A Holy Lent is a season intended for giving, praying, and fasting. Giving, praying, and fasting are for us to reawaken to the love of God and a time of transformation to better love our neighbors. The practices of Lent are for the whole community to be restored and reconciled in penitence and forgiveness so that we are inspired to love our neighbors.
"God's mercy transforms human hearts; it enables us, through the experience of a faithful love...inspiring each of us to love our neighbors and to devote ourselves...to works of mercy...This can be a way to reawaken our conscience, too often grown dull in the face of poverty, and to enter more deeply into the heart of the Gospel where the poor have a special experience of God's mercy" -Pope Francis
This Lent we are challenged to reach out to our neighbors who come from lands and places where poverty, persecution, and violence make life impossible.
Since January 1, 2016 raid on immigration in the U.S. have increased. In Georgia, New Jersey, Texas, North Carolina, California, Ohio and other state families, young people and children are being threatened.
January 8, 2016 the Washington Post wrote of the situation in Atlanta:
Everyone seems to know about last weekend's raids, when immigration agents pounded on doors before dawn and took mothers and children away. The deportations have brought the divisive issue of illegal immigration once again to the political forefront. The raids were the first large-scale effort to deport families who have fled violence and poverty in Central America in 2014 and 2015.
Aggression against the most vulnerable in society is not what Christians nor Americans support. Negligence in addressing the root causes of poverty, violence and persecution is the failure.
Many United Methodist churches and faith coalitions are resisting the inhumane, illegal treatment and flawed approaches of law enforcement. Groups such as the United Methodist Inter-agency on Immigration, The Sanctuary Movement, Church World Service, and Justice for Our Neighbors are all actively engaged in caring for and aiding our neighbors.
The prayer of penitence for Ash Wednesday says:
Most holy and merciful God,
we confess to you and to one another,
and to the whole communion of saints in heaven and on earth,
that we have sinned by our own fault in thought, word and deed:
by what we have done, and by what we have left undone.
We have not loved you with our whole heart, and mind, and strength.We have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We have not forgiven others, as we have been forgiven.
Have mercy on us Lord.
(Adapted from the Book of Common Prayer)
Blessings for this Ash Wednesday and Lenten season,