PictureLent ~ Resurrection

Sunday’s Scripture ~ Mark 16:1-8

Holy Week is a marathon, not a sprint. We gathered at the starting line last Sunday – there was even a parade! We waved palm branches and children sang. We worshipped and then we were benedicted to continue our walk to the cross.

Most of us anticipated reaching the cross on Friday, but it showed up Sunday afternoon as we learned one of our sisters in Christ in the Tuskawilla family passed away. The parade was over. The mourning began.

As a pastor when I learn of a death in the congregation I immediately go into work mode. Phone calls to make – visits to complete – information to gather – services to coordinate. This work also accomplishes compartmentalizing the grief process. As long as I work and stay busy the grief stays at bay.

When I find stillness and quiet up the grief wells.

Wednesday morning I went to yoga as I usually do and during my practice my teachers settled me into sleeping pigeon, which looks like this. Sleeping pigeon is an introspective pose as your gaze is towards your heart-center, the core of your being. It is also a deep hip stretch and release. Once settled I began to breath deeply and my tears began to flow. Reclined on the floor I wept. I wept for Lori. I wept for Ann. I wept for our congregation. I wept and asked only one question.

Why?

Reclined in prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus grieved. Jesus wept. According to the Third Gospel writer Jesus was in such anguish that his sweat was like drops of blood (Lk 22:44). “I’m very sad. It’s as if I’m dying…My Father, if it’s possible, take this cup of suffering away from me” (Mt. 26:37a and 39b).

In the quiet of the garden Jesus probably asked “Why?” He probably confessed his confusion and his inability to understand. He possibly even felt anger that his questions remained unanswered. Pondering, seeking, praying, Jesus turned inward. Inhaling and exhaling into the very center of his being Jesus found his answer. “Not what I want but what you want…let it be what you want” (Mt 26:39c and 42c).

In the face of grief and imminent tragedy Jesus kept walking. And we will keep walking – aware of our loss, aware of our pain, aware of our unanswered questions, and aware of our God’s continued faithfulness. Our Christ walked toward the cross accepting all of the world’s pain as he did. At the ultimate place of defeat Jesus is forevermore our victor. Sunday is coming and resurrection is real.

Lori loved Jesus and his church, this church, Tuskawilla. Lori has gone on ahead of us into glory and is helping to make room for all of us at the table. Because of Jesus’ obedience – “obedience to death, even death on a cross” – we will join her and all God’s children at the heavenly feast Jesus continues to prepare (Phil 2:8). The casseroles will be abundant. Even more so, God’s grace and peace and joy will be abundant. There will be no grief. There will be no tears. There will be no reason to ask “Why?” There will be Jesus and those whom he loved. Lori will be there…and we cannot wait to see her.

Prayer: “For me, kind Jesus, was thy incarnation, thy mortal sorrow, and thy life’s oblation; thy death of anguish and thy bitter passion, for my salvation. Therefore, kind Jesus, since I cannot pay thee, I do adore thee and will ever pray thee, think on thy pity and thy love unswerving, not my deserving.”* Amen.

*”Ah, Holy Jesus,” The United Methodist Church 289.

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PictureLent ~ Return

Sunday’s Scripture ~ Matthew 21:12-17

This Sunday we begin the final part of our pilgrimage to Golgotha. We celebrate Palm Sunday – a day that rings loud with shouts of Hosanna, a day that is alive with the waving of palm branches, a day that is colorful with garments showering the ground to make smooth the way of the King.

Palm Sunday – at its root – is a day when we celebrate Jesus showing up. Jesus travelled non-stop during his ministry. In fact he said of his own ministry, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head” (Mt 8:20). This statement speaks to Jesus’ lack of personal possessions – perhaps even speaks to his poverty – but it also sheds light on what was of important to our Lord. He valued people. He valued being with and serving people. For Jesus, it was people over possessions any day. When Jesus arrived in Jerusalem, he was going to – as we say in the South – stay for a spell. People gathered to hear him preach. People gathered to see him go toe-to-toe with the chief priests, scribes, and Pharisees. People gathered to be near him, to celebrate that the one they had heard stories about was close enough to tell the stories himself.

I wonder if Jesus were to show up today if we would take notice? Would there be a parade? Would there be a potluck? Would we even turn our heads?

