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Keep watch over your Church, O Lord, with your unfailing love; and, since it is grounded in human weakness and cannot maintain itself without your aid, protect it from all danger, and keep it in the way of salvation; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Look  at this image of an abandoned church. What is the first thing you notice?  Now look more deeply, appreciating the architectural details, the stonework, the colors, the overgrowth of vegetation.  What is missing in this picture?  What do you not see?

Reflect.  The words of today’s Collect ask that the Divine One keep watch over the Church.  For many people, the Church is a place of gathering for worship and study, a place in which people dream of a future when all are reconciled. A place where people are inspired to make that dream a reality.  Yet we are also reminded that the Church is the people and not a structure.  A people of faith, and not a flawed institution.  A people who lose their way and need God’s help to “keep on the way.”  Consider the roles you play in the Church.  What are they?

Act.  Take a step to bringing the vitality of the Church, the message of salvation, the love of God, to a world that has largely forgotten it.  A world, decayed and fallen, deeply needing to be made whole.  What will you do today to help make the dream of God a reality for humankind?

Thanks for taking part in New and Contrite Hearts. Your comments are very welcome—let others know what you saw and experienced. Until next time, may you have a most blessed Lent.

Music: “Ambient Sonata”  /Album:  Ambient Sonata  /Artist: Dee Yan-Key

Image:   “Church Ruins ”   /Place: Near Dubrovnik, Croatia /Photographer: Jon Shematek