A Message from Pastor Todd – On Wednesday night we had a wonderful celebration of Ash Wednesday as we have officially began this year’s 40 Days of LENT. Although Ash Wednesday is an event typically celebrated by mainline churches I believe that it has much to offer as we consider these ancient events and traditions.
Our focus during our Ash Wednesday service was on reflection and prayer with the goal of preparing ourselves for the arrival of LENT. Our leader for the evening, Michelle Brenneman, instructed us that we were preparing ourselves as we began LENT. She reminded us that it is the season of preparation and sacrifice in which we prepare ourselves for the celebration of Easter.
I appreciated the service and I think that it is more important than ever that we pause and contemplate so that Easter does not become another blur in our busy schedules. As you may know, LENT in intended to be a time of preparation for Easter for believers. The practices of contemplation and reflection are needed more than ever in our modern society. Everything moves so quickly and everyone is so overscheduled that little time is found for prayer, and even less for reflection. If we are not careful, the busyness of our lives can lead to leanness in our soul. Unfortunately, even for many believers, Easter can easily become just another long weekend without the spiritual significance that it should carry in our lives. Easter is the most important of all Christian holidays. Jesus did not tell us to remember His birth but He did tell us to remember His death (see 1 Corinthians 11 for Paul’s description and explanation).
On Sunday we will begin our “Journey to the Cross” with a sermon series on the last seven things Jesus said on the cross. As I contemplated the words of Jesus while He was on the cross I was struck by their profundity and I was struck by how pregnant they were with theological meaning. I am excited that the focus of our LENT season will be on the cross. As believers there is nothing more important or central to our faith. The cross is an enduring symbol of the greatest love story ever told. The scriptures tell us that God so loved the world that He sent His one and only son to die on the cross and pay for our sins and offer us a life of freedom and purpose.
The “Journey to the Cross” prayer book is now available. If you did not receive your prayer book at the Ash Wednesday service, be sure and pick one up this Sunday as the schedule for the book begins on Monday, March 10th. The prayer book will provide you with different ways to experiment with prayer and conversation with God. Many of these practices are ancient practices that Christians have used for centuries. As is the nature of modern culture, many of these ancient practices get put aside in favour of the newest and the latest. But there is so much to be learned from these practices and I believe and I will pray that this will be a life-changing experience for you, as you discover new pathways to God, pathways of prayer and listening and reflection. We understand that not everyone experiences God in the same way and the prayer book will offer new opportunities for you to connect with God in prayer and reflection.
God bless you as you attend the services for the 40 Days of Lent and as we study through the prayer book together.