These questions are what draw me to Holy Week like a magnet to a piece of iron. This week is full of stories and Scriptures that I have heard for decades and even though I have heard them for decades, I am not jaded by them. I will not allow myself to be jaded by them. I want Jesus to show up on Palm Sunday and I want to take notice. I want to take notice of everything. I want to wave a palm branch like Mr. and Mrs. Hermany taught me in Kids Choir 25 years ago – tap tap shaaaaaake! I want to actively and attentively listen as Jesus teaches in parables, answers questions about what is to come,  and schools the ornery Pharisees. I want to smell the bread that is broken and served at The Last Supper. I want to stand watch at his trial. I want to lean in as he carries his cross. I want to weep with the Marys. And come Easter Sunday I want to look into that borrowed grave and see that he is not there.

My friends, Holy Week is coming – and much like other moments in our faith lives – we will get out of it what we put into it. If we approach walking the final days of Christ’s life with a ho-hum been there, done that, got and gave away the t-shirt attitude, then we limit how we can experience these old, old stories in fresh and exciting ways. If we open ourselves, if we prepare ourselves, if we humble ourselves, God is ready to focus our eyes to see what God has prepared for us to see in living this week alongside our Messiah.

Palm Sunday is coming. Christ will show up. Will we meet him there?

Holy Week Opportunities at TUMC – 3925 Red Bug Lake Road – Casselberry

  • Saturday, March 28: Pancake Breakfast benefitting Imagine No Malaria at 8am in the Fellowship Hall and Easter Egg Hunt at 9:15am across the Church Campus
  • Sunday, March 29: Palm Sunday – Sunday School for all ages at 9:30am, Worship at 11am
  • Monday, March 30 – Tuesday, March 31 – Wednesday, April 1 – Prayer Stations available from 5pm-7pm in the Sanctuary Courtyard
  • Thursday, April 2 – Maundy Thursday Healing Service at 7pm in the Sanctuary
  • Friday, April 3 – Good Friday Service featuring the Tenebrae Cantata at 7pm in the Sanctuary
  • Easter Sunday, April 5 – Worship at 8am, Sunday School for all ages at 9:30am, Worship at 11am

Prayer: “All glory, laud, and honor, to thee, Redeemer, King, to whom the lips of children made sweet hosannas ring. Thou art the King of Israel, thou David’s royal Son, who in the Lord’s name comest, the King and Blessed One. To thee, before thy passion, they sang their hymns of praise; to thee, now high exalted, our melody we raise. Thou didst accept their praises; accept the prayers we bring, who in all good delightest, thou good and gracious King. All glory, laud, and honor, to thee, Redeemer, King, to whom the lips of children made sweet hosannas ring.”* Amen.

*”All Glory, Laud, and Honor,” The United Methodist Hymnal, 280.

PictureLent ~ Replace

Sunday’s Scripture ~ Galatians 2:19-21

Every active United Methodist clergy person in the East Central District of our Annual Conference (and some other districts, too) participates in a Clergy Peer Group. These groups meet monthly September through April. We meet for the purposes of walking alongside one another in our ministry offering support, guidance and companionship. We also study a book each semester. This semester we are reading Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home by Richard Foster. This text explores the “spiritual movements of prayer” and “helps [readers] understand, experience, and practice the many forms of prayer.”*

One of the chapters I read recently describes Unceasing Prayer. Foster quotes Kallistos, a Byzantine spiritual writer, when defining this sort of prayer: “Unceasing prayer consists in an unceasing invocation of the name of God.”** Foster then quotes St. Francis saying, “[Unceasing prayer] seemed not so much a [human] praying as prayer itself made [human].”**

The Apostle Paul encourages us in I Thessalonians 5:17 to “Pray without ceasing,” but how exactly is that done? It is accomplished with mindfulness and with practice. Foster observes that Christians over the centuries desiring to live into this direction from Paul have settled on what is called aspiratory prayer or breath prayer. Writes Foster, “The idea [of breath prayer] has its roots in the Psalms, where a repeated phrase reminds us of an entire Psalm, for example, O Lord, you have searched me and known me (Ps 139:1). As a result, the concept arose of a short, simple prayer of petition that can be spoken in one breath.”***

The most famous of the breath prayers is the Jesus Prayer: Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner. It is a prayer that can be inhaled and exhaled on a single breath. It is a prayer that can be repeated again and again in its entirety or in pieces. I like to pray the prayer in its entirety and then continue the prayer by removing phrases one at a time:

Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me.

