Welcome to our Lenten journey. Lent is our season in the church that began two days ago on Ash Wednesday (February 17th), leads us over the course of a 40-day pilgrimage of sorts, takes us to Holy Week (March 28th- April 3rd) and then, eventually, to the celebration at the empty tomb on Easter morning (April 4th).
During this Lenten journey we are invited to look inward, to find the places in our lives and our community calling out to be exposed and wrestled with in order to realign our lives with our best intentions and commitments as followers of Christ. It is sometimes a hard sell if you have spent your life feeling “beaten up” by some of the church’s teachings. I get it- as a woman, as a lesbian, as a mother of a child of color, as a doubter and a seeker, as one who lives to question and push the boundaries- I have felt that hurt harshly and directly in many ways over my lifetime.
Many of us, from various walks of life understandably wrestle with messages rooted in shame and blame; members of historically marginalized communities of all sorts have had their share of weaponized words like sin, guilt, repentance and judgment jettisoned at them with dire results and have the spiritual scars to prove it. The burden of emotional labor placed on those who have been hurt by the church is real and cannot nor should not go unaddressed. As an institution, the church must itself repent, acknowledging the damage done, seeking repentance and moving forward towards reconciliation and healing.
So, this Lent- I am going to ask two things of us.
First, to suspend our disbelief for a season and enter into this time trusting there is indeed ancient wisdom and deep worth in submitting our humanity to this time of introspection. I ask knowing full well the depth of what this may require of some, and I do not ask it unaware of the courage it may take. For so long many us have been hurt by words and actions in the church grounded in the language that is deeply baked into this particular church season. But I promise you will not be alone over these next 5 weeks. We will journey together.
Second, I ask that you pay particular attention to the voices and lives and reflections shared each Sunday this season. I am going to offer a sermon series exploring what God might be up to in our lives when we hold our 5 baptismal promises next to our sacred texts and together, up against the backdrop of our denomination’s ongoing commitment to live into Becoming Beloved Community. Since 2017 Becoming Beloved Community has been a resource available to assist our churches and diocese in focusing and strengthening our work around racial reconciliation.
I pray we will give ourselves the gift of showing up fully and wholeheartedly this season. What we discover together will be dependent on our ability to stay open, unguarded, humble and willing to be changed for the better. I have so much to learn, to unlearn, to surrender, to ask, to hear and to experience. None of us will travel the same path- but we will, if we trust, find our way to and through the cross with God’s help.
Traveling mercies dear ones.
And may you never forget that you are loved,