Lent: Never Too Late

NEVER TOO LATE (Joel 2: 12-17)
Good evening this is Pastor Elivette (Elly) Mendez Angulo from Manantial de Gracia “Spring of Grace” in West Hartford, CT recording from Franklinton Center at Bricks in Whitakers, NC.  And today, like every Wednesday at 7pm o’clock we are talking about “Hablando de Todo” texto/text, observaciones/observations, diario vivir/daily living & prayer.

Thank you for joining us on our Lenten Journey as we join the UCC’s Young Voices: Stepping out of the Wilderness.

Tonight we consider a word found in Joel 2: 12-17 (CEV):  The Lord said: It isn’t too late. You can still return to me with all your heart. Start crying and mourning! Go without eating.  13 Don’t rip your clothes to show your sorrow. Instead, turn back to me with broken hearts. I am merciful, kind, and caring. I don’t easily lose my temper, and I don’t like to punish. 14 I am the Lord your God. Perhaps I will change my mind and treat you with mercy. Then you will be blessed with enough grain and wine for offering sacrifices to me. 15 Sound the trumpet on Zion! Call the people together. Show your sorrow by going without food. 16 Make sure that everyone is fit to worship me.[b] Bring adults, children, babies, and even bring newlyweds from their festivities. 17 Tell my servants, the priests, to cry inside the temple and to offer this prayer near the altar:[c] “Save your people, Lord God! Don’t let foreign nations make jokes about us. Don’t let them laugh and ask, ‘Where is your God?’”

And so I read Rev. Trayce L. Potter, our UCC Minister for Youth and Young Adult Engagement’s, Ash Wednesday reminder: “Never Too Late” and as I thought of this season I remembered a couple of key things.  Today many begin to fast as they reconcile themselves back to God… to their Godly intentions…  but only after the revelry of yesterday’s Fat Tuesday celebrations!  Some will turn back full of crying and mourning, seeking redemption, salvation, mercy, kindness and care.

img_2680But others are in the midst and mindset of celebration.  And the text (I think) reminds us to welcome everyone, everybody: young, old, and even those in the midst of a new love, to come up for air.  To return to that place where all things are equal, PARITY, meaning equality…  where we can remember that the Jesus we believe in would have walked with each of us.

With those who enjoyed the party and those who stayed home and mourned.  Where those who made love and those who made war can both realign, reassess, and become fit.  TO WORSHIP.  Parity – equal.

But the text, I think reminds those of us who are in leadership positions (and that is each and every one of us) that we have a responsibility to pray for safety.  FOR ALL.  YEAH, even those who annoy us and whose political idealogy we disagree with.  FOR ALL. Even for those who wish us harm.  FOR ALL.  Even those who think our love is wrong.  FOR ALL.  Because it is never too late to be reconciled to LOVE.

And so I join Rev. Potter’s prayer and invite you to join as well: “Still speaking God, we give thanks for the invitation to come to you no matter where our feet have wandered. Keep us on the path following Jesus during the season so we might experience your resurrection power and glory.”  Presents. Ashé and Amen.

I am excited to join ya’ll again every Wednesday during Lent!  So, as Batman’s announcer used to say: Tune in next week; same bat time, same bat channel!  Blessings.

We Remember Luis Enrique Mendez Angulo

Luis Enrique Mendez Angulo

September 19, 1978 – November 3, 2018

Luis Enrique Mendez Angulo, 40, writer, photographer and world traveller passed on November 3, 2018. A Celebration of Life will be held at Manantial de Gracia “Spring of Grace” (The Chapel at First Church) 12 South Main Street, West Hartford, CT on Saturday, November 10, 2018 2PM.

His beloved wife Marlena Cannon and faithful service companion, Fillmore the Dog; mother and step-father, Maritza and David Gonzalez; and elder sister, Elivette Mendez Angulo express their gratitude to the medical/nursing staff at Hartford Hospital Emergency Room, Bliss 9 & Bliss 11 ICU’s for sharing their gift of healing. We thank you.

In addition, Luis left behind many friends and family including his father, Luis Mendez and siblings Christian, Raul, Myrna and Yashira.

A graduate of Hartford Public High School, Central Connecticut State University, Luis achieved his dream of completing his Master’s Degree in Creative Writing from the University of Manchester in the UK.

In lieu of flowers, please send donations in Luis E. Mendez Angulo’s memory to The American Stroke Foundation (americanstroke.org) and/or The American Heart Association (heart.org).

