God of wilderness and water,
your Son was baptized and tempted as we are.
Guide us through this season,
that we may not avoid struggle,
but open ourselves to blessing,
through the cleansing depths of repentance
and the heaven-rending words of the Spirit. Amen.
Here in the midst of the snowpocalypse, many of us missed Last Epiphany and t-fig, but it's time to move on, nonetheless. This week is chock of full of activity; we'll be eating pancakes on Tuesday night, perhaps having a pancake race, and burning last year's palms to make ashes. Some will be having packzis (something I never encountered until I moved to this area, where there are lots of folks of eastern European heritage) or king's cake as well.
And then on to Ash Wednesday. We'll have Eucharist with imposition of ashes twice that day, with a kid's service as well. Will you be joining in the ashes-to-go phenomenon? If you're preaching the readings can be found HERE. Preachers can choose between two prophets: Joel, who cries out for repentance--truly turning back to God, or Isaiah, who warns against fasting undertaken for the wrong reasons, and calls instead for caring for the poor and oppressed. The gospel from Matthew, always a tricky one to preach just before imposing ashes, warns against practicing one's piety just to be seen, and reminds us that where our treasures are, so too shall be our hearts.
(READINGS HERE) We begin with a reading from Deuteronomy that rehearses the salvation history of the people of Israel as Moses reminds them about the importance of offering their first fruits back to God--maybe a surprising choice for the first Sunday of Lent. The new testament reading from Paul's letter to the Romans, reaffirms the importance of confessing our faith in Jesus. And our gospel from Luke takes us into the wilderness where we watch as Jesus faces a series of temptations.
How will your Lenten journey begin? Do you have a special theme for the season, or special activities planned? Are you doing a sermon series? How is the word speaking to you this week? Join in the discussion and let us know!