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A Note from Pastor Bruce

Beloved People of God,

Life is beautiful. Life is also hard. Life is a gift. Life is also a journey. This year has started out particularly challenging. Five of our beloved saints have entered the Church Triumphant in the first six weeks of the year. By now, you have received Pastor Andrew and Rachel’s difficult news. As pastor to his family and his colleague, I thank you for respecting their boundaries and for the prayers you offer them. I know others are wrestling with so much that trouble their heavy hearts; and we have had a furnace at each of our campuses, which required costly repairs.

I do not share this to depress. I share this to underscore the nature of life and the need for us to come together to hear the hope of the resurrection, to share support, and to pray for one another, especially when the road of life’s journey seems so long and arduous. The season of Lent, often referred to as a “journey”, is, I believe, the perfect time for that to happen.

On Ash Wednesday we began our forty-day journey toward Easter with a day of fasting and repentance. Marking our foreheads with dust, we acknowledged that we are dust and will return to earth. At the same time, the dust traces the life-giving cross indelibly marked on our foreheads at baptism. During the day, as Pastor Herb, Pastor Andrew, and I shared ashes with almost 120 people during Ashes-to-Go, we heard stories about life with all its beauty and all its challenges. I find it quite amazing how much people will share in such a short amount of time as we pray together and receive the reminder of the fragile nature of life.

Sundays are not included in the 40-day count because every Sunday is a joyful celebration of Jesus’ resurrection. Though not biblical, Lent has long been a tradition in the Christian Church, and it is thought that the tradition of the 40 days recalls the 40 days Jesus spent in the wilderness, fasting, and being tempted by Satan (Matthew 4:1-11). Lent is considered a time of penance and discipline, exemplifying the journey that is life.

Because of Lent’s penitential nature, worship tends to be more solemn, and purple is the liturgical color of the season. Some congregations remove flowers from the worship space, and for many, songs of praise like the Gloria in Excelsis (“Glory to God in the Highest”) and expressions of joy like the exclamation “Alleluia” (“Praise the Lord”) are removed from the liturgy until Easter. We hold special mid-week worship services and promote other devotional activities to help members concentrate on the Lenten disciplines of fasting, almsgiving (charity) and prayer. This year we will focus on prayer and “Lent: the Board Game,” that Pastor Andrew has developed.

The Lenten season concludes at the Vigil of Easter. The Sunday of the Passion, or Palm Sunday, begins the last week of Lent, known as Holy Week. During this holiest time of the church year, the worship services relive the final week of our Lord’s human life. The week includes Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter. On Maundy Thursday, we observe the institution of the Sacrament of Holy Communion and the mandate to serve one another in love. Good Friday commemorates the imprisonment, trial, and death by crucifixion of Jesus. Then Sunday comes and the darkness of Lent gives way to the boldness of the light of the resurrection on Easter morning.

Join us throughout this journey and let us travel these roads together with faith in Christ.

See You Sundays and Wednesdays in Lent,

Pastor Bruce

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