Thank you for the opportunity you have given me to serve as your pastor. I feel honored and privileged to be here at the Church of the Transfiguration and to share the journey of discipleship with you. I am grateful to Bishop Arturo Cepeda for installing me today and commissioning me to this service. I pledge to serve you to best of my ability. I am glad that some of you have had the opportunity to meet some members of my family who have traveled to share this day with me.
We begin the season of Lent this week. This year Ash Wednesday falls on Valentine’s Day, often symbolized by hearts. Though we may have to forgo eating chocolate hearts that day, it may be a happy coincidence that we can think about the “heart to heart” covenant relationship we have with our God. It’s better than chocolate!
I invite you to be especially mindful of the readings that we will hear on the Sundays of Lent. They speak about aspects of the covenant relationship with our God that we have been called to. On the first Sunday, we hear about the covenant made with Noah after the flood, the rainbow is the sign of God’s covenant with him and his descendants. On the second Sunday we will hear about the covenant God made with Abraham, our father in faith, when he was willing to sacrifice his son Isaac, the son who was the fruit of an earlier promise of God. God now promises that he would have many more descendants, as numerous as the stars of heaven or the sand on the shore of the sea. On the third Sunday, we hear about the 10 commandments, which were the “requirements” of the covenant that came through Moses, when God promised that he would be our God and we would be His people. On the fourth Sunday we will hear Jesus dialogue with Nicodemus; Jesus explains that he was sent because “God so loved the world,” and promises to be light in his life and invite him to eternal life. The first reading on the fifth Sunday of Lent from Jeremiah perhaps says it most clearly. God promises to make a new covenant with us, and to write it on our hearts. God made and renewed a covenant with his people throughout the ages, and God continues to invite us into that special relationship.
This Lent, look into and listen to your heart. Ponder the covenant God is making with you there. What do you find written on your own heart? Perhaps a divine Valentine message?