-This week, we are sharing a Lenten message from our District Superintendent, the Rev. Laurie Kantonen
The Journey Begins...
I am writing this article the day after Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday has long been one of my favorite days of the church year – and I have often thought about why that is. The Ash Wednesday service is often a somber service – as we remember both our brokenness and our mortality. It has often seemed to be a time in our faith where the rubber hits the road, where we stop pretending we are invincible, or all together and come together to admit that we are not. Last night, as I was worshiping, I thought first how this service is one of the most natural ways for us to open our doors and join the world. I have appreciated those church- es and pastors who have started offering ashes in their parking lots, on street corners to anyone who would like to receive them, to anyone who wants or needs to remember that we come from dust and to dust we will return.
But we remember something else on Ash Wednesday. We remember that God took that dust and breathed life into it, that as broken and fragile and vulnerable as we are – and this year has certainly been a reminder of that – that we are also something more than that. We are beloved children of God. Ash Wednesday be- gins our journey of Lent, where we focus on the life, the teachings, the example of Jesus, the one who saves. It culminates with our remembrance of Jesus’ final entry into Jerusalem and his death on a cross.
Ash Wednesday, and really the Lenten journey, comes along each year with its sobering reminder of death. And that reminder makes the Easter Resurrection, and the gift of life all the more astonishing. We invite people into our remembrance of our brokenness, our humanity and our mortality so that we can share with them also the good news of our victory!
In this year like no other I hope you give yourself the gift of walking this Lenten journey – whether that is by attending Lenten services online or in person if possible, by participating in the Conference book study “Love is the Way” by Bishop Michael Curry either in a group or on your own, or participating in an alternate activity within your own church.
As I worshiped last night I was also reminded that it was just a couple of weeks into the Lenten season last year when everything shut down because of the pandemic. (Some of us may even feel like we have been walking in the valley of Lent for a year now.) However, all through this year, I have seen cracks of light, glimmers of hope, signs of life coming from your churches as you have found ways to not only continue worshiping but to continue being the church in your community – a witness to hope, joy, love, grace. In a world that is so marked by fear and anger, you have continued to witness to a better way of living together in community. Thank you for your witness. I stand ready to be astonished with all of you again this year when we come to the end of our Lenten journey and celebrate the resurrection and life that is ours through Christ Jesus our Lord!