By the Rev. Nancy DeStefano
Next Wednesday, March 5, begins the important and meaningful season of Lent in our church year. We will kick off the season by having a Pancake Supper on "Shrove Tuesday" (March 4) - also
After Shrove Tuesday comes Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. On March 5 we
will join together for an Ash Wednesday Worship Service at 7 p.m. with the distribution of ashes. This is a wonderful way to begin this special and sacred time of our church year.
The Lenten Season is one of the most important seasons in the Christian faith. It is a period of 40 days (minus Sundays), starting with Ash Wednesday and ending on Maundy Thursday – the day that begins the "passover of the Lord" known as the Easter Triduum. During Lent, Christians around the world participate in a season of penitence, prayers, fasting and self-denial, just as Jesus did when he spent 40 days in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-25 and Luke 4:1-13). This culminates in the great worship experiences of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter.
Many believers pray and fast during the 40 days of Lent. Prayer and fasting prepare us for a spiritual deepening – a closer walk with Christ. Our Bishop, Mike McKee, has challenged all of us to join him this Lent by fasting from one meal each week and putting aside the money we would have spent on that meal. An important project called the Zip Code project that our North Texas Annual Conference has begun will be the recipient of all the money that is donated from the fast. This project has identified two zip codes – one is in the Fair Park area of Dallas and the other in rural Clarksville – as two places that the United Methodist Church will spend time, resources and energy to partner with other community leaders to truly make a difference in the lives of those who live there. If you choose to join our Bishop and me in this fast, please put your money aside and bring it to church on the last Sunday of Lent or on Maundy Thursday or Good Friday. We will send it all in together to the Conference office for this important project. If you would like more information about the Zip Code project you can find it at the Conference website.
More Lenten observances will be detailed in a future post.