The Lenten Journey at Epworth
February 27, 2017
A Message from Pastor Thelander
It seems that it was only yesterday that we were celebrating Christmas, but time passes quickly and now the season of Lent begins this week. We hope to see you at the Shrove Tuesday Supper on Tuesday, which begins at 6:00 p.m.; Ash Wednesday service is Wednesday night at 7:00 p.m; Lenten Evening Prayers begins on Thursday at 7:00 p.m.
As we transition to this season of heightened reflection, prayer, penance, attention to classic spiritual disciplines, and works of mercy, it is important to remember the motivation behind these practices. Lent should not be about slavish legalism or morbid introspection, or even about unproductive guilt. Rather, Lent is about contemplating our response to the most challenging invitation ever to come to us -- the invitation to follow Jesus, to die with him in order that we might live. That invitation forces us to confront how things are with us, both our internal attitudes and our external actions. Lent is a sustained season where we open ourselves to the Holy Spirit, where we ask the Spirit to reveal to us ways in which our lives are shaped more by the culture than by the Cross of Christ. It is a season of heightened awareness, and that awareness often comes to us more readily when we adopt practices not currently part of our routine, or where we set aside something that is part of our normal routine. The bottom line: We seek to make minor (or even major) adjustments in the normal rhythm of our lives in order to grow closer to Jesus and to respond to his invitation to follow him.
My goal as your pastor is to create a climate where obedience to the truth can be practiced. Primarily, that involves providing opportunities for prayer and worship. With that in mind, I humbly ask that we remain particularly sensitive to the following dynamics during Lent:
Please remember that the Sanctuary is holy space. We will be "fasting" prelude music each Sunday prior to the service, so the sanctuary will be even quieter than is customary. As you are able, I encourage you to spend time preparing your heart to encounter God, especially when in the sanctuary. The typical rule of thumb at Epworth is: Talk with God before the service, and talk with others after the service.
Many of you enjoy the Lenten devotional booklets, and they are now available.
For those that also enjoy an online experience, the Center for Christianity, Culture and the Arts at Biola University has a good Lenten series that features a written devotional, a video (usually with a music component), and prayer. It can be found by going to http://ccca.biola.edu and slicking on "The Lent Project IV" . You can sign up and the devotional will automatically be sent to you each day by e-mail.
Lent -- like the other parts of the year -- is a journey that we take together. We are here to love and support each other, to encourage one another, and to show our appreciation for the unique giftedness of each member of the Body. I consider myself blessed to be your pastor, and I'm glad to be sharing the journey with each of you.