A community church in North Andover, Massachusetts

Out Of My Mind – March 2020

I write this the day before our second retreat, so any observations about that gathering will of necessity be expressed at board and committee meetings directly.

I’ve never cared much for the month of March. It’s neither winter nor spring. It’s mostly marked by cold dampness and mud. If somehow we could send March to Siberia, everyone would win: we wouldn’t miss it, they wouldn’t notice it and they have an extra 31 days. I guess that’s why I’m not in charge of weather or calendars.

Speaking of calendars, this year, the month of March lies completely within the Christian season of Lent, that 47-day time of year when we prepare our hearts to remember Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection, the great miraculous events which changed our relationship with God, and which actually changed history.

Perhaps you are practicing one or another of the traditional Christian disciplines during Lent 2020, fasting, tithing, not eating certain foods or foregoing something else. Let me encourage you to continue straight through to Easter.

Some disciplines are not as obvious as fasting. Forty-six years ago, early in my pastoral experience, I was going through a particularly difficult time, losing sleep, being hit by anxiety daily. That Lenten season, I decided to give up worrying.

Whenever I felt anxious or couldn’t sleep, I’d take three deep, slow breaths, and then pray, “God, with you in control, I have no reason to worry about anything.” And God always answered, “Yeah, stupid! How long is it going to take you to really learn that?” (God has always been pretty blunt with me. That seems to be the only way he can get my attention most of the time.)

Seriously, as a discipline we can all practice, let’s keep each other in prayer as we continue this time of transition, that God will protect each of us, and protect this church from divisiveness, apathy, and maybe most of all, impatience. Especially pray for the Pastoral Search Committee as they are getting to the most difficult portions of their work.


Pastor Rob Branch, interim