Jesus Christ, Son of God.

Jesus Christ.

I find that when I engage prayers like this one I become calmer and I become more attentive, not to my surroundings, but to God. I am focused. I am primed to receive.

This week our #PictureLent theme is Replace. As we journey deeper into the season of Lent we become more aware of what awaits us and awaits our Christ. We know that Good Friday is coming…but even more importantly, Easter is coming. On the cross Jesus replaced humanity; he took our place. He took our punishment for sin. He took our shame. He took our death and defeated it.

Mindful of what is still to come in the Lenten season – not only spiritually in my walk with Christ, but also schedually (yes, schedually) in the life of the church – I am in need of more moments of quiet and centering and reflection. I often spend my devotional time listening to music and this past week I was introduced to “Here’s My Heart” by I Am They. This song is a breath prayer repeating again and again “Here’s my heart, Lord. Speak what is true.” This song petitions God to speak into our inner most beings the heavenly truth that can and will replace the lies, fears, and doubts that have come to dwell within us.

I am guilty – at times – when praying the Jesus Prayer of focusing on the word sinner. I believe – I am convicted – that we need to recognize and take responsibility for our sins. But we are not the sins. We are ones who receive the truth of mercy. God’s mercy reminds us of our sacred worth. God’s mercy reminds us that we are made in God’s image. God’s mercy nurtures us daily in activities and decisions that lead us in recovering the image in which we are made. God’s mercy plants the seeds that move from our head to our heart. God’s mercy breeds assurance, which opens us further.

Which leads me again in my offering: Here’s my heart, Lord. Speak what is true.

Speak what is true.

Prayer: “What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul, what wondrous love is this, O my soul! What wondrous love is this that caused the Lord of bliss to bear the dreadful curse for my soul, for my soul, to bear the dreadful curse for my soul. What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul, what wondrous love is this, O my soul! What wondrous love is this that caused the Lord of life to lay aside his crown for my soul, for my soul, to lay aside his crown for my soul.”**** Amen.

* from the Prayer dustcover

** Prayer 119.

*** Prayer 122.

**** “What Wondrous Love Is This,” The United Methodist Church 292.

PictureLent ~ Remember

Sunday’s Scripture ~ Luke 23:39-43

I have returned! My pilgrimage through Nepal has concluded…and thanks to Turkish Airways was extended a few extra days. Many thanks to Rev. Melissa Cooper and Rev. Kate Ling for preaching for me while I was away and to Rev. Tom Love for serving as a pastor-on-call. Many thanks also to Tuskawilla’s wonderful staff and leadership teams for their service while I was away. I am so grateful to be home and to have returned to our wonderful community. I am refreshed despite the jet lag and altitude sickness. I know that the vineyard was well-tended while I took my Sabbath. I’ve got my stilettos…I’m headed back to work!

In Nepal, education is not public nor is it compulsory. Families have to pay for their children to attend school, and many do. What makes it different from primary and secondary education in the States is that each individual school is able to set their own calendars and the times of their school days. So one school may be in session from 5:30am-12:30pm and another from 9am-4pm and another from 12:30pm-7:30pm.

Could you imagine trying to balance multiple children through this kind of scheduling? Ack!

Since the schools have such random schedules at any given point throughout the day you see school-age children just wandering through town – and let me tell you – they love Westerners. They associate Westerners with sweets. They will see Westerners walking up the road or sitting in a park or strolling around a stupa and will run with great glee towards them and squeak “sweets sweets sweets!” They are after chocolate or hard candy or gum – whatever you may have. And then after receiving what they want, they laugh and run off.

I was a less-than-favorable Westerner to the Nepali children. I’m not a big sweets person – unless it’s my Mom’s cream cheese pound cake, my mother-in-law’s Mexican wedding cake cookies, or my best friend Becky’s peanut butter cup cookies. For me bacon and cheese grits > sweets.

