Welcome to Lent at South Shore UMC-Chicago 2021
Lent is the season of reflection and preparation that is 40 days, not including Sundays, leading up to Easter. The focus is on repentance—expressing regret to God for our sin (all the things we do wrong and the good things we leave undone) with an intention to “turn around” and do things differently. The season began on Ash Wednesday (February 17 this year). While we were not able to meet together in worship to receive ashes placed on our foreheads as a sign of our remorse, through the gift of technology, we still did collectively and individually confront our own sin of not keeping God at the center of our lives and the resulting sins, which have hurt others, creation, and ourselves. Our online experience included prayers and preaching. We applied a mark to our foreheads using whatever we had available in our homes that would remind us that “from dust we came, and to dust we shall return.” The marks symbolized an acknowledgement of our inevitable death and need to prepare spiritually for eternal life when our physical life on earth is over. They also reminded us that through our baptism, we are called to “die to self”, daily deny ourselves and pick up our cross to follow Jesus. (Matthew 16:24)
So how are you going to observe Lent? How are you going to prepare to celebrate the miracle and gift of resurrection?
I invite you to adopt some or all of these ways:
- Pray. This undergirds everything we do as followers of Jesus. Helpful guides are on our Facebook page under the Prayer tab on the Home Page.
- Worship. Commit to joining with the body of Christ in worship AND bring others with you. For now, we anticipate continuing in our virtual format on Zoom and Facebook Live (@ssumcchicago). See Home Page for more details.
- Check out the Prayer and Fasting Guide by clicking on the Prayer link on our Home Page. A common practice is to abstain from Thursday after dinner to Friday dinner. However you fast, seek God even more intensively in prayer. Pray specifically for our church and it’s witness to the Word and your part in it.
- Adopt Healthy Eating Habits. When not fasting, now is a good time to revisit the Daniel Plan or another diet that helps you honor God by honoring your body. Reclaim it as the temple of God’s Spirit that it is. (1 Cor. 6:19)
- Join a Bible study. Classes are on Sunday mornings, Monday nights, and Wednesday mornings. Join others, as we grow deeper in love with the God who loves us beyond measure and tells us so in His holy scriptures. See Home Page for more details.
- Private Devotions. Can’t get to a group Bible study or you want some guided private time with God in addition to group study? Fill out a Contact Us Form and we will follow up to get you material that you can use on your own.
- Give and Help Others. Find a way to follow up your spiritual disciplines with efforts to help others. This may take many forms. Be creative. How about giving up something like eating out or a daily run to Dunkin Donuts or Starbuck’s or shopping for unnecessary items to then contribute the money saved to the church to support our work in and with the community. You might begin your spring-cleaning early and identify items to be donated to charity. During this pandemic season that has devastated families and communities, there are many who could benefit from your donations. Practicing generosity is a spiritual discipline.
This is not an exhaustive list, but suggestions to get you started on the journey of preparation through spiritual disciplines and other practices with the goal of growing closer to God .
God bless us all as we journey together to the cross and beyond… to the empty tomb! I am looking forward to what God will do in us and through us during this time.
Yours in Christ,
Rev. Adonna Reid