As we approach Ash Wednesday in a few days, I find myself reflecting on this past year. Last Ash Wednesday was the first I’d observed with any formality. It’s not a day I had ever found particularly significant, but the concepts of repentance and cleansing, of change and fresh starts have been especially significant in recent months.
As I sit in my new apartment this Saturday morning looking out on the pristine snow and considering the possibilities that abound with a clean slate, I am in awe of the blessings that have been heaped on me this year. A renewed relationship with God, close friendships, outreach opportunities with children in this community I love, and an increased sense of peace and wellbeing to name a few.
Ash Wednesday as a day may have a bit more meaning this year. The concepts have certainly touched my heart in very meaningful ways since last year, and I hope to go into the experience with a new appreciation this Wednesday evening. I pray you may have a similar encounter with our Savior.
I love our traditional Sunday Gatherings with all the feel-goods: hot coffee, good music, time in the Word. And for most of my time as a Christian this has been my ritual of worship Sunday after Sunday.
But this Sunday, we will not have any of the above. Intstead we will arrive an hour or more before our normal Sunday Gathering time; we will replace our normal Sunday garb with old work clothes; we’ll donate our time and our money, and we will send people in teams to work for local foster families in a variety of different capacities.
In his letter to the church, James tells us that the ritual of worship (thrēskeia-religion) that aligns with the heart of God, is one that takes care of the poor, needy, and weak in spirit (widows and orphans). So this Sunday we will worship our God by living out His character in the world (James 1:27). Isn’t this something we, as individuals should do throughout the week? Yes, of course. But in the same way that something beautiful happens when we worship God corporately through song and Word, I believe that we grow in His character and reflect Him to the world when together, as His church, we serve His people.
Christ, himself, established this precedent when he interrupted His Sabbath teaching to heal a woman who had been “doubled over” for 18 years. He faced criticism from the “organized church,” but that didn’t stop Him. That day she worshiped the Father and everyone around saw the goodness and power of God revealed (Luke 13:10-17). WHAT A DAY!!!
Am I suggesting that our church (or any church) should abandon Sunday gathering, of course not. But today I am celebrating our freedom to interrupt our normal “ritual of worship” to make God’s goodness and power known.
Pray for Foster Kids everywhere today. The people that should love them the most have let them down, life has let them down. They need us to fight for them. They need to see good in the world. They need to be free to just “be” kids.
Pray for bio. Parents who are fighting through their own hurt and brokenness. Believe with me that they might find the healing that Jesus can bring. That they might find their way back to their children.
Pray for Foster Parents who have abandoned their own comforts to love the “orphaned”!! And pray for MORE!
This Sunday, January 20th we will be using our usual gathering time to serve the Palouse. We will be redoing two rooms at Health & Human Services to support local Foster Kids, birth families, and foster families.
How you can help:
Meet at Bonkerz at 9:00 am Sunday, January 20th to join a team. We will be finished by 12:00 noon.
Real worship is to take care of the widows and orphans…James 1:27