...unless you really want to, of course. But it's not the only option for Lent.
The opportunities below can help you GO DEEPER in your spirituality this Lent (with or without chocolate):
Find the event or practice that allows you to make Lent a time to deepen and connect with God and community. And, of course, see you at Sunday worship, March 10 through Easter Sunday, April 21.
Spring and Lent are coming! Even though as I write this to you it is snowy and 21 degrees according to the thermometer on our deck! Still deep under the frozen ground, the roots of our trees and perennials are growing and the seeds we scattered in the fall are germinating. There is life deep down!
Life is always stirring deep in our souls as well, no matter the outer state of our lives. This Lenten season (which begins Ash Wednesday, March 6, with our annual 6:15 p.m. soup supper and Ash Wednesday service at 7:00 p.m.) we are “Going Deeper.” As a faith community, I invite you to join with me and with one another as we put the roots of our faith deeper within the soil of God’s love in all our worship, formation, outreach and fellowship activities.
To further your Lenten journey, please join your Plymouth family in a time of reflection, creativity and fellowship at our first Plymouth intergenerational art and spiritual retreat, Going Deeper: Putting Down Soul Roots, March 8-10. We will explore and follow the life of trees through art projects for ALL ages and ALL art experience levels, reflection on poetry and scripture, prayer, fun and fellowship. Friday evening, 3/8, from 6:30-8:30 and Saturday, 3/9, 9:30-11:45 and 1:00-3:00, led by our artist/theologian-in-residence, the Rev. Dr. Linda Privitera.
Do you know what trees and people have in common? The “giveaway” answer is that both function much better in community. The recent NY Times best-seller, The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben, tells us that isolated or solitary trees do not live as long as those in a forest. Sustenance comes from a network now being studied by researchers about how trees communicate, warn of danger, feed, sustain and nurture even the weaker members of the forest.
With this background knowledge from the science of creation, our retreat time with Linda will function on the assumption that making art is an intuitive and concrete way of knowing. Engaging in a variety of art experiences around the theme of trees, all designed for fun, we will also engage reflective processes to help us listen to the journey of the soul, deepening our understanding of how God’s Spirit is working within us individually and communally.
Our artistic and spiritual retreat journey this weekend will be grounded in Jesus’ time in the “wilderness,” which is the traditional gospel lesson for the beginning of Lent. Expanding on the traditional view of wilderness time as a time of trial, we will journey with Jesus in a soul-enriching time, thinking about what he might have gained from his time in nature. It is no surprise to us here in Colorado and particularly in our community, rich in environmental scientists, that God’s creation has so much to teach us about what really matters in this world.
Our artistic and spiritual work will culminate with an Lenten art installation of trees, roots, and connections created by YOU under Linda’s leadership and direction. The plan is that together, adults, youth and children, will create a network of roots connecting our individual art pieces of trees and roots, and linking it all to the base of the cross in the sanctuary which will “grow” a large system of roots joining everything together. Come and see what you can create with zip ties, twisty wires, braided heavy twine and raffia! How will hot glue guns, stencils highlighting the work of Gustav Klimt, rocks, and your own creativity shape a forest of spiritual connections that deepen the roots of our faith community? Come and find out!
Sign up now by clicking this link.........or registering at the “Going Deeper” Art Weekend table in Fellowship Hall, February 23 and March 3 before and after worship times.
College students, youth, and kids are free! (But please register so we know you’re coming.) Adults, $35.00 and Families with two adults, $60.00. Don’t let finances get in the way...assistance is available...just talk to me or send me an email.
Blessings on our journey together deeper into God’s love,
The Rev. Jane Anne Ferguson, Associate, Minister, is a writer, storyteller, and contributor to Feasting on the Word, a popular biblical commentary. She is also the writer of sermon-stories.com, a lectionary-based story-commentary series. Learn more about Jane Ann here.
Have you ever heard Argentinian-born sportscaster Andres Cantor call a soccer match and when one team scores, he lets out a minutes-long cry of G-O-O-O-O-A-A-A-L? It is a fantastically memorable sound. And we did something memorable last night… At the first meeting of our new Leadership Council, we passed a set of goals for Plymouth in 2019. (By the way, it’s an amazing group of Plymouth folks who form this year’s Council!)
I shared these goals in our staff meeting this morning and met with a strong positive response from my staff colleagues, as well. Different ministry teams, boards, staff, and the Leadership Council itself will be tackling these goals during 2019. So, with no further ado…
Plymouth Goals for 2019
I look forward to working with YOU to help engage these goals as we delve into an exciting year at Plymouth when together we will Go Deeper!
The Rev. Hal Chorpenning has been Plymouth's senior minister since 2002. Before that, he was associate conference minister with the Connecticut Conference of the UCC. A grant from the Lilly Endowment enabled him to study Celtic Christianity in the UK and Ireland. Prior to ordained ministry, Hal had a business in corporate communications. Read more about Hal.
“You will seek me and find me, where you seek me with all your heart.”
