Pastor's Corner
 Lent 2019
  
  
 
    
  

  
  
  
  
                                                                                
  
  
                                                 
  




 
     
We begin the season of Lent with Ash Wednesday on March 6th.  It is a time for us to come together as a church family and begin a season of self-denial and reflection.
This year, our Ash Wednesday service will include several Bible Readings, group praying, hymns confession, a Litany of Penitence and imposition of the ashes.
I hope all will come with hearts open to Christ as we begin our season of Lent together as one Christian family here at Franklin Presbyterian Church.
Many churchgoers do not recognize the Lenten season.  They see no need to reflect on who we are as mere human beings in need of deliverance by the God of all.
To most of them, the ash cross on the forehead is just a sign that someone is saying, “Look at me.  I am a righteous Christian.”
Nothing could be further from the truth.  The ashes are no different than the stitched-up scars on the weathered face of an experienced senior.  Both reflect the imperfect and mortal nature of mankind.  Far from a sign of perfect righteousness, the ashes are a sign of fallen and mortal humankind.
Ash Wednesday, however, is not a sledge-hammer service, designed to beat us down and make us feel guilty.  It is not designed to accuse us falsely of constant and gleeful wrongdoing.
Ash Wednesday is an opportunity to start at the very beginning, once again.  To strip ourselves of this earthly pride that is so readily available to us in the self-absorbed, me-first culture.
Ash Wednesday is the liturgical way for us to open our eyes anew, and reflect on the fact that all we are is from God; that without His miraculous love we would not even have been created.
And the only way to approach this with honesty, is to humble ourselves and recognize that without God, we are nothing; literally, for without Him we would not even be here in the first place.
So, with Ash Wednesday, our Lenten journey begins with our family coming before God and saying, “We came from ashes… and that’s where we’re headed. Now look into our hearts, God, as we turn from sin to You, in renewed repentance, and seek Your grace; a grace that changes everything.”
And that is of the highest import, because without God… returning to ashes is all that is left.  God hates that thought:
     “Yet even now, He says, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping and with mourning; rend your hearts and not your clothing.  Return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relents from punishing.” (Joel 2:12-14)
“Rend your hearts and not your clothing.” This is our quest, starting on Ash Wednesday and continuing for the Lenten season.  Do it honestly, not for show.  This is not about trying to appear righteous in front of others.  Jesus decried that in Matthew 6.
It is about our church family joining hands and burying our pride to renew our journey with Christ.
It is a time to shut out all that is extraneous, all the outside noise, and reflect on God: what He has done for us, what He is doing for us, and our call to work hand in hand for His truth on earth.
And one would have to be blind not to see that the Holy Spirit is doing many good things at our church.
For openers, take a look inside this newsletter.  Your session is publishing more deep and thoughtful messages to you, than ever before.  They are reflecting on Scripture, liturgy and devotions… in addition to bringing you the monthly committee news.
Consider other new and meaningful things happening at the church.  We have heeded the call to assist our sister church, Lloyd Presbyterian, in financing much needed repairs on their historic church building.
Our Bible Study is in full swing once again.  Moreover, instead of one study per year, we have moved to two studies, one in spring and one in fall.  These studies very, very inspirational for all who participate; not to mention the fact that we learn more and more about God when we attend.
We are on the cusp of the “front porch” gatherings, wherein we will offer the community words of Biblical and Christian encouragement as the make their drive home from work.
We are working on a glorious Easter celebration, complete with a sunrise service, Sunday school, regular worship AND the greatest, tastiest, most satisfying breakfast in the history of church breakfasts!
And Reggie is coming back in August with his family.  They will perform on August 18th and, already, we are working to gather multiple churches to participate in that evening of praise and fellowship.
Good things continue to blossom at our church.  In this season of Lent, let’s listen for God to lead us together, and to continue to inspire us to put our hearts and minds together in doing His work in meaningful and creative ways.
 
                                                                                                                                      Yours in Christ,                                                                                                                                                                                      Pastor John