Grace and peace to you!
It is with much excitement that I step into the role of Interim Minister at First Christian Church! Already so many of you have gone out of your way to affirm and encourage me in this role. I am grateful for your trust and hope you will turn to me with any questions or concerns you might have over the next three months.
Thrilled as I am to begin this journey with you, I am equally thrilled for Rev. Walling as he embarks on a well-deserved sabbatical. The Lilly Endowment's Clergy Renewal Program awards sabbatical grants to congregations they feel will benefit from the experience on both ends. For Gary, this will be a critical time for renewal and reflection, a time to regain enthusiasm and creativity for ministry. On the other hand, it is an opportunity for us to take greater ownership of our faith and imagine new possibilities for growth. Confident of the Spirit’s guidance, we will continue to hold he and Linda in our prayers throughout this period of discovery.
It just so happens that our transition coincides with the beginning Lent. Lent is a season of forty days (not counting Sundays), which begins on Ash Wednesday and ends the day before Easter, known as Holy Saturday. The English word “Lent” comes from the Anglo–Saxon word lencten, meaning “lengthen,” a reference to the lengthening days of Spring. Historically, the season of Lent was a time for new converts to fast and pray before receiving the rite of baptism. Eventually, however, it became a time of repentance for all Christians.
In the Bible the number forty is used to signify a period of uncertainty and temptation. The Old Testament is replete with examples of this, most importantly the story of Exodus, when the Hebrew people wandered through the desert for forty years in search of a Promised Land. In the New Testament, we find Jesus fasting and praying for forty days and forty nights in the wilderness where he is tempted by the devil. The Lenten journey invites us to reflect on our own “wilderness” experiences, past or present, and testifies to the great cloud of witnesses who have braved this journey before us.
Over the next six Sundays we will explore these “stories from the wilderness,” each week focusing on a different character from scripture who found themselves in a place of fear, shame, uncertainty, or temptation. My hope is that these stories will offer us guidance and encouragement as we make our way to Holy Week.
Again, I look forward to discovering what we can create together over the next few months. My office hours will be Tuesday thru Thursday from 9am-3pm. It may be that my schedule at the hospital interrupts one or more of these days, but I will always be reachable so please give me a call or send me an email if you need to chat. I am a chaplain at heart and would love to know how I can support you and your family during my time here.
These thoughts and reflections come from our Senior Minister, Minister of Music and Board Chair. We hope that they provide both challenge and inspiration for your spiritual life.