R.G. Lyons is leading some amazing work at our “Church Without Walls.” R.G. is one of the bright new leaders in our mission. In this message R.G. describes an initiative for Lent. – Will Willimon
In a few weeks, many churches across our conference will be observing Ash Wednesday as we come together in sorrow for our sins, our need to repent, and our complete dependence on God’s grace. The prophet Isaiah reminds us that our acts of repentance, sacrifice, and fasting are most authentic when we make common cause with the poor and outcast, when we use our acts of sacrifice to uplift those most in need.
“Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?” – Isaiah 58: 6-7
This year, Mission 2 Gather is offering churches the opportunity to live out Isaiah’s admonition with our Ashes to Action campaign. For two weeks leading up to Ash Wednesday, we share the stories of people whose lives have been changed through our mission congregations and advanced specials: Kids who have been neglected and abused but have found a place of safety and support, stories of lonely shut-ins who now have a community, and family members of prisoners who have a caring and loving support group. We are inviting our churches to become a part of their lives (and the lives of people like them) by giving, praying, and doing. Every day leading up to Ash Wednesday, participants in Ashes to Action will have opportunities to give to organizations in their own communities and throughout the conference that are ministering to the most needy of our society, to pray for a specific ministry, and to volunteer with our mission agencies to enter into relationship with people who are hurting. Then on Ash Wednesday, we are asking all churches to take up an offering to support the work of the eight Mission 2 Gather organizations.
This offering is very important because giving to Mission 2 Gather organization is essential to serving the people we see on a daily basis. But Ashes to Action is about more. It is about inviting the people in our churches to remember that repentance is not just between them and God; repentance is about entering into the lives of those who have been most sinned against – the poor, the outcast, the unclean.
To join the Ashes to Action campaign, sign up at www.mission2gather.com. The calendar and devotional booklet can be downloaded from this website. Also, an informational video that can be used during announcements is available on the website and all churches are invited to use it in any way they think appropriate. For more information or questions, contact Deb Welsh at firstname.lastname@example.org or R.G. Lyons at email@example.com.