“Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you.”
I write this letter on the eve of Lent, Tuesday, February 25, 2020. Lent is the season of 40 days before Easter, not counting Sundays, that begins on Ash Wednesday each year. It is a tradition among many Christians to give up something during this season as a way of sharing in the 40 days that Jesus fasted in the wilderness following his baptism. By giving up something we also free our resources and/or time so that we have more time and resources to spend in relationship with God. Are you giving up something this Lent? Ash Wednesday is only hours away as I write and I’m still not sure if or what I will do differently in the next 40 days. There is no “requirement” that Christians observe the tradition of giving up something for Lent or for treating these days and weeks leading up to Easter any differently than any other 40 days, but it is good for us to periodically examine our practices and perhaps give up or take on something new as we grow in relationship with God through Jesus the Christ. By the time you read this letter there will be less than 40 days of Lent left, but don’t let that stop you from prayerfully discerning what you might do new, or in a new way.
Probably the most common thing that I hear people say they are giving up during Lent is sweets. Other things to consider giving up, or changing the time and money we spend on them are: coffee at a favorite coffee shop, eating out, hours spent watching television, hours spent online or playing video games. But more important than what we give up is what we do with the time and resources that are freed up by our sacrifice. Consider new spiritual practices related to prayer, scripture reading, worship, spending time with other Christians, serving persons in need, spending time in nature.
One thing to include in your prayers is the new pastor who will be appointed to serve Eureka First United Methodist Church on July 1, 2020. I don’t know about you, but I am eagerly awaiting that announcement that I anticipate and hope will be made before Easter. I trust that the Holy Spirit is working through our District Superintendent and Bishop to discern who is the right person at this time to serve this church in this community. “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.” Jeremiah 29:11
And keep looking for trilliums! I have yet to see my first trillium in 2020, but thank you to Karen Newton and Louise Fredrickson for sharing pictures of their first sightings of these sweet white blossoms with 3 petals, most often seen amongst our redwood trees. Lent is definitely trillium season on the north coast.