Our wonderful Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper was March 5 and we enjoyed a fun (and high calorie) opportunity as one last fling before Lent began the next day (Ash Wednesday). Many of us look for things to “give up” during Lent to remind us that being open to God’s word requires time and effort. The longing for chocolate or that donut is not to make you self-righteous but to remind you to put aside your self-focus and to focus on God. Perhaps this is the year to focus not on sacrificing our pleasures, but to adding time and energy for spiritual growth.
One simple thing to try is to switch up your service attendance. If you usually sleep in on Sunday and then hit the 10:15 service, try getting up early to experience the quiet, contemplative 7:45 service. The words of Rite I may not be familiar, but hearing the service in different language can help you hear the truth in a new way. If your family enjoys the fast pace of 8:45, consider coming to the 10:15 service for a change. Encourage children to go to Children’s Chapel (they usually love it) and take the opportunity to hear all of that Sunday’s lectionary as well as the full sermon. You may also enjoy having more music in the service. Kids can sit through the longer form of the Great Thanksgiving, and we don’t mind if they color or squirm during communion. We are a family and our children are precious members. Share them with the later congregation. And if you are a 7:45 regular, try one of the other services. The energy and enthusiasm, the music and the pomp, can all add to the worship experience.
Other Lenten opportunities include the Lenten Suppers. This year we will offer a choice of programs after our dinner. Ellen Davies will lead a group in meditation and mindfulness. The other program will be focusing on and learning about the Five Marks of Mission. It is an opportunity to think about your own mission for God in our world. And if evangelism makes you uncomfortable, come on March 17 at 9:15 to learn about St. Patrick and how he brought Christ’s story to the Irish without changing all aspects of their lively culture. Also, on April 7, we will be talking about the Stations of the Cross and studying the wonderful pictures we have to help with our Holy Week experience of the terrible death Jesus suffered for us. You can’t have Easter without Good Friday.
Finally, plan to ramp up your experience of Lent and Holy Week by being present at as many of the special services as you can. Walk with Jesus and his disciples as they go from spiritual growth to triumphal certainty to confusion and despair. Then you will be ready for the great Easter cry of “Alleluia. Christ is risen. The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia.”