Wednesday, February 18, 2015

An invitation to a Holy Lent -- Face to Face

I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church,
to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance;
by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by
reading and meditating on God's holy Word. 

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of our Lenten journey that will culminate with our gathering at the foot of the cross on Good Friday and, ultimately, rejoicing at the empty tomb on Easter Sunday morning.

We begin this journey with ashes on our head as a reminder that every one of us will die but that God's love for us will never die. The ashes we place on our forehead today at noon and 6 pm at Christ Church Cathedral are reminders we are free to be completely unafraid of anything, even death, because our lives are built on a foundation that is even stronger than death -- the love of God in Jesus Christ.

Like everything else in our Christian journey, we never do this alone -- always together. 

We are calling our Lenten journey this year "Face to Face." Throughout the 40 days we will be looking each other in the face both as a Cathedral community and as a wider St. Louis community. We will strive to see each other as we truly are. To have the real conversation. To speak our own truths and listen deeply to each others'. To live our mission of "embracing diversity joyfully" by facing each other in all our difference and daring to be vulnerable with and even love each other enough to give ourselves for one another.

We're offering many ways to take part in this Face to Face journey through Lent:

Faces in the Nave - In addition to seeing each other's faces in worship, we will spend Lent with other faces. Cbabi Bayoc's faces of African-American fathers and their children in his "365 Days with Dad" will continue to grace the Cathedral Nave. In addition, throughout Lent the Cathedral Nave will host a display of "Faces Not Forgotten" -- these are portraits on handkerchiefs of young people who have been killed by guns here in St. Louis. We will be looking at these images of God throughout Lent and considering how their ongoing witness is calling us.

40 Essential Bible Passages - Every day during Lent, someone from our Cathedral or downtown community will share a Bible passage that is essential to their lives and why in a 2-3 minute video on our YouTube Channel and our Facebook and Twitter accounts. It's a great way to see a new face every day and hear the diversity of ways scripture is shaping our lives. Click here to see our Digital Missioner Brendan O'Connor kick this off with Ruth 1:16-17. 

Lent Unedited --An online Lenten discipline of being real with each other, showing our messiness and

imperfections with one another -- unedited, unfiltered, imperfect -- and letting the grace of community and the grace of God shine into our darkness and joy. To join, every day (or whenever you remember) post an unedited, real moment of your life on Facebook or Twitter with the hashtag #lentunedited. You can join the Facebook group by clicking here. This is the inspiration of the Rev. Hopie Welles Jernagan of St. Peter's, Ladue.

The Real Conversation  - From 1 - 4:30 pm, Saturday, Feb 28, the Rev. Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows, director of networking for the Diocese of Chicago, will enlighten and equip us in:
    *learning to build relationships even while discussing difficult topics such as race and class               
    *exploring recent events as opportunities for organizing for change.
    *learning to create more authentic communities of faith by listening, learning and communicating well.
There is a $10 per person suggested donation to cover expenses. Please RSVP by clicking here

Why Protest: Worship and Conversation About The Movement:  -- On Sunday, March 8, the Rev. Traci Blackmon will be our guest preacher at 10 am and following the service at noon she will be joined by three other faces of the Ferguson protest movement -- Alexis Templeton, Brittany Ferrell and Deray McKesson for a community listening session around three questions:

*WHY Protest -- what is driving the protests?
*Why PROTEST - why choose this method of expression?
*How can everyone get involved in The Movement?

More opportunities will be offered as we move through this season. But one of the best "face to face" Lenten disciplines is to take the time to sit down with someone you don't know very well, maybe someone of a different racial, ethnic, economic, political or theological background than you. Look each other in the face, seek the beloved image of God on each other, and let yourselves be challenged by one another. Once a day, every day, try truly to see a new face - so when we gather at the cross and the empty tomb we have a stronger sense of the deep ways we are connected by God's love in Christ.

I'm looking forward to this journey together.

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