March 8, 2018

Dear Hyde Park Family,

We are now past the midpoint of our Lenten journey, and our series this Sunday explores what is perhaps the most profound and most difficult uncertainty for us to embrace: the uncertainty of our own mortality. It is a theme that captures the essence of this season of introspection.

I name it in the introduction of my book Embracing the Uncertain, as I contrast the consistency of Advent with the elusiveness of Lent:

Christmas Day is predictable. It is always on December 25. It is easy to order our lives and activities around it. It’s never in November, never creeps into January. School semesters can schedule a break around it, retail establishments base their revenue projections on it. There is something constant, and comforting, about this fixed holiday.

But Lent and Ash Wednesday move around. Ash Wednesday occurs 46 days before Easter Sunday, which is celebrated – are you ready for this – on the first Sunday after the first full moon that occurs on or following the spring equinox on March 21. This means that Ash Wednesday can occur as early as the first week in February or as late as the second week in March. That’s a variation of nearly 35 days!

What that means is that Lent often sneaks up on us. It catches us off guard. It can disrupt our planning. Sometimes the school spring breaks are during Holy Week, and sometimes they’re not. Sometimes the stores have time between their Valentine’s Day hearts and their Cadbury Easter eggs, and sometimes they don’t.

It’s a lot like life, when you think about it. We can know with certainty when we were born; we cannot say the same for when we will die. Likewise, Christmas is comforting in its constancy; but Lent is elusive and unpredictable.

I think it is fair to say that many of us in the congregation have been confronting that kind of unpredictability in our own personal lives over the past days and weeks. Loved ones have died, some of them suddenly and tragically. Diagnoses have not gone the way we had hoped. Aches, pains, and illnesses have piled up in ruthless fashion.

We are regularly reminded of how hard it is to be mortal.

It’s in times like these that I remember several passages of Scripture, which may speak to you right now:

  • Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. (1 John 3:2)
  • If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. (Romans 14:8)
  • For this God is our God forever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end. (Psalm 48:14)
  • I have no one else like him, who will show genuine concern for your welfare. (Philippians 2:20)
  • He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. (Revelation 21:4)

If you or a loved one are struggling with the realities of your own mortality, I invite you to read and re-read these passages in preparation for this Sunday’s services. We will be exploring the story of Mary, Martha, and the raising of Lazarus. Both women give deeply emotional and utterly natural responses to the death of their brother, ranging from grief to disappointment to profound questions about Jesus’ timing and absence. Yet, through it all, they maintained their conviction that in Jesus, there was always the possibility of something beyond death.

It is that promise that continues to point us toward the Resurrection, amid all the fears we face.

Join us Sunday, as we embrace what is perhaps the greatest uncertainty of all.

Grace and peace,


The Rev. Magrey deVega
Senior Pastor, Hyde Park United Methodist


The Vision Team continues its visioning chats this Sunday, at 9:45 a.m. in the Chapel of the Hyde Park campus. This one-hour session gives you the opportunity to provide direct feedback that will help us clarify and claim God’s exciting future for this church. To reserve a spot at one of these sessions, register here.

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