Lent is a season of forty days, not counting Sundays, which begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday. Lent comes from the Anglo Saxon word lencten, which means “spring.” The forty days represents the time Jesus spent in the wilderness, enduring the temptation of Satan and preparing to begin his ministry.

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A UMC.org Feature by Joe Iovino*
February 9, 2015

One Wednesday a year, sometime in February or March, you notice someone at work, school, or elsewhere with a smudge on her forehead. It looks as if she missed a spot when washing. Then you see another who looks as though he needs to glance in the mirror. By the time you see the third, you realize it is Ash Wednesday and these passersby must have received the imposition of ashes.

This practice we use to mark the first day of Lent may seem odd. People go to church mid-week to have a cleric place dirt on their foreheads.

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“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free…” Luke 4:18 (MSG)

ImageLent is a 40-day period between Ash Wednesday and Easter where we recommit to our spiritual disciplines, repentance and fasting, and we remember the life, death and burial of Jesus, and prepare for the celebration of his resurrection. At the end of our 40-day journey, one of the great hopes is that we have realigned our lives with the life that Jesus lived.

One of the most fascinating aspects of Jesus’ ministry was not his interest in the secure, affluent, popular, well educated or politically well connected in society. Jesus had a passion to dwell among and to serve people who lived beyond the boundaries, people who were without power and people who lived on the margins of society.

Jesus ministered to those who were poor, homeless, prisoners, and carrying heavy burdens. These same people in our society are often easy to see, but many times difficult to engage. This is true especially when we are consumed with our own personal agendas rather than a Kingdom agenda. When our consumer acquisitions leave no room for us to share or give anything away. When our to-do lists are so packed that we do not have any time to share with those who Jesus ministered to. When this happens, the people who are hurting and living on the margins just become a part of the landscape that we tend to ignore-unless they get in our way.

If we are realigning ourselves with the mission of Jesus during this 40-day journey toward the resurrection, we have an opportunity to recommit ourselves to the mission of serving those who Jesus served. We can commit to serving the poor who are trapped by systems and have no visible escape route. We can go to the jails and the prisons to proclaim the Good News. We can be the hands and feet of Jesus in the world so that they may have their spiritual sight restored.

Selfishness, self centeredness and self-indulgence are the core values we experience when we have lost sense of our mission to serve those who Jesus served. Sharing unconditional love is an oxymoron in a society that teaches it is all about me. My challenge to us as we begin this journey together is to find a place to serve beyond our comfort zones, that is, if you are really willing to follow in the footsteps of Jesus.

Prayer:  Lord, open my eyes to all who need to hear the Good News. Give me the words to say and the courage to speak. Give me the discipline to live out your mission with the people that others avoid, ignore and shun.

William T Chaney Jr
Infinite Grace Fellowship
West Baltimore UMC

 

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Lent is a time of reflection, repentance and refocus on the life of Christ. Today is Ash Wednesday and the beginning of our 40 day time of preparation. I would like to invite you to join me in reconnecting with our foundational spiritual disciplines of reading the scriptures, praying, fasting, giving and journaling. The Baltimore-Washington Conference of the United Methodist Church has produced an online devotional to engage the journey. Join us daily : http://www.instantflipbook.com/flipbooks/9ec6e33dd9/