Ashes: A Lenten Invitation to Each of You

2/7/2007

“You desire truth in the inward being;

“Therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.” — Psalm 51:6

 

She got on, the first African-American to ride the school bus and go courageously to the all-white school public school I attended. She walked to a vacant row and took a seat. The silence was deafening.

 

I might have broken that silence with welcome or moved to sit with her.

 

I failed in the first prophetic challenge I remember. In spiritual ashes, I mourn that moment still. I would like to hit “re-wind,” re-do it. I stand in awe of those who lived non-violence in the face of oppression and injustice. I honor those prophetic leaders who were ahead of me and who teach me now.

 

During Lent, we will gather in communities across Mississippi, in creative and unique ways witnessing to the God of truth, forgiveness and never-ending love. We will consider in these 40 days of Lent the distance we have come in the 40 years since the most violent time of the Civil Rights Movement. We will name the distance we have yet to go to reach the Promised Land. We will celebrate the faithfulness of courageous witnesses. We will hear the confession of heavy hearts. It will be a rich, deep, hopeful time for us.

 

In recent days, Thomas Moore was interviewed on Mississippi Public Radio as our state reflected on the indictment of James Seale for the May 2, 1964, kidnapping of Charles Moore and Henry Dee near Meadville. Thomas Moore remembered the journey of his family poignantly, “There was no way we could forget but we did not want to remember.” 

 

Lent is a time for courage, a time to extend ourselves in new and challenging ways that we might grow nearer to Christ who suffered and died for us. We will find Christ alive and with us as we gather to welcome, hear and forgive one another.

 

These Lenten days bear God’s gracious invitation: Be created anew in the clean, fresh waters of God’s grace for holy courage and faithfulness in these days – our new opportunity to do what needs to be done.

 

Have mercy on me, O God,

According to you steadfast love. . .

Create in me a clean heart, O God,

And put a new and right spirit within me.