Our congregation was founded in central North Carolina over 250 years ago by immigrants from Germany. Since then faithful people have been gathering here to worship and glorify God. Thanks for visiting our website, and we hope you’ll visit Brick Church this Sunday.
A Word for Ash Wednesday...Rehabilitation
The following is the homily I gave at our Ash Wednesday Service. It outlines our theme for the Season of Lent, so I thought it would be worthwhile to provide it to the members of our congregation who could not attend this evening...
For the special services of the church year, I am of the opinion that the best approach is to let the Scriptures, the music, the sacrament, and the liturgy speak for itself, as opposed to me droning on for twenty to thirty minutes. Also, I gave up writing sermons for Lent. That is good news for those of you who decided to give up sleeping during the Sunday morning worship service. It just got a lot easier.
From my point of view, a sermon is usually geared toward providing someone with new information, helping them come to a greater understanding of something, or maybe convincing them to think differently. A sermon will often address particular behaviors, but the focus is usually more cognitive in nature. In the season of Lent, the focus is not so much on what goes on in your mind, but what happens with your body. We know the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection. It’s not more information we need, but a change in our behavior. We want to become the person that Jesus died for us to be. Lent provides an excellent opportunity for us to combine our efforts with God’s grace so that he can more easily move us in that direction.
With that being said, I wanted to use the next few minutes to introduce our theme for the Season of Lent this year, and that is “Rehabilitation”, or “Rehab” for short.
Rehab can mean different things to different people. Sadly, the first thing that comes to my mind is the Grammy-award-winning song by the late singer Amy Winehouse called “Rehab.” “They tried to make me go to rehab and I said, no, no, no.” Some of you are familiar with it. In the song Amy Winehouse describes the attempts of friends and family members to get her to go to rehab to address a problem she had with alcohol. She refused. She died in 2011, at the age of twenty-seven. The official cause of death was alcohol poisoning.
Maybe you associate the word rehab with something like that, programs to help people overcome addictions to things like alcohol or other drugs, or pornography, or gambling. It can also refer to the process of helping former prisoners re-enter society upon their release, or helping former soldiers return to civilian life after difficult tours of duty. For some of you, it might remind you of the countless hours of physical therapy you or a loved on had to go through after a traumatic medical event, like a heart attack, or stroke, or an invasive surgery.
There are many different contexts in which rehabilitation can occur, but the goal is always the same, to introduce an individual to a new normal. New information and new ways of thinking are certainly an important part of this, but this new normal is primarily about a new way of behaving, a new way of living. So it takes time to really take hold in a person’s life. We don’t change our behavior, our habits, our practices, overnight. How much time depends on several factors, but forty-days is a good amount of time to start with. Doing something for forty-days is a long enough time to result in a permanent, lasting change.
Several years ago for Lent I decided to give up sugary drinks. At the time I was highly addicted to coffee, but I was one of those people who had coffee with my cream and sugar, instead of the other way around. Not wanting to deal with the caffeine headaches that would accompany giving up coffee altogether, I was forced to drink my coffee black. It was nasty at first. By the time Lent was over, I had become accustomed to it. Now I can’t stand to drink coffee any other way, which is good, because black is the way men are supposed to drink it.
Of course our ultimate goal when it comes to the Season of Lent is a new normal from a spiritual perspective. Spiritual transformation is what we want to occur. This raises the question, so why do people give up physical things, like certain kinds of food, or physical behaviors, like watching television? Because the spiritual and physical are not as separate and distinct as we would like to believe. As long as we live in these bodies, the two are inseparable. As long as our spirits inhabit these bodies, what we do with these bodies matters greatly. I don’t know exactly what spiritual changes coincided with my change to black coffee, but I believe God did something. Spiritual changes often lead to changes in behavior, and vice versa. Whenever we give something up for Lent we are creating space for God to do his work in our lives, and for me, that makes it worth doing.
Maybe you are still struggling to decide what you want to give up this Lenten season. Maybe you are not sure if you are going to give up anything at all. Keep praying about it. On Sunday when we gather for worship, you are going to have an opportunity to write down whatever you have decided to give up for Lent on a piece of paper. Those pieces of paper are going to be collected in a basket, which is going to be placed on the altar, where it will remain for the entire season of Lent, as a reminder of what we have committed to do in order to become more like Jesus.
The decision to give up something begins with the realization that you are in need of some spiritual rehabilitation. That there are patterns of behavior in your life that are standing in the way of the work that God wants to do. And you need to change your behavior. You need a new normal. To come to this realization, we must have humility. And nothing inspires humility like being reminded of our own mortality. This happens through the imposition of ashes. ... See MoreSee Less
Ash Wednesday Service: Tonight in the old historic church at 7 pm. ... See MoreSee Less
Prep work by some great workers to get ready for Not So Newly Wed Game and dinner. Donna delivered a fun filled night of questions for the guest panel and laughter for the audience. Great time for fellowship, laughter and good food. Looking forward to next year!!! ... See MoreSee Less