In the early church, new Christians spent the forty days of Lent learning how to live as part of a Christian community – not only what to believe, but how their new life would be different from their old one because of following Jesus. Easter, the day of resurrection, was the day they claimed their own new life of faith.
As Christian faith became part of the larger culture, the focus of Lent changed to be more of a self-examination, using Jesus’s temptations to examine those in our own lives. Yet Jesus’s great commandment to love God and love neighbor grows more obscure in the world around us – the political climate, religious polarization, insensitivity to gender identity differences, heightened racial awareness, lack of concern for those most in need – the list could go on and on.
Here at Western, however, you have identified “active discipleship” as a priority for our life together. I believe you have a deeper sense of what the early Christians knew: that following Jesus means living differently, that we find our new life by claiming God’s love when and where others fail to see it.
As we consider discipleship this Lent, the scriptures invite us to pay attention differently – to ordinary things, to the world around us, to how we hear, drink, see or breathe – and to consider the new life God has in store for us.
On Wednesday nights we’ll spend the first two weeks finding out more about the Sanctuary DMV movement, congregations dedicated to protecting immigrants and targeted communities in the District, Maryland and Virginia. Over the following three Wednesdays, as a next step for our anti-racism work as a church, we’ll discuss Waking Up White by Debby Irving, using a study guide created by our PCUSA co-moderators, Jan Edmiston and Denise Anderson.
Next Saturday, you’ll have the chance to help host the DC premiere of Out of Order, a film documentary of the experiences of some of our PCUSA pastors and candidates for ordination who identify as GLBTQ – and to welcome and hear from two of those featured in the film!
All of these are opportunities for us to consider how our new life at Easter will not only be different from the old, how together we can claim the new life God has in store for everyone. Come join us, as we journey together,