Our Lenten message series begins the weekend of February 25 & 26. In the past few years our messages during Lent have been the most challenging of the whole year, and this year will be no different. We’re calling the series “Highly Favored” and we’re looking at grace. The topic has been the source of much controversy and conflict in the history of Christianity from the first centuries of the Church, and a major point of difference and division between Catholics and Protestants since the time of the Reformation. For their part Catholics have oftentimes gotten it wrong in significant ways, misunderstanding and misrepresenting the reality of grace. Make sure you don’t miss this series and invite a friend who doesn’t have a church to join us for Lent and a closer look at this wonderful gift.
Lent begins this Wednesday, Ash Wednesday. Use the next few days to consider how you will use the next 40 days to grow before God.
The basics are prayer, fasting and giving. Whatever your prayer regimen, take it to the next level this Lent: make your 5 minutes a day 10, find that Bible and crack it open, take a turn at more traditional devotions like the Rosary, have an extended quiet time one on one with God once a week. Along with prayer, fasting is a great discipline. Typically people “give up” something for Lent, which is a form of fasting and you should definitely give something up too. I am going on the record to say I am giving up Starbucks for Lent, so if you see me there anytime after Wednesday you know I am cheating. Deserts or alcohol, TV or technology can all be places to fast. At least one day take a stab at a more intense fast too, like the “Daniel” fast (fruit and vegetables) or a “Ramadan” fast (no food until sundown). Fasts can be deeply purifying and clarifying. Your Lent also needs to include giving: to the poor and to your place of worship as an act of worship. Giving, like fasting and prayer, is an offering of ourselves before God, making more room in our life for God.
One other thing you can do this Lent is get up out of the pew and serve. We are really going to hit this one hard this Lent. If you’ve been coming to this church for a while, if you’re a regular, you need to serve (or leave)…it is going to be that simple. Service is an important form of giving, and to be the kind of church Christ calls us to be, everybody needs to be serving (just like a family, the only people who don’t serve are the babies). The weekend of March 3 & 4 I am going to give a barnburner of a message about serving, guaranteed to offend. I will be blogging about it some more in the next couple of weeks, so stay tuned.
On that weekend, we will have a sign up opportunity for a “First Serve” experience on Easter Sunday. First Serve is a one time, give it a try commitment to ministry. The goal for Easter Sunday is 250 First Serves. That’s modest, because the ultimate goal, of course, is every member a minister. If you want to help us out in this effort, contact our Adult Ministry Director, Maria Folsom-Kovarik (firstname.lastname@example.org).