It’s Ash Wednesday 2023 and the world is not as it should be.
This morning, I woke up to a message from a friend about the news that the Southern Baptist Convention has “disfellowshipped” Saddleback Church and five others because they have begun to ordain women as pastors. According to the SBC “the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.”
Over the weekend, 33 more churches in Virginia disaffiliated from the United Methodist Church over issues regarding LGBTQ inclusion.
Last week, another shooting on another campus.
The war in Ukraine will reach the one year mark in a couple of days.
A sitting U.S. Congresswoman has called for a “national divorce.”
The only thing people seem to agree on is that the disaster in East Palestine, Ohio, is the fault of the other side.
And I’m sure there’s another Covid variant out there somewhere waiting for a name.
It’s the beginning of another Lenten Season to prepare us for another Holy Week and another Easter: “remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
Meanwhile, in a small town in Kentucky, students and others have been gathering to worship continuously for the last two weeks. No lights and fog machines, no words projected on screens, just people seeking the presence of God.
So why does it feel like it’s so hard to find God’s presence today?
Do we have to drive to Kentucky to find it?
No. God’s presence is in Kentucky. But God is also present in the broken churches on both sides of every split, God’s presence is in Michigan and in every other space where violence erupts, God’s presence is in Ukraine and in Russia, God’s presence is in the halls of Congress, in every single office space; God’s presence is in East Palestine.
All we have to do is open our eyes and want to see Jesus.
The world is not as it should be. There is always more pain and suffering than we can wrap our minds and hearts around and in the midst of it all, is Jesus. Lent is the season to be reminded that Jesus chose to enter into our suffering and so we are called to do the same.
We often feel like we have to try to fix all the things, none of us can take it all on ourselves, but we each can do one thing.
What one thing is God calling you to do?
What area of pain and suffering have you been called to enter into and seek justice and peace through?
God’s presence is already there.