I do not feel ready for this season to arrive.
I know that it will be different. It will be less disciplined but no less introspective than every other day since that first case changed our whole lives. There is the Lent that I typically yearn to experience where I exert extra energy on figuring out who God is now. I don’t know that I will do that this year.
I’m still not sure what I will do to mark this season for myself. I know that sometime on Wednesday or Thursday my family and I will begin the practice of welcoming apologies just by saying thank you. That’s the first practice in A Hopeful Lent. I’ll read some special bedtime stories to my children and maybe I’ll convince my husband to talk about some big questions. (My husband is not a person of faith and though I designed these questions with him in mind, I’m still not sure I can convince him. We are both so tired.) I bought the book my sweet Texas church is sharing in for this season and I hope that that connects me to that community currently covered in ice and so many without power.
Lent will begin even if we don’t have pancakes today. I decided that teaching my toddlers to play with food in pancake races was really a recipe for disaster. Their table manners have already plummeted. Still, I want there to be joy and hope as we wonder together about the promises of God.
Responsive Call to Worship Inspired by Psalm 25:1-10 It seems impossible that we find ourselves here again to wonder about who we will be and what God can do. We lift up our souls. We have been waiting and wondering what will be. We yearn for hope and knowing more of the ways of God. We seek what is true. Our minds are quick to wander and we have lost focus more times than we can count but we hope that in these days we will be more and more aware of mercy and love. We learn to walk this path together. Lent begins again. May our souls awake to trust and hope.
Prayer of Confession Inspired by Genesis 9:8-17 O God, it does not quite feel like the clouds have parted. It does not feel like the storm has yet passed. It will rain for several more days. We confess we are tired. We are so very tired. We have given up searching the heavens for new wonders but it feels like nothing will change even as a vaccine ever so slowly rolls out and numbers of infections and hospitalizations diminish. We don't yet see hope in technicolor reaching across the sky and so we pray that you will wrap us possibility. Remind us again that your love reaches through the doubts and worries of this moment and leads us into the promise of possibility. O God, we pray for the blessing of your colorful possibility. Amen.
I shared last week the possibility of sharing in Pandemic Easter Affirmations where people could share in the practice of proclaiming what faith feels like right now. I suggested a workshop and that maybe these could be gathered into a booklet to lead the congregation through the Easter season. I also mentioned that examples are helpful to get the creative juices flowing and that I might be sharing such affirmations for Lent. Here is the first for this season.
Affirmation for the Wilderness We believe that God is working wonders in the wilderness of our lives. We have felt tested. We've hit a pandemic wall but walls crumble with trumpet blasts and hope grows through the cracks on the sidewalk. This is not the end. We know this. Of course, we know this is true for we are people of possibility and hope who know that the worst thing is never the last thing. We are people who have wandered though the wilderness to find the way to freedom. We've crossed seas and moved mountains with faith as small as a mustard seed. We believe that these wonders will come again. It is the promise of new life. It is the promise that we cannot yet see but God still reaches across creation to show us again and again that wonders never cease. We believe God is working wonders in us right now.
That’s all I’ve got for you this week, dear pastors. I am praying for you. I am praying for you, as always.