Welcome to the season of Lent. In our modern microwave culture, we expect everything to happen at the push of a button, in an instant. But then the Church urges us to realize that there are many times that, instead of a quick lesson, we need something deeper. Rather than offering a well-honed sermon on marriage, family or career choices, Jesus gives parables. Even when he was asked simple questions, like whether to pay taxes to Caesar, Jesus gave complex answers to challenge how we think of the currency we use. Jesus was not interested in telling us exactly what to do or what to think; he challenged us on who we are to “be” and how we are to think. He knew thinking and doing flows out of being.
Perhaps that’s one of the reasons why the Church Calendar makes Lent a full season. Our overarching verses for Lent come from Paul’s words in Romans:
I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God…Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect (Rom. 12:1-2, NRSV adapted)
Transformation is not a quick fix. It is not instant oatmeal made in the microwave. It is the rye or barley seed that needs months or more to mature into a full-size plant producing grains along with the oat (i.e., a by-product) that needs to move from the Far East to Quaker plants to grocery shelves and end up in your pantry. Transformation is a long-term process.
In this season of transformation, we at First UMC are moving toward the CROSS, where we will use the word “cross” as an acronym. Each week, starting with last Sunday, we will focus on one letter:
C – (February 22nd) where we CHOOSE to follow, to deny ourselves and take up our cross
R – (March 1st) means today’s choices show the mistakes of our choices “yesterday.” To REPENT is to regret our past and Remember Christ’s future (1 John 1:9).
O –(March 8th) to OFFER ourselves, who we are and what we have, like Mary offered her best (Matthew 26:6-13).
S – (March 15th) Jesus’ SACRIFICE shows the need to give without wondering what I get in return, knowing we will never out-give God
S –(March 22nd) SURRENDER does not equal loss; it is trust in something bigger than this current battle, which I may concede without losing the war (Luke 23:46)
We hope you will join us as we embark on this Lenten journey of transformation as we follow Christ toward Easter.