“What are you giving up for Lent?” That is the traditional question. It is the practice of giving something up — as in fasting from it. I will admit to engaging in this practice in some pretty traditional ways. You know — giving up sweets, or alcohol, giving up a couple of meals a week. I remember asking a friend many years ago what she was giving up for Lent? Her answer was gossip. She was giving up talking about other people behind their backs. Now, I was impressed as I had not thought about it that way before. 
Others talk about adding something like some habit or practice for Lent,  exercise, prayer, Bible reading, or some sort of service to others. What a good idea that is. 
What will you add to your life or subtract from your life for Lent? I think the whole point is — how will you draw closer to God in this beautiful and important season? How will you draw closer to others? How will you better care for the earth? How will you care more for yourself? Maybe we should add or subtract something for each of these categories. 
Think about it. Reflect on it. As the traditional words say it, in the Ash Wednesday service, I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to observe a holy Lent: by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s Holy Word.
All for the love of God and neighbor! May you be filled with new life when Easter comes!

Here Comes Lent (Spring)

The season of Lent begins next Wednesday, March 6, with what we call Ash Wednesday. We will have an Ash Wednesday Service at 12 noon. Lent is a season of 40 days, not counting Sundays, which begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday. Lent comes from the Anglo-Saxon word “lencten” which means “spring.” The season is a preparation for celebrating Easter. The First Sunday describes Jesus’ temptation by Satan; and the 6th Sunday (Palm-Passion Sunday), Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem and his subsequent passion and death.
I hope you can come to our 12 noon Ash Wednesday service next week. It is a good way to start the season of Lent. Here is the way the United Methodist Book of Worship describes the Ash Wednesday service. Ash Wednesday emphasizes a dual encounter: we confront our own mortality and confess our sin before God within the community of faith. The form and content of the service focus on the dual themes of sin and death in the light of God’s redeeming love in Jesus Christ. 
 The use of ashes as a sign of mortality and repentance has a long history in Jewish and Christian worship, and the Imposition of Ashes can be a powerful nonverbal and experiential way of participating in the call to repentance and reconciliation. This practice is the historic focus of Ash Wednesday observance and gave the day its name. 
In a time of uncertainty in our United Methodist denomination and in our world, the season of Lent can be an important and powerful journey for us to take together.

Pastor Steve Lundin