Friday, February 8, 2013

Preparing for Lent

When was the last time a doctor gave you a dismal report? Or you buried a friend or loved one? Or how did you feel after reading the news of the most recent natural or human-made disaster? It's usually in those moments that we find ourselves reflecting on our own mortality: questioning our purpose, worrying about the pain and time of death, grieving the loss of connection to loved ones, and wondering if our faith has any teeth when the rubber meets the road.  

For most of us, this is not our favorite subject. We much prefer, and quite naturally I might add, to reflect upon the obviously new and beautiful parts of life. We enjoy the prospect of future plans and hopes and dreams. We like the Jesus who heals, forgives, and loves. We love the story of the resurrection. We are Easter people!  

Lent provides us with the opportunity to question, to worry, to grieve and to wonder as a time of personal reflection and conviction.  

Ash Wednesday is on February 13 this year, and on that day we literally mark the beginning of this journey of sacrifice in Lent.  It is a time to remember that we are dust, and to cleanse ourselves of sinful habits as we prepare to be renewed with the sunrise on Easter morning. We are offering three opportunities on Ash Wednesday to begin a Holy Lent. They are:

7-8 a.m. Imposition of the Ashes at the Nave Altar
We hope you will come by the church on your morning commute--with your family, or on your own.  This time is meant to be “drop in.”  When you arrive, find your way to the Nave and take a place at the Nave altar to receive the ashes on your forehead and spend as long as you would like in prayer.  We will provide a short devotional card for you to take with you. 

Noon, 6:30 p.m. Ash Wednesday Service in the Nave
These are our usual Ash Wednesday Service including music, liturgy, preaching, and imposition of the ashes. The 6:30 service will include a “Moments with All God’s Children” so that we can teach children the significance and begin putting the “Alleluias” in the box for the next 40 days.

Will this be the year when you observe a Holy Lent? Are you willing to reflect on your mortality and receive the incredible gift of joy with the story of resurrection? What will you give up this year?  Chocolate? Eating Out? What about “giving up” malaria by saving your lunch money once a week and contributing to the Imagine No Malaria campaign? Or, will you take something up? Exercise? Flossing? 

The whole point of this tradition of giving up or taking up is that the energy it requires to observe the new habit will center us and remind us of God. Our incredible God who sacrificed everything to call us back, who came to us as a baby, walked among us, and died a criminal’s death on a cross.  

We invite you to observe a Holy Lent, and start with Ash Wednesday. 

--Rev. Sarah Varnell

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