Nepali children associate or remember sweets when they see Westerners. They ask – and pretty much if they do not ask me or others like me – they receive! My friend I was visiting in Nepal shared with me that many aid agencies across the country encourage visitors to give the children toothbrushes when they ask for sweets. Nepali children receive so many sweets that their overall dental health is abysmal. The benefit of a sweet lasts a few moments, whereas the benefit of a toothbrush can literally last a lifetime.

Take note in the conversation that the criminal shares with Jesus that he asks for the toothbrush and not the sweet. The sweet would have been “Hey Jesus, get me off this cross!” The toothbrush is “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom” (Lk 23:42). This criminal saw Jesus and turned his attention to the Kingdom. Perhaps it was his first ever thought of God’s Kingdom. Perhaps he was reminded in that moment – once again – regardless of his past – Jesus and God’s Kingdom would be his present and future.

When Christians encounter difficulties in life we often turn to Jesus because we remember that Jesus is our God, our Messiah, our Savior, our Helpmate, our Friend. We turn to Jesus and follow his teaching, “Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened” (Mt 7:7-8). But for what do we ask? What is our request? The sweet? The temporary benefit? “Lord, get me out off this mess! Get me off this cross!” and then we revert to our life as usual instead of Christ’s life in us being our usual? Or do we ask for the toothbrush? Do we ask for the Kingdom? Do we ask for strength in tribulation? For our feet to continue following the narrow instead of the wide path? For peace with our neighbors? For enemies to become friends? For the healing of the nations? For abounding hope? For everlasting peace?

I know the Kingdom will indeed be sweet. I have tasted. I have seen. And I will taste and will continue to see. But I do not want the effects of the Kingdom to be temporary. I want them to be my present and my future. I want the Kingdom to pervade my lifetime and usher me beyond this time. Jesus, I look to you and remember. Remember me when you come into your Kingdom.

Prayer: “Alas! and did my Savior bleed, and did my Sovereign die? Would he devote that sacred head for sinners such as I? Was it for crimes that I have done, he groaned upon the tree? Amazing pity! Grace unknown! And love beyond degree. Well might the sun in darkness hide, and shut its glories in, when God, the mighty maker, died for his own creature’s sin. Thus might I hide my blushing face while his dear cross appears; dissolve my heart in thankfulness and melt mine eyes to tears. But drops of tears can ne’er repay the debt of love I owe. Here, Lord, I give myself away, ’tis all that I can do.”* Amen.

*”Alas! and Did My Savior Bleed,” The United Methodist Hymnal 294.

PictureLent ~ Reject

Sunday’s Scripture ~ Proverbs 31:8-9

This week’s #PictureLent theme is Reject. When we marinate on the word reject during the season of Lent, our minds might move to several characters in Jesus’ passion narrative:

  • The chief priests rejected Jesus as they opposed his interpretation of the Scripture and stirred the masses to rebel against him.
  • Judas rejected Jesus as he betrayed Jesus to the chief priests and temple guards for 30 pieces of silver.
  • Peter rejected Jesus as he denied Jesus three times before the rooster crowed.

Why did they reject Jesus? I think because of fear. Jesus represented a new world – of interpretation, of leadership, of Lordship. Perhaps the chief priests, Judas, and Peter rejected Jesus because Jesus was leading to a place where they might not have wanted to go or might have been afraid to go. Perhaps they rejected Jesus so they could stay where they were and remain with what was familiar.

We all have moments in our lives where we can identify how we have aligned ourselves with the behavior of the chief priests, Judas, and Peter rather than with Jesus. When we read a teaching of Jesus and it grates against what we wish Jesus had said but did not actually say. When we succumb to our greed for personal gain. When we wilt to fear in hopes to secure temporary safety.

One of the churches I served during seminary had this beautiful rotunda prayer chapel commissioned while I was on staff. At the center of the room was an altar surrounded by a railing that gave a nod to the crown of thorns. On the floor encircling the altar and leading into and out of the chapel was a meandering path of stones. Families from the church were invited to write their names on the stones to contribute to the path surrounding the altar.

I believe these stones are incredibly symbolic. They represent God’s people being drawn towards Christ and being led to places where we might be uncomfortable but will definitely meet Christ – at the table under the shadow of the cross. The stones’ meandering path represent when God’s people are drawn close to Christ as well as when we are farther away from Christ. We are still on the path, just perhaps not on the most direct course to Jesus, until we adjust to the leadings of God’s Spirit and curve back toward the Savior. The stones lead followers across the threshold into the world and then draw followers back towards the altar, which resembles the rhythm of the faithful – into the world – into the sanctuary – and the beat rolls on.

