Tree of Life
The tree of life has been a part of religions and cultures around the world for centuries. The tree represents many things: connection, family, strength, peace, and immortality.
It is mentioned in the book of Genesis: "Out of the ground the Lord God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil." (Genesis 2:9)
The tree of life becomes a part of our focus during Lent, represented by the cross on which Jesus was crucified, the cross which represents new life.
I was at a meeting recently. I got to the large-group meeting room early and was sitting quietly as people started to gather. I heard a voice saying to me, "This extrovert is going to sit with this introvert because I don't think anyone should be alone." I appreciated the thought, and gladly made room for him but couldn't help note that the extrovert failed to notice that the introvert was sitting with eyes closed and prayer beads in hand.
Please respect people's quiet moments.
At the same meeting, when I was no longer alone, I was part of a group of two introverts and one extrovert. The worship experience was not the typically staid, solemn Lutheran service. There was some call and response, some gospel music. Apparently the extrovert wasn't showing a great deal of excitement about the experience out of fear that the two of us weren't enjoying it. The other introvert's response to the service: "That was the best part of the whole thing!"
Enjoy what you enjoy. Don't be afraid to experience something new.
Confession of Faith
One of my favorite parts of the worship service is the confession. I particularly like the one we are doing during Lent:
have mercy on us.
We confess that we have turned away from you,
knowingly and unknowingly.
We have wandered from your resurrection life.
We have strayed from your love for all people.
Turn us back to you, O God.
Give us new hearts and right spirits,
that we may find what is pleasing to you
and dwell in your house forever. Amen.
The confession reminds us that we are constantly turning away from doing what is right, but that we always have the opportunity to return to God.
- Ann Iona Warner