We have made the annual passage through the Season of Lent. There has been varying Lenten Connections around the district to invite people into a deeper understanding of the season and a greater preparation for Resurrection Sunday. Throughout this Lenten journey, we have explored The Lord’s Prayer, as our District Lenten Study. What has been powerful for my personal discipleship is how this prayer has become so ritualist, that we have failed to really hear the words we recite in the prayer. It has been enlightening for me to delve in the text from both Matthew and Luke, to understand the prayer that Jesus taught us, is a prayer of collective commitment and responsibility. I would invite you to slow down and take to heart the words from The Lord’s Prayer and strive to become the living evidence of its meaning.

Additionally, this learning discovery enlivened me to believe if something so familiar, as the Lord’s Prayer, can move from being ritualized and become revived within me and others, how can the Resurrection be as riveting? I know for some Resurrection Sunday is like the Super Bowl in the church world. We anticipate those who will gather because of the tradition and the those who will possibly be reunited with family because of the Sunday’s significance. We know that the worship experience will be executed with excellence, filled with music, liturgy, and the melodious Hallelujahs. I just wonder, how can we move beyond the day itself and truly carry the message of The Resurrection forward as a staple understanding of God’s love for all?

I know we are experiencing A LOT right now in culture and throughout our faith communities. There are a host of health challenges, grieving about loss, and concern for the future. These are not new life complexities; it just seems they are all converging at the same time for far too many of us right now. I would wonder how the true meaning of Christ overcoming the grave, can be the message of our living that even in dark and dry places, Hope Arises!  The picture above is that imagery for me during these ever-evolving times. There are many desert places with the ongoing disaffiliations and closures of congregations. There are many dry places as it relates to the sustainability of ministry; particularly around our buildings and finances. There are parched perplexities as it seems the culture is moving away from organized religion and our need to remain relevant is subsiding. AND YET, despite the desert, dry, and parched places, growth can still happen, and new life can indeed emerge.

May we, who gather to hear the Good News about the Resurrection move beyond the ritualization of Easter Sunday, and be revived and renewed with the understanding that WITH GOD ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE; the empty tomb is just another indication! May Hope Arise in us, again! May the fire of our faith be fanned again, so that we do not lose hope amidst all that is occurring around. May the words from Romans 15:13 (The Voice), be a breakthrough prayer for all of us…“I pray that God, the source of all hope, will infuse your lives with an abundance of joy and peace in the midst of your faith so that your hope will overflow through the power of the Holy Spirit.”

May the transformative work of Christ continue to transform us daily, so that we can be part of transforming the world.