We begin Lent on Ash Wednesday with the words, “Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return.” We begin Lent with a reminder that all of us are mortal, all of us are journeying to our death. It is within that context that I invite you to consider the Howard Thurman quote, an invitation to aliveness.
On the first Sunday of Lent, I will begin a sermon series that Pastor Brenda and I will continue through the rest of the year including while I am on sabbatical in the fall. The series is based on We Make the Road by Walking, by Brian McLaren. The book is a calling to aliveness. It explores a series of scriptures – long enough to take us through the year – with reflections and questions. Utilizing those question, you will conclude the sermons with reflection, so you might want to bring a pen with you.
We will continue to post our sermons on the church’s website, and we will be posting them on a blog at makingtheroad.weebly.com. We invite you to share your reflection by going to the blog and writing comments.
My starting premise with this sermon series is that when we call ourselves “Christians,” we are saying that we are followers of Jesus. In the introduction to his book, McLaren writes, “Joining the adventure of Jesus is a starting line, not a finish line. It leads us into a lifetime of learning and action. It challenges us to stand up against the way things have been and the way things are, to help create new possibilities for the way things can and should be. It enlists us as contemplative activists in an ongoing uprising of peace, freedom, justice, and compassion.”
I believe that this is an accurate statement. And one of the major justice issues we continue to face in the United States is the sin of racism. Since we have been enlisted as contemplative activists, we are called to address this issue. Pastor Brenda and I invite you to participate in an all-church reading of Pre-Post-Racial America, by Sandhya Jha this Lent. The Rev. Jha is a Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor and the director of the Oakland Peace Center.
You can find a more in-depth article about this all-church read here, including how to get a copy of the book (from John Zlatnik), three discussion group options, and an opportunity to meet and talk about the book with the author.
I started writing this column on the eleventh anniversary of my arrival in Fremont. On February 1, I will being my twelfth year of ministry here. I was recently asked by a friend who I trust very deeply if I was still called to serve here. Had the question come from anyone else, I wouldn’t have given it much thought, but coming from this friend, I held it, rested with it, wrestled with it. The conclusion I came to is, yes, I am still called to be here, ministering with you. I think this column suggests why I think that. We are still learning together, still making the road by walking together, still growing in our relationship with God and each other. We are still united in God’s love for everyone’s journey … no exceptions.