ECCLESIOLOGICAL ETCHINGS February 27, 2023 A Prayer from our Regional Minister, The Rev. Dr. Andy Mangum Lord, forty days is a long time. It's a long time to feel the pouring rain and stress over whether the structures we have put in place are strong enough to withstand the flood. We thought our stuff was so big and impressive until we started getting tossed around on the waves. Forty days is a long time to study the consequences of freedom. It's a long time to deal with lesson after lesson of what it takes to be an adult or a teenager or a child. These stone tablets we receive to guide us are hard and heavy. Forty days is a long time to grapple with them. Forty days is a long time to hide from those who would view us as outsiders if they saw us--to live in fear of being exposed and trapped and tried. Forty days is a long time to journey across the desert only to experience Your absence through the Earthquake, Wind and Fire. It is a long time to long for You and not know for certain that You will allow us to experience Your presence in the utter silence. Forty days is a long time to stand toe-to-toe with the cosmic accuser, the expert in deception, lies and half-truths. It is a long time to be confronted with the choice between fabricating through our own strength what we think Your will might be and the decision to trust You and serve You and Your world with the strength you provide. Be present with Us these forty days. Be present for me and the people I love and the people I wished I loved but don't and be with the people I can't imagine ever even wanting to love. Reshape and remold us into people of justice and joy. Help us to embrace this season as a journey rather than meandering. Whisper--even if it is only the quietest whisper--whisper to us the reminder that although this forty-day season feels like a long time it may lead to a very different forty-day chapter filled with revelation, hope, and new life.