We are at that time - Lent - when we travel together - seeking to repent, to turn our lives in such a way that we travel with Jesus on his path to Jerusalem. We know what will happen there and how it will end. We are invited to take part in prayer and self-denial that we might align our hearts with the love of God poured out for us in each step and in each breath. This is not about boldly proclaiming whose we are. It is about accepting what takes place for the forgiveness and salvation of all and how our lives, our actions and our words can invite others to know, to live, to accept these gifts.
Here is a prayer from Steve Garnaas-Holmes about our season, found at unfoldinglight.net:
For forty days he was tempted by the devil.
God, I confess
I want the power
to make things as I wish them,
to turn stones to bread, this to that,
to have the world as I desire, not as it is.
I renounce my hunger for power.
Your love alone is my power.
I want to manage what others think of me,
I want authority, status, belonging,
the kingdoms of the world.
I renounce my hunger for status.
You alone are my belonging
I want the security of freedom from pain,
from risk, from sacrifice,
as if I could leap from a height and be unhurt.
I renounce my fear of suffering.
You alone are my security.
Spirit of love,
be my power, my security, my belonging;
overwhelm the fears of my ego
and redirect my desires,
that I may trust you, belong to you,
and bear your love alone.
I breathe your love.
I breathe your love.
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.