Pastor’s Page February 2024
On Our Last Sunday of the Epiphany Season we are reminded how God’s power and presence is manifested in the healing of People and Communities. When Jesus heals us, we are empowered to serve others. While it might seem that Jesus’ healing of Peter’s mother-in-law in the Gospel Reading for February 4th was self-serving, on further reflection we see the same result in all of his signs and miracles. The object of Jesus’ compassion now has new responsibilities. Any meaningful encounter with Jesus will result in our being changed, which in turn alters the way we see our relationship to the needs of others and the world.
Hard economic times, natural disasters, and divisive, party strife can make us feel helpless and hopeless, as if God has abandoned us. Even the church—local congregations as well as denominations—may feel fear and panic in the face of declining numbers and revenues, loss of loyalty from members, indifference or hostility from the surrounding culture, and internal sniping among factions.
On February 11th weekend we Transition into the Lenten Season by way of The Feast of The Transfiguration: It was Amazing Then and It’s Amazing Now! How might we respond to an event as otherworldly as the transfiguration? We understand volcanoes and the northern lights. We can explain lightning and thunder. We know about germs and disease transmission. So what would we do when confronted with something so amazing, impressive, and unexplainable?
Transfiguration is one of those ancient events that still puzzle us. What really happened to Jesus that day? Since we cannot go back to that time, we are left to speculate. We take stabs in the dark and make educated guesses, but at the end of the day we are left with a holy mystery to ponder.
God sometimes uses extreme and amazing methods to transform us when we open ourselves to the Holy Spirit. God’s spirit transfigured Jesus then. That same Spirit is still transforming people today.
Ash Wednesday Is February 14th! In the gospel reading for Ash Wednesday we hear Jesus caution us against empty acts of public piety—on the one day of the year we leave worship with a visible smudge on our foreheads, reminding everyone we see that we have been to church ... and publicly acknowledged our sinfulness. What are you supposed to do, wipe the ashes off before stepping outside? Do you leave them on, and risk having the Wawa cashier point to you and say, “You’ve got something on your forehead”?
As the season of Lent begins again this year, we are invited to take on three great disciplines: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Jesus’ words in the gospel remind us that our acts of faithfulness always come as a response to God’s gifts. Remembering this gives a note of humility to all we do. Piety is not something to brag about. Piety is not something to be proud of. Piety is an opportunity to reflect our relationship with Christ and his approach to life.
Peace in your Lenten Journey!
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