Our Lenten theme is “Journey.” This year we will be looking at the whole arc of Jesus’ life and story, from Bethlehem to Jerusalem. So far that arc has taken us from Bethlehem to Egypt to Nazareth and to Jerusalem. Sunday we found ourselves on the banks of the Jordan River; Sunday we’ll be in the wilderness!
There are so many ways to participate in this journey:
Tuesday Noon (lunch provided)
and Tuesday Evening (5:30 — 6:30)
Our Tuesday Lenten study will include deeper readings of the scriptures from the previous Sunday. You will also get to engage in “Prayer Centers” from week to week that will guide you to a deeper prayer experience. If you are unable to attend on Tuesdays, the Prayer Centers will be open when the office is open during the week, and study guides will be available to help you through the centers.
Each week we will be coloring in a beautiful banner designed by local artist and CEH Member Laura Veenstra. Each week at the Service Station, the prayer centers, and during our Lenten Study time, we will be coloring in a section of the banner that coordinates with the week’s theme. The banner will hang during our worship services to be a visual reminder of where we are headed in our journey.
There is a cross that was fashioned from the CEH Christmas Tree (thank you Stephen Eddy!) that will journey from the foyer to the Chancel throughout Lent. As we progress on our journey through Jesus’ life, we will be bringing the cross closer and closer to the front of our sanctuary as a reminder where we are headed. There will be activities throughout the worship service, focusing on the cross, that give you an opportunity to deepen your commitment to Christ.
Each week you will receive a “Grow, Pray, Study” Guide to deepen your understanding of the life of Christ. Like a GPS Navigation system, your GPS will guide you through this journey.
The kaleidoscopes during Advent were so successful, we looked for an appropriate symbol to hold onto for this Lenten Journey. The children will be receiving their own “Compass clip” that they can put on their backpack or carry in their pocket. This compass will be representative of needing God’s guidance and direction in our lives. These are available for adults if you would like a physical reminder to let God be your guide through life.
“Meeting Jesus” Lenten Devotional
The 2017 “Presbyterians Today” Lenten Devotional contains 47 short, 1st Person Readings from people who encountered Jesus. This is an excellent way to challenge yourself to daily contemplation on the Word and on the life of Christ.
Holy Week Services
We will have our regular Monday and Tuesday studies, with an additional service on Maundy Thursday, and an ecumenical service at St. John the Baptist Episcopal Church in Granby for Good Friday.
We will cover the darkest hours of our faith with prayer, from Friday night after the Good Friday service through sunrise on Easter morning. You can sign up for a one (or more) hour slot during which you can pray and be in meditation. Pastor Paula will make a Prayer Vigil Guide for your time of prayer. Don’t worry! The guide really helps you through the hour of prayer and meditation.
Resurrection Day (Easter!)
Sunrise Service, followed by a breakfast will begin our day with worship and fellowship. Our Service Station will be really amazing for this holiest of days, so plan to come at 9:10 if you would like to participate in being the hands and feet of Christ to a hurting world as we make “Gift of the Heart Kits” for the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance.
Our 10 AM service will be an incredible celebration of the empty tomb, beginning in the Fellowship Hall and moving to the sanctuary to roll the stone away!
All of these resources can also be emailed or mailed if you cannot pick one up from the church.
With Encouragement for the Journey,
Lent One: Starting Out
Baptism of Christ
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” Lao Tzu
In order to get anywhere, you have to take that first step. The baptism of Christ as found in Matthew 3 is an astonishing first step in many ways. We begin with John the Baptist, crying out as a voice in the wilderness. “Repent and be baptized!” he demands. And people come from all over Judea for the ritual cleansing that would assure them forgiveness and a clean slate.
John cries out, using apocalyptic language, warning all who do not change their ways that they will burn like chaff in the unquenchable fire. His words resonate with all those gathered. They have been expecting this for a long time.
But when Jesus comes, John is surprised. “You want ME to baptize YOU?” In our “Meeting Jesus” devotional, the reading from March 6 has John saying, “So, righteousness will be fulfilled through humility. Things are about to change” (Craiglow, Jodi. “Meeting Jesus” Presbyterians Today 2017 Lenten Devotional, p 4).
It’s a change, alright! Indeed, the word used here in Greek that is translated as “Repent!” has a much deeper meaning. μετάνοια — or metanoia. It means a complete change of mind. This is quite different than a traditional understanding of the Hebrew word for repent (שׁוּבor “shoob”: return), which merely indicates a change in direction — basically heading back to the same path.
Repent here indicates something more radical — a complete change of perspective. No longer are we to imagine a mighty conqueror riding in on a war horse to tear down the oppressors and throw the unrepentant into the “unquenchable fire.” Even John himself is shocked that this Messiah is the Jesus who comes in humility and is anointed by the Holy Spirit in the form of a Dove, with the public proclamation to everyone present: “This is my son, the beloved; with whom I am well pleased.”
As we begin our Lenten Journey we need to have a metanoia as well. We need a change in our mind and in our perspective of what it means to embark together on a journey that is bound for Golgotha. This will not be an easy journey, but we need to stand together and say, “We will go.”
On Sunday, five people from vastly varied walks of life gathered at the baptismal font to be received into our membership through the beautiful rite from our Book of Common Worship: “Reaffirmation of the Baptismal Vows.” Heinz Engel, Cathy Lile, Dottie Spencer, Pamela Flor-Stout and Dan Stout all stood together, confessing their faith, and pledging to engage in deeper discipleship as a part of this amazing church family at CEH. Together we spoke the words of the ancient baptismal creed (The Apostle’s Creed), and later shared our CEH Motto.
What an incredible way for us to embark together on this Lenten Journey! I had a very holy moment as I paused to pray over each new member, anointing their head with healing oil and claiming them as beloved children of God. I was humbled to anoint the heads of our new members, and thankful for their commitment to this particular Body of Christ at CEH. We followed this immediately by breaking the bread and sharing the cup together — food for this journey.
Glen and I sang a song at our Ash Wednesday Service that is so beautiful we wanted to share it during communion. You can listen to a recording of the song “Beautiful Things” by Gungor by clicking here. I was humbled to serve our elders Communion while still singing, “You make me new — you are making me new.”
The truth is that God indeed feeds us for the journey and together we become something new: a community of pilgrims traveling a path that leads to certain death; ever mindful of the promise of the empty tomb.
May this Lenten Journey bring you closer to a God who loves you and calls you “My Beloved” and “My Redeemed.”
Peace in Christ,
prayer station week 1
Each week during Lent, I will set up a different prayer station for you to experience. You may give it a try beginning on Tuesday during regular office hours if you’d like to experience it on your own.
For a group experience, you can explore the centers on Tuesdays at Noon and at the evening Lenten Study at 5:30.
This week’s Prayer Station is on “Confession.” You’ll meditate on Psalm 32 and then take some time to write out a confession (on black paper with black marker for confidentiality) and then put it in God’s Hands! In this case, “God’s Hands” is a jar with a picture of hands on it. Wad up your confession and throw it in there, then be relieved of the guilt you’ve been carrying with you.