We hope you were able to join us for the Ash Wednesday worship service which kicked off our Lenten series. It was a powerful service featuring each of our adult music ministries-Sanctuary Choir, Praise Team and Gospel Choir leading us in amazing music. It was good to be together as one church to worship and begin our 40-day Lenten journey toward Holy Week.
Our Lenten series has a little bit of a different title this year, “Honk if you Love Jesus: Moving Beyond Bumper Sticker Faith.” It’s a six week challenge for each of us as individuals, and as one congregation, to move beyond surface level faith and dig deeper into what it means to be a disciple of a radical Jesus. Our scriptures follow the lectionary in gospel readings of Mark and John. Each text includes an encounter between Jesus in which his followers are challenged to rethink their walk with Jesus and what it means to be one of his disciples. They see sides of Jesus they had never seen as they follow him on his journey to the cross.
I mentioned it on Wednesday that I believe these texts are moments when the disciples shift their spiritual diet from “milk,” as Paul writes about in his letter to the church of Corinth, to solid food. In these texts we find the disciples understanding why suffering is a part of Jesus’s journey. They are challenged to take up their cross. They watch Jesus overturn the tables in the temple with zeal for the Lord’s house. It had to have been a “cross” roads moment for each of them, as they asked themselves if this was what they really wanted when they left to follow him.
Last week during my fourth chemotherapy treatment, I met with my oncologist. We had a very frank discussion about what happens after my sixth and final treatment. Fearing there would be more tests or scans which could set me on another path of this journey, I asked, “What happens next?” He looked at me and said the words I’ve been waiting for…“NOTHING.” He said “Jenn, you are cancer free! You can claim that. This is your insurance policy we are working on to ensure you have the least chance of going through this again.”
Cancer Free. I had not allowed myself to use those words. I had never even asked because we went from surgery to treatment. I have been so afraid there would be more that I had not allowed myself to hope. But there it is, cancer free. With the exception of my final surgery, I will be done with this journey of treatment the week before Holy Week! Hallelujah!!!
Walking this journey with God has changed so much in my world, especially during the chemotherapy treatments. The treatments have helped me move deeper into the wilderness on a journey where no one else could go, just me and God. None of my clichés, or my neat and tidy boxes of life’s questions and answers, none of my credentials, or titles were there to save me…it’s just me and God. But I’ve learned so much about control, and strength, and the well of faith I draw from that I’m looking forward to a holy week like none I’ve ever experienced before.
Join us this week as we walk with Jesus into the wilderness. Claim your identity as we renew our baptism and hear God calling us beloved. We will all receive special Baptism Renewal Tokens so that we might remember our baptism and be thankful. Join me in our collective journey toward Holy Week and letting go of all of the surface level faith to dig deep into the well of faith that leads us to the cross, but also toward resurrection.
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