A Word about the Word-
But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. [1 Corinthians 9:27]
Wednesday is “Ash Wednesday.” It begins the Lenten season, the forty days of observance (actually more, because of weekends) that help us focus on Christ’s sacrificing crucifix and victorious resurrection. It is a bit historically unclear, but the “church calendar” of Lent seems to have started about 1,000 years ago. Many Christians have personalized the forty days by “giving up” something, thus recognizing that Christ died for my gluttony or lack of discipline or pride or lustfulness or self-centeredness—all symbols of nailing my failures to his cross.
Close to Home
As you know, many Christians normally have ashes put on their foreheads as a sign of repentance and as a way of thanking Christ and identifying with his humility. Due to COVID protocols, Trinity will be experiencing an “Ash-less” Wednesday service at 6:30pm. It will be very meaningful and yet appropriate for our day.
Coming soon to Trinity is our new website. We think it will be an appealing and easily accessible “front door” to our church and its ministry. On Sunday, March 7, we hope to unveil it in the worship services.
I was chatting the other day with Mike Swiger, the Executive Director of True Freedom Ministries, about the problem of idleness and entitlement. Work is vital to us not simply because it provides money to live on and buy necessities but also because it can give us a sense of purpose and meaning. Here’s an interesting article on the daily activities of unemployed men—you may find it rather eye-opening.
True Freedom is a powerful ministry that works with the incarcerated in Ohio to bring them spiritual hope and practical life skills for when they are released. Trinity has begun a relationship with True Freedom as one of our Outreach Partners. https://www.truefreedomministries.com/
The World as It Is
In COVID news: If everything goes as planned (insert joke here), your summer vacation may actually be away from home and we will be able to have our annual beach baptism at the lake! President Biden has said that the U.S. government has assurances from Moderna and Pfizer for 600 million vaccines by the end of July. That is nearly a month earlier than anticipated. Keep your fingers crossed.
Look at the verse at the top of the page. It has to do not only with self-discipline but also with the ugly and gospel-related consequences if I fail: “lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” On Sunday I mentioned the report put out by the ministry of apologist Ravi Zacharias (RZIM). His criminal pattern of sexually immoral and predatory behavior is as heinous as that of Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby.
Beyond “disqualification,” the damage some Christian “leaders” do to the reputation of Christianity is at times immeasurable. If, like me, you were a “fan” of Ravi’s ministry and are interested, I’ve included a few links (here and here) and the official RZIM report from their outside investigator. https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2021/february/ravi-zacharias-rzim-investigation-sexual-abuse-sexting-rape.html
The casualties of Ravi’s predatory and evil behavior are the victims, of course. Another casualty is the witness of the Christian Church where, yet again, her moral teachings are so blatantly contradicted and disregarded by powerful and “pious” immoral leaders. It should be no surprise that Evangelicalism has lost so much credibility in the eyes of so many. The church’s own younger ones are especially disillusioned, as many see no need in continuing with a church so mesmerized by its leaders and by power. Our morality and our message seem like a gross contradiction to them.
Lord, help us to reflect the person of Christ and recover our simple, humble message of truth and love.
An Ash Wednesday Prayer
Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing you have
made and forgive the sins of all who are penitent: Create and
make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily
lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness,
may obtain of you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission
and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives
and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever
and ever. Amen.
[From the Book of Common Prayer]
I’ll catch you on the other side.