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Transformation and success are not the same

February 19, 2018
In the Heart of the Connection
Rev. Dr. Matt Woodbery, Director of Connectional Ministries

Who, being in very nature God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
        even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.
Philippians 2:6-11

The annual Lenten journey has begun. Like many journeys, there is a certain destination. For Christians practicing the disciplines of Lent like fasting, study, acts of service, and charity, the journey becomes richer with each step. We know many of the way points on this journey, with Palm or Passion Sunday, Holy Week, Maundy Thursday, and Good Friday as stations along the way.

But what will make for a meaningful journey? If we measure our journey by the standards of this world – by how faithfully we keep to our Lenten fasting or by the sense of accomplishment of keeping to our devotionals during this season – then we will fall to the temptation of considering success as the goal. That in some way, we will have won in some sort of spiritual challenge with scores being kept as if we were performing some event at the Olympics.

The season of Lent was designed not as a course to be run, but as a time of reflection and contemplation. A time to think about things unthinkable; of God who would consider humanity worth giving up the holiness of heaven in order to join us in our broken, profane lives. A time for an encounter with the Holy One in Holy Scriptures. A time to serve as others expecting to experience the love of God that will lead to transformed hearts and minds.

May your journey be challenging and transformational. May it be so on your Lenten journey.

From the Heart of the Connection,

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Open hearts. Open minds. Open doors.