Rev. Steven E. Thomas, Pastor
Pastor Steven Thomas was born in Houston, Texas. He graduated from New Mexico Tech with a BS in Chemistry. He was working as a chemist in Baltimore for a few years, and then decided to pursue the dream of being a pastor. In 1993, Pastor Steve graduated from the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Gettysburg. He is married to Pastor LaDonna Thomas who serves at St. David Lutheran Church in Hanover, PA. They have one daughter, Rebekah.
Pastor Steve enjoys kayaking, reading, and motorcycling. Pastor Steve’s passion is always looking for greater understanding - especially in how our expanding scientific knowledge reveals additional wonders of God.
Some of his favorite books are The Bible (of course), Awareness by Anthony DeMello, The Shack by William P. Young, The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, E=mc2 by David Bodanis, and the Tolkein trilogy.
In the midst of winter cold, I am happy to note Easter is coming- the countdown is on! This year, Lent begins in February with Ash Wednesday. Neither Ash Wednesday, nor Lent are in the Bible, of course! Ashes as a symbol of penitence or mourning, however, does have ancient roots. The 40 days of Lent is considered to reflect the 40 days Jesus spent in the wilderness. It is a practice in the Christian church since the 4th century to set aside 40 days to prepare for Easter.
“Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return” are the words spoken as we are marked in black ash. Reminiscent of the “dust to dust, ashes to ashes” heard at gravesites, it is a reminder of our human fallibility and weakness. For those of us who cling to the gift of God’s grace, this need not bring on crippling guilt, but rather the comfort of knowing God knows already we will fail, and grace is indeed sufficient. The ash is placed on our foreheads in the sign of the cross. This mark, first placed on our foreheads in baptism, reminds us visibly that God chose to come to us in our fragile humanity and to make us God’s very own, forever part of the family of God. It becomes an identity marker, like blue eyes or curly hair are family traits. “This one is a Christian- a follower of Christ!”, our ash cross shouts!
And where did Christ go after his own baptism? Into the wild. Alone. Similarly, these 40 days are a period of self-examination, reflection, and repentance, or turning from sin. Jesus fasted in the wilderness, and so traditionally some sort of fasting- going without, or giving up of pleasure, indulgence or excess- is part of Lent. Some give up sweets, or another “extra”, denying themselves that indulgence as a reminder that “man does not live by bread alone”. Others skip a meal to devote time to prayer, feeding their spirit and faith, not just their body. Some get creative and “give up” a bad habit, focusing on the turning from sin to live in new ways to let their life better reflect Christ. One of my favorites is ‘40 bags in 40 days’ You get rid of a bag of excess stuff from your home and life each day in an effort to live more fully into being who God calls you to be. This year, St. B’s will be collecting some of the items often given up for Lent to donate to the Changing Lives Shelter. I think this is a great way to live into the kingdom calling we have to love our neighbor.
As we move toward this stark black ash reminder of our own humanity as well as our baptism into Christ, what does this time of intentional self-reflection reveal about your true identity as God’s? What fast is God calling you to in this season of your life? May the road to Easter give you eyes to see and ears to hear!
- Vicar DeAnn
Pastor Messages of Special Interest
Suicide - Surviving Life’s Darkest Moments
Video of Archived Sermons
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