February 28, 2024


We have just observed the second Sunday of the season of Lent. On the sign board outside Brown Memorial in Tuscaloosa is the message: “Lent – Spiritual Spring Cleaning.” So many of our churches are offering “cleaning supplies” – Bible and book studies, prayer groups, sermon series. Here are just a few examples: First Presbyterian, Birmingham is hosting a Wednesday night dinner followed by a series entitled, Political and Religious Extremism: Economics, Ideas, and Faithful Engagement, co-led by Joe Scrivner and Sam Hamilton Poore. Southminster is providing a series on The Bible and Brahm’s Requiem that will include attending the Brahm’s Requiem at the Alys Robinson Stephen Preforming Arts Center. Independent Presbyterian Church is offering a series on the “I am” statements from Jesus (I am – the good shepherd, the light of the world, the bread of life, etc.)


The Presbytery is offering a special daylong event with Drs. Anna Carter Florence and Jake Myers, both homiletics professors at Columbia Theological Seminary, on March 8 from 10-3 at Southminster Presbyterian Church. This event is directed toward preachers of every kind and will focus on the texts of Pentecost as well as the craft of preaching itself. Come together with your colleagues for a day of learning, comradery, refreshment and engagement. I hope you will be a part of it! Click here to register.


Finally, First Presbyterian of Auburn is using the poetry of Mary Oliver paired with a Biblical text as their church-wide Lenten devotional and I share with you one of the offerings. Read Psalm 8 paired with Mary Oliver’s poem The Summer Day. I leave you with these texts. They both offer questions fitting for spiritual spring cleaning.


Psalm 8


1O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens.

2Out of the mouths of babes and infants you have founded a bulwark because of your foes, to silence the enemy and the avenger.

3When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established;

4what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them?

5Yet you have made them a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honor.

6You have given them dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under their feet,

7all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field,

8the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

9O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth!


The Summer Day by Mary Oliver


Who made the world?

Who made the swan, and the black bear?

Who made the grasshopper?

This grasshopper I mean –

The one who has flung herself out of the grass,

The one who is eating sugar out of my hand,

Who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down –

Who is gazing with her enormous eyes and complicated eyes.

Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.

Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.

I don’t know exactly what prayer is.

I do not know how to pay attention, how to fall down

Into the grass, how to kneel in the grass,

How to idle and be blessed, how to stroll through the fields,

Which is what I’ve been doing all day.

Tell me, what else should I have done?

Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?

Tell me, what is it you plan to do

With your one wild and precious life?


As ever in prayer,


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