Week 4 Lenten Devotion
by Pat Stewart


The focus for the Lenten season at my church is Into the Wilderness. This is very appropriate since the special General Conference session has just ended with many people feeling lost and disenfranchised in the church. We don't know what the future holds for the church. The one thing I am sure of is that the decision that came out of the session calls us to walk into a wilderness.

I admit I have struggled with a way to move forward without feeling hurt and discouraged. Yet each step I take during Lent opens my eyes to the reality of a world in which internal healing by the church is going to take time. I know where I stand with my LGBTQIA sisters and brothers. Some are in the church and some are behind a wall built of prejudice and fear. Although I feel compelled to want to take their pain away, I can't.

However, I seek to understand the other side of the issue. I chose to go to a church this morning that is aligned with the Wesleyan Covenant Association. What I observed while in the service was not triumph and victory as I expected but resignation. Having taken a stand that codifies difference and defines second class citizenship in the church has not emboldened or empowered this church. Although it is a large church, it lacked life.

The sermon, which included the reading of the discipline, focused on the division of the church caused by people who attacked the basic morals of God. The emphasis on God as the only one who can fix the situation seemed cowardly to me. We are each people who have the power to act accordingly. I pray for all churches who feel they have no responsibility to heal the division.

The song that ended the service was "It Is Well With My Soul". This song almost felt out of place and a little self-serving. On the positive side, I am encouraged by this because this is the way I feel as I start a long walk into the wilderness. It is well with my soul. I know what I believe in and who I believe in.

Closing Prayer

Holy One, we recognize these lives of ours are so vulnerable, so precious, so deeply entangled with one another. Do not let us be so consumed by fear that we turn to destruction or hardheartedness for security. Keep our hearts tender to one another and lead us onto paths of peace and justice.

Pat Stewart is a lay member of St. John's UMC in Austin TX which is part of the Rio Texas Conference.  She currently serves on the MFSA board of directors, the co-chair of the Rio Texas Regional Chapter of MFSA, and an active member of United Methodist Women. 

Please consider making a gift to MFSA this season of Lent.