Stop Worrying!

Isaiah 49: 14-15; I Cor 4: 1-5; Matthew 6: 24-34

I have to say, one of the most disheartening things that I have seen as a priest are the amount of churchy people that worry about everything and live with so much fear. That’s not to say that there aren’t things that we all worry about and even fear. We certainly all know people who are sick, suffering from cancer, worry about health insurance, jobs, some these days fear being deported, heck, not far from hear many worry about whether they’ll still be alive tomorrow, and the list goes on, but so often it does beg the question that we can glean from today’s gospel, asking us where we put our faith. We can’t come here, in faith, believing that somehow God can transform bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ and somehow can’t lead me to a place of transformation and conversion.

We’ve heard some challenging gospels the past several weeks as we delved deeply into the Beatitudes and the blueprint that Jesus puts forward as what it means to be a disciple and as Christian, in our language today. None of it has been easy and should be challenging us on many levels. However, this message of faith and trust lies at the heart of it all. Bear in mind, we’re not talking about dogma and doctrine. You know, none of that was around in the time of Jesus, but this level of trust as we hear in these readings today that somehow God will provide, despite our worries and fears.

Of course, we also live in a culture and society that is driven by consumerism and capitalistic America. Success means something to us today. However, the more we pursue it, the more it begins to take a toll on us when we begin to realize that we start creating gods and idols that we’d prefer to trust rather than to seek first the kingdom and keep our eye on the bigger picture of life and becoming consumed as consumers. That too begs the question as to where we are putting our faith. Unfortunately, that has even found its way into church and parish life. We want to be a successful parish. We want numbers. We need money. Before you know it, we simply become part of the problem because we begin to live our lives as the world does rather than seeking the kingdom. We become about building a business rather than leading people to faith in the true God who will continue to provide.

The same was true for people Israel whom Isaiah delivers this beautiful message in today’s first reading. He too reminds Israel about this faithful God despite their own unfaithfulness over the years. Think about them building their golden calf and the tower of Babel, thinking that will somehow take them to the God that they desired. It became about building and holding onto things, this god, for them, became about safety and security. It’s all the really wanted, even if it was an illusion of safety and security. But, of course, in time, that too all came crashing down around them and they find themselves in exile over and over again, lost, wandering in the desert, still trying to satisfy the lacking that they felt in their lives. Once again, they had to learn and ask where they were putting their faith and trust and was it really in a God that continued to provide. Sure it’s a scary proposition for us, especially in the face of so much uncertainty and so many realities that seem to scare us and invoke fear these days, but where are we putting our faith.

Paul tells us to seek that faith in the mystery in which we are stewards. It’s not something we own or hold onto, possess, but rather are caretakers of. This mystery, grounded in faith and trust, leads to freedom, where we can let go of the idols and gods that we have come to rely upon and even become addicted to over the course of our lives. His communities, especially Corinth who we have heard about these couple months struggled greatly with what it means to be a people of faith. Every community and person does. It’s the human struggle because we doubt and question, especially in situations where we worry, but as Jesus says, where does it get us.

As we round out this Ordinary Time in the Church and prepare ourselves to enter into a season of transformation and conversion, we must take with us this blueprint that Jesus has laid out before us the past several Sunday’s. They can’t just be left at the door now that we enter another season. Rather, they must continue to challenge us in the society and culture that we live. There is great fear and anxiety in the world and much to worry about. There is no denying that. But with each passing moment we must continue to ask ourselves where are faith lies and what idols do we continue to hold onto despite the disappointment that they often afford us. Is our faith in money? Is it in our success? Is it in what we own? Is it in an institution, including a Church that often disappoints?

Now imagine our lives with those scales falling from our eyes and that when we see bread and wine being transformed, in faith, so are our lives as well. Imagine that! It’s scary to think about it when these false gods have been seemingly so faithful to us despite the worry and fear they often invoke within us. As a matter of fact, it only seems to leave us feeling more short-changed in life. As we close out this time and enter into Lent, we can all do ourselves a favor by asking that simple question, where does our faith and trust lie? If it leads to fear, anxiety, and greater worry, well, it’s not in a God that always provides. Maybe it’s in a god that has kept us safe and secure, but it’s not seeking the kingdom and seeking a God who does faithfully provide.

