Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Wednesday, March 6 marks the beginning of the season of Lent. Lent is a period of forty days of dedicated preparation that we might come to Holy Week and Easter prepared to enter once again into the story of Christ’s death and resurrection.
For forty days, we mark the season of Lent. For forty days it rained on the ark; Moses fasted on Mount Sinai; the spies scouted out Canaan; Israel’s armies were taunted by Goliath; Elijah walked on the strength of the angel’s food to the mountain of God; the inhabitants of Nineveh repented; Jesus wandered in the wilderness; and Jesus appeared after the resurrection. Forty is always the space between, the journey to God, the time it takes for us to see that God is already with us.
Lent is a time of dedication and of renewal, of giving up and of gaining, of giving away and receiving. There are three classic Lenten disciplines: giving of alms to the poor, praying, and fasting. These are behaviors we may choose to adopt—not necessary commandments—that help remind us of the renewal of life that our baptisms call forth.
This Lent, our Wednesday evening services will feature readings of and reflections on Jesus’ parables. Jesus used his parables to teach, but also to invite curiosity, surprise his listeners, and shift perceptions. Parables are, on face value, stories. But they’re also so much more than that. Parables resist easy answers. Often, Jesus is asked a question, for example, “Who is my neighbor?”, and rather than giving an answer, he tells a story. (In this case, the parable of the Good Samaritan.) Rather than being told what to think, we are invited into the story, to see and hear and learn for ourselves.
I hope you’ll be able to join us Wednesday nights at 7:00 to hear our preachers’ takes on a few of the parables. We’re welcoming back old friends Rev. Regina Goodrich, Rev. Dr. Kris Peterson, and Rev. Dr. James Pollard to preach. And we have two newcomers, Rev. David Smith, from Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church, and Rev. Tim Ness (who we know, but hasn’t been with us to preach for a while). There are soup suppers before each service starting at 6:00.
You’ll also have the opportunity to grab “Lent in a Bag” starting March 3. These are simple devotions that you can do on your own or as a family to help experience God’s word in this season. The bags contain an object, Bible passage, and discussion questions for each of the five weeks of Lent and Holy Week, and they’re good for all ages.
Whatever practices you engage in this Lent, know that God is with you. It is my prayer for this Lent that we may be drawn together, drawn closer to each other and God. May this season be one of baptismal renewal for you: finding our center in the death and resurrection of Christ.