What’s Up with Pastor Todd 3-6-20

What’s Up with Pastor Todd 3-6-20

It’s week two of Lent. How is your adventure going? I’m happy to report I’ve been keeping to my discipline of increased daily prayer/meditation time. At the outset I wondered how my body would respond to increased time sitting in formal meditation posture. The biggest issue is that my feet tend to fall asleep. But, so far it hasn’t been a big problem. As I said on Ash Wednesday, the key to Lent for me is picking a discipline that’s doable.

This week’s Scripture is Psalm 121: “I lift my eyes to the hills–from where will my help come?” I memorized this Psalm as a child. Psalm 121 is one of the most well known psalms–second only to Psalm 23. Like Psalm 23, Psalm 121 speaks of God’s providence. One commentator writes that “this is a song for the anxious and afraid.” In a season of coronavirus and political uncertainty Psalm 121 is a timely text.

Psalm 121 is ancient poetry. One pastor describes poetry as “language for what matters most.” It’s language that speaks from and to that part of our brains that generally operates at the level of dreams, intuition, emotion, and our deepest values. It’s that part of ourselves that we struggled to access in our workshop last month on “What is Your ‘Why?’” Rev. Bamberg, who led the workshop, suggested that a sign we’re operating at the level is when the “tears start to come.” Some of us are more comfortable working at that level of spiritual depth than others, but all of us have the ability to access our deepest selves, and Psalm 121 is tool that can illuminate that space: like a spelunker’s headlamp or the hacker’s “back door” that offers access to the source code.

Our emotional source code was written by many hands: care-givers, parents, teachers, grandparents, siblings, mentors. Our minds weave their words and actions into scripts that play in our heads. Things happen and the scripts play: “You’re a failure,” “This isn’t so bad,” “We’ll be OK,” “The sky is falling!” “When will the other shoe drop.” Some voices are reassuring. Some are fearful and accusing. When for the psalmist voices of fear and accusation arose, she had Psalm 121 as a counter program: “The LORD will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forever more.”

In times of anxiety Fred Rogers’ advice to children was “look for the helpers” because, he said, “if you look for the helpers, you’ll know that there’s hope.”

Author: toddyonkman

I am a husband, father, author, and Designated Term Transitional Pastor of First Church of Christ in Saybrook (CT).

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