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An Encounter With Love

John 3: 14-21

Nicodemus is one of the more intriguing characters we encounter in John’s Gospel, partially because very little is known about him other than his encounters with the Lord, beginning with this one today. He will appear again in a few chapters when he begins to confront his own darkness in the light of day and then reappear at the end of Jesus’ life in preparing the body for burial in the new tomb. But like the other conversion stories we know of this gospel, such as the Woman at the Well, the Man Born Blind, and the Raising of Lazarus, it still contains many of John’s themes of light and darkness, seeing and not seeing, and a gradual deepening of faith through an encounter with the Lord.

Now the one thing we do know of Nicodemus is that he’s a Pharisee and that this first encounter happens in the dead of night, complete darkness, both of which are important in understanding his conversion in John’s Gospel. Now we all know John is often criticized for what some would call lofty theology but at least when it comes to these conversion stories, he really writes more from a mystical union within himself, that’s why John and Jesus are often misunderstood, but conversion nonetheless. So Nicodemus comes in the dark of the night so that he isn’t seen in this encounter with the Lord by anyone, especially the Pharisees whom he is a part of; yet, he goes. There’s obviously something missing in his life that is pushing for this encounter, and in the darkness of the night he really begins to confront his own darkness, but not in the sense that we often associate it with sin and suffering. What Nicodemus begins to confront is the darkness of the persona he’s been trying to live up to. Again, in the literal sense that’s why he does this in the dark of night as to not be seen. He still is driven and identifies himself with the Pharisee. He still seeks acceptance and can fall into that trap, yet, at the same time, feels movement within and beyond that persona.

Jump ahead a few chapters when we encounter him again. At that point it is in the light of day. He begins to live from a different place within and is beginning to see the cracks in the persona that he has created. Remember, we’re no different. We create them for ourselves as well to protect ourselves from vulnerability often. We try to live up to the persona of the priest, of a doctor, lawyer, even mother or father or so on where our entire identity gets wrapped up in that role that we begin to lose sight of who we really are. This is where we’re encountering Nicodemus throughout the Gospel. It will only be near the end when he can finally begin to let that go, know it’s there, and yet choose to live from a different place and allowing Love to lead rather than the persona. It’s hard work but it’s the work of conversion that we speak of during the season of Lent, a conversion in its truest sense, in a biblical sense.

But I do believe that his story is much like ours. So often we encounter these characters and here their stories and it seems as if everything changes dramatically and quickly. But that’s typically not my experience and I’m sure not yours either. Conversion for us tends to be slow and steady as it is for Nicodemus. Gradually the darkness begins to be revealed in the light. Yet, John tells us that we prefer the darkness and that’s true. We know the darkness of the world and persona that we create for ourselves and as we grow it can often do more harm that good to us and beyond, it holds us back from living out of that Love and often leads to even greater darkness, leaving us questioning, fearful, and quite anxious about life when we find ourselves trying to be something we are not, and for that matter, someone we are not, at least not in the fullest.

As we continue these now final weeks of the Lenten season, we pray for a deeper awareness of our own darkness and the persona’s we identify ourselves with. Although it may be what we do at times, it’s not our true identity in Christ just as it wasn’t for Nicodemus. Imagine the love and the place in which Nicodemus lived within and from in the end in the care for the body of Jesus as it was prepared for his resting place. We are invited into that same encounter with the Crucified and Risen Lord, gradually and often, to confront and identify that darkness in our own lives, and like Nicodemus, the more that divine indwelling shines through and leads the way in our lives, the more we will become love, live in love, be led by love, often where we do not want to go, and to manifest that love into the world.

May It Be Done To Me

Exodus 20: 1-17; ICor 1: 22-25; John 2: 13-25

“We proclaim Christ crucified.” These are the words we hear from this very short passage from Saint Paul today in his letter to the Corinthians, and in a set of readings that are quite difficult to preach on, I am reminded of how Paul consistently, in these same words, is always moving communities to their own connection to the larger story and how we are all a part of Christ crucified. He uses those two words so frequently in his letters that it’s obvious that he believes it, has experienced it, lives it, and knows it in the depths of his being, and sees it as the connection that we all share as people and in the sharing of the suffering of the world, in and through Christ crucified.

