This week’s short message by Pastor Eric Stetson. Watch the video or read text below.
Today is the first Sunday of Lent, a 40-day season of sacrifice leading up to Easter in the Christian liturgical calendar. Lent commemorates the 40 days that Jesus fasted in the wilderness of the desert before beginning his mission, according to the Gospels [e.g. Matt. 4:1-2].
To fast for 40 days is a big commitment. This year, for Lent, I’d like to ask all who are watching or reading this sermon to make a much smaller, but very important commitment: to wear a mask whenever you’re around other people. In fact, I’d like to ask you all to wear two — a surgical mask on the inside, and a cloth mask on the outside. According to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, double-masking in this way increases protection from the Covid-19 virus from under 50% with just one mask to a remarkable 90% or greater rate of protection with two masks.
During Lent, many followers of Jesus make conscious sacrifices or commitments to become more righteous in the path of Christ. In our service this week, we focus on the theme of Commitment — an essential virtue for spiritual progress, or for any kind of success in life. We also honor Richard Allen, a former slave who was so committed to the cause of equality that he founded a new Christian denomination.
Many centuries ago, when the light of Christ was just beginning to dawn forth upon the earth — after the man Jesus Christ had left this world and left the responsibility to spread the light of God in the hands of his disciples — a church planter named Paul wrote to one of the earliest Christian churches that “we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory” [2 Cor. 3:18].
Life is a journey of becoming, and in the course of our lives we must deal effectively with change and accept patiently the times of adversity and uncertainty. Although we can’t always control our circumstances, we have the freedom to choose how to interpret the struggles we experience — and by doing this, we can become our best selves, being transformed in the divine image.
In today’s service, we focus on the theme of Transformation. We also honor the patient dedication of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, who persevered in teaching ideas that were ahead of his time.