Lent begins on March 5th; Ash Wednesday. At 6:00 p.m., we will have a dinner of pancakes and sausage–a nod to the playfulness of Mardi Gras–before we enter into an Ash Wednesday service where the feel is more penitential and reflective. During this service, we have ashes placed on our heads. The ashes mark the beginning of a journey where we are invited to experience the fullness and wonder of God, and to reflect upon and about the true purpose of our personal and communal lives.
I love what Bruce Eperly has to say about Ash Wednesday in an article entitled: “Seize the Day: Reimagining Ash Wednesday”. He says,
“This Ash Wednesday, I’m letting go of everything that keeps me from rejoicing in the passing beauty of the earth. Yes, we are dust, but we are earthly dust, springing forth from a multi-billion-year holy adventure. Dust is good, after all; it is the place of fecundity, of moist dark soil, and perhaps we are ‘star-dust,’ as Rex Hunt suggests, emerging from God’s intergalactic creativity. We are frail, but we are also part of a holy adventure reflecting God’s love over billions of years and in billions of galaxies.”
The church over the centuries has endeavored to help people discover the divine mystery of God, the humanity and holiness of Jesus, and the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. The theology, doctrine and dogma of the church help us to touch the holy, and gain clarity of thought. I acknowledge that many people don’t experience theology, doctrine or dogma as doing anything but drawing them away from God. In the popular imagination, the word “oppressive” comes more immediately to mind than “liberating” when we think of theology. As someone who is in love with the complexity, paradox, wonder and humanity of the church, I tend to see the teachings of the church as more freeing. Unfortunately, the popular culture has blindly bought into the popular conception of doctrine and dogma as tyrannical, instead of actually opening up the treasure chest to see what’s really in there. These “treasures” are the most life-giving things that I know, but we need to understand what they are for them to be useful to us. I invite you to join me in opening the treasure chest and discovering the divine mysteries which have shaped human consciousness for thousands of years.
So, please join us this Lent for a fantastic journey of faith. There will be forums, Lenten Dinners, films, and sermons set within worship services full of sights and sounds which will help us explore the mysteries of our faith. Steve Hyde, Chair of the Adult Education Committee, and I will also be teaching a class based on the book What’s Theology Got to Do With It? by Anthony B. Robinson. We are offering nine sessions, each offered at two different times each week to give people a choice for their schedules.
I am looking forward to taking this amazing adventure of faith with all of you.
May the peace of Christ be with you!