Wednesday, March 1, 2017

2017 Lenten Message

"By the sweat of your brow will you have food to eat until you return to the ground from which you were made. For you were made from dust, and to dust you will return.”- Genesis 3:19

On Ash Wednesday thousands of people will commence a journey that begins with the imposition of ashes on their forehead. These ashes remind us that we are dust and that to dust we shall return. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the season of Lent, a time where many in the Christian faith engage in a period of self-reflection and renewed spiritual discipline to prepare for Easter. 

We are marked with cross-shaped ashes as a reminder that our human life is flawed and that it will eventually come to an end. Ash Wednesday reminds us that we follow a Lord who tasted death with us and for us–and not just us, but indeed the whole world.

Lent is an invitation to intentionally reflect on our own life and pilgrimage with God: to ask the question, “How does my presence bring death to others instead of giving them a taste of the new life that Jesus offers?” During Lent, we acknowledge our sinfulness, our utter inability to heal ourselves, and we humbly ask God and one another for forgiveness. 

During this Lenten season, I invite you to be intentional about saying no to behaviors that keep you from deepening your relationship with God and other people and to adopt a new holy habit that brings life to the world. Maybe you want to become more involved in your church. Or maybe you want to spend less time at church to free up energy to form a new partnership and community out in the world. Perhaps a commitment to study a particular book of the Bible or a time for daily prayer may support your journey. Maybe God is asking you to set aside time to get to know your neighbors and to find Christ in unexpected places.

Whatever you choose, just remember: you are dust, yes–but dust that is deeply loved and cherished in the eyes of God, dust that is being reshaped into something so beautiful and holy that we can scarcely even imagine.

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  • "Christianity is not a theory or speculation, but a life; not a philosophy of life, but a life and a living process." Samuel Taylor Coleridge
  • "Most people are willing to take the Sermon on the Mount as a flag to sail under, but few will use it as a rudder by which to steer." Oliver Wendell Holmes
  • "Perfection, in a Christian sense, means becoming mature enough to give ourselves to others." Kathleen Norris
  • "Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can." John Wesley
  • "The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried." G. K. Chesterton
  • "One of our great allies at present is the Church itself. Do not misunderstand me. I do not mean the Church as we see her spread out through all time and space and rooted in eternity, terrible as an army with banners. That, I confess, is a spectacle which makes our boldest tempters uneasy. But fortunately it is quite invisible to these humans." C. S. Lewis
  • "When we say, 'I love Jesus, but I hate the Church,' we end up losing not only the Church but Jesus too. The challenge is to forgive the Church. This challenge is especially great because the church seldom asks us for forgiveness." Henri Nouwen, Bread for the Journey
  • "Christians are hard to tolerate; I don't know how Jesus does it." Bono
  • "It's too easy to get caught in our little church subcultures, and the result is that the only younger people we might know are Christians who are already inside the church." Dan Kimball