Prayers4Peace: Ash Wednesday of Lent 2024

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12: 1-2 (ESV)

“…let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us…”, Ash Wednesday of Lent 2024
Written by Rev. Pat Swanson

Reading: Hebrews 12: 1-2

One of my professors in seminary taught us to read Scripture closely and ask good questions. In reading this passage from Hebrews, this question continued to surface for me:

What’s the point of a race anyway? 

It’s to successfully traverse the distance between two places. The goal is to close the distance. 

What a perfect metaphor! Is that not what God has done for us in becoming human? Choosing to share in our life, suffering, and even death? God closed the ultimate distance. Jesus is proof. Jesus becomes our example to run with the same love and with the same perseverance. 

There are two specific ways I feel there is a distance I need to close from my life in Seattle to those of my brothers and sisters 6,700 miles away in Israel and Palestine.  

  1. The distance of relationship. I don’t personally have friends who live there, though someday I hope to go on a CMEP trip to the region. 
  2. The distance of time. The further in the past the 7th of October becomes, the more other distractions vie for my attention. 

What distances do you need to traverse? 

Closing the distance for me looked like reading Munther Isaac’s The Other Side of the Wall (I have a new friend!). Hearing his story helped in closing the distance. Second, participating in CMEP’s weekly Wednesday prayer time with others from around the world helps me to fix my eyes on the race ahead, closing the distance of time.  

What might it look like for you to “close the distance” this Lenten season? 

May we run like Jesus, my friend. 

About the author: Rev. Pat Swanson is the Co-Lead Pastor at Overlake Christian Church in Redmond, Washington. Swanson holds a Bachelor of Arts (BA) focused in Business Administration from Northwest University and a Master of Arts in Theology (MAT) from Fuller Theological Seminary. Overlake Christian Church is a CMEP Church Partner and has engaged in active ministry in the Middle East for several decades. 


Please note any views or opinions contained in this devotional series are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP).

2 Comments On “Prayers4Peace: Ash Wednesday of Lent 2024”

  1. Rev. Bonnie Tarwater

    Thank you from Dallas Oregon and Church for Our Common Home. God bless you and please let me know how I can support you and Churches for Middle East Peace.

  2. Thank you and blessings,
    Rev.Bonnie

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