Lent begins on March 6. More specifically, there will be a service with imposition of Ashes at 7pm on Wednesday March 6, here in Alplaus. We have invited our friends from Scotia to come and join us for this service. The season of Lent will then continue for 40 days (Sundays not included). Holy Week is the last week of Lent and we will be joining our friends at Scotia for a Good Friday service (7pm Friday April 19).
But what is Lent? How should you plan to participate, or experience Lent? To quote the UM Book of Worship… “Lent comes from the Anglo-Saxon word lencten, which means “spring.”… [The Westminster Dictionary of Theological Terms tells me that lencten referred to the lengthening of days in spring.] …The season is a preparation for celebrating Easter. Historically, Lent began as a period of fasting and preparation for baptism by converts and then became a time for penance by all Christians.” You may be familiar with the practice of “Giving Up something for Lent” – choosing an act to abstain from and using the time or funds that would have been spent on that action and contributing it to your pledge. You may be familiar with a newer option of “Taking on a Spiritual Practice for Lent” – which is exactly what you might imagine – adding to your regularly scheduled life a daily time for personal prayer or service for others during the season of Lent. Some folks engage in one or the other of these options – other folks choose to do both while still others choose neither.
During Lent – Sundays don’t count! Again from the UM BOW… “Because Sundays are always little Easters, the penitential spirit of Lent should be tempered with the joyful expectation of the Resurrection.” Traditionally – the Sunday service “gives up” Alleluias for Lent.” At Alplaus, as I prepare and plan, I hold to both the “no Alleluia” tradition and the “Sundays don’t count in Lent.” The former is done obviously (without Alleluias), the latter is a bit more fun – last year I tossed chocolate and candies to folks who answered questions during the Sermon. What will I do this year on Sundays in Lent? Come – begin the journey with us on Ash Wednesday 7pm. Know that you are welcome and invited to participate in all of the somber and expectant preparations of Lent.
February is coming! By February - I do not mean winter (although the suggestion is intentionally implied), I do not mean Valentine’s Day (I’m wary of chocolate temptation), and I do not mean Lent (that starts March 6 on Ash Wednesday). What do I mean? Special General Conference (February 23-26 in St. Louis MO). Rev. Baron of First UMC was kind to give me summaries of the 3 Plans that the Commission On a Way Forward presented to our last Annual Conference (Amanda Smith-Lucier, our Lay Member to Conference, gave a verbal recap during worship and also at Church Council). The Three Plans are: the One Church Plan, the Connectional Conference Plan, and the Traditionalist Plan. The One Church Plan is the only plan recommended by majority of Council of Bishops and supported by majority of the Commission on the Way Forward. Information on the three plans is available in the Fellowship Hall (Basement of the Church) or please reach out to me for conversation (via phone, email, or in person).
The United Methodist Church was formed in 1968 - a year fraught with tension and division. In the midst of disunity in so many places, the Methodist Episcopal Church found a way to not only hold together but to also join with the Evangelical United Brethren. Issues of racism and equality for women threatened the merger and the continuation of the denominations. Through commitment to the unity found in the Holy Spirit and the gentle guidance and reliance upon God, we successfully merged and have continued to grow in connection and grace for 51 years. Please - Please - PLEASE, continue to hold in prayer all who will be meeting in St. Louis as well as all who will be affected by the decisions made there (the Whole Church).