Lenten Series

2017 Lenten Sunday Sermon Series

Gathering Around the Table: Resisting the Empires

On Sunday mornings during the Season of Lent, our worship services will be built around the great biblical theme of resisting the empires of the world. From the Hebrews fleeing slavery in Egypt to the early Christians’ persecution by the Romans, the pages of scripture are filled with stories of people of faith who refuse to abandon their trust in God, even when the earthly empires do all they can to stop them. Sometimes this faithful resistance has a prophetic “in your face” feel, and at other times it is shown in more subtle and subversive ways. The Apostle Paul reminds us: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds.” (Romans 12:2) That’s precisely what we’ll be doing during this season of Lent. Each Sunday we will explore a story of resistance and its meaning for us today. As we journey through these weeks, we will place different items on our communion table that connect with the particular story for that week. A take-home intergenerational Lenten Devotional has been prepared that allows everyone in our church family to connect these themes from worship to their daily lives. By the time we reach the end of Lent, we will have set the table for the greatest and most profound resistance to the empires of the world: Christ’s entry into Jerusalem, his final meal with the disciples, his death, and ultimately his resurrection!

March 5 – Exodus: The Hebrews Fleeing the Empire of Egypt
March 12 (Youth Sunday)―Beatitudes: Countercultural Resistance
March 19 (Festival of Faith)―Revelation: The Church’s Hope Beyond the Empire
March 26 – Rizpah and David: Mourning as Resistance
April 2 – Acts: Discipleship as Turning the Empire Upside Down
April 9 (Palm/Passion Sunday) – Holy Week: The Cross and the Empire

Ash Wednesday & Lenten Worship Services

On Ash Wednesday, March 1 at 12:15 in the Chapel we will begin our series of mid-week Lenten worship services in the Celtic tradition with liturgy from Iona, Scotland. During these Wednesday worship services (from March 1 through April 5) our pastors will offer homilies based on readings from the book of Revelation, which will also be our featured scripture for the Festival of Faith. Organ music for meditation begins each Wednesday at noon.

The wearing of ashes is a powerful biblical image of repentance. Thus, for many Christians, the imposition of ashes during worship on Ash Wednesday has become an important beginning to the season of Lent. Our Worship Committee has approved offering the imposition of ashes to those who desire it on Ash Wednesday. Some of us many be unfamiliar with this Christian tradition, and others of us may have thought of this as a practice only done by Roman Catholic churches. In truth, many Protestants, including Presbyterians, have embraced this biblical practice. This portion of the Ash Wednesday service will structured so that those who wish to receive ashes can do so, but no one will be excluded from fully participating in the service.

Music for Meditation Begins on Ash Wednesday at Noon

Again this year our Wednesday mid-day Lenten services will be preceded by fifteen minutes of music. In addition to organ music, on several occasions solo singers and instrumentalists will contribute to this music, which begins  at noon (watch the bulletin each week for the schedule of participants.) Vera Lynn Sheets will be singing on Ash Wednesday. Although we call this “Music for Meditation,” we shouldn’t think that the music will necessarily be mood music that is consistently quiet, calm, innocuous, and easy to ignore while one reflects on spiritual things, although of course reflection on spiritual things is obviously good. I prefer to think of meditation in this context as intentionally removing oneself from daily routines and activities, calming one’s mind and spirit, losing oneself in the music, opening and giving oneself to the sounds and rhythms. Some of the music will be based on hymns that we know, and thus we will be reminded of their words and led to ponder them. In fact, there will on occasion be a solo singer from our Chancel Choir who will sing verses of the hymn on which the organ music is based (especially when the hymn is not familiar.) But other music will be freely composed, not based on any pre-existing tune or related to any hymn text and thus, one might live for a few minutes in a world that is totally and only music. Some of the music is quiet and calm, some is not; in fact, there is substantial variety in character and mood in our Lenten organ music. Some of it may be quite animated and vigorous. I look forward to playing our chapel’s beautiful Brown Wallace Memorial pipe organ on these Lenten Wednesdays, as well as welcoming participation of other musicians– and I invite you to enter this world of musical meditation and the worship

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