"I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly." John 10:10b
A friend and fellow pastor, The Rev. Mike Ward, shares his interpretation of what abundance means in his book, "Abundance: Creating a Culture of Generosity." Ward says, "I believe that abundance is a mindset and not a condition of wealth. Abundance is recognizing that the One who provides us everything, and recognizing that it is not only enough, but enough to share."
Each week in worship, right before our offering musical meditation, I try to remember to invite you to reflect on the ways in which you have been blessed by God. As you read this article in the newsletter, I want to tweak that invitation a bit. How have you experienced abundance in your life? I'm not talking about financially, though that may or may not be part of your story. Rather, I'm talking about the ways that you've experienced the abundant love and grace of God for you life. How has it mattered that you have heard the Good News? How has it mattered that in God's love we find redemption and renewal in our brokenness? It's not always easy to put into words. Many of us haven't really intentionally thought about what abundance looks like in our lives.
My hope is that you will join me in the days ahead, and particularly as we enter into the season of Lent, in pondering the mystery, the wonder that is God's grace and love for us. Lent is, after all, a time of reflection and prayer. Lent will invite us, you and me, to open our minds and our hearts to the wonder of God's great love for us, even as we consider the ways in which we are not worthy to receive such great love. Such abundant love.
We will begin to mark these days as we have ourselves been marked in baptism, with the sign of the cross marked on our foreheads in ashes. It will look differently this year, but that's okay, whether we mark the cross on our own foreheads as at home on Ash Wednesday or you come through the church parking lot to permit me to mark the cross on your forehead, the work of the cross that makes it all so important has already been done. The marking of the cross is our reminder to enter into the discipline, the practice of Lent.
We will offer online midweek Lenten services where we will read the Psalms and hear the Word proclaimed by Wartburg Theological Seminary students. These services will help us to mark the time of the season, but they will also be wonderful opportunities to ponder the Good News, God's abundance of love and grace, for our lives. Each Sunday we will continue to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus, together.
I will be hosting a weekly conversation centered around the book "Friendship with Jesus: A Way to Pray the Gospel of Mark" and I invite you to participate by purchasing a book at the church office. Even if you don't join me for the Zoom conversation, my guess is that you will find this book as helpful as I have over the years in considering how my life has purpose and a role in the Kingdom of God come near. I think you will experience an abundance of spiritual grist for your proverbial mill.
Through all of these tools, all of these practices and ways of encountering scripture and God's Word for us, come the reminder that in God there is abundant life. That's what Jesus came to bring to us, to all of us. The true freedom of we who call ourselves Christ followers is that we need not worry about our own salvation, about our own brokenness, because God has, already and abundantly, answered all of these questions for us. How we live in response to this abundance, well, that's up to each of us to consider.
Will you join me in wondering this Lent about the awesome and abundant life-giving God who comes to bring us life?
In peace and hope,
Worship During the Pandemic