Dear Friends in Christ,
Lent begins next Wednesday, February 10, with Ash Wednesday. We will begin our observation of Lent with worship at 7 PM, a traditional service with the imposition of ashes.
We will worship each following Wednesday night at 7 PM. We will mimic Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness and the People of Israel’s 40 years in the wilderness, by praying Holden Evening Prayer service, with prayer around the cross and silent meditation time. The service will last about 45 minutes.
Life in Christ is an adventure that is a lot deeper than fun. Fun is surface. It is pleasurable and more or less predictable, but for that very reason, it is shallow. Lent is the church season that intentionally focuses us on the part of the Christian adventure that is deeper than fun. It is unpredictable, serious, earnest, and often unpleasurable. In Lent we take time to look closely at the need for a Savior: our personal need and the world’s need. The world is a mess and it needs help, so do we.
How in the world do we invite others into this adventure when it has no selling points? When it invites us to look at what we are desperate to deny and it does not promise us any pleasure, only Truth? When it encourages us to face our own limits: limits of compassion and love, limits of willingness, energy, and vision? It’s just not that fun to look at this stuff. But it is real and authentic, just like God’s love in Christ.
The only thing I can see that empowers us to invite others into this adventure is love for them, not our love. God’s. Lent done right will uncover the limits of my love for my neighbor, but it will reveal to me the depth of God’s love and forgiveness for sinners like me; sinners whose love limits are unacceptably low. The promise of Lent is that God will say again to me and the church, “I know this sin of yours. I forgive it and I love you. Go, love with my love not your own limited love. Go invite with my invitation, not with your own ambivalent invitation.” This promise alone gives us the power to invite others into this adventure. The question for each of us is, “How will I obey?”
Pastor Jami Fecher
My friend recently had a near death experience that brought him face to face with
his mortality. It was, all at once, terrifying and a miracle. It changed his
life. He said it was like he was in the Matrix, (referring to the movie of
1999) and just awakened to realize it. It was a paradigm shift! When the lights
come on, they illumine what you want to see AND what you do not want to see.
That’s what it is like to genuinely face mortality, to bump up against human
limits, to realize I am in the hands of the Eternal God, that I will die and I
have nothing to say about it. It is terrifying and life-giving all at once.
Lent is a season when followers of Jesus mimic Jesus’ sojourn in the wilderness
when he was tempted by the devil (Matthew 4:1-11). It is like Jesus’ own near
death experience. The devil’s temptations intend to convey Jesus’ experience of
squarely facing his own mortality’s relationship to the augustness of Eternity.
In this scary position Jesus refused to rely on his own resources and relied
instead, only on God’s word, which in the end gave him the victory.
For 40 days (not counting Sundays) we mimic Jesus. We do something different
(extra worship, certain worship themes, personal devotional acts, etc…) to
help us face our own mortality and limits, in light of being in the hands of the
Eternal One. We dedicate ourselves to letting go of foolish self-reliance,
relying instead on God’s word to us in Jesus Christ, his path, his cross. The 40
days of Lent end in a crescendo of the great three days, Good Friday, Easter
Vigil and the Resurrection of our Lord. The entire event, Lent and Easter,
point again to our circumstance in relationship to the Eternal One. It is
terrifying and life-giving all at once, for our God is mighty and merciful.