Lent: a time of Reflection and Renewal
As we enter the season of Lent on Ash Wednesday (2/17), we begin a 40-day period of reflection and renewal. I have always loved Lent although I know many feel otherwise. I remember a former church member saying “I wish we could just skip over Lent and have 6 weeks of Easter. Lent lasts too long!” I understood his perspective and imagine many of you might share it.
Let’s approach it with open hearts this year! There is no time throughout the church year when a season offers us so much in the scripture readings and stories, the heightened awareness of God’s presence in our lives, and of our need for a spiritual anchoring that will enrich our lives.
Most every Lent, I preach a Lenten Sermon Series to help my congregations focus on a particular theme in hope that we will deepen our relationship with God and their neighbor. With so much swirling around in the world lately, a focus for the series theme eluded me. UNTIL, on January 31, I read a prayer by Lutheran pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber. The prayer settled in my heart and over the next few days, by using some thoughts from the prayer, a sermon series began to emerge. I hope it will be a blessing to you!
Here’s Nadia’s prayer, written in her signature unconventional (and sometimes surprising) style:
Give Us Good Courage-a prayer by Nadia Bolz-Weber 1/31/21.
I’ve asked for so many things during this ridiculous pandemic: patience, forbearance, peace, safety, forgiveness, and a new season of the Great British Bake-Off.
But I’ve never asked for courage. So, if courage is something you can give us more of, I think now would be a good time.
(Or maybe it doesn't work like that; maybe we don't get an extra measure of what we need only when we think to ask for it and ask nicely; like a second helping of gruel from the abusive guy who runs the orphanage.)
I’m asking for courage because I’ve tried ignoring my fear and that only works for like, 4 minutes. And I’ve tried resisting it but that seems to make my fear stronger like I’m its personal trainer.
So, give me courage, Lord, to show up in life despite the fear.
Courage to love, despite having been hurt.
Courage to heal, even though I sometimes love my wounds.
Courage to feel lonely and know it will not destroy me.
Courage to clean the kitchen.
Courage to trust that all I have needed, your hand hath already provided. Amen.
With Nadia’s prayer as the foundation, and with so many of us in need of courage and strength to live faithful and centered lives, I invite you to join us for worship during Lent when our sermon series will be called GOOD COURAGE. Each week. we will focus on the assigned scripture for the day and its connection to one of the thoughts in the prayer. The outline is below:
GOOD COURAGE: A Lenten Sermon Series
- 2/21: Good Courage: To Feel Lonely. Mk. 1:9-13
- 2/28: Good Courage: To Show Up. Mk 8: 34-35 and Genesis 17:1-7
- 3/7: Good Courage: To Trust. Numbers 21:4-9 and John 3:14-17
- 3/14: Good Courage: To Heal. John 5:1-9
- 3/21: Good Courage: To Love. Mk 14:3-9
- 3/28: Good Courage: To Clean the Kitchen. Mk. 11:1-11
Lent began on Ash Wednesday, February 17th. That morning, on our Wellspring Congregation Facebook page, I led a brief time of prayer. And that evening, we lit luminarias in Wellspring’s front parking lot in memory of all who have lost their lives due to COVID-19.
I look forward to courageously taking this Lenten journey with you. May we all have a blessed Lent.
Ashley Crowder Stanley
Pastor, Wellspring Congregation