The Winter Olympics, Cross-country Skiing and the Lenten Season
This past week, I listened to an announcer of the Winter Olympics describe the rigors of cross-country skiing,

“It works nearly every muscle of your body – the abdominal muscles, the oblique muscles, the hamstrings,” he said. “It requires tremendous discipline and a very strong heart and lungs.”

And finally, he said, “I’m in awe of these athletes.”

My one-time effort at cross-country skiing left me breathless, but as I heard the description of the sport, I suddenly felt inspired to give it another go. I also found myself reflecting on the unexpected parallels between cross-country skiing and the Lenten season. Both require dedication. Both yield great rewards.

I often have looked upon Lent as a time to strengthen those muscles that have weakened over time. Christians around the world pledge to make positive change in reverent remembrance of how Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice by giving up his life for us. During this time of atonement and self-reflection, many of us commit to pray more, do more good deeds and abstain from foods or activities we enjoy.

In doing so, we not only build our resolve, but build a deeper and more meaningful relationship with Jesus.

I am often in awe of you – our UMA members – who already demonstrate tremendous commitment by daily dedicating your hearts and work to better people’s lives.

I aspire to be more like you and also know that each of us has areas of our lives that keep us from a closer relationship with God.

My wish for you this Lenten season is that you are able to strengthen your muscles and your heart to grow closer to Jesus.

As Lent is also a time of joyful anticipation, I look forward to celebrating our efforts this spring.

We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.” ROMANS 5:3-4