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Learning from the Ashes

Dear Church family,

     Some of you may remember the summer of 1998 when wildfires were raging across numerous counties on the East coast of Florida.  Remember not being able to walk outside for several weeks without the acrid smell of smoke?

It came to be known as the Florida Firestorm and around 500,000 acres were burned. Or course, we have seen too many more recent examples of dangerous and devastating fires out West over the last couple of years. The loss of life and property in these fires can be immense.

But one of the marvels of nature is the ability of forests and shrub lands to renew themselves in the wake of such fires. Just a year or two after our Florida fires, you could glance along I-95 and see new growth taking over. New life began to emerge from the ashes. Some ecologists have noted that this regrowth is complicated by climate changes, but yet even amidst those complications, plant life seems to adapt. Our three year old Grandson Vern is into all things Dinosaur. At the moment he’s especially fond of watching the LEGO cartoon version episodes of Jurassic World. There is a classic line from the original Jurassic Park movie that goes: “Life finds a way.”

   That image of life emerging from ashes is captured in this pre-Easter season of Lent.  It may seem like the last thing we need to do is face our mortality or think about sacrificing anything after the year we have all experienced. But the invitation to Lenten reflection, with its emphasis on self-examination and sacrifice, is never intended to be an invitation to self-loathing or despair over the state of our lives. Rather it is an invitation to simply be honest with ourselves about the things that keep us from the fullness of life that Christ came that we might experience. It is an invitation to be real about our dust, our pain, our brokenness, and the ways we sometimes break ourselves or others. That’s what the emphasis on prayer and fasting is about. We seek to remove some of the things that distract us from honesty, from looking and listening to the whispers of the Spirit. As we listen, we can trust that the Spirit will reveal to us not only our frailty and our failings, but also our belovedness. And with that the beauty and goodness that lies within us through the presence of Christ.

The truth is that we could not make this journey if it were not for the fact that we make it knowing that we are loved by God. We are cherished beyond measure and God wants us to know the fullness of that love and grace and to remove any barriers in our lives to that grace.  We enter this season knowing that facing our dust is not easy. We enter this season knowing that though we to must die to self to live for Christ, (bear our own cross), there is resurrection life on the other side. We make the journey in hope and with hope, trusting in the power of God to accompany us, transforming our dust and ashes into something new, something good, something beautiful.

Have a great weekend and may God bless you this season as you make the journey of hope, from ashes to life.

 Your pastor and brother,

Steve Schantz

Grace Communion Melbourne

Grace Communion Orlando

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