The Journey Into Lent

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By Pastor Elise Neal

As I write to you this week I am sitting on a park bench at Mo Ranch listening to the rush of the water over the falls and watching the squirrels play and hunt for nuts, while the birds in the trees sing songs of happy calls to one another. It is truly in places like this that time stands still and we are reminded of our Creator God and the blessings of God’s creation.

Reflecting and remembering is the season we are about to encounter in Lent. As a church family we will join together this Sunday with Forest Hills Presbyterian Church here at Northminster in a community-wide Lenten event. There will be fellowship and activities for all ages for us to begin our preparation for the season of reflection. On Tuesday we will host the community pancake dinner. Please wear your Northminster Presbyterian T-shirts to our Fat Tuesday Pancake Event! Then on Wednesday evening we will gather for worship as we reflect on our humanity and our connection to God the Creator. This will be a short worship service during which members of the congregation will receive the imposition of ashes.

And so begins the season of Lent. For many of us during the time of Lent we often think about things that we might give up for the 40 days in order that we might reflect and remember on the sacrifice and presence of God in our life. For some people it’s giving up chocolate or favorite beverage, sometimes it’s a little bit more challenging, like giving up social media or using a debit card. All of these things draw attention to our normal routine and when they are no longer present we hopefully reflect God is present when the material things of our world are not there. But I would also like to suggest another way in which to observe Lent.

This method does not require taking anything away but may require adding something out of the ordinary to your normal routine. Since seminary I have begun this practice and on Ash Wednesday I wear the color black. For me this color represents the void and darkness in the world as well as the finality of physical death. It reminds me of the ashes as I hear the words “you are made of dust and to dust you shall return.” Then I wear the color purple, the color of royalty and priesthood, the color of Christ the King. And every morning when I go and pick out what it is that I wear that day I am continually reminded that Jesus Christ is my Lord and my Savior. When Palm Sunday arrives, I try to pick something springtime and flowery, reminding me of the parade of Jesus coming to Jerusalem. By Maundy Thursday my wardrobe changes to gray as I prepare to sit around the table of the Lord, and by Good Friday black resumes as the finality of the grave and tomb. By morning new life arises and shines. Together as a church family we will celebrate with an Easter egg hunt, a meal and an Easter Vigil asking God’s light is on forth. On Easter Sunday the light of the world will shine bright the colors of the rainbow will break free and we will worship celebrating both sacrament of baptism and Eucharist, remembering that Christ is always with us.

So think about what you might do during the 40 days of Lent. Maybe instead of taking something away you add something to your life whether it’s a piece of jewelry, a color of clothing, or a morning devotion that will help you intentionally focus on the presence of Christ in your life today, tomorrow, and forever more. So here’s to a faithful community surrounded in the love of Jesus Christ as together we embark on the season of Lent, journeying together, living in faithful community, and walking as disciples of Christ.

Peace and blessings to you all!