This post was included in this week’s “First Words”:
We’re now deep into the 40 days of Lent. I hope you’re experiencing Lent in some way that is meaningful to you and spurs growth in faith for you. I receive many grateful comments about our Lenten Devotion book, From Rainbow to Resurrection. (Thanks, writers!) Readers of the daily assigned scripture passages, and those who have worshiped with us the first three Sundays in Lent, realize by now that as we follow the concept of covenant through the Old Testament, we are in reality following the history of the people of Israel. We’ll continue that this Sunday, as we attend the Covenant Renewal with Joshua and the people (Chapter 24). We’ll also see that Jesus’ disciples had a hard time figuring out just who he was, what he expected of them, and what faith in him meant. (Mark 8:11-21)
This week is One Great Hour of Sharing. The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) is 75 years old this year—that’s 75 years of responding to all kinds of disasters in this country and around the world. The One Great Hour of Sharing offering pays the basic operating expenses of UMCOR, so that when you feel moved to respond to a specific disaster, 100% of your gift goes to direct aid in that disaster. You can give your gift this Sunday, or later in Lent. I’ve asked you to think of two missions offerings in Lent, the other being the Central Elementary Backpack program. If you mark your check “Lenten Missions Offering,” it will be split between the two. Or, of course, mark your gift clearly when giving to one of those missions or another.
Looking forward to Holy Week, the culmination of the Lenten season, indeed the week we remember, recall, and relive the central drama of our faith. On Palm/Passion Sunday, March 29, we’ll recall Jesus’ triumphant entrance into Jerusalem, then we’ll turn to preview the story of the coming week. On Tuesday of that week, we’ll have a film and discussion. On Wednesday, regular Wonderful Wednesday with optional classes. On Maundy Thursday, we’ll gather in the sanctuary to commemorate Jesus’ Last Supper with his disciples. And on Friday, we’ll join other downtown churches for the Cross Walk up Main St. Something new we’re planning this year is a 25-30 minute service immediately following the Cross Walk (about noon) in our sanctuary, to be repeated in the evening, as we remember that dark day our Lord was crucified.
These are opportunities for each of you to grow in faith. I grew up in a church, as did many of you, that had revivals every year. We went to church every night. Well, we don’t have revivals, per se, but we do observe Holy Week, with many services focusing on those crucial events, and I hope you’ll make time to be involved, to immerse yourself in the Holy Story of Holy Week. That will prepare you so much more for the full celebration of Easter on April 5! I urge you to mark your calendars and make these services a high priority.
We read, we study, we pray, we give, we worship…and we grow in and along the Lenten Journey. See you Sunday!