A Lenten Note from Bp. Dillahunt

Bishop Suzanne Darcy Dillahunt southern ohio synod
Remember you are dust and to dust to shall return.
It seems like we just finished taking down Christmas decorations. We moved quickly through the season after Epiphany, remembering the arrival of the Magi, Jesus’ first miracles, and Jesus calling the first disciples, all reminding us that God arrived to be a light to the entire world and that each of us are invited to share this good news as today’s disciples.
Lent has arrived, again beginning on Valentine’s Day, giving us an invitation and opportunity to begin this six-week season by reflecting on what God has done for us in Jesus to show how deep, how broad, how high God’s love is for us and for all of creation. This is an opportunity to make Valentine’s Day about more than hearts, dinner, and gifts of chocolate; it’s the Church’s chance to take something secular and make it holy, to make it about God’s love through Jesus.

Today, many of us will receive ashes in the form of a cross, which is juxtaposed with the abundance of hearts that surround us to remind us of Valentine’s Day. This cross traced on us reminds us of the death of Jesus for our sins, the greatest love and grace we can ever receive. The cross of Jesus reminds us what it means to be followers of Jesus, as disciples and heralds of God’s love and grace.

As disciples, our path isn’t always easy, nor does it offer quick fixes. It often comes with the hard reality that as followers of Jesus we encounter many different people and situations where love isn’t easy to show or give. But yet through the waters of baptism and through the cross, we know in our hearts that the love of God in Jesus is what saves us from sin and death and the power of evil and that is the message that we carry to others. We are Christ’s presence in the world now.

When I served in the congregation, on Ash Wednesday I put the ashes on people’s hands rather than their foreheads. When they came forward to receive Holy Communion, they were invited to pause at the baptismal font, to wash the ashes off, and then receive the body and blood of Jesus. Through receiving Holy Communion, their sins are forgiven and they are made whole in Jesus because of his death and resurrection.

As we move through the season of Lent, take time to reflect on opportunities to share your story of faith with someone else. Start with a family member or friend and share what Jesus means to you right now in your life. Maybe your story sharing will be an inspiration to someone! Maybe your story sharing will carry Jesus to someone who needs some Good News. Maybe your faith story will open the Gospel’s message to someone who needs to be reminded they are not alone in their life journey. Be open to where the Holy Spirit might be leading you in faith, discipleship and conversation.

If you’re looking for another resource to help guide you or your congregation in having faith-based important conversations, make sure you check out the resource from the SOS Authentic Diversity, Inclusion and Justice Team, Living Purple.

Blessings throughout this Lenten season!

In Christ,
+ Bishop Suzanne Darcy Dillahunt