Moses saw that though the bush was on fire, it did not burn up…Exodus 3
(Jacob) had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on earth, with its top reaching to heaven…Genesis 28
Dear Friends in Christ,
In scripture there are two ways that people discover that something is holy or sacred. One is by revelation; that’s what happens with Moses. The other is by realization, which happens to Jacob, Ruth, Mary, Martha, Peter, and more.
This February includes Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, Black History Month, a concert for Ukraine, and the ongoing global complexities of war and peace, wealth and hunger, climate chaos, and hope. Frankly, the Christian story is often from ashes to hope, and everything in between is where we encounter revelations and have our realizations of what is important to God and to us. It’s our holy ground.
The history of Lent includes the truth that in the beginning it did not focus on personal sin. It was all about social, cultural, global regrets, concerns, and challenges. When it became personal it drew the eyes of the faithful away from the big picture, as though each of us could fix the world by cursing less or eating less chocolate. And some would say, global challenges thrived.
The background of Black History Month is that it began as a week, about a century ago, in 1926, founded by Carter G. Woodson, the second Black man to earn a Ph. D. at Harvard (after WEB DuBois). Woodson said we needed to know our history, and he wrote, “If race has no history, if it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the history of the world, and it stands in danger of being exterminated.” There are strong forces in our nation one century later that would edit or even exterminate this history.
Are these origin stories revelations or realizations? Do we care about how Lent began, and how we tell the full story of our culture, our Christian faith, and therefore our future? We do care, we do need both exposure (hearing the stories) and engagement (discussing them). We need holy space. If we don’t have that, we’re not really the Church.
Please join together to start Lent with a look to the big picture. Come enjoy our first official Soul Food Dinner, to enter Black History Month. Come mourn that the third year of war in Ukraine is beginning, and come join the assembly of those who know sisters and brothers still need our support. Come notice what God tries to show us, even something burning that does not burn up. And notice the stairway to heaven, which got its start in scripture. Through February we gather for revelation and realization, which carry us to March, April, and beyond, in our missions and faith.
See you in church,