Updated: Apr 10, 2019
The month of March signals the beginning of our Lenten journey toward the cross of Jesus and Easter. We call it a journey because it really does feel that way, as though we're moving and even being propelled from a growing darkness toward a joy-filled morning.
Lent is reflected in the sky itself as the darkness of winter begins to relent and the days begin to lengthen. The word “Lent” actually comes from the Old English word meaning “to lengthen or make longer,” referring to the lengthening of the daylight. Our worship from now until Easter will focus on this journey, toward morning.
On Ash Wednesday, perhaps the most penitential day of the church calendar, we gather for a worship service with a focus on the weakness of our mortality and admitting our need for God's mercy. It is in the midst of this ancient Ash Wednesday liturgy that we hear an invitation to Lent. We hear these words:
“As disciples of Jesus, we are called to a discipline that contends against evil and resists whatever leads us away from love of God and neighbor. I invite you, therefore, to the discipline of Lent – self-examination and repentance, prayer and fasting, sacrificial giving and works of love – strengthened by the gifts of word and sacrament...”
It is important to remember that the “disciplines of Lent” are not things we do in order to earn a promised resurrection. The work of Jesus on the cross is our only righteousness! The “disciplines of Lent” are simply the tools used by faithful travelers trying to keep their eyes focused on a path that leads out of darkness toward morning.
After Ash Wednesday, on the five subsequent Wednesday evenings of Lent, we will explore these “disciplines of Lent” with a different preacher each week. Stephan Sandness (Our Savior's, Spearfish), Jonathan Steiner (Piedmont Valley), Kris Garlick (Grace, Sturgis) and Rachel Nelson (Campus Ministries) and I will be taking turns at each church over the course of the Lenten season.
Our theme is “Toward Morning”. We'll be exploring together how the “disciplines of Lent” (generosity, prayer, hospitality, fasting/sacrifice and penitence) can be guideposts for travelling Christians. The worship at St. James during the Wednesdays of Lent will use the beautiful setting of the Holden Evening Prayer as our foundational liturgy. Meals will be served beginning at 5:30, with worship at 6:30 PM.
Join us for the Wednesdays of Lent this year, as together we make our way Toward Morning!