It’s unfortunate because we have a tendency as believers, as Christians, to so often limit the great Mystery to something that has been done for us. Christ died for us, for our sins, for our salvation and so on, but that understanding also feeds into our own culture of entitlement that someone frees me of the responsibility of my own life and my connection to the larger people of Christ crucified and not always needing to grow up, mature, seek conversion in my life and in deepening my faith. But Paul comes at it in a different way. He understands the Mystery in its totality as not just something that is done for us, as gift as that is, but it is an ongoing invitation from God to be done to us. Remember the prayer of Mary from the beginning of the story to the prayer of Jesus in the Garden near the end of us ministry is the same prayer for us today, “May it be done to me…” To remain connected to that larger story, we must accept it as the daily reality as Paul did in his own life and not grow stagnant, even if that’s where we like to be at times.

As people, we do try to limit the Mystery at times in our lives and box God in to our image. Quite honestly, we can spend our entire lives simply trying to fulfill the Ten Commandments, the Ten Words that we hear in today’s First Reading from Exodus. Of course, we know them. We learn them from the time we are little kids and are ingrained within us. However, they can become an idol in and of themselves. But as we age and mature, we learn it’s not the fulfillment and fullness of God or this Great Mystery. What happens when we begin to see that we can’t live up to that constant expectation, when we begin to fail at the Ten Words, when we can’t force others to live up to them, as Jesus often confronted the Pharisees on and we will hear throughout John’s Gospel in the upcoming weeks. We can grow bitter and angry, holding grudges and resentment, or Christ crucified. At that very moment, when we can’t do it and our prayer becomes their prayer, may it be done to me, we find ourselves pushing against the Cross and experiencing Christ crucified; not merely a historical event, but a lived reality in our lives even to this day. We proclaim Christ crucified; that’s our connection to the larger story of life and our point of intersection and relationship with the sufferings of the world.

Now if you read Paul’s letter to Corinth you will find that he’s just getting started in this letter. As the letter progresses he too will begin to name the many idols that existed in that community and how they were used to divide people into their own camps rather than seeking unity within the themselves and with one another. Over and over again Paul will proclaim Christ crucified to the community, a stumbling block to Jews, just as much as it can be for us. We don’t want to go to that place; we’d much prefer to cling to something that was rather than embrace the life that God desires for us and how God’s love will be manifested in the world. Can we even begin to utter those words of Mary and Jesus, “May it be done to me…”. It must have been a prayer held deeply within Paul and will eventually lead to his own death, eternally connecting him to Christ crucified in his people.

The Gospel is a tough one. It’s another story that we are quite familiar with, the cleansing of the Temple. John places it at the beginning of his Gospel to set the tone for what is about to come, but it doesn’t make it any easier to hear or reflect upon. But using that same reality of idols in our lives, does not the Temple, or the Church in our case, at times become that same idol for us? It so often was for the people in the time of Jesus, certainly for the Pharisees that saw it as the be all and end all, often forgetting the greater gift, the larger story, even of their own Exodus, and even beyond the time of Jesus, missing the point of who and whose they are and what and who they are called to be in life. Both the Pharisees and the money changers and sellers were taking advantage of people so often manipulating them to believe that they were gods themselves and what they had the people needed.

The season provides us the opportunity to look upon and seek conversion from the many idols we hold onto in our own lives, the things we feel we can’t live without, even if it’s our thoughts, the way we do things, or whatever it may be, to be cleansed in order to get to the place where with all will the prayer of Mary and the prayer of Jesus may be ours, to be done to us. Yes, we can be thankful and grateful for what has been done for us, but it isn’t just about something in the past. God invites us into a moment of grace right now, and as Paul would so often say, the place you find the grace is the place you least expect it, in Christ crucified, at the Cross. We pray for the grace to make our prayer today, “May it be done to me…”.

A Changed Vision

Genesis 22: 1-2, 9, 10-13, 15-18; Romans 8: 31-34; Mark 9: 2-10

The first reading today from the Book of Genesis probably sounds rather bizarre to us, especially if you’re a parent or grandparent. I can’t image anyone wanting to be in Abraham’s position today as he prepares to sacrifice his son Isaac. What makes it even more bizarre is we know the back story and the waiting and questioning that Abraham and Sarah did in their lives in wanting to give birth and now here he is about to do something that we’d consider quite crazy! The obvious connection between this reading and Jesus is of course the sacrifice of the son and the Son. Yet, like in our own lives, it’s often not about the obvious; there’s often something deeper going on in our lives that is beyond words and understanding and maybe by means of reflection, can we ask ourselves if we’re willing to give up and sacrifice what’s most important to us?

