Some years I can barely catch my breath from Christmas before Lent knocks down my door and says, “Lent! Lent now!” This year we’ve received a big breath, enough time for Lent to perhaps sneak up on us even. This weekend finally begins our journey into Lent, as Exploration Hour returns to offer us a prelude to the season before Ash Wednesday greets us next week.
I invite you to join us for Exploration Hour beginning this Sunday, February 19, at 9:30am in the Jenkins Room. This will be a time of adult education, and childcare will be available if any families wish to attend this time. We’ll be using our Lenten Devotional book, Walking in the Wilderness: Seeking God During Lent by Beth A. Richardson. This book offers a daily scripture, a brief meditation, a prayer, and a word to guide your day, and Sundays provide a spiritual practice to share. I would love for you to join us for this time together but, if Exploration Hour isn’t for you, I would invite you to pick up a copy of the book from the church office and use it for your own spiritual growth through Lent. Copies are free, with a suggested $10 donation to defray their cost to the church.
Ash Wednesday will officially launch us into the forty days of Lent. We will receive the sign of ashes, while hearing the words that remind us life is short and what we do with our living days matters: “From dust you came and to dust you will return.” We will have Ash Wednesday service on Wednesday, February 22 in Bonfils Chapel at 7 AM, and then again at 6 PM followed by a catered soup and bread supper. Dinner is $10/adult, and kids eat free.
Both of these opportunities invite us to remember and prepare. We remember Jesus’ journey in the wilderness after his baptism, a time when Jesus faced himself through the temptations of the world, and came out different. We prepare for the end of Lent, Holy Week, when we will hear the story of Jesus’ betrayal, unjust trial, torture and death, and we prepare for to reassert the power of resurrection in our world on Easter Sunday. Historically, for individuals, Lent has been a time when we are invited to introspection and intentionality- this is why some of us give up something like chocolate or coffee, and some of us take something on, like extra volunteer work or a spiritual practice like journaling. The idea is to focus our attention by removing obstacles or adding clarifying filters.
So, as we shift from the joy of the New Year and the Super Bowl victory into the rich depths of Lent, you are invited to grab a hiking stick and come alongside our trekking crew as we walk further into the deep wilderness of faithfulness and as we open our hearts to God’s vast faithful renewal. I’ll be grateful to see you as a companion along the way.