Lent, National Gathering, and More

Lent, National Gathering, and More

It was nearly a year ago, when I found myself immersed in the conversations of how and what’s next for TFC. At the time, serving as a Board member, many were talking about how to diversify, how to grow younger, and how to become increasingly better neighbors. Those conversations eventually gave way to the opportunity that I have embraced for the last 5 months, to serve as a recruiter, a field worker, and a community thought partner for The Fellowship Community as we continue to walk in this divine calling of remaining connected within in this larger connectional body.

As we entered into Lent this week, I am reminded of that connectional body. While poolside with the family for our quick winter escape, I saw people with smudges on their foreheads. An outward acknowledgement of their own depravity. These smudges were formed in the pattern of a cross, which served as both a personal and public indicator that their Savior has done a redemptive work over their life. What a great reminder for each of us.

This “ash cross” is the reason why we gather together. There is beauty in the confession that our sin, while deeply rooted in us, has and is continually being eradicated by our Savior. We gather annually with one another to be reminded of this. We gather to be encouragers to one another. We gather to be equipped to go back and lead our people into this very same revelation. We gather because Christ calls us to neighbor well.

Will you join with us as we gather? Will you invite a colleague, an elder, an aspiring church leader, your spouse, heck…bring your neighbor, to come and gather with us? Our purpose is so much more than gathering. It is fundamentally important for who we are as Presbyterian pastors and leaders. It is essential to remain connected in a time and era when connection is being replaced with algorithms. It is a primary motivator and encourager to those who are experiencing the “dark night” of their own soul (or leadership cycle).

There are two pictures that come to mind for me when I think about deepening our connection together…one is illustrated at the fence in Home Improvement. When we gather, we get to peek over the fence into one another’s lives. We find the joy of meeting at this common place with neighbors who may feel more like strangers, but eventually we each may find common grace at the fence.

The other picture is depicted amongst the chaos of the fast pace of NYC, still slowing down and gathering at the table. The opportunity is not to evade the chaos of your call, rather to be encouraged and equipped to stand in it.

(Photo by John Paul Filo/CBS via Getty Images)

So, with ashes on our heads and a cross as a reminder, let’s journey together. I hope to see you in Nashville.

Ray Garcia is pastor of Roxborough Church in Philadelphia, PA and serves as The Fellowship Community’s Coordinator for Connections and Recruitment.