Again, think of the context of their lives, Abraham and Sarah. Think about how they struggled in life and with God, how they would question and wonder and doubt what it is that God was doing in their lives, working on them constantly. When they learn that they were to give birth to a son they laugh in the face of God! When they can finally let go of the doubts and how they thought God should act and what God should do in their lives, somehow shorting them of something they felt they should have in the birth of a child, the Spirit begins to break through in their lives. The same thing happens with Abraham in this reading today. He think he understands what God is calling him to do, again, in his own need to grow and change over time and in life, is being called to see and hear and listen from a different point of view. In that moment, the Spirit breaks through his life and his soul begins to expand, “countless as the stars in the sky and sands of the seashore”. Once again, Abraham is invited into a deeper place, a more radical place in his own life in becoming the father of faith and living the will of God.

The disciples will get there eventually. Their own vision and hearing is still limited to what they are being called to, despite the invitation that they are given in today’s Gospel. The glory is revealed before their very eyes and yet they are warned not to tell others of the experience. Jesus knows quite well that they aren’t there yet and it would be from a place of authenticity yet because their vision and their own ego and thought pattern of who God is and who and what it means to be the Christ; they remain limited in the midst of the unlimited. It won’t be until their own interior lives are rocked by the Cross that their own vision and hearing begins to change and the transfiguration will begin to make sense, not as something seen beyond them but rather something that unfolds within them and to live the more radical life of love that God calls them to in their lives. They have to come down off the mountain and out of their heads in order to not just think who this God should be but to experience the God they will come to know. Sometimes the most important thing we have to give up and sacrifice is the way we think, our opinions, our judgments that we hold onto, even the ones that we hold about God before we can embrace that radical life that we are called to as disciples.

As we continue this journey through the lenten season, we pray for a breaking through in our own lives and in our own journey as individuals and a community. Lent, and these readings, are a good reminder of how limited we can become or allow ourselves to be limited, avoiding a change in our own vision of life and God or our inability to hear that voice of God calling us to come down off our own mountains that we create for ourselves and delve deeply into our humanity and to see the divine within, straight to the Cross of Calvary, leading us to a more meaningful life, one filled joy, a life with an expansion of soul as Abraham experiences when never growing weary of God who remains faithful through it all, always trying to break into the world and into our sufferings in order to bring life and love, for as Paul tells us today, nothing can separate us from that love. God calls us to that more radical way of living, a life filled with love and meaning; a love that leads us to even sacrifice what we have deemed most important to us and, in turn, a love that expands from the stars of the sky to the sands of the seashore.

Confronting Our Wild Beasts

Gen 9: 8-15; 1PT 3: 18-22; Mark 1: 12-15

On this First Sunday of Lent we encounter some rather extreme weather, not unlike what we have been experiencing here this past week or so. We go from the floods that Noah and his Ark encountered to the dry, desert heat of Jesus. In both cases, driven to these places of testing. Noah gets driven, in the midst of a fallen humanity in the Book of Genesis, into an Ark to be tested by the great floods and all the wild animals. Jesus, on the other hand, driven to the desert, by none other than the Spirit, to be tested by the devil. It’s hard not to imagine, if we were in these situations, that the thought of giving up did not cross their mind, in being pushed to such limits. I don’t even think we’d slight them if they did because we’d question whether we had the strength and perseverance to do what they had done.

Yet, much of this journey through Lent is an invitation to be driven by that same Spirit into the dry and barren places of our own souls or possibly in the midst of a great storm, as it is with Noah and all who were aboard the Ark. Can you imagine what it must have been like on that Ark for all that time and with all the animals and every living creature aboard? It becomes a place of great testing for him as it would be for us. Maybe an opportunity to encounter our fears? How about the chance to face our anxieties? All of this swirling around in the life of Noah as he spends this time aboard and within the Ark. It will be some time before he and all the inhabitants can come out of the Ark, but not before these great testings, sufferings, fears, and so much more. Yet, today we find God, with Noah, establishing a covenant with all of creation, that no matter what is faced, not even the largest of floods, God will remain true and faithful to His people. Not that they will believe that throughout salvation history, but over and over again, God will show His faithfulness to His people in the midst of their lives, including the most turbulent of times and when we too face our own wild beasts.

