Dear Companions in Christ,
After making our way through almost the entirely of the Lenten season, it’s good for me to look back and reflect on the fruit that has been harvested from it. Some of you engaged in disciplines of “giving up” or “taking up” a 40-day challenge. Some of you elected to serve in a new way over these past few weeks. Some of you utilized our seasonal study guide within your families, while others, including our “Agape” small group, pursued a humbling and reflective study together based on the recent writings of Kate Bowler.
Whatever the nature of your own investment, I’m humbled and encouraged to be in your midst. I’m a bit chagrined as to how “spotty” my own practices have been over these weeks. I could point to all kinds of competing obstacles, make any number of excuses, or exercise a host of ready defenses; but each of those would miss both the point and the opportunity that has been before me.
This week, we enter yet another distinct chapter together - Holy Week with Jesus. We begin this weekend with the pageantry of a Palm Sunday celebration, marked by hopes being high and passion for justice and deliverance most evident. Yet the day marks just how quickly and effortlessly the mood suddenly shifts with that passion now being re-directed to naming a scapegoat for all of the frustration, oppression, and exasperation that the crowds in Jerusalem were feeling. My hope is that we’ll experience firsthand - at least in a formal sort of way - just how inevitably our own excuses, defenses, and rationalizations of such temptations become part of our own story today.
We’ll continue to walk with Jesus through this most distinctively uncomfortable week by recalling his last Supper with his disciples on Maundy Thursday (7:00 p.m.), when he modeled the nature of his leadership by washing their feet. We then gather again on Good Friday (once more at 7:00 p.m.) to experience the darkness of that Jerusalem garbage dump where the crucifixion took place, perhaps trying to appreciate anew how God was able and willing to take the ugliest of evil circumstance and to use it as a vehicle for establishing hope.
Our Sunday School youth will be taking a related journey through these events starting at 9:40, attempting once more to grasp a fresh perspective on what their own experience of forgiveness has cost Jesus and what has been possible as a result. Meanwhile, our new Adult Forum series on “Listening with Love” provides an excellent opportunity to be able to grow in our appreciation for and ability tobe the kind of neighbors, companions, and fellow pilgrims of faith that we long to be.
Wherever you are on the path of following Christ, I hope and pray that you’ll join in helping us to create and to experience all that this week can be.