I loved the multilingual worship last week, and I'm so grateful for the beautiful gift of many languages and cultures (and foods — wow, that potluck!!) represented in our congregation.
The season of Epiphany ends this Sunday with the Transfiguration of Jesus, that moment when his glory broke into the world and illumined the faces of his disciples on the mountain (Mark 9:2-9). Epiphany ends like this, with a flash of blazing light and shining faces on a mountaintop. Then we descend into the valley and mark our faces with ash as we enter the season of Lent.
Lent begins a week from today, on Ash Wednesday, February 14. Every year, Lent offers us a forty-day season of preparation for Easter. As part of that preparation, many practice spiritual disciplines throughout the season. The traditional disciplines of Lent are prayer, fasting, and almsgiving (acts of generosity and charity), and I encourage you to consider how these disciplines might help you enter into this season more fully.
Though spiritual disciplines sound constraining, they have a way of being mysteriously expansive — creating space in our lives for God to meet and fill us with his abundance. Whatever you choose to do (if you choose to do anything at all), I recommend keeping your Lenten disciplines simple. Ask yourself: What do I need or hope to receive from God in this season? What spiritual practices might expand my capacity to receive?
On Sundays throughout Lent, the liturgy will feel different. We follow what's called the "Penitential Order" (see p. 139 of the Book of Common Prayer), a reordering of the liturgy that front-loads the service with confession. We fast as a congregation from the word "alleluia" during Lent, and our music becomes increasingly stripped-down over the season. It's all a little disorienting, and that's okay.
We will continue last year's practice of silence after the sermon during Lent. Instead of a response song, we will add one minute of silence each Sunday, culminating in six whole minutes by Palm Sunday. Last year, we heard from many of you that while the silences began as awkward discomfort, they became a source of rest and even joy by the end of Lent. If you're curious why we do this, or feel apprehensive about the silence, I wrote this post about silence last year.
Finally, it's worth remembering that despite the quieting that happens during Lent, Sundays are feast days! On Sundays, we break fasts and celebrate, because every Sunday is a "little Easter" — a re-enactment of the death and resurrection of Jesus and a joyful re-receiving of his life given to us.
I hope you will join us as we journey together through Lent, and that you will experience this season as an unburdening and a rest, an expansion and not merely a constraint. Below are a few opportunities to enter this season together. See you there!
Shrove Tuesday, Feb 13, at Greenbrier Baptist
5:30pm pancake races, 6pm pancake supper
Join us for a night of feasting and fun before we enter into Lent, with pancake races, a pancake supper, and abundant alleluias (crafted, buried, and sung). Sign up here to help!
Ash Wednesday, Feb 14, 7am & 7pm at Greenbrier Baptist
We enter the season of Lent together by receiving ashes and remembering our mortality. The morning and evening services are identical and run about an hour, offering ashes and holy Eucharist.
Lent Retreat, Saturday, Feb 17, 9am-12pm
“We Rejoice in Our Sufferings”: Learning from the Witness of the African Church: Why is it that those who have experienced tremendous suffering can also carry with them great depths of joy? What are some of the reasons for resiliency of faith seen in those who have walked through great pain but still wholeheartedly affirm the goodness of God? During this retreat we will get to know a community of Christians living in extreme poverty in Nairobi, Kenya. Through listening, prayer, and contemplation, we will learn from their resilient faith and personal experience of God’s presence. Led by the Rev. Dr. Erin Clifford-Riese on Saturday, Feb 17, 9am-12pm, at the Radkas’ home in Arlington Ridge. RSVP here!
Midweek Eucharist, Wednesdays at 12pm at Greenbrier Baptist (begins Feb 21)
A brief service of communion lasting about 30 minutes. Afterward, the sanctuary will remain open until 2pm for quiet prayer. We are partnering with Coracle in this effort, so you may see me, Katie, or one of Coracle's ministers leading the Eucharist service on a given week.