Pastor’s Pen – Feb. 2024

Pastor’s Pen – Feb. 2024

Sunday’s Again & Again; Wednesday Community Worship!

Welcome to the Lenten Edition of the Epistle! I know that it feels like we have just put away the Christmas trees (In my house, I did!), but Lent is upon us early this year. May I suggest that we resist the refrain of “Lent? Already!” and try to embrace a different refrain? Maybe a refrain that celebrates that we have no gifts to buy and wrap and only limited cultural hysteria to distract us from the message of God’s love.

Again & Again, God has chosen us to be in covenant with Lent, while time of reflection and penitence, is also a celebration of the enduring covenant between God and human beings. May I suggest we allow Lent to come and get us? We allow our traditions and our new challenges enter our lives and see how we can experience God anew?

What does this Lent have in its call? Every Wednesday night is an opportunity to worship with 5 other churches from the area. Ash Wednesday we have dinner here at Plymouth and then travel to Burlington UMC to hear our own Rev. John Gibbon preach. The full schedule for Wednesdays is given in detail in this Lenten Addition and in our bulletins. Please check your calendar and see how many of the services you can make. Also available on Ash Wednesday is a daytime service of communion and ash imposition in our chapel. I am available on Ash Wednesday morning to drive to members’ homes and deliver ashes and communion! Just contact me to get on my list of love!

On Maundy Thursday we will host the other 5 churches here. On Good Friday we will have a Tenebrae service in our Sanctuary or Chapel. Tenebrae is Latin for darkness and during the service we will follow Jesus to the cross, place him in the tomb, and depart the church in silence only to return on Easter morning.

This Lenten season has the distinction of having St. Patrick’s Day embedded in the middle of it. On Sunday, March 17th, Rev. John Gibbon will be designing and leading worship with our music staff and choirs. Join me in the pews to experience this unique time. Again & Again God Chooses Us! Let us dedicate this upcoming Lent to Again & Again relying upon God.

AGAIN & AGAIN – A Lenten Refrain

When we cry out in despair, we need to remember God’s Sacred Refrain: “I Choose you, I love you, I will lead you to repair.” In Lent, we’re reminded that again and again suffering and brokenness find us. Sometimes we feel the world and our lives are caught in a cycle we cannot get out of; we doubt again, we lament again, we mess up again. Again and again, the story of Jesus on the cross repeats – every time lives are taken unjustly, every time the powerful chose corruption and violence, every time individuals forget how to live together in love. With exacerbation we exclaim, “Again?! How Long, O God?” and yet, in the midst of the motion blur chaos of our lives, God offers a sacred refrain: “I choose you, I love you, I will lead you to repair.” Again and again, God breaks the cycle and offers us a new way forward. Do we work to see the way?

The theme Again & Again – A Lenten Refrain provides a clear invitation in a time when much is unclear. Even if worshiping apart, we come to God again and again with our prayers, our dreams, our hopes, our imaginings, and our doubts. Even from a distance, we will continue to be a community to one another, especially when it’s hard, by choosing each other over and over again. We will continue to love God with the same persistence God chooses and claims us. Our sub-theme, A Lenten Refrain, speaks to the ways God can make music in our lives. “Refrain” also reminds us that lent is a season of abstaining from certain practices in order to take on new rhythms and habits.

In this upcoming season, we need rituals, both old and new, to remember and be transformed. Embodied practice builds muscle memory. Repetition helps retain our neural pathways (and who doesn’t need that at any age?). We need the days of Lent because this season shapes us into more faithful disciples. Join us this Lent as again and again, we bring all who we are to God and trust that God will meet us, time and again, along the way.