Offerings for Lent and Easter
The Invitation of Lent: What does Lent mean?
The word "lent” comes from the Old English word "lencten” and at first referred to the season of spring and the lengthening of days. By the 3rd and 4th century, Christians observed a special season of 40 days from Ash Wednesday through Easter (not counting other Sundays). They came to call it Lent. The 40 days commemorate the 40 years the Israelites spent wondering in the wilderness after their release from slavery until they found the "Promised Land.” This passage is also part of the story of Jesus spending 40 days in the wilderness after his baptism to face his own challenges, temptations and potentially false ambitions before entering his public ministry. His ministry eventually led him to the cross as his immense life-giving practice of love and compassion ran into opposition. During Lent, we are invited to consider where our way of being, our thoughts and actions may be heading in directions that are not life giving. We ask for God’s help to become aware and turn around. We remember Jesus’ journey of serving, preaching and healing and his courage to give his life in love. Finally, Lent gives way to Easter and the celebration of resurrection.
Announcing this Year's Lenten Study: The Universal Christ by Richard Rohr
The subtitle of Rohr's book is: "How a Forgotten Reality Can Change Everything We See, Hope For, and Believe." Drawing from the diverse Christian tradition, Rohr invites us on a journey of reimagining who Christ is and thereby who we are. Christ is not Jesus' last name though we say that we discover Christ in Jesus in particular form. We experience in Jesus as the Christ the blueprint for what it means to live a human life as an expression of the divine outpouring of creative energy. And there is an even more universal dimension to understanding Christ. Wherever divine energy and matter converge, the Christ becomes manifest. Rohr writes that God loves things by becoming them and infuses all life with the presence of Christ. This Christ energy in us can be bound or thwarted or it can flow freely and creatively. Some of this depends on our vision of who God is and expresses God's self. The Universal Christ is a book that can indeed engage us in a life changing paradigm shift of understanding. This will not simply be an intellectual discussion about an interesting book. Our sharing will include personal reflection, group reflection as well as optional brief worship (prayer and shared silence). Given the pandemic, all meetings will be via Zoom. Unfortunately, we will not gather for our usual Lenten soup dinners. We will meet on Thursdays from 4:30-6:00 pm: February 25, March 4, March 11, March 18, March 25 and possibly additional dates after Easter depending on interest. Please go and explore the special website www.universalchrist.org where you can find videos, podcasts and other helpful resources on the Universal Christ. Participants are asked to buy their own copies of the book.
Because of the pandemic, we will not have a formal liturgy for Ash Wednesday on February 17th, which begins the season of Lent. If you would like to arrange for COVID safe individual conversation and prayer with Ute, please contact her directly either at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at 236-4821 prior to February 17th.
Offerings for Holy Week and Easter
Maundy Thursday Service on April 1 at 7:00 pm
Join us for our online Maundy Thursday Service on April 1st at 7:00 p.m. Although we will not be sharing in a meal, the deacons and pastor will offer an online meditative service including the dramatic reading about the events of the night of the Last Supper. Jesus offered his love in powerful and undying ways and gave all who follow him the commandment to love one another. We will also hear of how Jesus was gradually abandoned by his closest friends as he was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. An Invitation to this service will be sent to friends and members of the congregation. If you are not already on our list, please contact Becky, our office administrator at email@example.com or call the office at 236-4821.
Zoom Video: Maundy Thursday Tenebrae Service
A Good Friday service, Crucifixion and Black Death: A Seven Last Words Service of Lament
This service is now available for churches to download and use. It will also be shown on the Southern New England Conference Facebook page at 3 PM on Good Friday.
The Seven Last Words service will place the traditional scripture texts of Jesus’ final words from the cross in conversation with those of seven black Americans killed by police or extrajudicial actors. This pairing illustrates that just as evil seems to win a confrontation with God’s transforming will at the crucifixion of Jesus, so it sometimes seems when we consider the conditions of our contemporary world. Both lead us to deep lament on what is one of the most difficult days of the Christian year and in the life of the church.
Download the video here:
Good Friday: Seven Last Words Service of Lament—Southern New England Conference of the UCC (sneucc.org)
Easter Sunday Service on April 4th at 9:30 am via Zoom
Rev. Dr. Ute Molitor
Who Shall We Become?
4-4-2021 Easter Sunday
Join in our joyful Easter celebration of life and new beginnings! We will celebrate the gift of resurrection and its implications for our own lives at 9:30 am (via Zoom) with joy. Our pre-recorded celebratory music will include many offerings from the Midcoast Brass Ensemble! May Easter bring blessing of awakening us to the transformational power of God to foster life and renewal even in the face of great suffering. God is still speaking!
An Invitation to this service will be sent to friends and members of the congregation. If you are not already on our list, please contact Becky, our office administrator at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the office at 236-4821.
We will not be offering our usual in-person Easter Sunrise Service this year due to COVID-related safety concerns.
Prerecorded Easter Family Service
We are glad to offer this short Easter service (39 minutes) for your family's celebration. Feel free to share the link— Easter Sunday with Mark Burrows (YouTube)
—and bulletin (download here) with others you know who might enjoy a child-centered service in celebration of Easter.
There is a short ritual early in the service requiring the use of a candle. You might want to have one ready (unlit); we will light our candles together, and follow the short reading which is also found in the bulletin—though the service does not require reading.
The bulletin also includes the lyrics for the final song ("Is He Worthy"); the first song includes the lyrics in the video, and the second is easy enough to follow along ("You'll Never Walk Alone," as recently recorded by the Young People’s Chorus of NYC on the plaza in front of Lincoln Center). The Easter Story is told, with wit and curiosity, by children (with adults) of the Radius Church of LA. We'll also hear the story as told in the Gospel of Mark, and a wonderful new story entitled The Wordless Weaver. So, a rich feast!