Dear Friends in Christ,
This year Ash Wednesday is on March 6; this is the day that reminds us of our mortality when an ash cross is marked on our foreheads and we begin the 40-day sacred season of Lent leading up to Easter on April 21. We are traditionally called to mark and use this time to pay attention to our relationship with God. Self-examination, penitence, prayer, fasting, works of love, and reading and meditating on the word of God all help to make this an intentional quality time of demonstrating our love for Christ.
This year in our Lenten worship services, we will be pondering what it is that we need to cultivate and what we need to let go of or prune away. Our Christian lives should be balanced – God said to rest on the Sabbath, but how many of us tend to skip that step? We need to take the time to pause and refresh our souls. With the news that there will be a pastoral transition this summer, and with the outcome of General Conference, we will use this Lenten season to pause and grieve and acknowledge our feelings and let go of whatever it is that we are hanging onto in order to create some room for the Holy Spirit to enter and revitalize us.
On the first Sunday of January, you were given a star word to ponder for the year. There are still some words available in the office if you did not get one. How will you use your word during Lent? Is it something in your life that you should cultivate or is it something that you need to practice letting go? My star word was empathy. I am having a hard time right now with cultivating empathy for those with whom I am angry for causing so much harm to our LGBTQ siblings and to our denomination. How do we cultivate love for our enemies? One way to start is simply to pray for them as I suggested in the sermon Love is Hard on February 24; you can find that sermon on our website. Praying for those who wish us harm will be a part of my Lenten practice this year. What will your practice be?
My Lent this year is also going to include Jury Service. If I do get selected to be a juror, then I may have to figure out what I will need to let go of and I may need to ask some of you to step up and help out. Thank you in advance, for your understanding.
I also invite you to join with others in the congregation in listening anew to the words of Jesus by reading through the whole of the gospel of Luke. We have copies of a Luke daily devotional available and you can also participate in our Thursday group where we will be reflecting on these readings.
May you have a blessed Lenten journey.
— Pastor Joan