It’s Lent, a season that will lead us on a journey to the cross. The colors change from ordinary green to a kingly but sombre purple. Lent is is a season to be uncomfortable, to face our own mortality and our complicity in the crucifixion. We remember that just a little bit ago, we rejoiced at the birth of our Savior, even though in not much longer, we will be the reason He is hung on a cross to die for us. But for now, we’re leaving on a pilgrimage. We’re taking what we’ll need, the scripture and the prayers. To remind us that we’re on a journey, the cross that met you at the door the first morning will move closer to the communion table every week. The sanctuary will look a bit different every Sunday because the world is changing as we get closer to the cross and as Jesus gets closer to dying for us. There will be no flowers, only dead palm branches. The cross won’t be lit again until Easter.
The tables will be set up with a different prayer station every week. A mentor once explained to me that people have different learning styles. Some people absorb information through listening to people lecture or talk (or preach). Some people do better if they read the information themselves (like following along with a Bible reading). Some people need to see pictures or graphs. Some people need to be physically involved. In a church service, there aren’t as many options for the last two groups of people, but just like not everyone learns the same way, not everyone relates to God in the same way. Prayer stations allow people to talk to God while using their hands, which can be a stronger and more tactile reminder of their connection to God for some people.
We will share communion every week. We’re used to sharing communion only on the first Sunday of the month, but I think that sometimes that tradition can feel like a habitual obligation. When we come together as a church to share in meal, whether it’s a bite of bread or a full potluck, that meal is a special occasion and we share special meals for a reason. Sometimes we eat together to celebrate something, like at Easter or after Consecration Sunday. Sometimes we eat together because we enjoy each other’s company, like at a Merry Makers dinner or at coffee hour. Sometimes we eat together because we need the support of our community and because sharing food can be one of the ways we express sympathy, like at a wake or after a funeral. I think that sharing communion throughout Lent is a little bit like that.
A lot of people around the world take on extra spiritual practices for the season of Lent. Some people fast or won’t eat meat on Fridays, some people give up chocolate or alcohol or social media, some people commit to reading more of the Bible every day, to writing sacred poetry, to wearing something that reminds them that they are a child of God. For some people, giving something up is a way to be in the wilderness with Jesus in solidarity. For some people, adding a spiritual practice is a way to carry something in solidarity with Jesus as He carries the cross. Throughout Lent, I hope that some of you will join me at our special Lenten Bible Study series on art and the stations of the cross at 9:00 on Wednesday mornings in the lounge.
About two thousand years ago, Jesus and His friends gathered together to share a meal for what He knew would be the last time. We celebrate this event on the Thursday before Easter, which various English-speaking churches refer to as either “Maundy Thursday,” “Holy Thursday,” or “Shere Thursday.” The day is generally honored in one or several of the following ways: a foot-washing ceremony, a shared meal, or by removing all hangings and decorations from the sanctuary.
Here at Peoples, we will be gathering on Maundy Thursday (March 29) at 5:30 in Fellowship Hall. We will share a simple meal of bread, fruit, nuts, and cheese, reminiscent of what Jesus and His friends might have been eating. The food will be served family style on the tables and we will have a worship service in the same space when we finish eating.
The word “maundy” refers to the ritual of washing feet. During the meal, groups will be invited, a few people at a time, to ritually rinse each other’s feet. We’ll have pitchers of warm water set up so that we can take turns sitting down and holding out our feet over a basin so that water can be poured over them to remember that Jesus washed the feet of His friends as an expression of love and humility.
shalom and agape
Rev Leia Rose Battaglia