Lent. What Is It? How Does It Affect Me?

Remember you are dust…and to dust you shall return. 
 
Lent is a season of forty days, not counting Sundays which begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday, the day before Easter.  It is a season of preparation for celebrating Easter.  You might ask yourself, how do I get prepared for Easter?  I believe preparing for Easter involves more than picking out a nice Easter outfit for yourself, your children or grandchildren.  It’s more than preparing a special Easter Sunday meal for your family.  This season of preparation is meant to be personal.  It’s meant to involve self-examination, to take a hard serious look at your life.  It may involve a new spiritual practice; giving of yourself in fasting, study, meditation and prayer. 
 
I recognize that to examine our own hearts and lives is not always a comfortable or enjoyable experience.  I get that.  It may be easier on you to glance over the material, to dance around the margins, to keep yourself guarded, and not be very involved.  As tempting as this might be I invite you this year to step up and accept the challenge.  We will intentionally confront our own mortality.  It’s a way in which we recognize we are created by God, made in God’s image, and yet, so often we fail to be God-like.  We are broken.  As you give yourself to this experience, we will come face to face with our need for our Savior, Jesus Christ. 
 
We will begin this season called Lent on March 1, at 7p.m., with our Ash Wednesday Worship Service.  I encourage you to make the sacrifices necessary to be fully engaged in this season of self-examination and preparation.  Make every effort to be in worship: heart, mind, body and soul.  Take advantage of the opportunities to grow, whether it be at our Tuesday Lenten Lunches (beginning March 7), our Thursday study of the Apostles’ Creed (beginning March 9), or other bible studies offered in our church.  Branch out a bit further.  Attempt something new.  If you’ve never been in a study, take advantage of this season to stretch yourself.  God will be with you.  Of that, I am certain and it will be good.
 
Blessings and Joy,
 
Pastor Craig


Treat Others With Grace And Love

 

“But to those who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies!”  (Luke 7:27)

Jesus changes things.  Or, at least I’d like to think so.

The social and political climate of our nation is such that there is a lot of anxiety, tension, hostility, and people generally behaving badly towards one another.  Newsfeeds and social media are ripe with people attacking and condemning those with opposing viewpoints.  In social media, friendships are being cut off because of varying viewpoints.  It is just sad the way we treat one another.  I appreciate the passion of the people.  I’m glad we live in a country where we are free to express our discontent.  Protesting is one thing, destroying people’s property and hard earned businesses is not okay.  In these United States it seems we are far from united. 

How do we as Christians interact with the discontent and anxiety?  Is your faith in Jesus Christ reflected in the way you react to what is going on in our nation today? Jesus can teach us a lot about how we treat others.  Just a week ago during Children’s Church at Kid’s First, we were learning about Jesus and the woman at the well (John 4:4-30)  The kids learned that God loved the world so much that he gave his son Jesus.  Jesus gave his life for all people so that we could be friends with God again.  Jesus showed this when he was friendly with the woman at the well.  Though everyone else was surprised that Jesus would be a friend to her, Jesus was eager to help her learn that God loved her also.  She discovered that Jesus is God’s Son and he can change our lives so that we, too, can love everyone.  Maybe its lessons like this that can help us treat one another with love. 

I recently watched a video on Facebook that was a humorous lesson on how to disagree without making people feel terrible.  You can find it by searching KidPresident on the internet.  The young man in the video offers six steps to disagreeing with others.  I’ll share four of them: 

The first is to treat people like people.  Don’t forget the people with the opposing views are fellow human beings and worthy of respect.

Step two, listen, listen, listen!  Before trying to change someone’s opinions, listen to them.  Even if what they are saying doesn’t make sense to you. 

Step three, Pause, Breath, and Love.  It’ okay to disagree.  But it’s not okay to be mean.  Don’t say anything until you can say it with love.  This life stuff is hard.  Let’s not spend our time being mad at each other.  You don’t have to see eye to eye to work shoulder to shoulder. 

Step four, acceptance.  The thing we have to accept is not everyone is the same, and that’s a good thing.  Nobody wins when all we want to do is win. 

I am certain the various viewpoints of our nation are equally held in our church.  Those who are sitting next to you may not have the same opinion of things as you’d do.  May the Holy Spirit strengthen us to treat one another with grace and love.  We can do this.  It’s who we are called to be. 

Blessings and Peace,

Pastor Craig.