"The elements of joy and renewal are as important as prayer, fasting, and self-denial in the Lenten observance, which otherwise becomes a forty day repetition of Ash Wednesday." -- Dr. Leonel Mitchell, Lent, Holy Week, Easter, and the Great Fifty Days
I've been saying that to a few friends and colleagues lately, and we've laughed at the irony. Because Lent is not traditionally supposed to be a happy time, but a somber season. In Lent, Christians confess, fast, give alms, give stuff up, prepare for baptism, and in other ways examine and purify our lives.
But I agree with Mitchell and others that joy and renewal are essential to Lent. We don't have to approach Lent in a spirit of self-flagellation. No hairshirts required. Yes, we are called to take Lent seriously. Examining our hearts is so important. But to wallow in a sense of sinfulness or inadequacy is to miss the point. We are not being invited to depression and despair, as if we had no hope of resurrection. Lent gives us permission to be serious, to look at ourselves, think and pray about where we want to grow, and extend ourselves to others. Taking time to do this improves our lives, ultimately increasing our experience of joy.
So when the world is cold and dark and you feel hard-pressed -- like this winter in Chicago -- remember that "Lent" is an Anglo Saxon word for "spring." And that is what we are moving toward in Lent. Even now the days are slowly lengthening.
Lent is not doom and gloom. It is sober preparation for the joy of new life. We are walking the way of the cross toward the glory of resurrection.
In that spirit I wish you a happy as well as a holy Lent.
The Rev. Laura Gottardi-Littell
for The Pastoral Team
The Church of Jesus Christ, Reconciler
Today is our deacon The Rev. Beth Scriven's last Sunday with us. She will be preaching. After the service, there will be some goodies and a chance to say goodbye to Beth and wish her well.
At 7:30 p.m. Wednesday Feb. 13 at Immanuel, the "Children of Abraham" Lenten series begins. In this five-week series, several ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church of America) speakers, as well as representatives of Jewish and Muslim congregations in Edgewater, will share perspectives on relations between the three Abrahamic faiths: Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. A community dinner, open to all, is offered at Immanuel at 6:00 on Wednesdays, followed by an evening prayer service at 7:00. The Lenten series will then follow at 7:30 in Immanuel's sanctuary. Join us Wednesday evenings in Lent for what promises to be an informative, prayerful and illuminating time.
We are looking for people to coordinate with Immanuel's altar guild and properties committee to help maintain this space and Immanuel's property. A couple of you have responded but if others are also interested please talk to Larry or Laura.
Immanuel is looking for members of Reconciler who would be willing to serve as ushers and greeters at our joint services on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday Services. Talk to Laura or Larry if you would like to serve in this way at any of these services.