The lessons of Lent tug at my heart throughout the year.
Living in a lovely retirement community on beautiful Signal Mountain, I’m privileged to count as my friends people from all over the United States. One of our many on-campus activities is our Interfaith Committee ably chaired by one of the residents.
Thanks to this group, my Lenten journey started one week before Ash Wednesday. The format for the program was simple and direct and ecumenical. The story of Jesus’s trial and crucifixion is traced through Scripture by the pastors of Signal Mountain made up of Catholic, Methodist, Baptist, Episcopalian and Presbyterian clergy people. The pastors read the biblical account, making no additional statements. Interspersed between each Scripture reading was music that magnified the passage read and allowed those of us in the audience to express our feelings through music.
Two personal thoughts grabbed me during this year’s Lenten Journey:
– We had gathered as people belonging to different faith groups.
– However, only one person held central stage at this gathering and his name was Jesus.
I left singing, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, sweetest name I know. He fills my every longing and keeps me singing as I go!”
Let’s face it, my singing will never win accolades and my tempo, etc. just isn’t up to snuff. That being said, I know the words of our hymns far better than most and render my music from my heart.
When we sang Man of Sorrows I immediately thought of my late husband Reverend Claude Mason and how much that hymn meant to him. I reflected on the Maundy Thursday services we had participated through his 18 years pastoring at First Baptist Church of Rossville, Georgia.
Claude passed away on a Saturday before Easter Sunday, and I remember my pastor saying to me after the church service, “I didn’t expect to see you here this morning.”
I sighed. “It seemed the right thing to do. Easter tells me that death isn’t the ending, but the beginning!”
Twenty years ago I became a member of the First Baptist Church of Chattanooga, Tennessee, where I find all facets of my life to be challenging, enriching, sustaining, and enduring.
Wednesday night, after I received the mark of the cross on my forehead, I left the service with the intention of looking for specific ways I can get rid of the spiritual garbage that accumulates too easily in my life and especially to add the unlimited fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22, NRSV)
When we conceal your justice through our failure to empower those who are powerless forgive us, Lord. Love is best understood as a verb.