March 2019

Dear Friends in Christ,

    Lent is almost here. It’s a season of self-examination, repentance and gratitude for what God has done for us in Jesus. Historically, Christians have responded to Lent in one of two directions. Until fairly recently, many Protestants completely ignored it. Roman Catholics and sacramental Protestants like Episcopalians and Lutherans have tended to embrace it. Which is good…as far as it goes. You see, there is still so much guilt, shame and self-criticism associated with Ash Wednesday and Lent that it becomes easy to wallow. Our own Prayer Book, wonderful blessing that it is, can sometimes use syntax that’s depressing and not entirely helpful. It may well be true that “we are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under God’s table” but if we don’t quickly move to the next line – “it is always God’s property to show mercy” – we miss the mark and end up miserable. An old hymn speaks of Christ dying…”for such a worm as I”. That’s the kind of mindset I want us to avoid.

    I’m resolving that Lent, 2019 will lead me to one and only one conclusion: That I am so deeply loved and treasured by my Savior, that He’d rather die than live without me. Can you believe with me that the season of Lent can be a time of rejoicing and thanksgiving? I promise to do my best to make it that. God loves you, my dear friend. Passionately, profoundly and recklessly.

Your friend,
Fr. Jim