I don’t know about you, but it seems like I’ve been bombarded with ads, or Facebook statuses, or blog posts, or news articles that are calling us to get back to the basics.  The basics could be the easier way of doing something as opposed to what we might have made it.  Getting back to the basics could be getting more in touch with your body (mindfulness, yoga, prayer), or eating healthier, or exercising more, or just plain simplifying your life (de-clutter, de-stress, etc.).

 

We’re about to enter into the season in the Church year that talks about us getting back to the basics, and that season is Lent.  We’re called back to ourselves through confession and forgiveness, through alms giving, and prayer, and worship, and fasting.  We’re called to get back in touch with the imago dei- the image of God- that dwells in each of us.  And the image of God tells us that we are worthy, valued, loved, forgiven, and freed – regardless of what else we tell ourselves or what others tell us.

 

In her book, Searching For Sunday, Rachel Held Evans writes this:  “Once a year on a Wednesday, we mix ashes with oil.  We light candles and confess to one another and to God that we have sinned by what we have done and what we have left undone.  We tell the truth.  Then we smear the ashes on our foreheads and together acknowledge the single reality upon which every Catholic and Protestant, believer and atheist, scientist and mystic can agree:  ‘Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.’ It’s the only thing we know for sure:  we will die.  Ashes to ashes, dust to dust” (P. 45).  In the simplest, basic form of our lives lies our mortality and on that everyone can agree.

 

But our mortality isn’t the end of things.  We know the promise of Jesus who is God in the flesh who doesn’t want us to die, but to live and to be in relationship both with God and others.  That’s what Lent is all about- reconnecting to God, to ourselves, and to the world.  All of this lies at the heart of the vision that I laid out for our congregation in November at the Annual Meeting.  My vision statement is that Peace Evangelical Lutheran Church would “build authentic, vulnerable community through radical hospitality, discipleship, love and service.”  It’s all about connection with God and each other, it’s all about getting back to the basics of the community we know as Jesus people.

 

Our Council is in the process of helping me form some Cottage Meetings so that we can get some feedback on this vision and the goals/parts of it, but so that I can also get to know some of you in smaller groups.  I hope that you will agree to participate in these sessions, or that you might even feel a call/nudge/or poke to host a meeting in your home.  Together, we can do more than we might imagine possible, and as we get back to the basics this season perhaps we would also gain a different lens with which to view our congregation and world.  That is my hope and prayer for all of us.  Thanks for being on the journey together!

 

Gratefully “Lenting” With You,

Pastor Travis Wilson

P.S. Council has asked if I would publish that slideshow.  You may access it by clicking here.