From your pastor… “so that you may lead lives worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, as you bear fruit in every good work and as you grow in the knowledge of God.” (Colossians 1: 10, NRSV)
As we enter the season of Lent, it is a great time to offer our best in serving God. I grew up in a church tradition that did not observe Lent. The first time I encountered “giving up something for Lent” was when I was working as a teller at a local bank in Louisville, KY while I was in seminary. One of the women there told us that she was giving up strawberry shortcake for Lent. I thought that was the strangest thing I had ever heard. What does strawberry shortcake have to do with Jesus and living the Christian faith, I wondered to myself. Fasting is a spiritual discipline that many Christians observe during Lent, and it is a good thing. However, I also think that it is far better to contribute something to the world and to our Lord during Lent as well as giving up something.
“Bearing fruit in every good work” is what the Apostle Paul is encouraging the Christians to do. We have ample opportunities to do that. Just at Algiers UMC during Lent, we are once again having our Skeeter Run/Walk at City Park. The UMC nationally has stopped sponsoring this event, but I love it that we did not “give it up!” Like the Energizer Bunny, we keep going, raising money and having fun at the same time, to fight the preventable disease of Malaria. Many children die every day from Malaria because they have no protection against mosquito bites. A treated mosquito net that covers a child when they sleep is about $10 each. We have distributed thousands of these in Africa and other locations as a United Methodist Church. Such a small thing can save lives. So, when we are eating our beignets and having coffee after our Skeeter Walk/Run, we can celebrate that we are offering something to God and to our neighbors in need of assistance in fighting the spread of this terrible disease.
Also, more locally, our UMW members are sponsoring the offering of diapers and wipes for babies and toddlers who are sheltering at Hagar’s House. It is a ministry that began after Katrina at the First Grace United Methodist Church on Canal Street. They provide housing, counseling, and support for women with children who have no place to go and who may not have income or a job. They are there in transition until they can find a job, a place to live, and a safe environment for them and their children. Money is always lacking in non-profit ministries. Every diaper we give counts to help a family. In addition to bringing things to help, let’s be praying daily for the women, the children, and the staff members who work with them to help them to become empowered and independent.
I saw a woman this past week picking up trash on the side of the road on the Woodland Highway on my way to Belle Chasse. She was not in front of her own house. She was doing what she could to beautify and clean up that little space on planet Earth. One of the things I love on my commute back and forth there is watching the many different varieties of birds that feed along that highway. I have seen egrets, night herons, great herons, kingfishers, hawks, vultures, ibis, crows, pigeons, sea gulls, (Just to name a few!) And it makes me sad when I see them fishing in the ditches among the trash. This Lenten season, let’s do as many good works as we can to celebrate the redemptive work of our Lord Jesus Christ!
Grace and peace,