News and Views

An Ash Wednesday message from Bishop Marcus Matthews

Posted by Bishop Marcus Matthews on

February 10, 2016


Grace and peace to you as we journey together into the season of Lent.

I have to confess, this year I miss the tradition of gathering with the clergy of the Baltimore-Washington Conference on Ash Wednesday. I am in Zimbabwe for an important Board of Directors meeting for Africa University. A severe drought has caused a state of disaster to be declared in Zimbabwe. Official estimates are that 2.4 million people, a quarter of the country’s population, currently need food aid. The people of the Baltimore-Washington Conference have a covenant partnership with the people of the Zimbabwe Episcopal Area. I hope you will join me in praying for our partners and for an alleviation of the suffering brought on by the drought.

Lent is a time that we more intentionally thirst for God and more faithfully pursue our spiritual disciplines as we draw ourselves into the life, suffering, justice and love of Christ. Some people in our conference are giving up plastic bottles this Lent as a way of caring for the earth, others are fasting; some are participating in Lenten studies and spending more time in devotions and prayer. These are wonderful practices.

This Lent, I encourage you to let God empower you to make a difference in the lives of others every day. Cast away the fears that may be keeping you from stepping out into bold ministry and mission. Claim hope. Claim Christ, and then act in a way that serves your loved ones, your community and the world.

Each of you will delve into, reflect upon and live out Scripture in your own way this Lent. I invite you do so with enthusiasm. And, throughout the season, I invite you to claim the spirit of 1 Corinthians 16:14, “Let all that you do be done in love.”

This verse always brings to mind, for me, the lay and clergy members of the Baltimore-Washington Conference. You are an extraordinary group people who are whole-hearted servants of God. I thank you for all you do in Christ’s name for our Church, the conference, and your congregations and communities.

Lent is a season of confession and repentance. It is also a time to claim the power and potential that God grants each of us and put it to work in the church and the world. God is calling out for us to go deeper to use our minds, our imaginations, our passions and our deepest yearnings to make a difference in our ever-changing world. Within the next 40 days, lives could change.

Maybe, even, yours.

Have a blessed Ash Wednesday.

God Bless You,
Bishop Marcus Matthews
Resident Bishop, Baltimore-Washington Conference of The United Methodist Church