Beginning the Lenten Journey

Okay, so I was wrong. I boldly predicted last week that the Panthers would defeat Denver in the Super Bowl. Bottom line, I did not realize just how good the Denver defense would be. I will point out that two questionable calls by the officials went against the Panthers, both of which would possibly have made a difference in the score. (For those who care: 1. The review of the pass by the Panthers in the first half, ruled incomplete on the field, and upheld by the review, with a touchdown scored by Denver after a fumble, I believe on the next play. 2.  Replays clearly showed that Denver was offside on the second half missed field goal by the Panthers. If the penalty had been called, Carolina would have had the ball and a first down.)

Now, I was not wrong about another call I made—the Panthers fans crushed the Denver fans in the Super Bowl food challenge! Final score: Carolina: 354 churches collected 636,891 items and 177,000 pounds of potatoes; Denver: 140 churches in Denver and several western states—including some Presbyterians!—collected 360,000 items, 60,040 pounds of potatoes, 21,000 pounds of wheat, 6,000 pounds of beef. (Here’s a breakdown of the Carolina side: our Western NC Conference had 279 churches that collected 584,410 items and 45,000 pounds of potatoes; the NC Conference had 75 churches that collected 52,481 items and 132,000 pounds of potatoes.) Read the story here

As for our church, we collected 1,059 items, which I am told helped fill empty spaces on the shelves at Haywood Christian Ministry. Thanks to all who donated items and to those who counted, reported, and delivered them to HCM. Let’s hope the Panthers are in the Super Bowl again next year, and, whether they are or not, perhaps we will celebrate the Super/Souper Bowl with a food drive! The real winners of this contest were hungry people!

On Wednesday evening we gathered for an Ash Wednesday service. Over the years, this had become a very meaningful service to me. We received the imposition of ashes on our foreheads, with the reminder, “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.” As we acknowledged our mortality and our sin, we acknowledged our need for Christ. We cannot save ourselves!

And so we began the Lenten journey, or pilgrimage. And I hope you’ve been reading the devotions each day written by our church members. We will be on pilgrimage with the Apostle Paul through Lent, following his life and ministry and reading from his letters. “Pilgrimage with Paul” devotional booklets are available at the church, or, to receive it online, click here

This Sunday we will read the story of Paul’s conversion (Acts 9:1-22) and also the traditional scripture for the First Sunday in Lent, the temptations of Jesus (Luke 4:1-13). We’ll also note that Paul had his own temptations with which he struggled, and sometimes lost. (Romans 7:14-25). One suggestion: if you have difficulty reading and understanding Paul’s letters, try The Message translation/paraphrase. You can get that on

So, come Sunday with an open heart and mind. Let’s dig deep during Lent, deep into scripture, deep into prayer, deep into relationships, deep into faith things that matter. And bring a friend who would otherwise not be in church!


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