Lent begins next Wednesday, March 6th. This day is known as Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday emphasizes two themes: our sinfulness before God and our human mortality, helping us to realize that both have been triumphed through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. During the Ash Wednesday service, which is scheduled for 6:30pm at LeValley, I will lightly rub the sign of the cross with ashes onto the foreheads of worshipers. The use of ashes as a sign of mortality and repentance has a long history in Jewish and Christian worship and, historically, signified purification and sorrow for sins. We will also celebrate Holy Communion together.
Lent is a season of soul-searching and repentance. It is a season for reflection and taking stock. Lent originated in the very earliest days of the Church as a preparatory time for Easter, when the faithful rededicated themselves and when converts were instructed in the faith and prepared for baptism. By observing the forty days of Lent, the individual Christian imitates Jesus’ withdrawal into the wilderness for forty days. I plan to lead a membership classes during Lent. if there are any at LeValley or Berlin Center who would like to join the church. We will also recognize membership transfers. We will meet briefly after worship at each church for three weeks. I will be performing baptisms on Easter Sunday, as well, for children or adults interested in initiation into the Christian church through this sacrament.
I have purchased a Lenten devotional titled The Easter Code Booklet for anyone who is interested. You may pick up one on the table outside the sanctuary. If you prefer Bible study to devotions, I challenge you to read the entire New Testament during the 40 days of Lent. Reading the Bible for approximately one hour each day, beginning on Ash Wednesday, will get you
through the entire New Testament by Easter Sunday. One hour may sound like a long time, but I would guess that most of you spend one hour a day watching television, napping, or reading something other than the Bible. What about time in the car? You could listen to the Bible while you drive or ride. #1 on the list of the seven rules for Spiritual growth is Daily Food. Take in the "pure milk of the word" through study and meditation. That means being in the Word, reading the Bible. It is so interesting to compare the Gospels, to read Paul’s letters, and to imagine the visions described in Revelation. Should you have any questions about what you have read, please let me know and I will try to answer them. Happy reading!
In the Lenten tradition, Lenten soup lunches, including a meditation led by a pastor of a local church, will again be held each Wednesday at noon at First Christian Church in downtown Ionia. I hope you will consider attending one or all of these this year. It is a wonderful time of worship, nourishment, and fellowship. I am scheduled to provide the devotion on March 13th.
Holy Week activities will be highlighted in the April Newsletter. We will have a Maundy Thursday service at Berlin Center and there will be a community Good Friday service. Be sure to put Palm Sunday and Easter, Resurrection Sunday, on your calendars. The dates are April 14th and April 21st.
Lenten Blessings!
Pastor Nancy
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