Almost Lent
February 8, 2018, 10:33 AM

Seriously, it’s going to be Lent already??  We barely recovered from Christmas and New Year’s!  But so it would seem.  Ash Wednesday comes on Valentine’s Day and Easter arrives on April Fools’ Day.  This creates challenges for ceremonial and for teaching, I can tell you!  We’ll just have to wait and see how it works out.  Personally, I’m hoping for chocolate chip pancakes with chocolate sauce on Tuesday, and wondering if we can make Easter a “Fools for Christ Day” – which, since it’s the celebration of the Resurrection and one of the major feasts, if not the major feast of the Christian year, presents a unique challenge. 

Meanwhile, Lent is on the horizon.  Don’t forget that at noon on Wednesday the 14th the community Lenten worship and lunch series begins at First Christian Church (West Main at Vine), with Rev. Kelly Rector preaching. 

We will hold our own usual Ash Wednesday service, with imposition of ashes and Holy Eucharist at 6:00 PM.  The Choir will sing.

In Lent, Starla has special musical offerings for all our Evensong services (Wednesdays at 6:00 PM), featuring the choir, soloists, and instrumentalists.  Sunday’s bulletin will contain an insert with all the details.  I hope you can join us!

I’ve been prepping for our Lenten book study of Jesus and the Disinherited, by African-American theologian, pastor, and professor Howard Thurman.  This book, published in 1949, laid the foundations for much of what is now called “liberation theology.”  Thurman draws a line straight from the crucifixion to the horrific practice of lynchings in America (which were terrifyingly frequent between 1877, as Reconstruction wound down, and 1950 – over 4,000 separate acts of this gruesome form of murder have been documented).  He argues that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is particularly relevant to any minority group that is oppressed by a majority population.

One of the main points Thurman stresses is that Jesus focused on our internal reactions to external events – a unique approach in his or our time that limits the power an oppressor can bring to bear on the spirit of the oppressed. 

We know that Jesus submitted to death on the cross, and discouraged his followers from revenging themselves on those who would kill him.  How did he have the strength to do that?  How do oppressed people find the strength to get up in the morning and go on with their lives when their backs are to the wall every day? How do we even begin to understand how people not like us – in color or creed or faith family – see the world?  How do we find the strength to love those with whom we have deep political differences in our own time? 

I know it’s a challenge, and I know some of it may feel uncomfortable, but I think in the end this book study will open our eyes and our hearts and our minds, so that we will see, hear, and appreciate the lives of the oppressed for what they can teach us about our own walk with God.

On the next page, we’ve listed a number of other Lenten study options to deepen our spirits and light our path to a closer relationship with our Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier.  I encourage you to find the one(s) that speak to your heart, and follow where they lead over the next several weeks, so that, by the end of March, we will all have a better understanding and appreciation of what it means to be a “Fool for Christ.”

Blessings to you all!