Ash Wednesday February 17, 2021

Prayer Pointers:

To be ready for the desert

To be clear about where evil is and what it is

To cultivate the humble and grateful heart

Today’s text: Luke 18:9-14

IN ONE OF HIS MOST famous observations, the Catholic monk Thomas Merton remarked that “the desert” was the place preferred by God and his prophets, because it held nothing of value to human beings, and therefore was the place where a person could learn his or her dependence on God—a most salutary situation.

As we begin our forty days of pilgrimage through the Lenten desert, let us not be dismayed at our dependence. We are in need of mercy, we are in need of forgiveness, we are in need of love; and not just us, but all whom we will meet along the way. Let us not be dismayed at our need of what the author of Hebrews calls “discipline” (Heb 12:4-7); discipline to say “no,” discipline to resist, discipline to keep going in spite of ourselves or the world.

Why do this? Merton gives a hint in another essay, also on the Desert Fathers. As he writes, he agrees that the Desert Hermits seem to us to be fanatics, impossible in their asceticism. But when you read their sparse words, they are

humble, quiet, sensible folk with a clear sense of human nature…amid the controversies of their day that seethed and raged, they kept their mouths shut, choosing to offer nothing that the world would find ‘useful’…they labored at [loving others], knowing that isolation in the self, inability to go out of oneself to others, would mean incapacity for any form of self-transcendence. To be thus the prisoner of one's own selfhood is, in fact, to be in hell…

Test your pack and retie your shoes—the desert awaits.

May your day be grace-filled ~ Pr. Dave Brooks


Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church

824 N. Buchanan Blvd. 

Durham, NC 27701

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824 North Buchanan Blvd, Durham, NC 27701 | 919-682-6030  |

Mission Statement: We are called to Welcome Everyone to Walk the Way of GRACE, and walk in that way in our individual lives, in our shared life in our various communities, in our common life with our neighbors, and even to the world at large as God sends us. The Way of Grace is to: GROW with Jesus, REJOICE in God, ANSWER with hope, CARE for the neighbor, and EMBRACE community.

Vision Statement: God has a plan FOR OUR LIVES, and so we teach how to walk in the path of Jesus Christ; FOR OUR NEIGHBORHOODS, and so we work to build healthy and strong communities; FOR OUR CITY, and so we share life with our neighbors in Walltown, Trinity Park, Duke, and the Triangle; and FOR OUR WORLD, and so we go with Good News.

Core Values: Because God loves us first, we value worship rooted in Scripture and Sacraments, service to all people, and being a welcoming community that loves and forgives one another.