Loving And Forgiving

Dear Saints,

Call me crazy but I can’t wait for Lent this year. I’ve been pondering why. There are a few reasons.

First, we have so many new, interesting and creative ways to experience Lent together. The Lenten devotional is back for a 2nd year with so many beautiful daily offerings from so many of you. We also have a new year of “Lenten Wednesdays” with 5 new and creative evening sessions including some outside pro’s who are sharing their gifts with us. And then there’s the theme: Love AND Forgiveness; The beauty of Ash Wednesday being on Valentine’s Day lent itself to a “no-brainer” theme. We’ll also have Lenten witnesses each week in worship as well as continuing our plans to parallel of weekly scriptures and sermon themes with the Sunday School Curriculum.

But on a personal note I think there’s something even deeper for me. The re-frame of Lent from a time to potentially dark, dry and penitential experience to a journey of seeking opportunities to deepen our Love AND forgiveness of self and other is something we can all sink our teeth into. There is a wide opening at the shallow end of the pool for those who have never had an intentional Lenten journey. Or switching metaphors, we are all able to come to the edges of the shore-line together and venture in as slowly or as deeply as we want. We can more readily share and even laugh at our failed attempts to be patient or kind to ourselves and one another. We can listen to others who may inspire us to confess the less-than-perfect parts of ourselves. We can read other’s personal devotions and feel relief in the shared struggle of shame, regret and fear.

Yes, that’s it…it’s the shared experience of Lent this year that’s got me excited. As the old hymn says ”Jesus walked this lonesome valley” Thank God WE don’t have to walk it by ourselves.

Loving AND forgiving with you,

19 Things To Give Up for Lent That Are Not Chocolate

We are embarking on a wonderful season in the church, and one thing many do for lent is give something up to bring us closer to God.  We’d like to encourage you to do something different than give up food, and try fasting as an act of love by picking out one or more of the following, and then join us on Wednesday, March 7 at 7:00 p.m. to discuss your experience.  Fast from (in bold):

Fear: “God is on my side. In God I am more than a conqueror.”

The need to please everyone: “I can’t please everyone anyway. God is the  only one I need to strive to please.”

Envy: “I am blessed. My value is not found in my possessions, but in my relationship with my God.”

Impatience: “God’s timing is the perfect timing”.

Sense of entitlement: “The world does not owe me anything. I seek to live in humility and grace”.

Bitterness and Resentment: “The only person I am hurting by holding onto these, is myself”.

Blame“ I will take responsibility for my actions.”

Gossip and Negativity: “I will treat everyone with the highest positive regard.”  

Comparison: I have my own unique contribution to make and there is no one else like me”.

Fear of failure: “I won’t succeed without experiencing failure. will seek to fall forward.”

A spirit of poverty:  “God gives us abundantly far more than we can ask or imagine” (Eph 2)

Feelings of unworthiness: “I am fearfully and wonderfully made by my Creator.” (Ps 139)

Doubt:  “God’s future for me is beyond anything I could imagine; brighter than I could ever realize.”

Self-pity: “God comforts me in my sorrow so that I can comfort others”.

Retirement:  “As long as I am still breathing, I am here for a purpose; to influence others for Christ.”

Excuses“If you need an excuse, any excuse will do.”

Lack of counsel: “Wise decisions are rarely made in a vacuum.”

Pride: Blessed are the are the pure in heart, for they will see God”. (Matt 5:8)

Worry: “I know the plans I have for you, for peace, not disaster to give you a future with hope.” (Jer 29:11)