DIA 25: Orar por las personas que han perdido un ser querido – Pray for those that have lost a love one

Luke 23:7-11 “an elegant robe”

Was Jesus stubborn? No answer from him. Here we go again to Pilates. What was Herod thinking? “Not on my watch, first John and now Jesus?” Instead of taking a stand, Herod just “refused to accept jurisdiction and returned Jesus to Pilate.” Jesus was passed from place to place, individual to individual like a hot potato; no one wanting to take responsibility for their actions. No one was wiling to say NO. Is this the manner in which our decisions are made? There are times in our lives when we need to take a stand and we need to take responsibility because if we don’t, we will be, like these two, “morally wrong.“

Jesus, help me to take the blame and responsibility when necessary and to see that I am part of the wrong done to someone, if I do not take a stand. Don’t allow me to give elegant clothing if I am not willing to set your people free. Amen.

Lucas 23: 7-11 “una túnica elegante”

¿Fue Jesús obstinado? Sin respuesta de él. Aquí vamos de nuevo a Pilato. ¿En qué estaba pensando Herodes? “¿No mi decision, primero Juan y ahora Jesús?” En lugar de tomar una posición, Herodes simplemente “se negó a aceptar la jurisdicción y devolvió a Jesús a Pilato.” Jesús fue pasado de un lugar a otro, individuo a individuo como una papa caliente; nadie quiere asumir la responsabilidad de sus acciones. Nadie estaba dispuesto a decir NO. ¿Es esta la manera en que tomamos nuestras decisiones? Hay momentos en nuestras vidas en que tenemos que tomar una posición y debemos asumir la responsabilidad, porque si no lo hacemos, seremos, como estos dos, “moralmente incorrectos”.

DIA 24: Orar por los matrimonios – Pray for marriages

Matthew 27:19 “A dream about him”

How important it is to have a spouse with a conscience! I wonder how many of us understand and take our vows, our covenant seriously. I am blessed for a spouse that listens to Spirit and helps me to do the right thing. And I am blessed to have a heart that honors and respect when my spouse challenged my actions and my decisions; at the same time I am blessed that this is done in love and not as an act or demand for total submission on either part. Jesus needed to experience this process, yet Spirit used a “lay person” to proclaim truth” in attempts to clarify that Jesus was an innocent man.

God of Love, support our quest to be courageous as we pay close attention to dreams and words and to be humble enough to accept wisdom and correction from others. Maybe this will save mine and somebody else’s life. Amen.

Mateo 27:19 “Soñando con el”

¡Qué importante es tener un cónyuge con conciencia! Me pregunto cuántos de nosotros entendemos y tomamos nuestros votos, nuestro pacto en serio. Soy bendecida por un cónyuge que escucha al Espíritu y me ayuda a hacer lo correcto. Y tengo la bendición de tener un corazón que honra y respeta cuando mi cónyuge desafia mis acciones y mis decisiones; al mismo tiempo, tengo la bendición de que esto lo hace con amor y no como un acto o demanda de sumisión total, en ninguna de las partes. Jesús necesitaba experimentar este proceso, sin embargo, el Espíritu usó a una “persona laica” para proclamar la verdad en un intento por aclarar que Jesús era inocente.

DIA 23: Ora por personas que tienen miedo – Pray for those that are fearful

Matthew 27:15-17 “whom do you want me to release…”

Pilates knew Jesus was not interested in his position or in his palace. Jesus had a mandate from God to love even his enemies; and Pilates a desired to please the religious institution of that time. When they choose Barabbas they choose violence over the love of Jesus. If you were to choose, who will you choose? And remember, at the end of the day it is your choice.

Dear God, I choose love, peace and eternal joy. I do not want violence! Amen

Mateo 27: 15-17 “a quién quieres que suelte …”

Pilato sabía que a Jesús no le interesaba su posición ni su palacio. Jesús tenía el mandato de Dios de amar incluso a sus enemigos; y Pilato deseaba complacer a la institución religiosa de ese momento. Cuando eligen Barrabás eligen la violencia por sobre el amor de Jesús. Si tuvieras que elegir, ¿a quién elegirías? Y recuerda que al final del día es tu elección.

DIA 22: Ora por las naciones – Pray for the nations

Mark 15: 1b-5 “Yes, I am”

He was arrested, paraded through the streets of Jerusalem and now they want him to answer many questions. What is it that this man wanted to hear? “Are you the King of the Jews? Yes, I am.” Period and the sentence its finished! There is nothing else to say. Do what you must and let him be!

