The Greatest Myths About Lent
This is, in fact, incorrect. Lent is a period of preparation in which Christians remember the life of Jesus through prayer and penance, but it is more directly related to his ministry than his death.
The scriptural impetus for Lent is the forty days that Jesus spent in the wilderness after his baptism. The three earliest Gospels – Matthew, Mark, and Luke – all state that after his encounter with John the Baptist at the river Jordan, Jesus was led out into the desert by the Spirit (in the Gospel of Mark the Greek reads that Jesus was “kicked out” or “driven” into the desert by the Spirit). There he spent 40 days and night being tempted by Satan before calling the disciples in Galilee.
Entering the Lenten season is always a bit of a perplexing situation. We go into Lent knowing it as a time of increased devotion, fasting and generosity – but also understanding these practices of discipleship are traits we want to hold dear in our walk of faith at all times.
Throughout ministry I’ve been made aware of a variety of practices that accompany Lent. I’ve observed various forms of fasting – from meat, alcohol, candy or television; soup dinners and study sessions at churches; and special offerings to help those in need. I’ve seen churches and individuals make concerted efforts at growing in their faith. I’ve witnessed earnest prayer and actions toward restoring justice.
When we make this Lenten journey together, we not only commit to 40 days of doing the right thing – loving God, neighbor and self – we put in motion the disciplines that help us embrace the fullness of Easter throughout the year. As “Easter people” we are set free to live lives of discipleship. As a “church of the resurrection” we have hope for new life, not only for ourselves, but also for the world.
I recently returned from a trip visiting Global Ministries mission partners in India. It was my first trip to India and an eye-opening, horizon-expanding tour of work in which the church is engaged. This experience helps me to put this Lent into a new context, remembering that fasting is a luxury for those of us who live with plenty, increased prayer is required by those who don’t already walk by faith alone and almsgiving is the privilege of those who lack nothing.
We enter Lent on Ash Wednesday, sealed with the sign of the cross using ashes that remind us of our human frailty and reliance upon Jesus Christ. We journey through Lent as a church that strives to be more fully present as the Body of Christ to those we encounter, in all we do and say. We maintain the hope in Easter and the power of the resurrection that continually calls us to envision and work toward the promised Realm of God.
I pray the weeks leading to Easter are ones of spiritual blessing and enrichment, personal generosity and self-examination, and corporate prayer and actions that lead us in ways of justice. May we be Easter people at all times, open to the possibility that God is going to break out among us in new and exciting ways. Amen.
Photo: UNICEF/Ashley Gilbertson VII
At an age when most kids need supervision to do their homework, hundreds of thousands of minors are crossing continents alone.
Wasil awoke to the sound of a knife ripping through nylon. Although he was only twelve years old, he was living alone in a small tent at a refugee camp in Calais, France, known as the Jungle. Men entered his tent; he couldn’t tell how many. A pair of hands gripped his throat. He shouted. It was raining, and the clatter of the drops muffled his cries, so he shouted louder. At last, people from neighboring tents came running, and the assailants disappeared.
Wasil had left his mother and younger siblings in Kunduz, Afghanistan, ten months earlier, in December, 2015. His father, an interpreter for nato forces, had fled the country after receiving death threats from the Taliban. Later, Wasil, as the eldest son, became the Taliban’s surrogate target. Wasil was close to his mother, but she decided to send him away as the situation became increasingly dangerous. Her brother lived in England, and she hoped that Wasil could join him there. To get to Calais, Wasil had travelled almost four thousand miles, across much of Asia and Europe, by himself. Along the way, he had survived for ten days in a forest with only two bottles of water, two biscuits, and a packet of dates to sustain him. Before leaving home, he hadn’t even known how to prepare a meal.
Real Art Ways did a project with Faith and the artist Mel Chin back in 1991. Mel created a structure that evoked the Talcott Street Church on its original site. Here are some photos: http://melchin.org/oeuvre/ghost The choir sang in the space at the opening. It was reported on by Associated Press and National Public Radio.
