Dear Church Family,
Origen of Alexandria (c.184- c. 253) was an early Christian theologian and one of the most prolific writers in all human history. In almost 2000 treatises he addressed the Christian faith from nearly every conceivable direction. It is interesting for me to notice that while he had a great capacity for looking at the bible from many directions his primary and most encouraged way of reading the sacred text was through spiritual allegories. In other words, Origen looked at the bible as a personal and individual directive for following the will of God. One example comes from his reading of Revelation 13 which talks of the 7 headed beast. Origen understood that this text could be a word picture offering an end of days prophecy, but he thought it more fruitful and correct to see the seven heads as the seven deadly sins, and that this battle was not limited to a cosmic final battle, but a struggle that every person faces every day. Origen understood that each of us contends regularly with the destructive influence of pride, greed, gluttony, sloth, lust, envy and anger. His encouragement was not simply to look for some conflict outside the realm of our influence, but to practically and regularly address those temptations and choices which can come to dominate our lives.
During this Lenten season you are not only encouraged to participate in our 6-week small group study, but I also invite you to worship and explore with me the choices and challenges surrounding both the seven deadly sins, and their remedies (the seven cardinal virtues). There is a great difference in affirming the value of humility and generosity and practically valuing a life oriented around first principles of Godliness. The notion that Jesus followers are more than those informed with special wisdom about cosmic realities, but are daily capable, through a willing openness to grace, of living lives which are truly a blessing and blessed.
Methodists have been a community of Christians who literally “worked out” our salvation. We have been committed to, not simply contemplating deep thoughts but doing the work of Jesus Christ. Lent is a time of “holy huddling” in which we can prepare for a deeper and fuller response to God’s call. I hope you will participate in a small group, celebrate daily quiet time with God, worship with the community, as you discern God’s call for you “in such a time as this,” and discover the blessing of giving of yourself as God has equipped you.