Forty Days. Six weeks. A time to wander through the wilderness. A time to explore your faith. A time to get through until Easter arrives. However you think about it, there is no stopping the reality that Lent is upon us, rather earlier than it usually is. Usually, it feels like after Christmas, we have a little bit of time to prepare ourselves for the approach of Lent; this year though, it’s here and we might not feel fully prepared, almost as though it has crept up on us. It can be a bit disconcerting, when Lent is just HERE. I know that there are many of you out there who highly dislike Lent. It feels depressing. It feels like a punishment. It feels hopeless. It feels like something you just have to get through. This year though, we’re hoping to view Lent a little bit differently, and hopefully because of that, we all might grow a bit, individually and as a community, and maybe by the end, we’ll feel a little bit better about Lent.
At its heart, Lent is a journey. It is a path that we step onto that leads to the cross and leads to the empty tomb. Along the way, there are hills and valleys, stones to stumble upon, and smooth paths to tread over with confidence; and hopefully along the way, there are moments of clarity where our faith seems a little bit clearer, even though there will also be moments where it seems foggy and uncertain. As with all journeys though, Lent is easier when traveled together. Our focus as a congregation for Lent this year will be on the journeys of our faith, and how we can better lift each other up, learn from each other, and live together in the kingdom of God. There are a couple of ways that we are doing this, and I hope that you are able to participate in many of the options we will have for you throughout this holy season.
Ash Wednesday: Wednesday, February 10
Our journey begins with our brothers and sisters of St. John’s UCC, who are also focusing on journeys throughout Lent. We will join together at St. John’s at 6:00 p.m. for a time of dinner and fellowship. Grace is expected to provide desserts for this meal. There will be a sign-up sheet in the Welcome Center and in Spirit Cellar for those who are willing to bring a dessert so we are sure we have enough. Worship will follow the meal at 7:00 p.m., and will focus around the various stages of our faith journey, from baptism to healing to forgiveness to hope. Pastor David will preside over Holy Communion and Pastor Tina will provide the gospel message. The service will also include the imposition of ashes, as we turn our eyes towards the beginning of the 40 days.
Their Journeys, Our Journeys: Midweek Fellowship and Faith Conversations (February 17, February 24, March 1—TUESDAY, March 9, March 16)
Our midweek conversations this year will focus around the call stories of different figures in the Bible, and then exploring in small conversation how their journeys compare and contrast to our own. Soup suppers will begin at 6:00 p.m. in the Welcome Center, with our time of conversation beginning at 6:30 p.m. and continuing until 7:15 p.m. There will be sign-up sheets in the Welcome Center for those who are willing to provide soup and/or bread for one of these meals. Throughout our time together, we will explore the stories of Moses, Ruth, Jonah, Peter, and Paul. Please notice that all of these dates are Wednesday evenings, EXCEPT for the third week, when we will meet on a Tuesday evening.
When Our Feet are Tired from the Journey: Maundy Thursday, March 24
The Holy Three days will begin with a service of foot-washing and Holy Communion on Maundy Thursday. Worship will be at 6:30 p.m. and will be centered around the ways we are called to serve each other on this journey of faith together. We will hear Christ’s call to service in the gospel and gather together as a family around the communion table.
Where Christ Walked, We Will Follow: Good Friday, March 25
Holy Week will continue with Good Friday service at 6:30 p.m. We will be centering our time together around the Stations of the Cross, traveling throughout the sanctuary and church building, retracing Christ’s journey to the cross through scripture readings and faithful reflections.
The Journey Ends AND Begins in Hope: Easter Sunday, March 27
Worship services will be held on Easter Sunday at our regularly scheduled times of 9:00 a.m. and 10:45 a.m., and we will also gather together for a sunrise service at 6:45 a.m. This year, that service will be held at Grace, instead of the Red Lion Cemetery. Due to the early date of Easter, we will be gathering for sunrise indoors, in an effort to keep us all warm!
I pray that we might all be able to take this journey together, learning about each other and ourselves. Lent is a holy time, and a time I look forward to spending with all of you.
Peace it Together,