Ash Wednesday seems like such a strange day in the Church for modern people. Why do we rub ashes on our foreheads? Where do these ashes come from? Why do we give something up for Lent? Is this holiday ever mentioned in the Bible? These are all valid questions that we ask every year as we approach the start of the season of Lent.
I have been re-reading a book this week called The New Gold Standard. It’s all about the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company and how they have created their legendary culture of hospitality and customer service. As they talked about how they create and maintain that culture it seems that everyone within the company points to one main concept as the primary factor – their “Credo”.
This morning I met with our “Under Construction: Building Better Dads and Husbands” Community Group. We started a new study today on the five major world religions. One of the members of our group kicked this series off and led us in a discussion about Hinduism. I found it fascinating to see the parallels that could be drawn between Hinduism and Christianity. The commitments that we both have to peace, wisdom, unity, and blessing life was striking. It’s not that I thought Hinduism promoted violence or ignorance, but it was interesting to see just how much we really have in common. I think that’s probably true about many other religions or groups of people if we choose to look at what we have in common rather than what makes us different.
Earlier this week I was preparing for my Wednesday Night Alive class on the Ten Commandments. Each week we are looking at a different commandment and what it means for our lives today as Christians. This week we were looking at the commandment, “Thou shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord.”
On Tuesday I got to celebrate my 27th birthday. Are you someone who likes to celebrate your birthday in big fashion or would you prefer if nobody even knew it was your birthday and you could avoid the birthday song being sung to you while everyone stares at you awkwardly? I probably fall somewhere in the middle. On the one hand, I’m not sure there is anything worse than having a room full of people look at you while they sing “Happy Birthday” to you off key. Fortunately, that didn’t happen to me this year! On the other hand, I also think it’s important to take every opportunity we get in life to celebrate the gift of living another day or another year.
Today is an historic day in our nation as we inaugurate our 45th President of the United States of America, Donald Trump. I know for some who are reading this, that is cause for celebration and hope. I know for others who are reading this, that is cause for concern and questions. There may even be some households where all of these feelings are represented under one roof.
Every year at St. Luke’s we celebrate a theme for the year. It gives us something to focus on and something to be intentional about. Last year, our theme was “The Kindness Project”. It’s not that I don’t try to be kind in other years, but having that as our theme just helped me stay accountable to performing acts of kindness every day. This year our theme is “Year of Gratitude”. I’m very excited about this year for a couple reasons.
Merry Christmas! Or better yet, Happy Epiphany! Did you know there are millions of people all over the world celebrating the birth of Jesus today? Epiphany is a special feast day in the Christian Church that takes place every year on January 6th. It’s always twelve days after Christmas (hence the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas”). Epiphany officially ends the Christmas Season in the Church.
A new year is an exciting time. It brings with it a sense of hope and anticipation for all that lies ahead. We know that God offers us new beginnings each and every day, yet there is something special about turning the calendar over to a new year that reminds us of a new beginning that we all need from time to time.
Christmas Eve has always been one of my favorite days of the year. As a child, we had a tradition in our family that we got to open Christmas presents on Christmas Eve after we got home from church. As you can imagine, the fact that I got to open presents the day before all my friends was certainly a highlight. But, as I grew older I began to appreciate Christmas Eve for a very different reason.