A message from Linda Gaden:
“Lent is a season of reflection and repentance. It invites us to look inside our hearts, seeing ourselves with compassion and truth to see both our brokenness and our beauty, our failings and our faithfulness. In this season we’re inviting you to enter into a deeper commitment to the way of Jesus. You’ll have an opportunity to write your commitment, which will be between you and God, on the slips of paper given to you as you entered. These will be burned, and just as the smoke rises so will our prayers and commitments rise to God.
“Then the ashes will be brought back and will serve as the ashes that will mark each of us this night. In this way we individually make our commitments, but at the same time are aware that we can live out these intentions only as a community of faith together.
“Traditionally Lent has been a time of fasting, allowing the fast to enter into our lives as a call to prayer. You might fast from coffee each morning being reminded that you are to be filled and energized with God’s blessings; you might fast from television reminded to go outside and take in the drama and beauty of creation; or you might fast from fast food reminding yourself to slow down and think about the source of our sustenance as you prepare your own meals. As the fast interrupts our normal way of being, we are reminded to be in prayer.
“Another way of marking the season is through the addition of a spiritual discipline. You might read one of the gospels each week, getting to know Jesus more intimately. You could commit to praying daily for the church or your community or the world. You might want to commit to an act of service to the least among us serving at a homeless shelter, visiting a local nursing home, writing to someone in prison, raising money to increase justice and mercy in the world.
“Let us this day commit together to keep this Lenten season holy. Set it apart from other times, to make of ourselves, our very lives, an offering to our gracious and loving God. Let us take up our crosses and follow Jesus.”