For the first time since 1956, we have a year where Ash Wednesday falls on Valentine’s Day (not so great if you’re giving up sweets for Lent) and Easter Sunday falls on April Fool’s Day; (everyone is going to want to be a comedian that day).
It’s a relatively early start to Lent, so that time will be upon us quickly. Although midweek Lenten programming isn’t anything new around here, we will be doing something different during this Lenten season: we will focus both a book study and our worship services on the themes of Eric Elnes’ book, Gifts of the Dark Wood. The “dark wood” represents a place where we might find uncertainty, temptation, and solitude, and a journey into that woods can teach us some lessons in faith. We will begin our time on Wednesday with a simple meal at 5:30 p.m., and a study on the Elnes book at 6:00 p.m., in Fellowship Hall, overlapping with the meal time (Marsha’s article in this month’s Chimes will explain the study in more detail). Worship (slated to be 30-40 minutes in length) will follow at 7:00 p.m. Our weekly themes will be, as follows: February 14th – “Where We Find Ourselves”; February 21st – “The Gift of Uncertainty”; February 28th – “The Gift of Emptiness”; March 7th – “The Gift of Being Thunderstruck”; March 14th – “The Gift of Getting Lost”; March 21st – “The Gift of Temptation.” Worship on March 14th will also feature a service of Holy Communion.
The season of Lent is a time that encourages spiritual discipline. Some may fast and give something up. Others may take something new on. This study will give us an opportunity to take on a moment of reflection and growth, and I encourage you to be open to it.
Finally, a word about the membership information forms. I want to thank those of you who have turned them in: updated contact information is always appreciated in an era where phone numbers and e-mail addressed change so rapidly. We are, however, still waiting on a number of them, and I would encourage those of you who have not filled yours out to do so, at your nearest convenience.
I have had persons ask me why we have asked everyone to state what their membership status is, and they wish to be considered as a Member in Covenant or as a Friend of Salem. The simple answer is that it gives us the opportunity to give witness to our desire to be part of this household of faith at Salem. How often do we give that idea much thought? How often do we have the chance to make a declaration of it? If we asked to go on the record for our connection to organizations in the secular world, is it a hard thing to ask that we do it for our connection to the church one time a year? Some food for thought.
As I say, Lent will be upon us sooner than we know. May this upcoming season give you opportunities for spiritual growth and nurture.
Your servant in Christ,
Rev. Jim Hoppert