In Place is Personal, Deborah Goffe writes, “This issue of invisibility was aptly illustrated in Mel Chin’s public art work, Ghost, commissioned by Real Art Ways, the alternative art space, in 1991. Ghost suggested the façade of Hartford’s first black church in the exact place it was built on Talcott Street more than a century earlier, but where it had not stood for nearly 50 years. In Chin’s work that sacred ground, now an office building, was merely indicated with a wood frame, mesh, chalk outline, and stone steps. Chin imposed a gentle intervention that revealed an invisible reality, a residue from the past. As Yi-Fu Tuan suggests, it is difficult to see what we are closest to. With a little distance comes perspective, a measure of objectivity … and the risk of disconnect. Like a wide angle lens, Chin’s Ghost superimposed the past onto the present, creating just enough distance for passersby to notice what was always there.” Read more here.
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MLK Quote to Remember
“To accept passively an unjust system is to cooperate with that system; thereby the oppressed become as evil as the oppressor. Noncooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good. …To accept injustice…passively is to say to the oppressor that his actions are morally right.”
Lesser Known Women Civil Rights Activists
“But while male leaders like King and Malcolm X are renowned for their contributions to the influential movement, the role women played in the civil rights struggle goes largely unnoticed. Americans may know the names of Rosa Parks or Coretta Scott King, but the numerous other women who played key roles in the fight for equal rights are too often wiped from the history books,” writes Alison Durkee.
“There’s a Chinese saying, ‘Women hold up half the world,”‘ the late civil rights historian and NAACP chair Julian Bond told NBC News in 2005. “In the case of the civil rights movement it’s probably three-quarters of the world.”
Do you know these women who have played important roles in movements for civil rights over the past 2 centuries?
- Ida B. Wells-Barnett
- Dorothy Height
- Maya Wiley
- Ella Baker
- Amelia Boynton Robinson
- Mary Church Terrell
- JoAnn Robinson
- Diane Nash
- Fannie Lou Hamer
- Claudette Colvin
- Septima Clark
- Pauli Murray
- Anna Arnold Hedgeman
- Mary McLeod Bethune
- Shirley Chishom
- Anna Julia Cooper
- Marian Wright Edelman
- Majora Carter
- Flo Kennedy
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17 Muslim American Women Who Made America Great In 2016
If there was ever a year that needed Muslim women to show the world just how great America already is, 2016 was it.
Muslim Americans continue to face rising intolerance and Islamophobia as a result, in part, of aggressive attacks on their community by politicians and conservative media. They were assaulted, ridiculed and at times even murdered for their religious identification ― and hijab-wearing Muslim women often bore the brunt of this bigotry.
But they didn’t remain silent. If anything, Muslim women lead the charge in advocating for the rights of minority groups and taking America to task for its ongoing failure to uphold its founding values of “life, liberty and justice for all.” Here are 17 women who made America great in 2016.
- Ilhan Omar
Credit: STEPHEN MATUREN
Ilhan Omar was born in Somalia and immigrated to the U.S. at the age of 12 after spending four years in a refugee camp in Kenya. On Nov. 8, she became the first Somali-American Muslim woman elected to a state legislature, with a victory in Minnesota. The 34-year-old campaigned on a progressive platform, advocating for affordable college, criminal justice reform, economic equality and clean energy.
- Ibtihaj Muhammad
Tom Pennington via Getty Images
Fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad made history this year as the first U.S. athlete to compete at the Olympics in a hijab. Though she didn’t win a gold medal, Muhammad still scored an important victory as one of the most recognizable athletes entering the Rio Olympics and an important reminder of the obstacles Muslim athletes often have to overcome to pursue their dream.
- Kiran Waqar, Balkisa Abdikadir, Hawa Adam and Lena Ginawi