Now we hear the temptations of Jesus on the first Sunday of Lent every year. This year, though, in the Gospel of Mark, we encounter the shortest of the three. There seems to be no indication as in the Gospel of specific temptations other than Mark telling us that Jesus had been tempted, even among wild beasts. This too is that invitation. That, before we can go out and live the will of God faithfully, we are driven into those barren places in our souls, to, at times, even agonize over the pains that are carried within before they can be set free and like Noah, called out to live that life that God has placed within. Jesus goes out, has to face the wild beasts of the desert and the devil, and, being fully human, even the wild beasts that we wrestle with within us before he can go forward to Galilee to proclaim the Gospel of God, as we heard on Ash Wednesday and today, “repent and believe in the gospel”.

Over these coming weeks, we are invited to go deeper into this journey and to follow in the way of Jesus. The path to the Cross was not just his, it’s one that he invites all of us into as well. It will be this journey and flow from within to going out, a continuous conversion of heart and mind, to be set free of our own wild beasts that hold us down and hold us back from living life to its fullest. Or as St. Peter, to confront the spirits imprisoned within us. At one time or another in our lives, we must face that Cross head on and all that comes with it, reminded and mindful that God will see us through it. No matter how barren the desert and no matter how large the storm, in these weeks the Lord invites us to go forward, go deeper, into those places within our souls and allow them to be healed and set free so we too may come out, fulfilled and on fire to serve the Lord, but now from within.

All too often, as it is in Scripture, we must be driven to those places within; we can’t do it ourselves. We’ll avoid them. We’ll try to fix them. When in reality, it’s healing that changes. It’s letting go that changes. It’s, as Noah and Jesus did faithfully, it is surrendering that changes the hearts and minds. Sometimes we must be pushed there; God knows we won’t go on our own. But once we do, faith becomes a reality, the covenant that God makes becomes a reality, reconciliation, forgiveness, healing of our own wild beasts become the reality. We are truly set free from all that binds into the hands of God, into the will of God waiting to raise all that has died. It is the journey that we enter into as we too journey this season to the Cross of Calvary.

A Hungering for Life

Genesis 2: 7-9; 3: 1-7; Romans 5: 12-19; Matthew 4: 1-11

In the beginning God created.  Male and female he created them; in his image and likeness.  And it was very good.  Then this happened, the fall.  Adam and Eve in the garden who have everything except one thing.  It wasn’t enough and they became envious of God and wanted to be God and the fall happens.  Born in his image and likeness and it’s very good and yet, not enough for the two of them.  Deep within them and us, there is a hunger that can never seem to be satisfied by anything.  It’s as if God created us with that longing to return to Him!  The entire commercial industry is based on that one premise, that we’ll never be satisfied and always want more and if I just have that one more thing…I’ll feel “full” and it never happens and the fall happens and we begin the journey home once again.

Much has been written about these creation stories of Genesis from those who see them literally as historical figures, giving room to easily blame them for the downfall of humanity and all that goes wrong to myself who sees them as the great mythological, iconic figures who aren’t someone out there or of the past, but rather, Adam and Eve are me and they are you, born in God’s image and likeness, very good, and yet, at times, unsatisfied with what we have and wanting more or to be God, thinking somehow we know better than God and constantly try to fill the hunger and longing within and again, fall.  It’s not that we can avoid the fall or that it somehow won’t happen; it’s going to happen.  Leaving the garden is part of life only to find ourselves wanting to return.

Yet, it is the story of salvation history that continues to unfold within our very lives.  It was the journey of Adam and Eve, it was the story of the Israelites, seeking out the Promised Land, and it is our story.  When we fall, and we will fall as we learn from these iconic figures, the pilgrim journey and the journey of this Lenten season is about going home, back to the Garden, returning to God with our whole heart.  Yet, like them, we are tempted to believe in the midst of our own doubts that somehow we are less than we are and something that we are not.

The temptations or testings of Jesus aren’t just about this one moment in time when he is driven out into the desert.  He enters the scene already hungry, Matthew tells us.  He is at a vulnerable time in his life.  Before he begins his public ministry and is confronted with the realities of his time, he is tested in the same way as Adam and Eve; his story is enfolded in their story and journey.  He will confront these same temptations throughout his ministry through the aspirations of his own disciples and their own misguidance and wanting to be him.  He will ever so gently try to lead them back to the Garden, reconciling their sinfulness and the sinfulness of the world with who they really are; born in God’s image and likeness and it was very good.

