hunkers down for winter. The trees look dead. Flower bulbs harden and freeze. Critters curl in upon themselves far underground, waiting. Neighbors wave with mittened hands, crisp greetings suspended in fog on winter air.

Further south, the daffodils already open, buds popped out on trees not yet leafing. Here in the far south, nature splashes its bougainvillea reds and key lime greens with abandon like some impressionist painter gone mad.

it’s difficult to experience anxiety at 80 degrees. When human skin warms and glistens, the spirit relaxes. It’s a curious thing for those of us northerners whose internal clocks experience confusion in the tropics. I still leave the house in a down jacket at the slightest graying, as if a blizzard might overtake me at any moment. I keep a wool hat, gloves and a blanket in the trunk of the car, just in case.

Learning to trust that the world is safer than we think takes practice. We look at the sky, anxious, until we trust that clouds on the horizon don’t always mean fierce storms. We test the waters before each swim, expecting three minutes to hypothermia and certain death.

Regardless of your latitude this second week of Lent, God has whatever you’re up against or whatever is up against you. If there’s something you can do about the situation that worries you, go do it. If there isn’t, say your prayers, trust, and let go. Whatever grips your late winter heart, close your eyes, lean up against a palm tree, and experience the real or imagined warmth of the almost springing sun upon you. Trust that all manner of things, by the grace of God, really shall be well.
Prayer: Holy One, maker of heaven and earth, of all that was, is, or ever will be, help me to trust you more fully today. You know what grips me, what wakes me, and what disturbs my rest. Just for today, I give it wholly to you. Give back to me tomorrow, whatever it is that you want me to carry, and leave the rest to you. Amen

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

Rev. Dr. Anna V. Copeland
Interim Senior Minister
The Community Church of Vero Beach

February 26 Post

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“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to humankind, but God is faithful and with the temptation will provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” - I Corinthians 10:13

I confess that I am one of those persons who seem to have a lead foot. I love to drive and love to drive fast. The year I got to drive a Ferrari at the local race track for my birthday was among my favorites. Off the race track, this temptation can be costly. Flying across a wide expanse of desert some years ago, I saw the familiar whirl of police lights in my rear-view mirror. Though I suspected that he was coming for me, I felt confident, road tripping across nowhere with my best friend cruise control.

It turned out that for one-quarter of a mile, the speed dropped from a steady 65 highway to 30 miles per hour, even though no visible town was in sight. After the polite officer confessed that he had spent his entire 35-year career trapping tourists at this same spot, I felt better. Upon reflection, this expensive ticket seemed fair penance for all the other times I raced through life and hadn’t been caught. 

We know all about temptation, don’t we? So did Jesus. At the start of his ministry, he went through a time of testing and preparation in the wilderness. There he was tempted to capitalize on his gifts solely for personal gain and power rather than for the glory of God. Jesus needed God’s help to become the person God created him to be, and so we.

Few of us set out to be unfaithful to God. It happens one small decision at a time, as subtle as pressing only a little harder on the gas pedal. Thankfully, Ash Wednesday initiates that annual do-over we call Lent. In this season, we will recall that despite our best intentions, we have turned away from God. We don’t need to beat ourselves up for what we’ve done or have failed to do that separate us from God and neighbor. Lent simply invites us to prayerfully walk with Jesus through our wilderness, returning there to the One who promises to give us life.

Prayer: Almighty God, open our eyes that we may see the ways we have been less than faithful. Forgive us for all we have done that has hurt you, others, or ourselves. Forgive us for all that we have failed to do that would have served you well. Draw us back to you and to your promised life. Amen

As you wander the wilderness with Jesus from Ash Wednesday through Lent to Easter, may God’s grace, mercy and peace sustain you.

Rev. Dr. Anna V. Copeland
Interim Senior Minister
Community Church of Vero Beach