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Eden Evangelical Lutheran Church ~ Munising, Michigan

Gnarly Rocks - 03/22/2020

Our font at Eden is piled high with rocks. The day I was tending to some details in our worship space for the Lenten Season, much of the Wood family was in the building too. They were working on a certain supply closet in the basement that had become rather beastly. I asked the kids if they had come across a bag of gnarly (Informal, North American: difficult, dangerous, or challenging) rocks I knew that beast of a supply closet had eaten sometime in the last 12 months.

“Yes!” they said and ran off to retrieve them. They brought the bag of gnarly rocks upstairs and together, we carefully piled some of them in a heap, resting in our beautiful, empty baptismal bowl.

“Why are you doing this?” they asked. And I remember thinking how funny and wonderful it is how God creates these beautiful little moments to talk about things like why we do certain things, in certain ways, at certain times.

I didn’t know they would be there at the same time I was there that day. I didn’t even know I was going to use the rocks until I started thinking about how to prepare the font for Lent. Funny and wonderful.

So we talked about what it means to fast from things during Lent … to put some things away so we can remember how precious they are in our lives … like the cleansing clear waters that we usually have in our baptismal bowl, but maybe forget to notice a lot of the time … like the Alleluias that so effortlessly, and sometimes so mechanically, rise from our lips at all other times of our church year. We had no idea how prophetic that conversation would be.

This may end up being counted by many of us as the most wilderness-like Lenten season we can remember because our worshipping life together has been put away for a time. We are not only fasting from the baptismal waters that usually ripple in our font. We fast from communion, from corporate singing and praying, from greeting one another and studying together and potlucking.

It is a heavy fast. It is sacrificial. It is how we best love one another in this pandemically-strange time. It feels like we too are a beautiful baptismal bowl, empty and piled with gnarly rocks.

And yet, I think if we remember why it is we do this certain thing, in a certain way, at a certain time, we can already begin to see, at least in rough outline, what God may be up to, as we are forced to remember how precious it is to gather in body around font and table … how precious our greetings and partings are, our potlucks and studies.

I think, if we can keep centered on loving God and loving neighbor, we might begin to detect more clearly than ever …that it is a privilege that we usually do these things so effortlessly … and so perhaps we will notice the ripple in the water of the baptismal font more; perhaps we will be even more authentic in our cries of praise and alleluias.

Maybe it’s better that we Jesus followers make our way to whatever God has prepared for us beyond the disruption of COVID-19 – maybe it’s better that we make our way toward that ….. a little hungrier than usual, a little more like a beautiful baptismal bowl filled with gnarly rocks, a little more aware of the gift of community in our daily lives.

I know that isn’t necessarily the easiest thing to hear this morning. It’s not an easy thing to say, let me assure you.

The Good News, my friends, is that we can do this unexpected and difficult fast. It’s hard, but, remember what we talked about just a few weeks ago … with God, we can do hard. ( We are freed to meet this challenge with sacrificial conviction and courage because we already have eternal food, abundant forgiveness and God-promised salvation. We have this already and always in God’s action on the cross that Jesus is getting ready to pick up again as we get closer to Holy Week.


I’m keeping it brief this week – we are all taxed with an overabundance of information. Thank you for taking a little time to let the God of heaven and earth shine into it all.

I'd like to end with a prayer inspired by another who saw God shine into his darkest places, his loneliest wilderness – the unnamed blind man who God shines through for our benefit today.

Let us pray.

God our healer – God our illuminator – you make your light abundant in this world. It was the first thing you created. “Let there be light,” you said, and it was and has been ever since – a light that pursues us with life-giving water, eternal bread, clearer sight, forgiveness and healing through pandemic, through sacrificial Lenten experiences, through our own failings and missteps.

Take our anointed bodies, God, and work in them and through them, for our own wholeness, and for that of others, so they too may catch glimpses of the pure and beautiful radiance of your love and truth, which we now see most clearly in our Redeemer, Jesus Christ. Help us see these glimpses always, so they may bring us to profess, like the man who was formally blind, “Lord, I believe.” Amen.

Pastor Ann Gonyea

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Eden Evangelical Lutheran Church ~ Munising Michigan ~ An ELCA, Northern Great Lakes Synod Congregation
P.O. Box 360 ~ 1150 West M-28 ~ Munising, MI 49862 ~ 1-906-387-2520 ~

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