I’m so excited! I’m dust, and to dust I shall return. Every year in the life of the church, we observe a Holy Day called Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday is on Valentine’s Day this year, so I hope to see you at church at 7pm on February 14. Somehow, we’ll include Love in all this.
Ash Wednesday is the day that starts us on a path to Easter. This service begins the church season of Lent, the six weeks we use to prepare for Easter. At this service, I will draw crosses on each person’s forehead while they kneel around the altar.
Although some find this service “too real” and “too focused on death”, I find great meaning, great joy, and great life in it. For it communicates so many things. It lets me know that I belong to God, no matter what. If I’m a tiny infant, or near death, we all have the same cross on our heads, and we all belong to God the same. It equalizes the playing field to know that we are all going to die, and I love knowing that even though each of us are sinners (do things that cause separation and hurt), we are all in it together. We are all made from the same dust, and we will return to the same dust, and we belong to the same God who sees us, knows us, and saves us anyway.
There is a healing aspect to this service, for it brings us together as a community. We start our journey of six weeks knowing that we belong to God, that God made us, and that we’re all equally guilty, equally messy equally death-dealing, and equally saved.
This is a day when we get real about death, real about the pain we cause each other, God, ourselves, and the planet. We acknowledge how much the same we are, how much God loves us, and how we are all in it together.
This is my basic theology of life:
“Life is hard, we’re all in it together, Yay Jesus!”
Another thing I love about Ash Wednesday is the journey that it begins. At the end of six weeks, we’ll end up at the Last Supper, Good Friday, and finally, Easter! (I’ll explain more about those in March newsletter.) Welcome to the Journey!
This year, for Lent, we’re having classes on Thursday nights beginning Feb. 22 from 4pm-5pm. We’ll go over the stories of the Christian faith, why they matter, how we live them, how we celebrate them, with a focus on the last meal Jesus shares with his disciples in Matthew 26:17-30. People of all ages are welcome; please let me know if you plan to attend. Please also bring your Bible; if you need one, let me know. Then, on Maundy Thursday (March 29, 7pm), we’ll celebrate First Communion for those who complete the classes and have not yet communed.
See you on Valentines Day! I can hardly wait!
Love, Pastor Jess
One of my Pastor friends, Rev. Erick Johnson, and I were recently together at the Mission Redevelopers training. He said something to me that got stuck in my brain: Celebrate all the time. In redevelopment, people are worn out, and they need celebrations.
Another thing I learned in training was the importance of having short term goals that the congregation and pastor can work on together, especially at the beginning. The first five weeks of this call will be spent preparing for Bishop Wayne Miller to come on June 25 and preside at the installation. We're hoping to have a BIG party, invite everyone we know, raise $650 in donations to kick-start ministry, and fill up our church for a day. Will you join us? Leave us a prayer, blessing, or donation?
Let Calvary know that they are not alone in the Kingdom of God, and that others are praying, caring and rooting for them.
On May 15th, I will begin a new call at Calvary Lutheran Church in Chicago. It is a part time, one-year term call. The goal is to figure out the possibilities for Calvary as a Mission Redevelopment. To do this, we are engaging in a one-year process of discernment together.
At the call meeting, the congregation and I signed a discernment covenant together. You can download it here if you are interested in setting up a covenant like this for your struggling congregation.
Pastor Jess is all about sharing the life-saving love of Jesus with the world. How she does it is up to the Holy Spirit.
This work is licensed by Rev. Jessica A. Harren under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
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