Like the chief priests, Judas, and Peter, there are times that we reject Christ. I believe that even in moments of rejection we stay on the path with Christ. We might not be in the center or drawing to the side closest to Christ. We may be farther away from Christ, but we are still on the path with Christ. Psalm 118:21-24 sings, “I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation. The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvellous in our eyes. This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

Those who reject the stone, the stone came to save. Those who reject Christ, Christ came to save. When we wind our paths back towards Christ, Jesus redeems our rejecting and we are saved.

Prayer: “Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine! O what a foretaste of glory divine! Heir of salvation, purchase of God, born of his Spirit, washed in his blood. Perfect submission, all is at rest; I in my Savior am happy and blest, watching and waiting, looking above, filled with his goodness, lost in his love. This is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior all the day long. This is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior all the day long.* Amen.

*”Blessed Assurance,” The United Methodist Hymnal 369.

PictureLent ~ Reflect

Sunday’s Scripture ~ Our very own Pastor Kate is preaching this week! I hope you will join her in worship on Sunday and to receive the Scripture and message that God has prepared in her to share with each of you.

This week’s #picturelent focus word is Reflect. If you are reading along with the #picturelent devotions you will observe a reflective tone throughout: (1) of Jesus reflecting on Hebrew Bible Scriptures and (2) of how we are called to reflect Jesus’ love through our service in the world.

This reflective tone causes me to pause. I often think about how I am reflecting  Jesus’ love through service to, for, and with my neighbors. But reflecting on these Scripture texts has drawn my attention to something I have known for some time, but I have not had at the forefront of my mind: Jesus was not always the first person to offer the lessons he taught. His lessons are steeped in the Hebrew faith tradition. Some he taught verbatim scroll to people and others he expounded upon to bring a new interpretation. These lessons were passed down generation to generation and Jesus’ endorsement – God’s own Son saying “Yes! This! Do and keep doing this!” – of these lessons reinforce their importance and life-givingness.

I am convinced that we are able to care for others after the example of Christ through responsible stewardship of our resources that leads us to responsible living in the world. Whether time, talents, prayers, or passions, when we order them properly – offering first to God and then to neighbor – God’s blessings abound for the whole community. These lessons in stewardship were not advents with Jesus; Judeo-Christian lessons of stewardship were appropriated from Egyptian culture where the first fruits of all harvests were offered to Pharaoh, who was considered a deity. Instead of offering first fruits to Pharaoh we offer them to God. And then the remaining fruits are available for us to steward and share.

As I reflect on this interaction of Jesus reflecting on texts and then people reflecting his love through service, my mind comes to my friend Holly. She is my primary yoga teacher, the one responsible for walking with me and leading me through the wide world of yoga. Holly is a strong woman of faith and she is deeply committed to sharing the compassion she experiences in her relationship with Christ with others. When structuring the class schedule at her yoga studio she intentionally and purposefully dedicated her Sunday class as a Give class. Participants do not pay for this class; rather, they offer themselves in their practice and, in appreciation of that practice, participants offer a donation that Holly then gifts to a local philanthropy. Why does she do this? Because it is an expression of her understanding Scripture and an outpouring of her commitment to serve others after the example of Christ. Holly’s commitment to serve others after the example of Christ has even benefited the Tuskawilla Community as she gave the offerings from January’s Give classes in support of our support of the Conference Imagine No Malaria Campaign.

This is one example of a person’s understanding of Scripture nourishing her care and compassion for her neighbors. To incarnate this sort of understanding requires an exposure to God’s Word and time intentionally given to studying the connection between reading God’s word and living it out. To incarnate this sort of understanding requires reflection.

If you look in our mosquito net in the Narthex, you will see Firefly Yoga covering a few of the mosquitoes representing Holly and Firefly’s support of Imagine No Malaria. If you are committed to being one of TUMC’s 100 families to commit to the campaign, please write your name over a mosquito and hang it in the net as a sign of your support!

