Sue Monk Kidd tells this story of her childhood. “I still remember the day in the third grade when I got back that terrible arithmetic paper. I had missed every single problem. I was so ashamed and angry with myself that I wadded up my paper and slumped down in my seat. The teacher noticed my discouragement. She came over, put her arm around me and whispered, ‘It’s not the mistakes you make that are important, but how much you learn because of them.’ Then she smoothed out my crumpled paper. ‘Now, try again,’ she said. I did. And that time my teacher wrote across the bottom of my paper, ‘IMPROVED.’ That experience is one I hope I never forget. I still make mistakes. Some cause me to feel ashamed and angry with myself. Sometimes, when I am berating myself - I can hear God whisper in my ear: ‘It’s not the mistakes that are so important, but how much you grow because of them.’”
Lent is the season of “Now, try again,” a season when we stretch, grow and improve. It’s a time to examine our shortcomings. But the important part is what we learn form them and how we grow. Christ calls us to press on and he gives us his own Spirit to guide and strengthen us.
Lent begins February 17, Ash Wednesday. Plans for the Lent Season worship services are going to be flexible because of Covid, so keep on eye on ChurchPost e-mailings.
On Ash Wednesday we hope to hold an evening worship service at 7:00. We will offer imposition of ashes and celebrate the Lord’s Supper at that service.
The ashes remind us of our sin, and call us to examine our lives carefully, and to cultivate repentance. The Lord’s Supper reminds us that repentance is not grievous. It is filled with hope. For God has shown his love for us in this, while we were sinners Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). The Lord’s Supper tells us that we are continually connected with God’s grace through Jesus Christ and faith in his finished work on the cross.
In repentance, even though we acknowledge and grieve for our sin, we are not taking the weight of our sin on our own shoulders. Rather, we uncover it so we can lay it at the foot of the cross. There Christ has provided for our full redemption. And if we confess our sin, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sin, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).
So I hope you will join me in the season of preparation for Easter known as Lent, (Easter Sunday is April 4) and discover God’s encouragement for your soul.
Yours in Christ,
~ Pastor Byron
By the time you read this 2020 will be over, and good riddance!
What a difficult year! None of us have faced in our lifetime anything like the Covid pandemic. And we are all ready for this year, that included so much hardship, to end, and grateful to turn a corner and start something new.
As hopeful as I am for improved circumstances, I am more concerned for you ongoing spiritualhealththanIhaveeverbeenforanycongregation. ThisisnotbecauseIthinkwe’ve done something wrong. It’s because hardship wears down a person’s faith, and the improvement of external circumstances will not by themselves restore it.
Perhaps you remember Elijah’s despair in 1 Kings 19. A great victory only increased the danger he faced and ran for his life. Finally, exhausted he fell down under a broom tree and moaned, “I have had enough, Lord. Take my life;” (1 Kings 19:4). Hardship can wear down anyone’s faith.
But there is a more subtle danger of which I am more concerned. That is the effect of a spiritually inactive life. Faith that is not nurtured and used will grow weak. And like the debilitated person who doesn’t get rehab, a spiritually inactive Christian can grow accustomed to their lack of vitality.
Therootofthisdangeristheabsenceofpublicworship,Sundayschool,fellowship. Werely on these opportunities to restore us every week and we have been deprived of them for weeks. To face this loss of public spiritual life we need to exert private spiritual practice.
John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, taught his followers to stay in love with God through spiritual disciplines. Among them are essential practices you can and must do privately, personally: 1) Private prayer, including worship and thanksgiving as well as petition; 2) The Word of God, read, studied and applied to life; 3) Fasting or abstinence (we do not live by bread alone)
Of course, they are familiar. They are so fundament that any discussion of spiritual life MUST include these practices. They are as fundament to Christian life as tackling, blocking, and ball carrying are to football. Get sloppy in the fundamentals and your game unravels. Get sloppy in fundamental spiritual practices and your spiritual life will unravel, as well.
So let me encourage you to read from the Bible. I don’t mean one short verse, I mean over several days returned to and read extended passages from the Bible. Let me encourage you to pray, spending an extended time in which you deliberately seek God’s presence for worship and adoration as well as petition?
Let us turn this corner to renewed faith and vitality. Then 2021 will truly be a New Year.
~ Pastor Byron
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.