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Ash Wednesday, Feb 17

12 John’s disciples came and took his body and buried it. Then they went and told Jesus.

13 When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. (Daily reading Matthew 14: 13-21)

Jesus, hearing about the horrific death of his cousin John, wanted to be alone. But Jesus allowed his need to meditate and pray to be interrupted by the needs of the many who sought him out for healing.

Perhaps today, you will want to take a few minutes to pray and turn your heart to God for comfort and guidance. And your moment with God will be interrupted by a whine, a cry, or an emergency. May it be that like Jesus, we follow the leading of the Holy Spirit to do whatever the Father in Heaven places in front of us to do. May we take care of the mundane needs that we have committed to, with gentleness and compassion. Then, even as we sweat, and tire, and have energy enough for just a few short words of prayer - may it be that our bodies were praying as we were serving. May it be that we were attentive to God while we were attentive to the needy around us. May it be that through these hours, our hearts become all the more receptive to God's presence in the moments of prayer and bible meditation that follow.

Many of us, on Ash Wednesday, commit to a spiritual discipline for Lent. Our commitments and intentions will get interrupted in many ways - and we should not assume those interruptions are from Satan. We should treat our plans lightly, and focus on loving the ones God brings near us.

"Dear God, when life doesn't go according to our plans, help us to trust that no moment is ruined when we choose to trust You. Help us to know Your closeness, even in the midst of our interruptions and disappointments, and please ready us throughout the week for every time of worship you desire to spend with us. In Jesus' name."

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