Lent and Easter
Lent is observed during the 40-days (excluding Sundays) that lead up to Easter. During Lent, we take time for turning and returning to God. We self-examine, and reflect honestly about where we have been and where we would like to grow in our lives and in our relationships with others and God. We ask for God’s help in preparation for Holy Week and Easter.
Lent officially begins on Ash Wednesday. We use ashes and Communion to observe this beginning at an intimate service in Pilgrim Hall. Ashes are placed on our foreheads by the Pastor accompanied by the words, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” We say prayers of confession and reflection, hear scripture and meditate, and sing hymns to observe this holy day.
Lenten Vespers Services
We offer two Lenten Vespers services. Vespers is the sunset evening prayer service, a tradition observed by Christians throughout the world. We gather for short services to pray, hear beautiful organ pieces, and receive Communion. The liturgy is often taken from books of Daily Offices of Prayer, and thus we join with other Christians worldwide in an ecumenical spirit by praying as one.
We commemorate the day Jesus triumphantly entered the holy city of Jerusalem with crowds waving palm branches and crying, “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!” We begin our Palm Sunday service outside and process into the sanctuary waving palms. Palm Sunday ushers in Holy Week, the special days we recall the Last Supper and Betrayal, Crucifixion, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Jesus’ commandment to “love one another even as I have loved you” is the focus of Maundy Thursday. This is demonstrated in Jesus’ example of servanthood when he washed the feet of his disciples and in the gift of Jesus’ self in Communion. We praise God for revealing Christ’s presence among us in this night of goodbyes. We observe Communion and hear scripture readings during a Tenebrae portion of the service.
We encounter the stark reality of Jesus’ crucifixion and death as the focus of Good Friday is the Passion narrative. On this solemn day we consider how we can be present in a world God has redeemed and loves. We leave this service in darkness and silence with our Christ candle extinguished. Yet, we depart with the light of Christ in our hearts, knowing that love prevails and a new day filled with new hope is on the horizon.
Easter is the most prominent holy day in the Christian tradition when we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. On Easter, we rejoice that love always has and always will win. We celebrate the victory of life over death. We hear uplifting and triumphant music, sing and shout our Hallelujahs, receive Communion, and declare that Christ is risen indeed!
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Latest Lent and Easter News
Inviting Friends and Neighbors to Easter
Part of our work as the church is inviting others to join us. We all know many different circles of people in our lives. One of them might like a place to attend Easter services and know at least one other person there. Take a card or two (or 10) that list our Holy Week worship services and invite folks you know. You might be surprised that they are only waiting for an invitation from someone. Cards are by the front door at church and in the Sun Room.
Lent is here. Lent is a season in the church calendar that runs from Ash Wednesday up to Easter Sunday. It traditionally marks the 40 days (minus Sundays) that Jesus spent in the wilderness. It is a time to reconsider where are lives are headed, where we make room for God, and think about changes we might want to make to how we are living. Lent can be a powerful time. It can renew us as we take time out to find God in the midst of our daily lives. I offer you the following Lenten calendar, a spiritual practice for each week to engage your faith life through Lent. Put it on your fridge or mirror or as a reminder on your phone.
Week One: Prayer (3/10-3/16)
Set aside 10 minutes every day to pray. It can be early morning, lunch time, before bed. Remember the many kinds of prayer: thanksgiving, petitions, intercessory (prayers for others), adoration (worship). How do you experience God when you are praying?
Week Two: Fasting (3/17-3/23)
Consider an “entertainment fast.” Turn off the television, radio, tablet, phone when not using for calls, Alexa and other electronics for a week. How do these things get in the way of faith or connection to others? What might God be saying to you in the silence?
Week Three: Compassion (3/24-3/30)
Part of our faith walk is how we reach out to others, especially the “least of these.” How can you express compassion? Go to the grocery store and shop expressly for the food pantry instead of yourself or family. Write a card to someone you know who is having a hard time or is unable to come to church. How might having a compassionate heart change your everyday life?
Week Four: Forgiveness (3/31-4/6)
We all have people in our lives we need to forgive. Take time this week to write a letter to a person you need/want to forgive. They may be living or not. You may or may not want to or be able to send the letter. Where do you feel God in the process of forgiveness?
Week Five: Renewal (4/7-4/13)
Take a walk each day this week even if it is short. Notice any signs of renewal? What changes day to day? Consider clipping a branch of forsythia and putting it in a vase or bringing home a pot of bulbs from the store. What is God renewing in your life? Deliver a second pot of bulbs or bunch of flowers to a friend or neighbor.
Week Six: Patience (4/14-4/20)
Spend the week practicing patience. Let others cut you off in traffic. Choose the longest line at the store and use the time for prayer for those in line ahead of you. Imagine the seeds of spring patiently waiting to sprout. Breathe. Breathe. How do you see God being patient with you, with the world? How are you patient with yourself, the world?
May your time with God throughout the Lenten season bring a measure of peace to your soul.
Looking Ahead to Lent-Easter
Lent is an important season of reflection, repentance and spiritual renewal. We engage with Lent in many different ways and I'll share more about that next month. For now, here is an abbreviated look at what is coming up in Lent.
Sunday March 3, 10:30am: Holy Hilarity Sunday--this isn't technically in Lent but is a service of joy, festivity, and laughter ahead of the more serious season ahead. Karen will share her annual sermon of jokes and we'll enjoy this time of carnival before Lent
Wednesday March 6, 7pm: Ash Wednesday service--a service that puts us face to face with our doubts and failings, and with the reality of mortality. It is a time of contemplation and setting the tone for the work of the Lenten journey.
Sunday April 14, 10:30 am: Palm-Passion Sunday--we welcome Jesus with palms and journey with him through the ups and downs of Holy Week leading to Good Friday ((Thursday April 18 Early Christian Meal--last year Pilgrims gathered to eat an Early Christian meal together, featuring foods common to the Middle East of the time. Do Pilgrims want to try this again??))
Thursday April 18: Maundy Thursday--this Tenebrae service traces Jesus' last meal with his disciples, his long night of trials and suffering and his last commandments to his disciples. The service ends in darkness yet with a flame of hope.
Sunday April 21, 10:30am: Easter Sunday--we celebrate resurrection and the victory of love over hate, and life over death. An Easter egg hunt happens on the front lawn!