Blog Space of Rev. Adrian J. Pratt B.D, pastor at Mount Hebron Presbyterian Church, Ellicott City, MD

Monday, February 12, 2018

Let the Lenten Journey Begin!

Our Lenten journey begins here at Mount Hebron Presbyterian Church with a service for Ash Wednesday, in historic Hebron House at 7:00 PM, during which the imposition of Ashes will be offered.

This year Ash Wednesday coincides with the celebration of Saint Valentine and we will be taking a moment on Wednesday to think about the life of this ancient Saint. I am sure he would approve that on this day that is all about love, we take some time out to consider the amazing love of God that is shown to us in the Cross of Jesus Christ. “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends.” (John 15:13)

Sunday February 18th, we meet for worship and observe the First Sunday of Lent. We will be considering a passage from Mark 1:9-15. This is a passage that explains how Jesus was baptized by John and then went into the wilderness where He was tempted. Following successfully dealing with that ordeal, He marches into the countryside proclaiming His message... "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news!" (Mark 1:15)

Sarah Henrich, Professor Emeritus of New Testament at Luther Seminary,St. Paul, MN, suggests a contemporary way of interpreting the challenge in these words would be to say, “Re-focus and trust the Good News!” The whole point of “Giving up” or “Taking up” things for Lent is about changing our focus from things that are dragging us down, to embracing ways of doing things that can lift us up.

Last Sunday our readings had us on a mountain with Jesus for the moment of His Transfiguration. (Sermon “It happened on a Mountain” here.) It was a fleeting moment, and now He heads down into the valley with a new purpose in His steps. There's a message to be told. There are people to be healed. There are things to be accomplished. The time is now!

And if not now, then when? If we do not take this opportunity, this Lent, to focus and build some good news into our lives, when will we do so? As one who often falls victim to the peril of procrastination, I know only too well that the devil whispers in our ear, “Why do today, what you can put off until tomorrow?”

At our most recent Presbytery meeting Rev. Andrew Fosters Connors (Brown Memorial Presbyterian Church, Baltimore) brought us a message that included the thought that we are not supposed to “Die until we are dead.” That just because our church communities are not always thriving, that does not mean they are exempt from trying new things and considering new ways of being. Indeed, the time is NOW for just such actions because “We ain't dead yet!”

The same can be said for our personal spiritual journeys. There is no time like the present for acting upon the challenges that God's Holy Spirit is whispering to our hearts. “It Starts.” If not now, then when? Let the Lenten journey begin!

When I was thinking of some music, a disco classic from 1976 sprang to mind. No lyrics neccesary as they repeat … and repeat... just in case we didn't get the message. Jimmy James & The Vagabonds - “Now is the time.”

The Reverend Adrian J. Pratt B.D.

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