In a world that tells me to purchase products to try to avoid the inevitable outcome of death, #AshWednesday is a pause on those voices and gently whispers “You do not need to be afraid of death, dear. We are born of God, we return to God. There is freedom in the dust.” — Rev. Jes Kast 
Our Ash Wednesday Services are today (Wednesday, March 6, 2019) at 12:15 p.m. and 5:45 p.m. “There is freedom in the dust.”
 Jes Kast (@RevJesKast). Twitter post, March 6, 2019, 6:38 a.m., http://bit.ly/2EDfMew.
“The apostles remembered what many modern Christians tend to forget—that what makes the gospel offensive isn’t who it keeps out but who it lets in.” — Rachel Held Evans 
 Rachel Held Evans, Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, 2018), Kindle, 186.
“If you think of this world as a place intended simply for our happiness, you find it quite intolerable: think of it as a place of training and correction and it’s not so bad” — C. S. Lewis 
I would also add that it’s a place of rehabilitation and preparation for the life to come.
 C. S. Lewis, “Answers to Questions on Christianity,” essay, in God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics, ed. Walter Hooper (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1970), 52.
I’d have more respect for fundamentalists if they weren’t so selective in their fundamentalism. I’m yet to meet a fundamentalist who takes the Year of Jubilee (Leviticus 25) or the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) literally.
— Shane Claiborne 
 Shane Claiborne. Twitter post, February 8, 2019, 3:59 p.m., http://bit.ly/2BD11Yt.
Yesterday we sang the version of “Be Thou My Vision.” It put me in mind of the version that Francis Hendricks sang at Gary Coleman’s funeral. Here it is (from Francis’s own notes):
Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart;
naught be all else to me save that thou art.
Thou my best thought, by day or by night,
waking or sleeping, thy presence my light.
Be my compassion, my love of the poor.
Break my distraction, so I can’t ignore.
The least of your children, the ones you adore.
For by them, Jesus, I worship you Lord.
Lord make us healers, of body and mind.
Give us the pow’r to bring sight to the blind,
Love to the loveless, and gladness for pain,
Filling hearts with the joy of your name.
High God of heaven, when vict’ry is won,
May I reach heaven’s joys, O bright heav’ns Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my vision, O Ruler of all.
Still be my vision, O Ruler of all.
At our meeting in Kansas City, I heard one of the best “explanations” yet of the parable of the workers in the vineyard.
“In one of Jesus’s wildest parables, he compares the kingdom to laborers picked up to work at all hours of the day (Matt. 20:1–16). The ones who work an hour are given a day’s wage. The ones who work all day expect ten times as much, but they also get the same amount. The employer is fair to them. He’s just exceedingly generous to the ones who worked less. In other words, God is fair at the end of all things. And God is generous far beyond fairness. When God takes stock of all things, God will be generous far beyond what we were able to muster workwise.”
— Rae Jean Proeschold-Bell and Jason Byassee 
“God is fair at the end of all things. And God is generous far beyond fairness.” That is good news. Let us set fear aside and simply do our best.
 Rae Jean Proeschold-Bell and Jason Byassee, Faithful and Fractured: Responding to the Clergy Health Crisis (Grand Rapids Michigan: Baker Publishing Group, 2018), 133, Kindle.
In light of the grief this church is currently experiencing both individually and collectively, I wanted to share the following quote from C. S. Lewis in a letter he wrote to a woman facing death in 1963.
“There are better things ahead than any we leave behind.” — C. S. Lewis 
One of the great sure and certain hopes of Christianity is that those we have lost to death have gone on to better things.
 C. S. Lewis to Mary. June 17, 1963. In Letters to an American Lady (Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans Pub., 1967) 117.
“If you want to get warm you must stand near the fire: if you want to be wet you must get into the water. If you want joy, power, peace, eternal life, you must get close to, or even into, the thing that has them. They are not a sort of prize which God could, if He chose, just hand out to anyone.” — C. S. Lewis 
 C. S. Lewis, “Good Infection,” in Mere Christianity (1952)
We learn, on the one hand, that we cannot trust ourselves even in our best moments, and, on the other, that we need not despair even in our worst, for our failures are forgiven. The only fatal thing is to sit down content with anything less than perfection. — C. S. Lewis 
 C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, Kindle.
“If you are tired, keep going; if you are scared, keep going; if you are hungry, keep going; if you want to taste freedom, keep going.” — Harriet Tubman 
 Harriet Tubman as quoted in David P. Gushee and Colin Holtz, Moral Leadership for a Divided Age: Fourteen People Who Dared to Change Our World (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Brazos Press, a Division of Baker Publishing Group, 2018), Kindle, 105.
“One of the greatest contributions of the Wesleyan movement is the idea that not everything that happens is what God wants to happen.” — Jeff Gannon 
Everything happens for a reason, but sometimes the reason is that we human beings are sinful, stupid, or both. We must not blame God for our mistakes.
 Rev. Jeff Gannon of Chapel Hill United Methodist Church, Wichita, Kansas at a Salina District Large Church Gathering, October 13, 2018. Meeting Notes.
“If you do one good deed your reward usually is to be set to do another and harder and better one.” — C. S. Lewis 
 C. S. Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia: Horse and His Boy, Kindle.