“‘Even now’, declares the Lord, ‘return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning’.” -Joel 2:12 (NIV)
March 1 marks the start of the Lenten season. Forty days Jesus spent in the desert; praying, meditating, reflecting, fasting, weeping, mourning, and preparing for what would be the most dramatic final three years of his life.
As we are preparing self-guided meditation and prayer stations inspired by the stained–glass windows in our sanctuary, I came across, an activity that involves using sand. The idea of this prayer station, may have a similar effect as that of a Zen garden. The meditative state induced by the act of creating circles, waves, lines, and other doodles on the sand can be a powerful tool to center us. I know the effect this activity has on me and my family every time we visit our favorite place; the beach!
The desert may have not been Jesus favorite place, but it provided a world class sand-box that helped him to become empty, centered, focused, and committed to his mission in the world. When we engage in observing the season of Lent, we too, commit to press the “restart” button with the goal of returning our hearts to God. The fasting, weeping, and mourning suggests the type of approach we are using to draw near to God. During Advent, Christmastide, and Epiphany we drew near to God in expectation, celebration, and thanksgiving. During Lent we draw near to God in repentance, recognizing our shortcomings and sins. We reach out to God for forgiveness, redemption, and the hope of transformation.
This season I invite you to connect with us in a different way. If you have never tried Sunday mornings bible study, let your curiosity lead you to church at 9:15am. If you have never been on a trip to CUMAC with the mission team on Wednesdays, let your love for neighbor draw you close to God. If you have never participated on the Thursday night adult class at 7pm; come and add your voice to this conversation on The Lord’s Prayer and its impact on USA 2017.
In addition, the sanctuary will be open Thursdays 11-1pm for prayer and meditation. I will be leading a 20min contemplative prayer session starting at 11am and then you are free to try one or all of the prayer stations. As always, I look forward to sharing this journey with you.