Beginning the Lenten Journey

Most of this Post appeared in this week’s First Words.

I’ve been noting in sermons recently about how Mark’s Gospel is fast-paced, one thing happening “immediately” after another, at a dizzying pace. Seems rather appropriate, as Christmas now seems like a distant memory and we begin the season of Lent next week. True, Easter comes a bit early this year (April 5), so Lent begins a bit early, but it sure seems more than a bit early, doesn’t it?!

Back during Christmas we recruited writers for this year’s Lenten devotions. We are so blessed to have so many gifted and talented persons willing to share. I think the only writers this year who also wrote last year are a handful of staff—and I think you need to hear from them. So thanks to all who made contributions, as well as those who helped assemble the booklets, and to Kara Sither who puts in many hours on her computer putting the thing together, scheduling the on-line emails, etc., etc. It’s a major undertaking! And well worth it!

This year’s approach is different. The theme “From Rainbow to Resurrection” refers to two threads of meaning. The Rainbow, from the story of Noah, is a  reminder that God enters covenant with the chosen people, and one thread follows the meaning of covenant through the Old Testament. The other thread is a number of readings from Mark. We won’t read through the entire Gospel as we did with Luke two years ago and John last year, but we’ll read a substantial portion of it. Hopefully the two themes will come together in meaningful ways.

If you want to delve farther into the readings, I’ll lead a session on Wednesday nights, beginning March 4, when we’ll discuss the readings of the prior week.

But, first, Ash Wednesday, February 18. It is a deeply meaningful service, a rather somber one, as we remember our mortality. “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return,” are rather sobering words. But they are true. We are reminded that we are dependent upon Christ for eternal life. Ash Wednesday helps to turn our thoughts toward Lent.

Whatever you think of Lent, please think of it this way—as a special season for spiritual growth. That’s really what it’s all about, whether you “give something up” or “take something on,” it should all be about spiritual growth…and spiritual growth leads, among other things, to greater love for our neighbor.

So, I urge you to join us next Wednesday evening at 6:30 for the Ash Wednesday service, to use the daily devotions in unity with your church family, to attend worship each Sunday. Next month we’ll have opportunity to give to the One Great Hour of Sharing offering, as giving of our resources is also an important Lenten discipline.

Observe Lent in these ways and in other ways meaningful to you. Put yourself and your family in position to grow in your faith. And when Easter comes, it will be with deeper meaning and greater joy.

Join me on the Lenten journey,

Sandy

PS:  This Sunday, Rev. Sherrie Schork, Director of Equipping Ministry, will preach, reminding us that we are each called and gifted to be in ministry. This is one of our “Foundational Convictions,” an understanding that is critical to our fulfilling our mission “to be the living Body of Christ….”

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