March 2015:

Lent is a time for prayer, reflection

May the grace and peace of our risen Lord be with you.

March is the month in which we begin hearing the sounds of spring. Soon we will see new signs of life and the beauty of nature around us. God’s clock is always right.

March is also the season of Lent. We remember Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross and look forward to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. For the 40 days of Lent, we spend more time in prayer, reading, reflection and the renewal of our faith. Churches provide special programs encouraging prayer, fasting and reflection.

The key question we wrestle with during the Lenten season is “who is Jesus Christ and what is my relationship with Him?” On the way to Jerusalem, Jesus asked his disciplesthe question, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” Hearing their answers, he went on to ask them a second question: “Who do you say that I am?” This is an important question.

We can answer the question, “Who is Jesus?” by quoting other people’s answers. We can quote a well-known theologian’s answer or the answer that our pastors havetaught us. But what Jesus wants is my answer. This is the reason he asked his disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” I think we need to think about and wrestle with this questionvery seriously.

John Wesley faced a similar situation while he was in Georgia. When Wesley met Rev. August Spangenberg, one of the pastors of the Germans, Spangenberg asked him these questions: “… Have you the witness within yourself? Does the Spirit of God bear witness with your spirit, that you are a child of God?” Wesley was surprised by these questions and did not know how to answer. Observing this, Spangenberg asked, “Do you know Jesus Christ?” Wesley paused and said, “I know he is the Savior of the world.” “True,” Spangenberg replied; “but do you know that he has saved you?” Wesley answered, “I hope he has died to save me.” (From John Wesley’s Journal February 1736)

Many people say that Jesus died for us. This is an important confession. But we need to go one step further. Can we also say Jesus died for me? Without truly experiencing God’sgrace revealed on the cross, we cannot say Jesus died for me. Lent is the season to think about this question seriously and to open ourselves again to the Holy Spirit for a renewal of our faith and a deeper commitment to our Lord.

In this season of Lent, we are going to have the 2015 Bishop’s Convocation on Prayer on March 21. This will be our third gathering to learn more about prayer and also to praytogether. Through this convocation, we want to spread the culture of prayer to the churches in the Virginia Conference.

This year we invited the Rev. Sue Nilson Kibbey to be our plenary speaker. She is an ordained elder in The United Methodist Church and currently serves on the West OhioConference’s executive staff as director of Missional Church Initiatives. She is fully aware of the need for and the importance of prayer for a renewal of our faith and the renewalof our churches. She has many stories to share on how great the power of prayer is and how God changes churches when God’s people pray together.

This will be a great time for us to gather together and pray together. We will also learn more about prayer. There will be many workshops to help and to strengthen our prayer life. This will also be a great time for our Prayer Covenant Congregations to get together for sharing what our God has been doing among us.

We, The United Methodist Church, have a proud tradition of strong prayer. John Wesley was a man of prayer. Someone once said of Wesley that he “thought prayer to be morehis business than anything else, and I have seen him come out of his closet with a serenity of face next to shining.” (From How to Pray: The Best of John Wesley on Prayer)

The time has come for us to rediscover our proud tradition of prayer. The time has come for us to kneel down before our Lord. It is the season of Lent. Lord, have mercy on us.

In our Lord,
Young Jin Cho

 

 

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