Worship with us this Sunday
8:45 AM & 10 AM | Classic Worship
in the Sanctuary at First Methodist
11:15 AM | Contemporary Worship
The Open Door at Buskirk-Chumley Theater
Freedom in the Ashes
A psychology professor asked her class this question: “Why do we so frequently ‘forget’ the names of persons to whom we are newly introduced? Answer: Because we did not hear their names to begin with. When we were being introduced, we were too interested in the impression we ourselves were giving to listen to the names of the others.”
It is this very problem, our self-absorption, and self-centeredness, that we address during the season of Lent. The very purpose of service, prayer, fasting or any religious observance is to deliver us from the debilitating and exorbitant self-consciousness that dogs our lives. Salvation, for self-absorbed creatures like us, means finally – or at least intermittently – to lose our precious selves in the other: the other who is the recipient of our service, the Other who hears our prayers, the others who wonder what our religion really comes to if not just more public promotion and self-display.
In most of the days and hours of our lives, we are burdened with the thought of how we are being perceived: what will they think? What are they saying about me? Will they like me? Does my faith offend them? When our faith is true, Jesus says, we find ourselves, our true selves, our God-selves, graciously liberated from the burden of self, liberated for the other.
Liberated from the self, liberated for the other.
That’s certainly not the messages we hear and read every day. The messages we hear today are:
Prepare for the worst!
Secure your borders!
Hoard your money and hide it under your bed (or invest it wisely for a comfortable future)!
Avoid the stranger!
Take care of your own and one day he or she will take care of you!
Jesus’ message is different, almost the opposite.
Prepare for the best.
Live expansive lives.
Engage the stranger.
Care for the needy.
Lent is a dangerous time. We contain the season to 6 weeks of doing good, rather than building a Lent that becomes a life. Lent is not about feeling holy, but about lifelong commitments that help us hold on to the things that will sustain us.
Ash Wednesday forces us to face something that we can scarcely imagine – that we are needy and fragile, that we are dust.
But…“Did you not know what the Holy One can do with dust?”, writes the poet Jan Richardson.
This is the day
we freely say
we are scorched.
This is the hour
we are marked
by what has made it
through the burning.
This is the moment
we ask for the blessing
that lives within
the ancient ashes,
that makes its home
inside the soil of
this sacred earth.
So let us be marked
not for sorrow.
And let us be marked
not for shame.
Let us be marked
not for false humility
or for thinking
we are less
than we are
but for claiming
what God can do
within the dust,
within the dirt,
within the stuff
of which the world
and the stars that blaze
in our bones,
and the galaxies that spiral
inside the smudge
See you in the mess of the ashes this Lent.
Families of Hope Needed!
Families of Hope is a new approach to answering the challenge in James 1:27 to “care for the orphans.” With almost 600 children in Monroe County in foster care, we need to respond to the needs of the most vulnerable in our community. We need your help!
You and your family can get involved in 2 important ways:
- Beginning March 19th, we will have a 4-week foster parent training here at the church led by DCS trainers. Childcare will be provided, and the group of families who complete training together will be able to support and encourage each other as they provide care for the children entrusted to them. While parents are in training, professionally-led, age-appropriate training will also be provided to your children around important issues like empathy, how to be welcoming, when to tell an adult about issues, and how to say goodbye.
March 19th – 2:00-3:30 – Orientation – learn about the process, ask questions, and meet other families who are considering foster parent licensure.
March 26th – 2:00-5:00 – DCS training
April 2nd – 2:00-5:00 – DCS training
April 9th – 2:00-5:00 – First Aid/CPR
- Join our supportive Families of Hope community! Not everyone can be a foster parent, but everyone can help out. Can you make a meal, shuttle a kid to basketball practice, have a play date, babysit, donate a bed, give clothes, pray? Of course, you can! Towards the end of the foster parent training, we will be asking those of you who are willing to respond to the needs of the families in our congregation who will be fostering to let us know how you can help.
We look forward to seeing you this Sunday at First Methodist! Join us for classic worship in the Sanctuary at 8:45 & 10 am or The Open Door contemporary worship at the Buskirk-Chumley at 11:15 am. We’ll be beginning a new sermon series titled Into the Wild, which will explore the mysterious and unpredictable wilderness of life during this Lenten season. See you Sunday!