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.
On this day, the last Sunday before Lent, many Christian churches observe the Feast of the Transfiguration, or “Transfiguration Sunday,” calling to remembrance the story in the Gospels when Jesus revealed to his chosen disciples his glorious nature as a spiritual being of light.
As the story goes, “Jesus took with him Peter, James, and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. … [A] bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!’” [Matt. 17:1-2,5]
This week, followers of Jesus observe Ash Wednesday, marking the beginning of the Lenten season of sacrifice leading up to Easter. Ash Wednesday is a holy day of prayer and fasting — and it is a time for contemplation of our human nature as both the dust of this world and the light of the Spirit into which we may grow through our spiritual discipline in walking the path of Christ. As a reminder of these truths, many Christians place ashes on their foreheads and recite the words, “Repent, and believe in the Gospel.”
At the beginning of Lent, Christians reflect on the theme of Repentance — turning away from wrongdoing, and reorienting our minds, our lives, and our world toward the God who calls us to be transformed in the image of Christ. This week we observe Transfiguration Sunday and Ash Wednesday. We also honor the repentance of Bartolomé de las Casas, a slaveowner who became an activist for the equal rights of all.