Dear Grace Family:
As you read this, we are less than one week from Ash Wednesday and the beginning of our Lenten season. The word “lent” means “spring”, and in its old English and Germanic origins refers to the “lengthening of days.” Historically, Christians have recognized the 40 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter, excluding Sundays, as a time to reflect upon Jesus’ time in the wilderness after his baptism. It was a time when Jesus wrestled with temptation and practiced turning from his will and focused upon trusting God.
We need to be careful not to equate our Lenten plans with new year’s resolutions. Unlike our resolutions, our Lenten commitment is not to reach goals for ourselves, but to turn our lives over to Christ’s calling. This calling will look different for each of us. For some, giving up our preconceived ideas about how God may choose to work in the world may be critical to our ability to serve as faithful disciples. For others, we may need to give up guilt and shame so that we may live a joyful life that will become contagious to those around us. We may need to give up judgmental attitudes toward certain groups, or we may need to give up denying that we harbor racist ideas or attitudes. We can use Ash Wednesday as a time to ask God how we can best use these 40 days.
I will be leading a book study for five consecutive Tuesdays starting February 23 at noon. The study will be via Zoom. The book is entitled “Words of Life” by Adam Hamiliton. It is about how the ten commandments are not just a set of rules on what not to do, but that they also point us to how to live an abundant life. Just call the church office at 321-452-2420 and give us your email address to sign up. Only a few people have signed up, so spread the word. The book is available via Amazon or Cokesbury, and if you need financial help with a book purchase, just let us know.
Our scriptures for Sunday are 2 Kings 2: 1-12 and Mark 9: 2-9. My message is entitled “Loyalty: The Costs and Benefits” and we will explore how our “mountaintop” experiences are critical in keeping us faithful through the many valleys of life. As always, we appreciate your prayers, support, and encouragement of our worship team.
Please remember to share our in-person and online worship opportunities with friends, and remember that we offer a 5 PM outdoor, informal service every Sunday. If you love your church, share that love with friends. If you see areas that need improvement, share that with me or another member of church leadership.
God bless you and happy Valentine’s weekend!
Pastor Steve Hart