by Rev. Dale Azevedo, Sr. Minister          –          Feb 1, 2018

“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ:
     Christians have always observed with great devotion the days of our Lord’s passion and resurrection. It became the custom of the church to prepare for Easter by a season of penitence, fasting and prayer. This season of forty days provided a time in which converts to the faith were prepared for baptism in to the body of Christ. It is also a time when those who had committed serious sins and had been separated from the community of faith were reconciled by penitence and forgiveness, and restored to the fellowship of the church. The whole congregation is thus reminded of the mercy and forgiveness proclaimed in the gospel of Jesus Christ and in the need we all have to renew our baptismal faith.
     I invite you, in the name of the Lord, to observe a holy Lent, by self-examination, penitence, prayer, fasting and almsgiving; and by reading and meditating on the Word of God.” 1

This is a traditional greeting shared at the opening of a typical Ash Wednesday Service, which marks the beginning of our Christian season of Lent. Throughout the generations, Christian communities have found countless different ways of remembering this season and making it meaningful in our lives. Many of us were brought up with the idea of “giving something up” for Lent. In recent years, we’ve heard more about “taking something on” during this time (such as a new discipline or prayer schedule). Whatever it is you choose to do during this season, I argue that making Lent a more personal experience will lead to Easter becoming a more powerful experience for you. And most of us can use the power of resurrection in our lives!

Here at BCCUCC, we are offering many different programs to help you make your Lenten experience more meaningful. I am leading a six-week adult education program and discussion on Wednesday evenings focusing on the PBS series “God in America.” Brenden will be christening our new “meditation room” with two weekly meditation offerings, Mindful Mondays (at 7:00 PM) and Mid-Week Recharge (Wednesdays from 12:30-1:00 PM). In addition, Brendan will also host a Saturday morning retreat entitled, “Healing Hands, Healing Hearts,” on March 17th. And, as usual, we will be holding our special mid-week worship services on Ash Wednesday (2/14) and Maundy Thursday (3/29). (Click on any of the links for more information!)

I encourage you to consider these options and join in wherever and whenever you can. Many, if not all, of these opportunities are open to a range of ages and the wider community. Young children are perhaps the only exception, as they will likely struggle to sit still or engage in the more adult-focused activities. Feel free to invite your friends and family.

Of course, it is possible that none of these activates will work for you. In that case, I still encourage you to find another means of making your Lenten experience meaningful this year. Make the commitment to join us in worship each (and every!) week through Lent. Find a consistent time each day (no matter how brief) to pray, read scripture, or just be alone with yourself and God. Decide to do something nice, compassionate, or Spirit-filled for someone else each day or week from Ash Wednesday through Easter. Whatever it is, I challenge you to find something personal to add to your life during these 40 days and 40 nights and be amazed at how God is working in and through you.

Blessings to you this season,
Dale

 

1 Hickman, Hoyt, et. al., The New Handbook of the Christian Year. Abingdon Press: Nashville, 1992, p.112.