Today is Ash Wednesday in the life of the church. It is the beginning of the season of Lent, a season where Christians are called to repentance and self-reflection. A few years ago my friend and colleague, Rev. Alan Combs, an elder in the Virginia Conference, wrote the following post for this blog that I’m reposting as we enter Lent. May this season be a season of gut-checking. Peace, Jason
Photo by Ahna Ziegler on Unsplash
On Ash Wednesday, we hear the words “Remember you are dust, and to dust, you shall return” as ashes are placed on our forehead in the sign of a cross in order to remember both that we are mortals, and that we are creatures of a Creator. We remember also that our death and our life are wrapped up in the One we are following to the Cross.
One thing I always find so fascinating and helpful on Ash Wednesday is the Gospel lesson for the day. It comes from Matthew 6:1-6, and 16-21, which contains this admonition from Jesus:
Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven (Matthew 6:1).
This weekend I preached at Broad Street United Methodist Church in Portsmouth, Virginia. Originally I had titled the sermon “Hope Building,” but once I started writing this 1st Sunday after Pentecost sermon, it changed to “Catch on Fire.” My texts were Matthew 28:16-20 and Acts 2:14-21, 42-47.
Every Season Prayers: Gospel-Centered Prayers for the Whole of Life, Scotty Smith, Baker Books, 2016.
When it comes to prayer, one of the comments I hear often from people of faith often is, “Sometimes I just don’t have the words.” You know what that’s like. You sit down to pray and you are so overwhelmed by life that you just cannot find the words. There are feelings that our words are not elegant enough. Even though we know that God knows what is on our hearts, we are overwhelmed with wanting to give God the best.
In those times we search for a guide to prayer.
An Exact Likeness: The Portraits of John Wesley, Richard P. Heitzenrater, Abingdon Press, 2016.
The latest from Dr. Heitzenrater is for all the Methodist nerds.
Heitzenrater is the leading Wesley scholar of our time. In his latest book, An Exact Likeness, the Duke Divinity professor explores the many different portraits of the great preacher. As in paintings, engravings, and busts of the founder of Methodism.
If you want to call it biography, you can. But be forewarned, the subject is the portraits, not Mr. Wesley. Heitzenrater’s writing is approachable as he explains the history of the varying portraits. Heitzenrater draws connections between historical evidence and Wesley’s journals as to which portraits Wesley sat for and which he did not.