A Lenten Message From The Primate For The Bishops And People Of The Charismatic Episcopal Church Of Asia
Grace and peace in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Many years ago, I went to the house of one of those who shared the Gospel with me. I noticed that he was packed for a trip. So, when I asked whether he was going on a missions trip, or maybe a vacation, he said that he wasn’t doing those. He was heading for the hills to clear his mind.
When I asked why, he simply said that he needs to find his way again. He explained that in the beginning, when he didn’t have much and was living in a small apartment, all he was concerned about was serving the Lord and bringing as many as he could to His Kingdom.
But as His blessings came, he soon was able to move out of his apartment into a spacious 2-story house and was able to acquire a lot of possessions. With his newfound financial freedom, he was able to go where he couldn’t before, and did what he could only dream of in the past. So naturally, with all the open doors, he explored as much as he could.
But as time went on, he noticed that he was growing cold with his relationship with the Lord. He said that his mind was being consumed by stuff and things that had nothing to do with God. He said that sharing the Gospel, going to church, reading the Holy Scriptures, and relating to God just wasn’t as appealing anymore.
Oh, he did feel bad about it and acknowledged the feelings of guilt; maybe cried a little. But he never really did anything about it. But after some sleepless nights, he said that he was finally going to get alone with God again and repair their relationship. He was going on a personal retreat.
As we enter into the season of Lent, let us take this opportunity to spend some quality time with the One Who didn’t just say He loved us, but demonstrated that by sending His Beloved Son to pay the price for our redemption. According to the Book of Common Prayer, the first Christians approached these days with a deep sense of dedication. For them, it wasn’t a burden, but a merciful gift.
We’re in a time of technological discoveries where information and resources are easily made available and accessible. But in return, we also become available and accessible to them. Why bother making an appointment with us when they can just call, text, chat, Skype, or PM us – at any time, right?
So many vying for our time and competing for our attention. And of course, we try to accommodate them all, to the point that we oftentimes feel pulled in many directions, fragmented, and out of kilter.
When we hear the Summary of the Law, do we feel grateful for being reminded, guilty because it hit home, or nothing because we don’t care? When we hear God-talk – like commitment, serving the Lord, honoring our oaths and pledges, tithing and giving, holy living, going to the Eucharist, or studying the Bible – is it a turn on, or a turn off? When we remember how we were with the Lord then, compared to how we are with the Lord now, do we like what we see?
Aren’t we glad that God is patient with us? He still loves us, and in His mercy, has left a door open for us so we can go back to Him. Listen to His invitation, “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” (James 4:7-9, NKJV)
This Lent, why don’t we take time to draw near Him? Get to know him more and allow the Holy Spirit to teach us how to hear Him a bit more clearly. And no, we’re not an annoyance, an interruption, nor an irritation with Him. He enjoys our company more than we enjoy His. Why not really enter into the spirit of the Lenten season in seeking Him? Really give praying, fasting, and doing good a go and allow the Holy Spirit leeway in our lives? God is really interested that we become everything He desired, dreamt, and designed us to be, for now until eternity!
Have a holy, fulfilling, and meaningful Lent!
In His Grip,
The Most Reverend Ricardo M. Alcaraz
Office of the Primate