Happy Lent! Ok, what are we supposed to say for Lent?
Somber Lent? Reflective Lent? Deathly Lent? Penitent Lent? (I kind of like that one)
Lent is an uncomfortable liturgical season. It kind of feels like loaning money to someone and being unsure if you will ever get it back (lent – get it?)
You are dust, and to dust you shall return.Genesis 3:19 (NRSV)
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the season of Lent, a period of 40 days not including Sundays. Jesus, as part of his spiritual preparation, went into the wilderness and fasted 40 days and 40 nights. We begin by acknowledging our need for repentance and our need for the love and forgiveness shown to us in Jesus Christ. Christians throughout the ages have observed Lent by self-examination and penitence, by prayer and fasting, by practicing works of love, and by reading and reflecting on God’s Holy Word.
Ash Wednesday emphasizes a dual encounter: we confront our own mortality and confess our sin before God within the community of faith. It is traditional to save the palm branches from the previous Passion/Palm Sunday service and burn them ahead of time to produce the ashes for the Ash Wednesday service.
Try these ideas:
1. As Andy invited us all, please join in a congregation-wide Lenten devotional: Journeying With Jesus. I started using the YouVersion bible app this summer and it has become part of my daily routine. Give it a try on computer or smartphone.
2. Read some hymn texts. It is easy to forget that hymns are poetic expressions of the Christian faith throughout hundreds of years. I suggest you try UMH # 269, “Lord, Who Throughout These 40 Days” (lyrics provided below):
(1) Lord, who throughout these forty days for us did fast and pray, teach us with you to mourn our sins and close by you to stay.
(2) As you with Satan did contend, and did the victory win,
O give us strength in you to fight, in you to conquer sin.
(3) As you did hunger and did thirst, so teach us, gracious Lord, to die to self, and so to live by your most holy Word.
(4) And through these days of penitence, and through your Passiontide, forevermore, in life and death, O Lord, with us a bide.
(5) Abide with us, that through this life of doubts and hope and pain,
an Easter of unending joy we may at last attain!
Pretty much sums it all up, huh?
3. Listen to this a capella arrangement of Chris Tomlin’s Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone). The marriage of the traditional hymn with new elements gives me chills. Jesus saved us from our sin through his death and resurrection. We Christians must hold on to God’s amazing grace, and keep it in focus while all the forces of the world try to divide us. I don’t have to agree with the theology of those singers from BYU, but I can be grateful for their musical gift and reminder of God’s grace for us all.
I would not say that I am fasting for Lent, but I did give up soda this year. I usually drink a soda with almost every meal. Now, every time I want a drink, I thirst for Jesus!
May your Lent be AMAZING and filled with God’s GRACE!
Eric Grush, Director of Traditional Worship