The Lenten journey is a forty-day, intensely focused period of personal reflection and community discernment through prayer, scripture reading, holy conversation, and fasting. We make a commitment sacrificially to lay aside things we ordinarily enjoy and to re-evaluate our faith journey by asking some hard questions. Does my faith talk match my faith walk? Am I trying to live with a foot in two contradictory worlds? Am I putting off until tomorrow what God is calling me to do today? The cross is more than just a physical object, it is a commitment to a radically different lifestyle.Following Jesus in the way of the cross means giving ourselves fully and sacrificially for the concerns of God’s heart. In saying yes to Jesus, it is his cross we are lifting, his cause we are embracing, and his life mission we are supporting. Saying yes to Jesus is an all-out, all-in commitment to go where Jesus goes, be who Jesus is, do what Jesus does, and give what Jesus gives for the life of the world that God loves.
Week 1: February 22
Sermon: Another Story Must Begin! Rev. Dr. Janet Forbes
Scripture: Luke 4: 1-14
What is my life anyway if I were to sum it up? Have I decided that my life will have an integrity and everything that I do and say will be from there. The wonderful thing about the good news is even if you’ve never thought about it, it’s not too late. And even if you’ve messed everything up, it’s not too late. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Still wet from baptism, Jesus, now what? Now what? This is a crossroad…and intersection that all of us face – struggling with the will of God for our lives. I have no plan to lay out, no suggestions for anyone. But I do want to give some Lenten homework. The assignment during these forty days in the wilderness: A composition…25 words or less! The title: “This Is Who I Am. This Is What I Do”.
Week 2: March 1
Sermon: Really, You Wanna Drop Everything and Follow That Guy? Rev. Ryan Canaday
Scripture: Matthew 4:18-22 & 1 Corinthians 4:13
In the first century Jewish world the best of the best students of the Torah would approach a rabbi of authority and ask if they could follow that particular rabbi. Most students were rejected. They simply didn't have what it takes. But if the rabbi said 'yes,' it was a huge honor...you would drop everything to follow him. Jesus was a Jewish rabbi. And unlike other rabbis of his day, Jesus went to the people and invited them to be students, disciples. He actually believed they had what it takes--that THEY could be like HIM! Is it possible that Jesus is still coming to us, saying: "Don't you get it...I am calling you to be my disciples...you have what it takes...you can be like me!" What does it mean to follow this rabbi? According to the apostle Paul, it meant to become "like the trash of the world." What in the heck do we do with that? And do we really want to drop everything and follow this guy?
Week 3: March 8
Sermon: The Healing that Changes You, Rev. Dr. Janet Forbes
Scripture: Luke 4: 38-44
I have been driven to the conclusion that the two major causes of spiritual turmoil are these: the failure to understand, receive, and live out God’s unconditional grace and forgiveness; and the failure to give out that unconditional love, forgiveness, and grace to other people. We read, we hear, we believe a good theology of grace. But that’s not what we live. The good news of grace has not penetrated our resistance.
Week 4: March 15
Sermon: Just a Number, Just a Criminal, Rev. Dr. Janet Forbes
Scripture: Luke 23: 33-43
Valjean - Turned away, scorned, and beaten by others, the “yellow card” passport marked him as nameless trouble until the Bishop’s gift. Jesus – Turned away, scorned, and beaten by others, his essay (I must preach the good news of God’s kingdom, for this is why I was sent.) marks him as a criminal…until tomorrow comes.
Week 5: March 22
Sermon: The Rooster Crows: Seeing God At The Bottom Of It All, Rev. Ryan Canaday
Scripture: Luke 22:54-62
Richard Rohr suggests that people are at their best when they've hit their bottom: "People who've hit the bottom are much more open to God, much more ready to recognize they need God..." Jesus told Peter that Peter would soon deny him three times. Why would Jesus predict this? Was it a cruel move...so he could later say "told ya so"? Or was it an act of grace? "Peter, you will deny me. And when you do, I will still be there." Within hours of the prediction: Peter denies knowing Jesus, a rooster crows, Jesus looks straight at him, Peter weeps. Was there grace in denial? The rooster crows. Dammit.
Where have you experienced the roosters in your life: the moments when you've realized who you are, what you've done--the things you swore you would never do? These moments aren't fun, but they often have a way of helping us recognize our need for God and opening us to God in brand new ways. *By the way: In Luke's Gospel, after hearing from the women the news of the empty tomb, Peter was the first disciple to run to the tomb.
Week 6: March 29, Palm Sunday
Sermon: The Fork in the Road, Rev. Dr. Janet Forbes
Scripture: Mark 11: 1-10
Week 7: April 5, Easter
Sermons: Open! Rev. Ryan Canaday, & New Life! Rev. Dr. Janet Forbes
Scripture: Luke 24: 1-12