• Steven Marsh

Parched Places: a Reflection on Psalm 103, Isaiah 58:1-12, 2 Timothy 1:1-14, and Mark 9:42-50

Loving God and others is no easy journey. “Loving” is an enterprise that requires effort.

As a pastor, I am fully aware of the exhaustion that goes with the blessing, privilege, and burden of shepherding a congregation. Weighing the options…navigating the details…outsmarting potential predators are all facets that take significant emotional, physical, intellectual, and financial capital. Experiencing green pastures, restful valleys, and streams of water are necessary for a successful journey. But advancing the congregation to a healthier identity and missional focus must be the worthy outcome.

Parched anything is always difficult. The dryness of the mouth needing thirst quenched. Skin and hair parched by a heated wind. The drought infested Central Valley of California continues its decimating decline. Orchards lay bare. Farm workers are unemployed.

Wondering where God is indicates a parched soul.

None of it is fun; that is the parched experiences of life. All of it is overbearing. It is difficult to remain focused on God’s promises when one’s existence is in varied states of being dried out.

We lose focus on God’s benefits when we hold on to bitterness, vengeance, anger, and sin.

When we address our parched conditions, we are reminded that the bonds of injustice are to be loosed, the thongs of yokes undone, the oppressed set free, bread shared with the hungry, and the poor homeless brought into our homes.

When injustice, yokes, oppression, hunger, and homelessness persist, a sincere faith will engage them and not be ashamed.

Perhaps my parched conditions will be addressed when I serve the least and the lowly. There’s something about altruism that keeps one focused on Christ and thirsts quenched.

Scripture readings are taken from the two-year daily lectionary cycle which follows the liturgical calendar and begins on the First Sunday of Advent.

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