Paul continues in his Letter to the Romans today that where sin increases in our lives grace overflows all the more.  It so often seems that we have a much easier time believing in our fall then the grace that flows from the fall.  We tend to identify ourselves with our sinfulness, our hunger and longing, and try to hide it as Adam and Eve do, in shame they cover up their bodies seeing themselves not as who they really are but how they have identified themselves.  It wasn’t enough to be born in God’s image and likeness they wanted to be God and nothing else is going to compare.  Yet, that’s how we get ourselves into trouble and yet at the same time, open ourselves up to the grace of God.  It seems as just when we are on the cusp of believing it and returning to the Garden through conversion in our own lives, we fall and the process begins anew, to a deeper understanding of who we are.  We aren’t our sin as much as we want to tell ourselves.  Yes, a part of us but not our whole or our worth.  It’s no accident that just prior to the fall of man in Genesis and the temptations of Jesus in the desert, their true identity is revealed.  Born in God’s image and likeness; this is my beloved Son.  And yet at that moment, we stumble and fall.

As we begin this journey as individuals and as a community, we enter into it mindful of who we really are…sinners loved by a God who is always calling us home, even in a mess of temptations that exists in this battle of good and evil that we often find ourselves.  We are a people who long and hunger for God and a return to the Garden and everyday we will go every which way to try to get there, thinking something will fill the hunger. How are we filling that hunger in our lives? It will only be in God’s voice calling us back to the Garden that will fill us and we know it’s where we belong because deep down, despite and in spite of and even through our fall, we still know who we really are.  In the beginning, God created.  Male and female he created us and it was and it is very good.

Seeking a New Way of Life

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What are you giving up for Lent?  That is the question that you hear all over on this Ash Wednesday.  All you need to do is browse the internet a little bit and you’ll see and hear people talking about what they are giving up this Lenten season.  You hear chocolate, alcohol, television, and so many other things.  I like to call this the “trendy Lent”.  It’s almost “cool” to give these things up in our lives, with the expectation that come Easter I can pick it back up again and go back to “life as normal”.  Until then, I can suffer a little without it…a trendy Lent.

But Lent calls us to something much deeper in our lives.  I think it would be the message that Paul would deliver to the different communities that he traveled to, including Corinth whom he writes to today.  There is some value in giving up all those things; they may help us break the surface on things, but eventually Lent has to be about more.  How about the expectations we have, grudges and anger we hold onto, the lies we tell ourselves to protect us, the relationships we refuse to seek reconciliation with.  If Paul were to council us on Lenten practices, that’s what I believe he would tell us we should work on.  Ok, start with all those other things, but as the season goes on, what begins to be uncovered.  He pretty much tells us what it is we’re really looking for, “God appealing through us.”  Maybe our Lenten practice can be towards working in that direction, where divine the divine, Christ, in me speaks to the divine in you.  Everything else passes away, turns to dust.  Paul reminds us that salvation is about today, not 40 days from now or at the end of our lives, but when we sift through the stuff we hold onto and need to let go of, we begin to find what it is we are really looking for in our lives and salvation arrives.  As Christians, the trendy Lent should not suffice, but rather seek healing and reconciliation and greater depth in our spiritual life, something that goes well beyond Easter Sunday but rather becomes a way of life.

Now everything we do on this day really points out the irony of our actions, as Jesus says in today’s gospel.  Let’s face it, things change today.  We come in with a different attitude.  Things are stripped down.  It almost has more of a glum feeling.  It’s as if we knew this was coming and everything around us points to not only the hypocrisy of our own lives but also sacramentalizes them at the same time.  We know we are more than our sin, yet this journey during this Lenten season calls us to conversion of heart so not only do we know it, but we really know it and believe it in our hearts because we see the loving face of God even through our sinful ways.

As we begin this journey together, we are called to more than just the trendy Lent of giving up our favorite foods and such; sure we could start there, but we pray for the desire to go deeper, below the surface.  During this journey we will be provided the opportunity to go to the places in our hearts, once we break through, to see what really nags at us and to seek out salvation today.  We pray for openness during this season to the impossible of our lives becoming possible through the grace of God calling us to new life.  What am I giving up for Lent?  Well, quite simply, whatever is keeping me from experiencing the salvation of God today, whatever is keeping the divine in me from speaking to the divine in all creation.  We pray this Lent moves us to a deeper sense of life in God.