by Rev. Dale Azevedo, Sr. Minister          –          February 20, 2020

Dear Friends

As I have walked these last few weeks of February, I’m finding my eyes looking forward to March and my thoughts beginning to look past the cold of winter toward the promise of sunshine and the coming spring: growing warmth, budding flowers, new life springing all around us. It is no mistake the celebration of Easter comes at the very height of this spectacular season. Easter is, after all, the celebration of new life. Yet, before we can run out and uncover our flowerbeds, we must first wait for the season to take hold and the earth to prepare itself for this rebirth. Likewise, before we as Christians can welcome Easter and the coming Resurrection, we must first follow Christ through his passion and into the empty grave. Before one can have new life, the old must pass away. Before we can have Spring, we must have Autumn and Winter. (Perhaps this bigger picture is what separates those who celebrate the resurrected Christ from those who celebrate the Easter Bunny.) For us, the time to remember Christ’s sacrifice is concentrated in the recognition of Holy Week and the broader season of Lent in which it is found. This year, Lent begins next week on Wednesday, Feb 26th.

One of the great themes of the season of Lent is repentance, literally translated as “turning toward a new direction”. This turning direction can be either away from sinful behavior or toward helpful behavior. Lent is not intended to drag us down into despair or self-loathing but is instead intended to free us from our burdens of guilt and self-defeating behavior. Remember, the ultimate message of the season is forgiveness and resurrection, not condemnation and death.

There are many ways to make Lent more meaningful:

First, you can always choose to “give something up” or “take something on.” These are traditional ways of incorporating the themes of Lent into our daily lives. Think, “What are you giving up for Lent?” Here people give up chocolate, booze, swearing, etc. The inverse of this behavior is taking something on. People take on a new daily prayer routine, reading the Bible, do a good deed each day, etc. These are two ways you can make Lent more meaningful this year.

Additionally, you can join Linda for her Lenten Learning Series on Spiritual Gifts. This group is meeting each Thursday for five (5) weeks beginning on March 5th. The group runs from 7:00-8:15pm and will gather in the church library. This is a wonderful way to explore how you might serve God in a more meaningful way.

There are also a number of service opportunities this season that you can join. Our confirmation class is collecting items to be made into hygiene kits for Church World Service. Our Puerto Rico mission team is hosting a dinner and silent auction on March 22nd to support our relief efforts this June. And we will be collecting for the One Great Hour of Sharing national offering to help those in need around our country and throughout the world.

And, of course, there is always worship to participate in. Consider committing to join us each Sunday through Lent as Linda and I speak on the theme of covenant, and the various covenants God establishes with folks all throughout the Bible. We have an Ash Wednesday service on February 26 and a Maundy Thursday service on April 9, both of these at 7pm in the sanctuary. And finally, we will once again be holding our Holy Week early morning prayer and meditation time (April 6-10).

There are honestly a limitless number of ways you can engage your faith this Lenten season. And, if you find ways to make Lent a more meaningful journey, you might just find the Easter resurrection a more meaningful experience, as well.