We’ve reached that time of year again. That time of the church year when we gather together in a space adorned with purple, where we hear words spoken about sin and repentance, when we have the symbol of the cross traced on our forehead in ashes and hear the words “you are dust, and to dust you will return.” That time I am describing is the season of Lent beginning with Ash Wednesday, the first Wednesday of March.
Now I have something to confess to you, I actually really love the season of Lent. I know that may sound weird, especially if you grew up catholic or with the tradition of “giving something up” for this season. But nevertheless I do love this season for many reasons including its contemplative nature, and the opportunity that it presents to each of us to look inward, reflecting on our faith and the grace of God. Another reason that I love the season of Lent is the tradition of mid-week Lenten gatherings, a tradition at many churches including here at Immanuel. Last year we did these gatherings a little differently combining the traditions of the past with something new. We called this tradition “Dinner Church” which combined “Holden Evening Prayer” with a potluck dinner, communion, and a discussion. The new format was an experiment that I wanted to try and it was well received attracting a crowd of more than 30 people each week. I am excited to say that this tradition will continue this year beginning on March 12th and continuing on each Wednesday evening during the season of Lent. The gatherings will be the same as those from last year beginning at 6:30pm and including a potluck dinner.
Last year our theme was the Lord’s Prayer and so we examined and studied one petition of the prayer each week. This year the theme is titled Beyond Questions.
Throughout the Gospels, Jesus uses questions to change the lives and deepen the discipleship of those who follow him. Jesus does not ask questions to get simple answers from us or to give simple answers to us. In fact, Jesus only directly answers three of the 186 questions addressed to him in the Gospels and often answers a question with a question of his own. It is also not the task of the church to give simple answers to complex questions. Rather, it is to ask empowering questions that draw people into a deeper understanding of their own faith and discipleship. Jesus asks these kinds of questions–questions that reposition us, challenge our images of God and our place in the world, and present us with new and creative possibilities for transformation.
So together we will begin a journey through the Scriptures this season of Lent, and each week we will focus on one question that Jesus asked his followers and disciples. These questions will encourage and challenge us to examine our priorities and faith, consider who Christ is, define and articulate our beliefs about faith and life, and grow as a faithful followers of Jesus.
I am really excited to take this journey with you and so I hope that you will join me. If you can’t make it every Wednesday don’t worry about that, please come whenever you can and I promise it will be worth it.
Grace and Peace be with you,
Pastor Chris McKinstry