Folks, Lent is the 40 days prior to Easter (not counting the Sundays, which are “little Easters” and therefore cannot be “fast days.” One tradition of Lent is that one gives something up, a bit of ascetism to provide spiritual discipline for preparing for God’s gift of resurrection at Easter. Others choose to take on something for Lent — extra devotion, prayer, service — on the road to Easter Dawn. The options or styles of your preparation may well be as personal as each individual. Nonetheless, spiritually, it’s not a bad idea to bracket at time period and try to be more intentional about your spiritual life. I’m tempted to say “redouble” your efforts towards faithfulness, but that would probably scare people off! Even a little change in your routine or reflections can make a very big difference…
Old First offers some help:
Sunday, Feb. 19: Pre-lenten Breakfast. Breakfast will begin being served at 9:30 a.m. and continue to about 10:30 a.m. A tradition is that one gets all ones riotous living and culinary indulgences out of the way before the Lenten season, when one is to give them all up. There’s even a tradition of using up all the fat before the penitent season begins (I assume this also echoes back to the cleaning out of kitchens that Jewish families do before Passover). Hence, Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday Pancake Suppers! At Old First, we move the feast a few days earlier, and make it a Pre-Lenten Pancake Breakfast, this year on Sunday, February 19. Lenny and Timmy are cooking again. Get your ticket this Sunday from Billi at the Wellspring Outreach Table.
Wednesday, February 22: Ash Wednesday service will be held in the sanctuary at 7 p.m. It’s a simple service of reflection and repentance. Whether or not you wish to receive the imposition of ashes on your forehead or palm — as a sign that “from dust we are made and to dust we shall return” — will be your choice.
Each Sunday of Lent (Feb. 26, March 4, 11, 18, 25 and Palm Sunday, April 1): we will have an early morning Prayer and Communion service in the Sanctuary (in one of the new spaces cleared by the removal of the front pews). It will take place from 8:30 until 9 a.m. You might decide to have communion weekly. Or not to miss worship once before Easter… and now you have an alternative if you cannot make the 11 a.m. worship.
Also, we are planning an early morning outdoors Easter Service on Race Street Pier!
After Ash Wednesday, instead of our recent Lenten Devotions, each of the following Wednesdays (Feb. 29, March 7,14, 21 and 28), we will be joining with other UCC churches for Lenten Devotions. These services will be hosted by a different congregation each week. Stay tuned for those locations and times.
Holy Week, we will have Maundy Thursday Service — a meal together as we re-enact the Last Supper, our Good Friday Vigil from 12 noon until 3 p.m., and our Good Friday Service (reflections on the Seven Last Words) in the evening.