"Blow the trumpet in Zion; sanctify a fast; call a solemn assembly; gather the people. Sanctify the congregation; assemble the aged; gather the children, even infants at the breast. Let the bridegroom leave his room, and the bride her canopy. Between the vestibule and the altar let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep. Let them say, "Spare your people, O LORD, and do not make your heritage a mockery, a byword among the nations. Why should it be said among the peoples, 'Where is their God?'" (Joel 2:15-17)
The Lenten Fast often begins with the reading of these Old Testament verses. A more somber and frugal lifestyle and worship is often encouraged during Lent. Christians are encouraged to “give up” small pleasures and indulgences—to be more sparing. Lent is quiet and introspective. Giving and serving are emphasized.So having “given up,” opportunities to “take on” some service or burden are offered. Christians are especially asked to “take up” the cross of Christ in this season.
I have to admit, I have more often fallen on the “give up” side of Lent. I’ve found that is easier to give up something (certain foods or drinks, TV, etc.) than it is to “take on” some new service or mission. Serving, volunteering, witnessing, caring, even praying and studying—all those take time and effort! So I’m looking at myself and asking, “Am I taking the easy way out?” And “What do I need to do this Lent?” I encourage you to think about these questions as you prepare for this season.
Connected to this, maybe even the source of this struggle is a question we will discuss in the study offered in March and April. Is Christianity more about what Christians don’t do than it is about what they do? Are we so busy avoiding that we miss living.This takes us back to the idea of solemn observances and fasting during Lent. To me the Christian life is the abundant life of joy in the grace of Jesus. How can I make my Lent, and my whole life, reflect that joy? How could we all? I admit, I prefer happy over somber.
Jesus said it this way: “And whenever you fast do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” (Luke 6:15-18)
This Lent we’ll begin by watching the movie “Chocolat February 26 or 28. Copies will be available to borrow if nthat works better for you.. ("Chocolat" is about Lent. Really.) We’ll share soup and bread, and study, and Chocolate on Wednesday evenings. I’ll ask questions during worship. We’ll give to missions—local and worldwide. And, I pray, we’ll share joy because at the end of this journey waits the risen Christ who invites us to a joyful feast! Share the joy and join me on this journey beginning March 1. With hope and expectation, Rev Derf Bergman
Small Groups for Learning and Support.
Lent Study Wednesday, Noon Wednesday, 6:30PM
Grief Support 2nd Wednesdays, 11AM (Call for location)