The Lenten Journey
The Lenten journey is a risky trip. Jesus calls us to deny ourselves, to take up the cross and to follow him. And then he leads us to a place outside of the camp, right there where marginalized people are, those who are not accepted; yes, not even seen by the healthy and wealthy people who are in the centers of power.
There at the cross where our dreams of a life without suffering, failures and frustrations are blocked, we experience the holy God. In Jesus, God includes all humankind into one body, the body of Christ, given for the salvation of the world. In Christ, the marginalized become stakeholders for the new community, which is a foretaste of heaven in a broken world.
I am excited that United Methodists take the risk to follow Jesus to places outside their comfort zones. In the sanctuary of the United Methodist church in Bremerhaven, Germany is a "portable" cross. One Sunday every month, the congregation takes the cross to a place somewhere in the city. They worship in a park, at the river bank or in the cemetery. People join them. They listen to the invitation to lay down their burden at the cross. Some take the courage to enter the chapel next Sunday. They become a part of a diverse community of those who need others and who need Christ to find their way to meaningful lives. There is tremendous growth in that congregation.
It would be much more convenient to worship in the chapel every Sunday. But neither the longstanding United Methodists nor the inhabitants of the city of Bremerhaven would experience that Christ is out there in the public arena amongst those who struggle with all kinds of challenges.
Other United Methodist churches in my area are longing to become as vital as the church in Bremerhaven. The pastor of that church tells his people and those who ask him how their church could grow, "You have to give yourself up in order to receive new life in Christ!" This is the Lenten journey. Let us start the trip.