Bishop Jung’s Lenten Study

Questions for Pastor Jonathan email him at Answers to questions will be posted as a weekly message in our facebook page.

Join us in our reflection of community and living out our faith. Let us ask the difficult questions this Lenten season to find a way we can be the light and salt of this world by loving our neighbor. Keep this page bookmarked for updates! Download the whole study here

At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, 13 and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.

Mark 1:12-13 (NIV)

Each year, we take a journey, from Ash Wednesday through Holy Saturday, called Lent. This is a time of introspection and devotional reflection. Many people make commitments to give up something they enjoy throughout this period, a symbolic gesture of sacrifice and self-denial. But beyond giving up chocolate or coffee or sweets or television, the Lenten period is a time for deep personal evaluation and reassessment. Lent can also be a time to think about what more we can give as well as what we can give up.
This year, I invite us all to give more time and attention to what makes us faithful Christian disciples. Our challenge is to enter into a wilderness time with Jesus, to give Jesus our companionship throughout the weeks leading to Easter. Day-by-day, step-by-step, we journey into wilderness—a place that is unfamiliar, dangerous, challenging, unknown, and filled with temptations. This is an invitation to make a conscious and intentional decision to go places that might be uncomfortable, threatening, frightening, or overwhelming for some; but we all enter knowing that “angels wait on us,” and protect us.
This wilderness region stands between where we are now and truly foundational beloved community, where God is calling us. Our current reality is that we tend to stay where we are most comfortable, where things are familiar, seem safe, secure, and normal. One of the “beasts” we will encounter in our wilderness journey is normativity—the deceptive perspective that, what is normal, comfortable, and beneficial for us is also normal for everyone else. In the glorious and divine creation of God, where the global community is one of widely diverse cultures, rituals, practices, values, moralities, preferences, and tastes, there is simply no one-size-fits-all normal for everyone.
The Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church has committed to a priority of Dismantling Racism. Much more than a theme, Dismantling Racism is a core value and a concrete goal. There are many significant challenges to such an audacious and ambitious goal, and we will encounter many of them in this Lenten Study together. Many of us may feel threatened and discomforted by such phrases and concepts as racism, white privilege, white supremacy, white normativity, colonialism, oppression, and racially based injustice. We may feel our defenses rise; we may even be offended and alarmed. This is what happens in the wilderness. Wilderness is never a safe place, but we must enter and cross the wilderness if we ever want to arrive at the Promised Land of Beloved Community.
Our journey will be uncomfortable, offensive to some, and challenging to all. We openly and honestly admit this up front. But this is an important journey—an essential and inescapable journey—for The United Methodist Church to be faithful to its bedrock commitment to social justice through the unconditional love of God for all God’s people.
Keep in mind that we make this journey with the angels, the emissaries of God who will keep us grounded in God’s Word and Will throughout our days. This will be a prayerful time, a discerning time, a time for individual introspection as well as shared conversation. It is my prayer and desire that, in this journey, we will all feel God’s guiding hand and empowering Spirit, and that we will arrive together at a greater, deeper, and wider understanding of what it means to be a citizen in the Beloved Community of our Lord.

Note on this study: Pastor’s remarks added in italic
Each weekly session of this study offers a Scripture passage, a reflection, a set of questions for group conversation, and suggested assignments for the days in between sessions. There is also a book or film recommendation for individuals or small groups to read or watch and talk about together. I encourage you to look at the resources. On Sundays after service please check this page for the reflection and questions. There will be a time of discussion every Wednesday at 6PM.

Our recommendation is to begin with a special session on Ash Wednesday, then follow with seven weekly sessions through to Easter. There are also specially focused daily reflections for Holy Week that will prepare all participants for the closing Easter session. This study may easily be used by individuals, but it is designed with small groups in mind.