Beginning My Lenten Journey

Today is Shrove Tuesday, Mardi Gras in New Orleans and Pancake supper night in many homes and churches as Christians prepare for the leaner days of Lent. Using up the household fat and indulging in fattening foods such as Packzies and King Cakes and the like has been the tradition of this day. The revelries of this day and night mark the beginning of the season of ashes and penitence, observing spiritual disciplines such as prayer, fasting and alms giving. For forty days, not counting Sundays, we journey through the wilderness of Lent filled with all the temptations and distractions a 21st Century world may throw our way. 

Many folks will give something up, a favorite food, lunch out once a week, video games, an hour or two of television per week, or any activity that would be missed enough to make the desire for it real. A form of fasting, giving up something may be powerful for some and in many cases giving of oneself is even more powerful, giving to charity, volunteering for a community good, beginning a Bible Study or simply adding prayer into your daily routine.

This year, I am giving up negativity for lent and giving positiveness an even greater role in my life. I’m beginning a Negativity Fast. Less unkind, critical or judgmental words coming from my mouth is the goal for my Lenten Discipline. More hope, more understanding, more listening, more caring, more mercy, more encouragement for those I come into contact with every day. Before you think this will be easy, I ask you to kindly remember this is an election year.

I want to invite you to join me in this fast of negativity. Whatever is in your past, be it 25yrs ago or 25minutes ago. Leave it there and fill your future with hope, with God’s unconditional acceptance of you, with peace knowing that the past does not define the future. God has a future filled with blessing and all we have to do to make it so is choose to live as those who know the Good News of Jesus. Prayer will help us. Morning, Noon and night pray for God’s joy to guide your thoughts, your decisions, and your words.

Whatever “fasting” you choose, whatever act of confession/forgiveness you choose, whatever prayers you choose for your Lenten journey, I pray you have a meaningful Lent and you are drawn closer to God each day.

Peace & Joy,  Robert




Worship & Hospitality

Worship attendance has been declining for about 40 years or so in mainline congregations (i.e. Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran & Disciples) and is now declining in Evangelical congregations (Independent Christian, some Mega churches) over the last decade as well. There have been lots of studies on what is causing this and suggestions include the following, according to David Lose:

(1) Attending church isn’t a cultural given anymore and there are a whole lot more options on how you might profitably spend your Sunday morning. (2) Many church-goers haven’t found the Christian story a particularly helpful lens through which to view and make sense of their lives.

So, according to research we are experiencing a shift from an “age of duty” where we do what we do because we believe it is what we are supposed to do, to an “age of discretion” where we do what we do because we believe it is worth doing, or it will bring us some kind of good, value or profit. There is no “sacred hour” for worship anymore. Mourn that fact if you wish, but don’t dwell in your sorrow for days gone by. The gospel call is clear for those who place their trust in the Lord: go, make disciples! Jesus never commanded us to build expensive buildings and fill them with entertained worshippers at 10 on Sunday. He simply said, go!

Hospitality is a key for growing churches. First, we receive the radical hospitality of God who welcomes each and all into God’s holy presence despite our imperfections. Second, the welcoming hospitality we share with one another anytime we gather in Christ’s name. And third, the inviting hospitality we practice with folks who are guests each week and with our family, neighbors, friends, co-workers, classmates, etc. May we hear the call of Jesus and share God’s gift of hospitality, daily.

Peace & Joy!
Rev. Robert Bushey, Jr.