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Director’s Message

 

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Following Jesus on the Lenten Journey

It is always a privilege for me to write to you, knowing that we are partners in the gospel. The gospel is the good news that our lives and the very life of this world are being transformed by God’s love. However, we find ourselves in a world torn asunder by injustice, madness, greed and idolatry. In the face of the evil of the injustice and madness around me, I am sometimes tempted to give up and give out. But you and I are on a journey again, a Lenten journey. It’s a journey of preparation, leading to an Easter celebration that love has the final word. Nothing else in all of Creation has the final word but God’s love.

I have always loved these words about Lent from “Wishful Thinking,” by Frederick Buechner:

“In many cultures there is an ancient custom of giving a tenth of each year’s income to some holy use. For Christians, to observe the forty days of Lent is to do the same thing with roughly a tenth of each year’s days. After being baptized by John in the river Jordan, Jesus went off alone into the wilderness where he spent forty days asking himself the question what it means to be Jesus. During Lent, Christians are supposed to ask one way or another what it means to be themselves.” (pp. 74–75)

As one who continues to desire to follow after Jesus in all that I say and do, I have been asking myself the following questions:

  • What do I need to continue to give up to truly follow where Jesus is leading?
  • Each and every day, how willing am I to truly listen for the voice that knows my name?
  • What are the ways in which I can become clearer about my calling to follow Jesus?
  • How can I best express that clarity to the people around me?
  • How do I best use my power for the cause of the gospel?

My deep prayer is that as I grapple with these questions, I will continue to engage the Lenten journey with the Christian community and become more and more like the one I seek to follow. But to follow means being willing to end old patterns that are no longing serving me. Following Jesus also means that I am willing to lose my life by standing against injustice and bearing witness to God’s love for all people. Following Jesus means that I am also finding out what it means to be me.

My hope is that you are finding out what it means to be you along this Lenten journey. I leave you with this hopeful word from Scripture:

“My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love. This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living in God’s reality. It’s also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves.” (1 John 3:18–20 MSG)

Grace,

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Ray Jones
Director of Theology, Formation & Evangelism