Bearing in mind the dual nature of reflections in this post, consider these questions: What is the subject of your recent reflections? What reflections are you showing in the world? Thinking on your activity in the world, what do they reflect as your source? What do they say about what you have been studying?

Prayer: “Blessed Jesus, at thy word we are gathered all to hear thee; let our hearts and souls be stirred now to seek and love and fear thee, by thy teachings sweet and holy, drawn from earth to love thee solely!”* Amen.

*”Blessed Jesus, at Thy Word,” The United Methodist Hymnal 596.

PictureLent ~ Reveal

Sunday’s Scripture ~ Colossians 1:15-17

This week we celebrate Ash Wednesday and cross the liturgical threshold into Lent. During this 40 day season we remember the time that Jesus spent in the wilderness. There he was tempted. There he defended his faith. “No, I will not test the Lord my God. No, I will not bow down and worship any other.”

Jesus fasted while in the wilderness. Surely hungry, the tempter suggests Jesus turn stones into loaves of bread. But Jesus resists. He does not want to break his spiritual focus. He does not want to give into the appetites of the flesh at the expense of the appetites of his faith – to seek God and only God, and to trust God to provide for his needs.

Many folks join Jesus in the wilderness during Lent by choosing to “give something up” so that one of their resources – be it time, energy, money, or others – might be channelled into either their relationship with God or into strengthening their service to others, which brings glory to God. Similarly other folks “add something on” during the Lenten season with the hopes that they will accomplish the same goal.

I have done both – given something up and added something on. It’s hard work for me to make sure these Lenten disciplines do not follow suit of my New Year’s Resolutions, which are usually a vague memory by the time Ash Wednesday comes to pass.

This year, for the second time, I am giving up wheat and flour and all related substances, as an extended mediation on Jesus’ defense to the tempter, “humans do not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

I am adding on the disciplines of several daily readings and prayers:

(1) Conference Social Justice devotions – these devotions will subject social justice passions and concerns throughout our annual conference. The purpose of these devotions is to raise awareness about these passions and concerns and to begin to create space for dialogue as to how Florida United Methodists can go about responding to them. You may access these devotions by visiting www.willtheyknow.com.

(2) Imagine No Malaria witnesses – these witnesses will lift up testimonies from the global neighborhood about the struggle with malaria. Remember that TUMC is seeking 100 giving units to give $65 between the seasons of Advent and Lent ($1/day) for a total of $6500 to benefit the annual conference’s support of the Imagine No Malaria Campaign. If your family is committed to being one of these giving units, please write your name on a mosquito and place it in the mosquito net in the Narthex gathering area beginning this Sunday. These devotions will be posted to the TUMC Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/TuskawillaUMC.

(3) #Picturelent devotions – these devotions and family activities have been written by clergy throughout the Florida Conference for the purpose of engaging families in creatively picturing their way through Lent. Each week of Lent will have a focus word that we are invited to focus into our camera lenses – phone, digital, or film! – to capture what Lent looks like to each of us. You may register to receive these devotions by visiting www.picturelent.com

(4) Continuing participation in our Church Family Prayer Focus. We will strengthen the ties that bind our congregation together by praying for one another, by praying for the folks we meet in our daily lives, and by praying for the folks God is sending our way. These names can be found printed weekly in your Sunday bulletin. If you do not receive a bulletin, you may call the church office to receive the list of families for the week.

That sounds like (and looks like!) quite an undertaking, but I am hopeful for this experience. To fulfill these “additions to” I will have to create time by cutting out some other activities, which I will draw me towards greater holiness.

During this season I am anxious to see how Jesus will be revealed as “the image of the invisible God” (Col 1:15). How will you experience Lent? What do you plan to give up? What do you plan to add on? Prepare yourself for this journey. It will be long. It will lead us to some uncomfortable places. But ultimately, this journey is leading us to life eternal and the first step is the one across the threshold of Ash Wednesday.

Rev. Melissa Cooper will lead the Tuskawilla Community in worship this week. I hope you will enjoy your time with her and share the warmth of our hospitality with her.

Prayer: “O God our deliverer, you led your people of old through the wilderness and brought them to the promised land. Guide now the people of your church, that, following our Savior, we may walk through the wilderness of this world toward the glory of the world to come; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever. Amen.”*

*”Lent,” The United Methodist Hymnal 268.