Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

The Way and the Weight of Your Cross

posted by mpratt
Image courtesy of Franky242/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of franky242/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Many times during Holy Week, I think about the way and the weight of the cross that Jesus bore to Calvary. Not only was it a monstrous thing – heavy and cumbersome. But Our Lord had been beaten, scourged, starved, and was being forced to carry it despite his physical state. The weight of the cross was compounded by our Lord’s increasing physical fragility. And as for the way of the cross, well, there was no easy path, no downhill slide. Just a labored, agonizing plod uphill punctuated by horrible falls.

Our illnesses serve as crosses, too, and our journeys with them are, as we too-well know, not easy, either. Yet, this week makes carrying my burden, my cross, more meaningful to me, because I am reminded vividly again of how much Jesus suffered for me – and for you – in these last days of his life on earth. Knowing how much he loved me – and you – makes complaining seem trivial and anger toward suffering completely childish.

In fact, my burden, my cross, becomes easier to bear as I approach Easter, although the symptoms and ongoing troubles persist.

I hope you may find your burden eased by what we focus on this Holy Week, too. And I hope for myself – and for you – that I do not forget the significance of these days as Easter dawns and the days and months move ahead.

Blessings for the day,

Maureen

Sharing a Meal

posted by mpratt
Image courtesy of dan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of dan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Passover and Holy Week’s commemoration of the Last Supper make me think about how we prepare meals today, and how different it was in Jesus’ time.

For one thing, the obvious: There were no drive-thrus or microwaves in Jesus’ day, and the need for a room, even an upper one, has been supplanted by “grab and go,” and the occasional “my car is my dining room table.” And as for sharing a meal, well, in many families, this boils down (please pardon the pun) to labeling individual portions and placing them in the refrigerator, or hastily-made plans that are then carried out with one or more parties raptly focused on cell phone or tablet.

Yes, much of our ritual at mealtime is fading, or gone completely. But it need not be so.

Even in Jesus’ day, there were times when meals were merely times to replenish energy stores. But there were also times, such as those at Passover, when gathering, sharing, and honoring the time at a meal were extremely important, indeed crucial, to the fabric of the community at large and family, however extended.

This week is a wonderful time to remember the underlying importance of sharing a meal with people close to us and tying that activity together with giving thanks for the One who provides the food and time, and for each other and the support, encouragement and love that also nourishes us, no matter how frantic the rest of our days and meals might be.

Blessings for the day,

Maureen

A Prayer for Centering in Holy Week

posted by mpratt

Image courtesy of lamnee/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of lamnee/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Lord, you are all great, all good, and I love you.

But I am feeling pulled by cares, noise, and the ways of a worldly world.

This week, of all times, please help me to center my thoughts and my heart in You.

Bring me the quiet I need to hear your voice.

Bring me the strength I need to exercise restraint so that I do not fill my time with idle activities.

Help me to be open to Your Word like never before,

And let this Holy Week be one of great renewal and growth.

So that I may be more fully prepared to celebrate a truly joyful Easter.

In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Is It Christian to Take Care of Yourself before Others?

posted by mpratt

Maureen Pratt Author PicWe are fast approaching the most profoundly Christian time of the year, Holy Week and Easter, during which we will hear again about Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice, death on the cross, which redeemed us, washing away our sin and opening up for us life everlasting. What an amazing love! What an amazingly selfless act. Thank you, Lord.

As Christians committed to practicing our faith, living our our lives as Jesus asks us to, we want to care for, to love, and to give to others. But living with a serious illness or ongoing, crushing pain can make this difficult, especially if our health needs are all-consuming of time, energy, and other resources such as money.  And, as we all know, doing too much, even if we want to, can run us into the ground and compromise the fragile lives we have in safekeeping, gifts from God.

Yes, we are called to be right there with able-bodied others, ready to help and sacrifice.

But how much is too much? Are we called to make a shambles of our own health, finances, or job situation so we can reach out to others?

Clearly, in Scripture there are examples of people with little (health, money, etc.) who gave of their scant resources. The widow who gave her precious coin, for example. But Jesus also showed us that it is important to take care of your own strength, resilience, health, and, where it is impossible for you to act, to find others who can step in.

Where does He do this?

First, there are several examples in Scripture of where Jesus retreated from his ministry walk and from the crowds that followed him. In Matthew 4:1-12, Jesus went to the desert to pray and fast, not into the city to preach. There, he was tempted, but resisted the temptation. And, after he was refreshed and ready, he began his ministry.

Jesus had been healing and preaching, drawing great numbers of people, when, in Luke 6:12-13, he “departed to the mountain to pray,” leaving behind his disciples. Again, in Matthew 14:23, after the miracle of the loaves and fishes, Jesus, “went up on the mountain by himself to pray.”

So important was prayer and renewal to Jesus that he left everyone around him so he could focus on just that.

What am amazing lesson this is for us! We need to be sure not to neglect the things so very important for our strength and ability to walk our Christian walks – we need to take care of ourselves, sometimes, before we are able to have the tools to take care of others.

Another very powerful aspect of what Our Lord shows us about caring for others is expressed when he is near death, hanging on the cross, no doubt in excruciating pain. There, beneath the cross, is his beloved Mother. Mary has been with him throughout his life, especially on his walk to Calvary. And now, she will be left alone.

Jesus could have come down off the cross and cared for her himself, or he could have given his Mother a palace and servants to see that she was taken care of. (In any situation, God can do anything.)  But, instead, Jesus turned to “the disciple whom he loved,” and said to Mary, “‘Woman, behold your son.’” He then turned to his disciple and said, “‘Behold your mother.’” In doing this, Jesus shows us another way of providing for others when it is impossible for us to do so ourselves. It, too, is a great act of love.

There are no easy answers as to how much we should give when we might suffer negative consequences ourselves. But that we pray over our decisions and seek God’s wisdom is vital to the integrity of the decisions we make.

God will, of course, take care of us, His beloved children. And besides His grace and strength, He gives us  practical tools and good hearts and minds to steady that precarious balance of our abilities and needs and those of others.

Blessings for the day,

Maureen

 

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