Today we begin the liturgical season of Lent. A 40-day season in which we are called into reflection, repentance, and grace, with God and one another.
I want to call your attention to two things in this post: 1) please see the linked document: A SEASON OF PRAYER AND FASTING FOR THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH IN OHIO, prepared by the Spiritual Life Committee of the CCIO. I join with them to encourage your prayer and fasting for our regional church over the next six weeks; and 2) a short reflection on this Ash Wednesday.
For several years I have been drawn to a passage by Archbishop Desmond TuTu on this day, from his book Crying in the Wilderness. Archbishop Tutu says:
The Church of God has to be the salt and light of the world.
We are the hope of the hopeless, through the power of God.
We must transfigure a situation of hate and suspicion, of
brokenness and separation, of fear and bitterness. We have
no option. We are servants of the God who reigns and cares.
[God] wants us to be the alternative society; where there is
harshness and insensitivity, we must be compassionate and
caring; where people are statistics, we must show they count
as being of immense value to God; where there is grasping
and selfishness, we must be a sharing community now.
In the early Church people were attracted to it not so much
by the preaching, but by the fact that they saw Christians as
a community, living a new life as if what God had done was
important, and had made a difference. They saw a community
of those who, whether poor or rich, male or female, free or
slave, young or old—all quite unbelievably loved and cared for
each other. It was the lifestyle of Christians that was witnessing.
We are called to be light and salt of the world. We are called to be a community of reconciliation, a forgiving community of the forgiven. We are called to be such a community--and today the world, our country and our church, is in need of such a community—such a witness.
Grace and peace to all,
John M. Richardson
Interim Regional Pastor