What did they expect? These were false accusations! There are no words. I experienced the border patrol officer asking questions, and he wanted an answer. No matter what this college students answered, he wanted the answer he wanted. And his questions not only frighten the students but humiliated them in front of strangers. For me, I just starred as I knew there was nothing I can say that satisfied their thirst for power. If you speak you are condemn, if you do not speak you are condemn. Then? Keep your dignity and let God be the one who ends the fight.

Dear God, you who fight our battles, thank you for reminding us that we are not the tail, but the head. Amen.

Marcos 15:1b-5 “Si, yo soy”

Jesús fue arrestado, arrastrado por las calles de Jerusalén y ahora quieren que responda a sus preguntas. ¿Qué es lo que este hombre quería escuchar? “¿Eres el Rey de los Judíos? Sí, lo soy”. ¡Punto y se acabó! No hay nada más que decir. ¡Haz lo que debes y deja lo otro a un lado!

¿Qué esperaban? ¡Estas fueron falsas acusaciones! No hay palabras. Experimenté al oficial de la patrulla fronteriza haciendo preguntas, y él quería una respuesta. No importaba lo que respondieran los estudiantes de la universidad, él quería la respuesta que él quería. Y sus preguntas no solo asustan a los estudiantes sino que los humillan frente a los extraños. Para mí, simplemente me di cuenta de que no había nada que decir que satisficiera su sed de poder. Si hablas, estás condenado, si no hablas, estás condenado. ¿Entonces? Mantenga su dignidad y permita que Dios sea quien termine la lucha.

DIA 21 Orar por la familia pastoral – Pray for the pastoral family

Mark 14:63-64 “What is your decision?”

Ahi, me dolió! Esa mañana la calle, el driveway y la acera estaban llenas de nieve. El hombre de mi casa estaba enfermo pero decidió salir, en contra de todas mis lengueterias, a palear. Claro yo me fui afuera con el. Y nos fuimos en un viaje a traves de la calle, limpiando porque “este está enfermo, aquella es una mujer sola con hijas y no tiene una maquina. Creo que todos oyeron mis gritos “metete a tu casa, deja de ayudar a todo el vecindario… si estiras la pata entonces yo voy a ser una viuda, sola y con un monton de nieve para limpiar.” Todavia puedo escuchar sus risas al tomar mi cara en sus manos y decirme “mamita, ayer oramos por los desamparados… existe mucha gente que no está fisicamente desamparada pero sus corazones estan llenos de dolor porque han sido desamparados y han permitido que sus sentimientos empañen su gozo.” Esto de celebrar la cuaresma trae mucha reflexion y aprendizaje.

Jesus, help me to make decisions that support your call for justice, even if I have to walk down the street paleando nieve por los enfermos, por las viudas, por las mujeres que estan solas y a gozarme en el proceso. Amén.

Mark 14: 63-64 “What is your decision?”

There, it hurt! That morning the street, the driveway and the sidewalk were full of snow. The man in my house was sick but decided to go out, against all my arguments, to shovel. Of course I went outside with him. And we went on a trip across the street, cleaning up because “this one is sick, that is a woman alone with daughters and does not have a machine. I think everyone heard my screams “get in the house, stop helping the whole neighborhood … if you died then I will be a widow, alone and with a lot of snow to clean up.” I can still hear his laugh when taking my face in his hands, he told me “Mamita, yesterday we prayed for the homeless … there are many people who are not physically helpless but their hearts are full of pain because they have been helpless and have allowed their feelings to blur their joy.” The celebration of Lent brings a lot of reflection and learning!

DIA 20 : Orar por los pacientes de enfermedades terminals – Pray for the terminally ill

Matthew 27:3-5 “…Judas threw the silver coins into the Temple and left. Then he went out and hung himself”

I can only imagine this experience. My God,! Betraying the one who gave you identity, the one who walked with you. I am really overcome with so many thoughts. Some might say, “that was his destiny”; and I will say he did no have to kill himself. What would have happened if he’d waited a little longer, if he did not became overwhelmed, overcome with intense grief – let alone, maybe, just maybe, listening to the gossip, the looks, the close doors around his town or maybe, just maybe, the doors close by family members that no longer welcomed him into their homes. A man without, a man with no sense of belonging, such a man will become a homeless man… no friends, no family. This really struck me… If this were to happen today, this man who had a felony will not even have a church home that will receive and restore him. Or are we also saying “what do we care? That’s your problem!” Uh!

