I have been in a lot of conversations recently with people who want everything to fit together tidily and to make sense, especially in terms of faith. At the essential level that’s not a tall order. Here is how I understand it:
- Humankind was created to be in relationship with God;
- Jesus is God’s wide-open invitation;
- God’s love is an opportunity we can either accept and live into or walk away from.
The complexity and the angst come into play when we try to make God (who is by definition beyond human comprehension) fit into our limited grasp of time and eternity, finite and infinite, fair and unfair, physical and spiritual, life and death, reasonable and unreasonable, mortality and immortality, seen and unseen, perishable and imperishable.
This is where today (Ash Wednesday) and this season of Lent (the time between today and Easter) are both important and beautifully suited for those who want to wrap their mind around faith and at the same time need to embrace the mystery.
Worship, where the community gathers in prayer and praise, is one of those occasions where we are elevated beyond the mundane and into the spiritual. The experience of being together, collectively engaged in spiritual practice, creates a kind of interface between this terrestrial plane and something more, something beyond, and we engage the presence of God in a way that moves us.
Of course, God’s presence is not limited to these corporate gatherings, and this is one of the purposes – the opportunities – of Lent. The next few weeks serve as an encouragement for each one of us to be more deliberate in spiritual practice, to be more conscious of God as Mystery, as Presence, and as Guide.
Invitation to come home:
Beyond the simple truth of our need to accept Christ’s invitation and come home, there is very little about faith in God that offers us the comfort of being neatly explainable, especially when we add the layers of sin and injustice and prejudice and exclusion and translation and more that have shaped history and culture and message and communication.
Ash Wednesday and our journey to Jerusalem through the season of Lent can help us to be more consciously tuned to the mystery and the deeper spiritual nuances of faith in Jesus.
If you are not currently involved in a church, then take this opportunity to visit and to engage the journey in the company of other pilgrims. God is faithful and true and will certainly meet us all along the way.
Derek has published seven books in the past decade (you can find them at https://www.amazon.com/Derek-Maul/e/B001JS9WC4), and there’s always something new in the works.
Before becoming a full-time writer, Derek taught public school in Florida for eighteen years, including cutting-edge work with autistic children. He holds bachelor’s degrees in psychology and education from Stetson University and the University of West Florida.
Derek is active in teaching at his church: adult Sunday school, and a men’s Bible study/spiritual formation group. He enjoys the outdoors, traveling, photography, reading, cooking, playing guitar, and golf.