This month we enter into the season of Lent. Lent was traditionally a period of 40 days of penitence before the celebration of Easter. The 40 days were symbolic of the 40 days Jesus fasted in the wilderness before beginning his ministry, or the 40 years that Israel was in the wilderness. However Lent actually begins 46 days before Easter because Sundays were days of celebration of the resurrection, so it was not considered appropriate to have Sundays be days of penitence. Originally believers were expected to avoid meat during the days of penitence, with actual fasting from all food on Wednesdays and Fridays. Over the centuries the fasting requirements were continually loosened until it became the custom to give up something you enjoyed for the whole season. This was considered a sacrifice made to honor God, and (it was hoped) to draw people closer to God.
However, things done by rote, often lack the spiritual effect of things done from the heart, so for many it became a search to find something easy to give up, and thus people didn’t associate it as a sacrifice made to honor God. It was just another custom to be followed. Many Christian leaders began encouraging their congregations instead to take up something for Lent: to spend more time in bible study or prayer, or to participate in a new way of helping other people you’ve never tried before. In other words, to spend more time with God and his children than we usually do.
This year at AUMC, we will begin Lent with our Ash Wednesday service on February 17 at 6:30pm. It will be a half hour service, much as we have done in the past which will offer time for meditation on those things we need to confess, but also the things that we need to release into God’s hands. It will also offer a time to remember God’s promise of healing from sin and from spiritual malaise. As with our Sunday service, this will be videotaped and posted to Youtube and to our church website (AztecMethodist.org).
The following six Wednesdays of Lent we will have prayer meetings over Zoom. These will begin at 7:00pm, and will start with some teaching about various kinds and styles of prayer, followed by a time of prayer together. If you want to join these meetings, you can e-mail me at , and I will send you a link to click on that will take you directly to the meeting. Or you can log on to zoom.us and indicate that you want to join a meeting. Then enter the meeting id: 829 0425 2550 and the passcode: 362122. When I see your name, I will admit you to the meeting. (To avoid problems some churches have had with disruptive interlopers, if I don’t recognize a name, I may not admit that person, so if you are new to our fellowship, you may want to call me beforehand at 505-504-0790.) If there is interest we may continue these prayer meetings after Lent is over, or we might begin an on-line bible study (hopefully continuing when we are able to meet more freely in person.)
Or you might want to begin a new daily devotional. We have copies of The Upper Room available at the church, or there are daily devotionals offered online (or by text) by seedbed.com or many others. We also have devotional books available to borrow at the church. Or if you are called instead to service, You can join us for the TEFAP distribution on February 9 or March 9 at the church. ECHO food bank is always looking for volunteers as is Habitat for Humanity. We haven’t heard yet whether the Farmington passion play will be possible this year, but if it is going on, they always need volunteers to take parts or work behind the scenes.
During this Lenten season let all of us take time to offer ourselves in fellowship with our Lord.