A Message from Ellen
March 30, 2022
March 30, 2022
We will celebrate the resurrection of Jesus on Sunday, April 17th. And the week before that Sunday is full of events that remind us of Jesus’ teaching, his commands, his suffering, and his promises. Lent and Holy Week are intended to be invitations for us to evaluate our own lives, practices, and hearts, and to work intentionally on our own transformation in faith. Ed Black and I have been leading small group discussions on Richard Rohr’s book, Breathing Under Water: Spirituality and the Twelve Steps. And the discussions in both of our groups have been authentic and honest, struggling with what it means to be faithful to God. Rohr writes, “Christians are usually sincere and well-intentioned people until you get to any real issues of ego, control, power, money, pleasure, and security. Then they tend to be pretty much like everybody else.” (p. xxi in the Preface) Ouch! But can I mount a convincing defense?
No one can do our own inner work for us. We are each accountable for ourselves. If we, who claim Christ, are no different from the world, who would believe our Gospel? And Christians believe that at the end of our lives we will each face the only Judge whose opinion finally matters in God. Many Christians have used that judgment to strike fear and guilt into many an errant but tender heart. I would say that the Gospel is always the news that the Judge that we will meet is no other than the God we know incarnate in Jesus. And that in Jesus we come to know unconditional love. Love is the only thing that can really change us. Be honest, how many minds have you ever changed by calling them names, shaming them, or by making a compelling intellectual argument? But Love can change anything. Love can change Sin into redemption, hate into love, and death into life. God’s love can even change us.
I can tell you about God’s love for you. But when we are too busy to stop and be present with God, and when we are unwilling to believe God loves us and everybody in unlimited ways, then God’s Grace is often like water off a duck’s back. Please do your own spiritual work. Make time, in whatever way feels right to you, to pray, to worship, to be present to the story of Easter. Don’t spend more time planning your Spring Break vacation or your Easter outfit than you do preparing your own heart and mind for the celebration of Easter. Scripture tells us of many times when God broke through and into an unwilling heart (read about the Pharisee Saul – Acts 9), but God prefers when we invite God in and seek God with heart, mind and soul. That prayer, I don’t believe God ever ignores.
See this newsletter and the church website for how to participate in the events that are here at church to help you prepare! Or talk to me about how to chart your own path of preparation. The Christian faith is a journey, a path to be walked, not a destination. Come and go with us through the events of Holy Week all the way to the empty tomb!!
See you in church!
Ellen F. Skidmore