From the District Superintendent

The Lenten Journey Has Begun

Posted 15 March, 2017 by Rev. Kathleen Overby Webster

I hurried down the rain slick sidewalk and rushed into the Ash Wednesday service just as it was to begin, slipping into a pew about mid-way down the sanctuary aisle. I entered into that worship time frazzled by a tightly-packed weekly schedule, frustrated by unclear processes and purposes, deeply aware of the weighty work of the appointment season, still confounded by the political situation and the strident polarity in our nation, needing the ancient ritual of ashes and words: Dust you are and to dust you shall return; repent and believe in the gospel. Early in the service we sang Charles Wesley's hymn Depth of Mercy. I cannot remember that the words ever before touched my spirit so deeply.

Depth of mercy! Can there be mercy still reserved for me?

Can my God his wrath forbear, me, the chief of sinners, spare?

I have long withstood his grace, long provoked him to his face,

would not hearken to his calls, grieved him by a thousand falls.

I my Master have denied, I afresh have crucified,

oft profaned his hallowed name, put him to an open shame.

There for me the Savior stands, shows his wounds and spreads his hands,

God is love! I know, I feel; Jesus weeps and loves me still.

Now incline me to repent, let me now my sins lament,

now my foul revolt deplore, weep, believe, and sin no more.

It was my heart's prayer of confession; the words of pardon fell on my ears and entered my spirit. I felt myself moving from depleted to sated; from emptied to filled. I did not expect to be surprised by grace as we sang the opening hymn. The Lenten journey has begun . . .