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Notes from the Pastor

posted Feb 14, 2020, 7:48 AM by Mary Margaret Barnoff

How do you keep Lent?

The season of Lent is a complicated one for a lot of Christians.  It’s bookended at the beginning by Ash Wednesday, whose liturgy focuses on our mortality, and ends with Holy Week, where we hear the story of Jesus’ passion, suffering, and death. In between, we often gather for additional worship services during the week, and we often also take on fasting or other spiritual disciplines. That fasting and discipline, and the focus on death and mortality, are things that we don’t typically encounter in our lives the rest of the year. It’s a weird time for a lot of people, but it’s an important time in the life of the church, and of our lives as Christians.

One part of many people’s Lenten observances is some form of fasting. Fasting doesn’t have to just be from food, nor does it have to be a total fast. The tradition of “giving up something for Lent” is a form of fasting. In the past, I’ve fasted from social media, from chocolate, and probably from some other things during previous Lents.  One part of my Lenten fast every year is to fast from caffeine. (The first year that I did that, I was working in an office where my desk was about twenty feet from the coffee maker, and I had built up quite a coffee habit. It was not a fun first week of Lent!) Part of the purpose of fasting is to draw focus away from our own wants, and to instead bring it towards God.  Because of that, instead of fasting (or in addition to it), some people will take on an additional discipline during Lent, whether that’s additional devotional reading, or more-intentional prayer, or spending time volunteering with a social-services group, or any number of other things.  Fasting during Lent – whether it’s from food or from something else, and whether it’s accompanied by another Lenten discipline or not – can be a very powerful way to draw closer to God in this season.

Another part of Lent is often additional times to gather together in worship and prayer.  We’ll be offering Wednesday evening services as a parish during Lent.  Those services will be based on the Evening Prayer service in our hymnals, but we’re going to try a different setting of Evening Prayer set to familiar hymn tunes.  The readings, hymns, and preaching this Lent are going to focus on the “Christ hymn” that St. Paul quotes in Philippians 2:5-12. Each week we’ll look at a different part of the hymn in depth, using readings from other parts of the Bible to highlight those themes. I’m looking forward to it.

However you keep Lent, in whatever ways you mark this season, my prayer is that each of us can draw closer to God, and can grow in love for God and for our neighbors.

In Christ,

Pastor Russ