Have mercy on us, Jesus! Let us open our arms, our church and our hearts to those who have a felony, who have sinned, who have made mistakes. Oh sweet Jesus, let us give them time to repent, time to have an Epiphany moment, time to weep – “weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes in the morning”. My Powerful Redeemer, thank you for forgiving our past and for giving us a future full of hope and grace! Amen.

Mateo 27:3-5

“Entonces cuando Judas, el que lo había traicionado, vio que habían condenado a Jesús y sintió pesar por lo que había hecho. Así que les devolvió las treinta monedas de plata a los jefes de los sacerdotes y a los ancianos líderes, y les dijo: —He pecado al entregar a un hombre inocente para que lo maten. Ellos dijeron: —¿Qué nos importa? ¡Ese es tu problema! Entonces Judas tiró las monedas de plata en el templo, salió de allí y se ahorcó.

Sólo puedo imaginarme esta experiencia. Dios mío, ! Traicionar al que te dio identidad , al que caminó contigo. Estoy realmente abrumada con muchos pensamientos . Algun@s podrían decir que ” ese era su destino” , yo digo que no habia necesidad de matarse. ¿Qué hubiese pasado si esperaba un poco más, si no se hubiese abrumado, abrumado por un intenso dolor – y mucho menos , tal vez , sólo tal vez , no hubiese escuchado los chismes , las miradas , o visto las puertas cerradas alrededor de su ciudad o tal vez , sólo tal vez , las puertas que los miembros de su familia hayan cerrado no permitiendole entrar en sus casas . Un hombre sin… un hombre sin sentido de pertenencia, un hombre así se convertirá en un hombre sin hogar … ni amigos, ni familia. Esto realmente me llamó la atención … Si esto llegara a suceder hoy en día, este hombre que habia cometido un delito grave ni siquiera tuviese una iglesia que lo recibieray lo restaurara. ¿O estamos nosotros también diciendo ” ¿qué nos importa ? Ese es tu problema ! “Uh !

DIA 19: Pray for the victims of abuse – Ora por las victimas de maltrato

Mark 14:66-72 “Then […] broke down and wept”

Hamilton reminded us that we all have faced a “moment when we were afraid to be identified as a follower of Jesus.” I can hardly find the words to ask for forgiveness when my fears have paralyzed me in a way that I am unable to do the work I have been called to do. When I, due to my fear, miss the opportunity to touch and minister to the life of those in need, those that are suffering. I am thankful that God restores me and supports me as I realized who I am in him.

Jesus, as I break down and weep, I realized that I cann’t do the work of justice at a distance. Forgive me! Amen.

Marcos 14: 66-72 “Entonces […] se derrumbó y lloró”

Hamilton nos recordó que todos enfrentamos un “momento en el que teníamos miedo de ser identificados como seguidores de Jesús”. Apenas puedo encontrar las palabras para pedir perdón cuando mis miedos me han paralizado de manera tal que no puedo hacer el trabajo al cual he sido llamada. Cuando yo, debido a mi temor, pierdo la oportunidad de tocar y ministrar a la vida de alguien en necesidad, aquellos que están sufriendo. Estoy agradecida de que Dios me restaura y me apoya cuando me di cuenta de quién soy en él.

DIA 18: Ora por los lideres espirituales – Pray for our spiritual leaders

Luke 22:54-55 “following at a distance”

I agree with Hamilton, a coward will not stay, will not stand and will not act. Peter acted and “cut off the ear of the high priest’ servant,” he was in the courtyard and was recognized as a follower of Jesus. He was present. He was there “at a distance.” I am thinking if I had the opportunity to be present, to stand by will I enter the courtyard or will I just recluse myself from the danger and remain hidden until all has passed?

Jesus, I remember a time when I too remained at a distance fearful of potential danger. I remember that you love me still and allowed me get closer to you anyway. Thank you for bringing me near and for giving me the courage to stay. Amen

Lucas 22: 54-55 “siguiendo a distancia”

Estoy de acuerdo con Hamilton: un cobarde no se quedaría, no se pararía y no actuaría. Pedro actuó y “cortó la oreja del siervo del sumo sacerdote”, él estaba en el patio y fue reconocido como un seguidor de Jesús. Él estaba presente. Él estaba allí “a la distancia”. Estoy pensando que si tuviera la oportunidad de estar presente, si estuviera de pie, ¿entraría en el patio o me recostaría del peligro y permanecería escondida hasta que todo haya pasado?

Jesús, recuerdo un momento en el que yo también permanecí a distancia temerosa de un peligro potencial. Recuerdo que todavía me amas y me permites acercarme más a ti. Gracias por traerme cerca y por darme el ánimoa para quedarme. Amén

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