Lent: Reflection and Renewal
The season of Lent is approaching, a liturgical season which can be a fruitful time of reflection for our personal spiritual journeys as well as for our life as a community. Beginning with Ash Wednesday (Feb. 25) and spanning the forty days until Easter, Lent is a season of preparation. Traditionally, Lent was a period of fasting that prepared new members for their baptism on Easter morning. For us, it can function as a time of reflection and renewal, a type of spiritual fast that prepares us for the feast that arrives on Easter.
Many people give something up in observation of Lent (such a sweets, coffee or eating out), an act which offers a constant reminder of one's spiritual state and can be a great way to build up to the joy and abundance of Easter. It is also possible, however, to add a practice instead of taking something away. One could commit to a daily prayer time or a daily reading of a psalm either alone or with one's family.
Clarendon Hill will be adding its own spiritual activities for Lent in order to help us observe this special season together. Each Wednesday throughout Lent, the church will host a short evening prayer service that will include Taize music, prayer, scripture and silence. The service will last between 30 and 45 minutes. All are encouraged to make these weekday services a part of their Lenten routine.
Additionally, on Sunday mornings after fellowship time, Pastor Karl, along with seminarians Liz [redacted] and Kelsey [redacted], will lead a class on "The Way of Discernment" geared toward guiding indviduals and our community through a period of discernment about the future of our church. Those interested can gather in the parlor around 12:30 p.m.
Together we can make these forty days a meaningful and productive time together, in preparation of the Easter feast that awaits us!
Reminder for your calendar:
Wednesdays, February 25-April 1, 7-7:45 p.m., Taize Evening Prayer Service
Sundays, March 1-April 5, 12:30-1:30 p.m., "Way of Discernment" Adult Education Class
CWM Lenten Worship Planning Meeting [3 February 2009]
I have minimal notes, but Tiffany had an Agenda (one of the things she got from Sabbatical, apparently).
We opened with talking about associations etc. we have with Lent.
Then we read (an edited version of) a piece on Lenten Planning by a guy on the General Board of Discipleship and talked about general Lenten themes (discipleship, preparation).
Then we talked about CWM's Lenten theme (who are we, and who do we want to be? where are we, and where do we want to be? -- we're doing some sort of Strategic Planning thing after Lent, iirc).
We did each of these on one of those big easel-sized things of paper that you can stick up on the wall, and then looked for what words/ideas showed up on all three.
Then we went through the lectionary text (Gospel reading) for each week, looking at where we saw themes we had already talked about (of the ones we had circled as showing up on all three) and where new themes jumped out at us. I really liked getting to read the entire arc of lectionary and really thinking about them and the themes within them and across them, plus seeing how they fit in with other themes we had talked about.
Like I said, my notes are not so good, but...
identity -- grounded in the identity of being the beloved community
identity ("who do you say that I am?"), discipleship
cleaning what's getting in the way
lifting up what is central
Michele: move from looking back (the opening reference to Moses) to looking forward
From FCS February newsletter:
Wow, I kind of love this church/Molly a lot. I was assuming I would stroll over to CHPC's midweek Lenten services after Rest and Bread, but I am so stoked about this discussion series.
MAKING THE FAITH OUR OWN
It's still mid-Epiphany as I write this, but I already find myself leaning towards Lent. Lent is a time of taking stock, of paring down, of making eye contact with God. It all starts with Ash Wednesday, remembering that "from dust we came, and to dust we shall return." But what happens in the middle? What agency do we have in our lives, and, expressly, over our spiritual lives?
We have traditionally set aside an evening a week each Lent for "house church." We're a little too big to do it comfortably in a typical Somerville apartment, so this year we'll gather at church each Wednesday evening. Rest and Bread at 6p, homemade Soup Supper at 6:45p, followed by our Lenten program until 8:30p or so will provide a multi-course feast for body and spirit.
The Constitution of the United Christ "affirms the responsibility of the Church in each generation to make this faith its own in reality of worship, in honesty of thought and expression, and in purity of heart before God." This will be the heart of our midweek Lenten house-church: making the faith our own. It is the kernel at the heart of our Sacred Conversations fruit: how can our faith liberate us to be the people God calls us to be, in community?
Episcopal bishop John Shelby Spong wrote a book a few years ago called "Christianity Must Change or Die." He argued that the church—which is certainly a different thing than "the faith"—must be torn up from the root, and something entirely new take its place. I agreed, and disagreed. He posited a deep distrust of institutions in this generation of young people, and I agreed, and disagreed. If he were entirely right, why would we, First Church, be thriving? We are an institution, after all.
Where I agree is that the church, AND the faith, need to be lighter, more flexible. Like American car companies taking a cue from the Japanese, yes, we must change or die.
But being lighter and more flexible doesn't mean we should be traveling our spiritual journey in flimsy vehicles, patched together from parts, equipment from machinery that doesn't actually belong together.
In retooling the faith, we face the dangers of Syncretism: taking bits and pieces from different religions, traditions from which we have pilfered and to which we have made no real commitments or sacrifices.
In retooling the faith, we also face the sin of Narcissism: taking what we want from our own Christian tradition and leaving the rest, so we can stay comfortable and don't ourselves have to make real change in our lives.
Whether we are entering Christian community for the first time as adults, or making mature commitments to a religion inherited from our parents, sooner or later we have to start asking ourselves some hard questions about what it means to be a Christian.
When you become a Christian, there are certain ideas, attitudes, habits and practices you must let go. What is bound, and what is loosed, for the declared Christian?
Can you be a Christian and a pagan? A Christian and agnostic, humanist, atheist? Where is the line with Jesus-belief, and Jesus-worship? If you don't believe he's the son of God, does that make you a Unitarian?
Can you be a chronic complainer? Someone who is afraid of heights, or depths? Someone who is afraid of dying?
Can Christians gamble? Sleep around? Earn a lot of money and spend it on themselves?
Should you believe to belong? Believe, to take communion, to be a member? What the heck IS baptism, anyhow? If I want to be baptized as an adult so I can join the church, what should I be able to say I believe?
Where is the line in Christian orthodoxy and history, where is the biblical line, and where is the line in our congregation? What exactly is this faith, and how do we make it our own, in this generation?
We'll brainstorm ideas about things to be loosed and things to be bound on our first night together, and pare down that list to a mere 5 themes which will guide our weekly time together. I hope you will join us!
Edit: I just noticed on the "February Calendar Highlights," "Lenten Devotions" at 7am. So, as with Advent, I will have the option to get up extra early every (week)day and go have structured meditative prayer, which would probably be really good for me, but I suspect I will opt for sleep instead. /edit
And, unrelated to Lent...
Trelawney forwarded this to the CAUMC group:
The journal Social Research is sponsoring a conference on US Secularism and Religion, titled "The Religious-Secular Divide: The US Case" on March 5 and 6, 2009 at The New School in New York. Tickets are $50, but there are many discounts, including FREE for students.I feel like I should go sort of on principle, except that the only part that interests me is:
Speakers include Charles Taylor, Jose Casanova, David Martin, Susan Harding, Stephen Carter and more.
For more info: http://www.socres.org/religiousseculard
FRIDAY, MARCH 6th, 2009and possibly (there are no descriptors for this besides a list of panelists):
1:45 pm - 4:30 pm
Session V: Moral Crusades Then and Now: Religious and Secular
* Temperance to the Moral Majority
* Identity Politics
* Culture Wars
5:00 pm - 7:00 pmThough actually, now that I look at my calendar, we already okayed a CAUMC Game Night for that night.
Session VI: Contemporary Debates: The Future of Religion and the Future of Secularism
A Panel Discussion