- Jeremiah 29: 13
“Can you find out the deep things of God? Can you find out the limit of the Almighty? Is it higher than heaven—what can you do? Deeper than Sheol—what can you do? Its measure is longer than the earth, and broader than the sea.”
- Job 10: 7-9
Today is the State of Union and, by every measure, our sense of union across difference, politics, and even faith traditions, is under more extraordinary pressure than in recent memory. We find ourselves evaluating the national and even humanitarian “State of the Union” in terms that are anything but ordinary. It does make me ask myself if there is really greater disunion or if we are conditioned by our media outlets of choice (on either end) to look for and observe (celebrate?) discord more than the love that still unites people across difference in ever more extraordinary ways? Just a thought…
Lucky for us, we are facing these extraordinary times with the safety and security of a Christian faith tradition grounded first and foremost in the idea of eternal hope—both for this Realm and the next. We are, if we do Christianity right, embedded in a culture and even a Savior of hope. Moreover, somewhat ironically, this liturgical season between Epiphany (anything but normal) and Lent (certainly strange) is actually a short month of “Ordinary Time” in the midst of liturgical seasons of great instability. This is, whatever truth we find in it, technically Ordinary Time in the Church Year.
As we all grapple to find and remember our collective Baptismal Call to Hope and to seeking God in all things and in every time, I would like to invite you to join me in a new practice. Our Baptisms call us to look forward in hope to a better day rather than backwards towards how it was before our current perceived state of disunion. Hear me on this: Things will never again be the way they were before or how they were when you were a kid, so our greatest hope lies in God and in uncovering the immense potential of a New Ordinary Time. Hope isn’t a thing of the past. Hope is the way of seeing the gifts of now. It is trusting that God can make good come from even the worst imaginable and then acting and working to do our part to make that envisioned future of union possible… come tomorrow or come three lifetimes from now.
Here is a short tale I want to tell from my Canadian history that is a small floral example of what I mean. All of our families bring stories with them from the places we were before. My maternal family happens to be Canadian and has a trove of stories similar to but nuanced from our American narratives. Here is one of my favorites that, while simple, always gives me hope in the face of global disunion:
If you ever visit the stately Canadian Capitol City of Ottawa, you will be surrounded by a deep sense of history, civic pride, and beautiful grounds. If you visit in the winter, you will see that the canals throughout the city are used as linear ice rinks to form a public transit infrastructure for ice-skater commuting to class or to work. It gives being late for work and speed skating practice a nice overlap! If you visit in the early summer, when the canals are melted and form more of a calming backdrop, you will be surrounded by the largest tulip gardens in the world. Tulips, tulips everywhere in every color! It is like Pella or Orange City, Iowa or Holland, Michigan multiplied by the tens of thousands. “Where did these Tulips come from,” you may well wonder, “and why Ottawa?”
As the story goes, on May 12, 1940, when the tulips were still blooming, the future Queen Juliana of the Netherlands boarded a ship for Ottawa for safe keeping during the ravages of World War II. In Canada, she met an unmatched sense of hospitality, care, and true national mutuality. The Canadian government even went to the lengths to declare the hospital room where Queen Juliana gave birth to Princess Margriet to be official Dutch Territory so as to make the birth completely Dutch.
In 1945, when she finally got home, Queen Juliana sent 100,000 bulbs to the City of Ottawa and then another 20,000 plus bulbs to the hospital that had shown such understanding and went to such lengths during the birth of Margriet. Every year, for the rest of her life, Queen Juliana sent tulip bulbs over the North Atlantic to the Ottawa as a sign of union and connection. That is the story, as I have heard it, of the Tulips of Ottawa.
Why does that matter today? The New Ordinary, after a time of great darkness and international disunion like we have never seen before in history, still has signs of flowers, or relationship, and of hope. The uncertainty and disunion in the world today cannot even begin to be measured against 1940, but still the sense of despondence and pessimism, particularly in the Mainline Progressive Church, is concerning. We cannot start over from 1957.* We can only start over in hope from today.
This is our New Ordinary Time with which we have to work and create anew. At the end of WWII, the people of the Netherlands and Canada couldn’t wish away the pain and the loss, but they could see what God was leading them to in a “new ordinary” with new potential for good, for connection, and for tulips.
This spring and summer in Ottawa Canada, and probably forever into the future even after the origin story is forgotten by human memory, tulips will bloom along the canals and in the parks and every public place.
The Realm with which we have to work and within which we are called by our Baptisms to plant bulbs of hope will never again be 1957, 1992, 2007, or even yesterday. The only place where we can plant flowers of union, is today. It is your Baptismal Covenant to look for any ground that might be ready for flowers of union between people even in unexpected times.
In Hope and Tulips,
*1957 is the date of creation of the United Church of Christ
The Rev. Jake Miles Joseph ("just Jake"), Associate Minister, came to Plymouth in 2014 having served in the national setting of the UCC on the board of Justice & Witness Ministries, the Coalition for LGBT Concerns, and the Chairperson of the Council for Youth and Young Adult Ministries (CYYAM). Jake has a passion for ecumenical work and has worked in a wide variety of churches and traditions. Read more about him on our staff page.