What is Lent? How does United Church observe Lent?

lent jesusThe season of Lent is preparation for Easter.  The word “Lent” refers to the lengthening of days at this time of the year in our part of the world.  The season begins on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 10, and lasts for 40 days (recalling the Israelites wandering for 40 years in the desert and the 40 days of Jesus’ temptation) plus six Sundays.  The seventh Sunday is Easter, marking the fulfillment of creation–this year on March 27.

In each liturgical season we make changes in the decorations in the sanctuary, as well as seasonal adjustments to our order of worship.  In addition to our musical offerings and the Word proclaimed, these changes remind us of the rhythms of the sacred year and invite us to use all our senses to encounter the holy.   Purple has been the church’s traditional color for reminding us of the need for repentance and God’s help in living whole lives.  As additional reminders:  we add the ancient Kyrie  (the first word of the sung prayer, meaning “Lord, have mercy”) to our time of confession.  We sing the doxology (and choose hymns  and other music) without Alleluias.  They return on the glorious festival of the resurrection that is Easter day.

“The Lengthening of Days:  Stretching Our Spirits”

The liturgical season of Lent is a time when Christians around the world prepare their spirits for the wonder of the Easter miracle.  There are all kinds of disciplines we might practice.  A variety of activities gives us occasion to explore our own spirituality as well as the ancient practices of the church.  Here at UCF we will be “Bagging Lent” to encourage our individual and communal journey through these days.

Here are some of the opportunities we have for exploring our faith and enhancing our discipleship.  Consider trying something new, even if just for the season —

  • Join the mid-week Bible study, attend Adult Forum or the Sunday morning Bible study
  • Join one of the choirs, leading worship and praise with the wonderful music of Lent and Easter
  • Commit to attending worship or church school more frequently
  • Make a point of attending the special seasonal services beginning with Ash Wednesday and continuing through Holy Week (worship schedule here)
  • Engage in a few minutes of prayer or meditation each day
  • Take time to read the Sunday Scriptures in advance of Sunday morningBasic CMYK
  • As always on communion Sundays, as we prepare to come to the Lord’s Table, we are reminded of those whose tables do not provide enough nourishment.   We strive throughout  the year to make a contribution to the Food Pantry on those Sundays.  During Lent, we are challenged to remember the hungry and make a contribution each Sunday.
  • Sign up to serve at Isaiah’s Table or participate in one of our other mission activities serving our neighbors in need.
  • Participate in nourishing our community through offering fellowship one Sunday or assisting  Congregational Care with home visits.

During Advent, I was struck by the reflection and energy the Worship and Spiritual Life Committee put into choosing the “Faces of Advent” for the banner in the hallway.  I was also struck by the number of people I saw pause to consider and comment on them each week.  It was a simple form of additional engagement that enriched the worship experience of those who tried it.  Don’t miss the similar opportunities of Lent to warm your spirit in these cold days by building enriching engaging connections with God and one another.