Since last March I have written a monthly “blog-like” article for the Trinity newsletter. I have tried to educate, ask odd questions about words we use, and last month in “Love and Lent,” I told of my spiritual journey to understand what Lent was all about.
Beginning, March 2021, this space will be a shared reflection between me and Pastor Justin. We will converse about topics that may be unclear in your mind. We’re not trying see who is right or wrong, but rather we shall try to offer a variety of reflections on the issues of God and Christ in our lives.
Pam: We are still in the midst of Lent and I am learning that Lent is hard. It is filled with both times for repentance and times for reaching outside ourselves. I appreciated the letter included in the Lenten bags which outlined the history of Ash Wednesday. However, the whole ritual makes me uncomfortable. My “generic” Protestant background did not include ashes. In fact, I always felt that those who wore the ashes on all day on were a bit prideful. “Hey, look I am a Christian! I’m pious.” I saw Hubris rather than Humility. So in my Spiritual Growth journey to be a good Lutheran and Spiritual Growth leader, am I obligated to lead by example or is it my choice to not be “ashed”?
Pastor Justin: I am struck by your question, Pam, “am I obligated to lead by example or is it my choice to not be ashed?” Specifically with the idea of obligation in the Christian life. There is a prominent narrative within Christianity that focuses on Jesus as your “personal Lord and Savior.” I have a problem with this notion because it feels one sided… The obligation is to ensure that I am doing this faith thing the right way so that I honor my personal Lord and Savior. And maybe this is ok. BUT, ours is a communal faith. We believe in Jesus Christ the Savior of the world. Our obligation isn’t just to honor Jesus, our personal Lord and Savior. Our obligation as people of faith, I think, is to be Christ to our neighbor. In doing that, we honor Jesus. So, what does all of this have to do with your question?
In your willingness to ask the question and invite us into your own journey, you are honoring your obligation as the Spiritual Growth Leader. You are blessing us with the opportunity to ask these questions of ourselves… and that is a gift in this Lenten season.
Pastor Justin & Pam Kramer