The season of Lent starts on Ash Wednesday, March 2; that day St. Johns and Hope will come together for an Ash Wednesday service at 6:00pm at St. Johns. We will distribute ashes for all who choose to receive them on your forehead of the back of their hand.
Lent is a time of reflection and repentance. The “three pillars” or practices that traditionally connected to Lent are prayer, fasting, and giving. For some this may seem quaint. Others find this too hard, bringing up shame, or hurt, or the feeling that one is unworthy. And so, unless giving up chocolate or smoking in any attempt to improve health, for a good portion of the population Lent means merely another seven weeks to Easter.
I’ve come to understand Lent as a sort of spiritual spring housecleaning. These three pillars are some of the tools we use as we go about it. These seven weeks can become a time of reconciling or growing deeper in relationship with God, with our families, and with our communities. In a phrase used in Twelve Step programs Lent is an opportunity to “clear our side of the street.” We are encouraged to let go of what keeps us from being the people we want to be, and more importantly, the people God created us to be
For repentance isn’t that we need to feel shame, or perpetual sorrowful for our actions; it is about turning around and going a different way. Repentance means looking honestly at what we wish we did or did not do, taking accountability, then asking God to show us a better way.
Organization specialist Kon Mari became popular suggesting to declutter we take each object in the home and ask, “Does this still give me joy?” If it did, keep it, repairing if needed. If not, either donate it or recycle/discard it. Lent invites us to do undergo a similar process with ourselves, our values, habits, choices, and relationships under the gaze of the Good News. We take the time to ask “Does ‘this’ (habit, action, value, judgement, inaction, etc.) bring God joy? is it part of living the abundant, joyful life God intends for us and with each other?”
As a follower of Jesus, what in your life isn’t bringing joy for you and for others? (Not happiness, but joy.) Sometimes what isn’t sparking joy is a situation that we cannot change, but is there a way to find moments of joy and grace within it? Join me over the next seven weeks asking that question. Remember, out of the worst day, God has, can, and will always bring resurrection. So check under the couch cushions in your life to see what’s there, find those cobwebs in the back rooms of your life that only you see, and then ask God’s Spirit of love, grace, and new life to blow through. Who knows what may happen? Let’s find out.
P.S. On a different subject: Reminder – if you or someone you know would like a home visit, please reach out to me. I’d love to stop by.
God’s grace and peace,
Pastor Deb Kunkel
Lenten Bible Study for St. Johns UCC and Hope UCC
Pastor Deb will lead a Lenten Bible Study on the “Last Seven Phrases (Words) of Jesus” starting on Tuesday, March 8, at 1:00pm at St Johns UCC. We will meet for an hour to hour and a half depending on interest. Pastor Deb will open with a brief introduction of their place within the context of the gospel in which they appear as well as historical significance, then open for group discussion.
Tuesday, March 8
Father, forgive them.
Today you will be with me in paradise.
Why have you forsaken me.
Woman, here is your son.
I am Thirsty
Into your hands, and It is finished.
You are welcome to come to some or all. Registration isn’t needed, but if you have the chance, please let Pastor Deb know that you plan to attend.
Let us know if you have any questions or comments. We are happy to provide more details. Please email us 24/7 or call us to learn more.
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