Since leaving the day-to-day life of a United Methodist pastor to become a church “bureaucrat,” one of the rhythms I miss is the changing of the church calendar with its varying seasons of deep theological meaning. Often, I am not fully prepared for the momentous change in spirit that comes on Ash Wednesday until it is upon me. I am grateful for the staff worship at our United Methodist Center in Phoenix, Arizona, this morning. We participated in a simple but moving worship to mark Ash Wednesday. Led by District Superintendent, Karen Vannoy, we participated in liturgy that called us to think and share about moments of sadness and loss experienced in grief and how those moments have affected us. I have felt those deep, dark, lonely times of loss because of the death of a loved one. So I know that those moments can become heavy with sighs and lamentations. But thanks be to God that we also know the joy of deep and abiding relationships of love and faith!
This Lenten season, I want to encourage all of us to live our lives with excellence. Our world is threatened with eruption of violence and war; of cruelty and discrimination; of hatred and ill intentions. We see these daily. We experience them in our own lives, and yes, we ourselves engage in such destructive actions. We need God’s help to achieve excellence in all we say and do.
I want to share a simple prayer for the people of the Ukraine and for the peace of the world that was offered by Rev. Dr. Susan Henry-Crowe, General Secretary of the General Board of Church and Society.
And, for many decades now, I have used a little prayer asking for God’s blessing just before I preach. I offer these words to you now:
May the words of my mouth
and the mediations of our hearts
be acceptable to you, O God,
for you are our Rock and our Redeemer.
This simple prayer is taken from Psalm 19, and I have edited it along the way. But wouldn’t it be great if the words we speak and the feeling of our hearts and souls and all that we do would be indeed acceptable, pleasing to God.
This Lenten season, let’s offer these prayers as our pledge to God to work for peace in our lives and in our world, and to say, think and do only the best in order to glorify our God through our lives!
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