We asked you to go to the Wilderness for Lent, and I wonder how it is going for each of you.
I wonder because this is a time of deep spiritual questioning.
The wilderness is a metaphor that encourages us to let go of what our expectations of those things that prevent us from fully experiencing God. What are those questions you are wrestling with?
Questions rarely come with an easy answer, which is why letting go of what keeps us separate from God and living into our fullest self is a faith journey. Faith can live in the darkness of the wilderness and it can also bring into light the unknown of what we are searching for.
To wonder in the wilderness and to wander with our faith, we may struggle to trust God enough to live without absolute certainty about who God is. This is how we slowly begin to understand the nature of God in our lives.
I pray that in your wondering, answers to your deepest questions are providing a sense of surprise and awe.
In December, Carla started her two-year designated term pastorate at Plymouth. She spent the last 5 years consulting with churches on strategic planning, conflict transformation and visioning. Before going to seminary she volunteered at her church through Stephen Ministry, visiting ministries and leading worship services at a memory care unit and a healthcare facility. She served on the Board of Directors for the Iowa conference of the United Church of Christ.
The season of Lent has two faces: one that is a lead-in to Holy Week, the crucifixion, and Easter; and another that reflects the 40-day journey of Jesus in the wilderness. There are conflicting theories about the origins of Lent, but a 40-day period of daytime fasting (as our Muslim sisters and brothers do during Ramadan) was discussed at the Council of Nicea in 325. In the Reformed Christian traditions (of which we are a part), Lent was abandoned as non-biblical…but we have been trying to reclaim some of the baby that was tossed out with the Reformation bathwater.
This year we are working with a Wilderness theme. Wilderness for Jesus was a place of testing and clarifying and preparation for his ministry. Wilderness for us may be a metaphor for wild-ness and the glories (and the threats) of Creation. Wilderness can also be a metaphor for chaos and the unknown.
Come and join us this Lent as we worship using Wilderness themes now through April 5 (Palm Sunday).…I guarantee that you’ll hear some new perspectives that will cause some new growth on the branches of your faith.
Tomorrow evening, you are invited to a simple soup supper (generously provided by a ministry team under the Deacons) and to a service at 7:00 p.m. If you have never been to an Ash Wednesday service, I’d encourage you to come and give it a try! You might be surprised at how meaningful it is.
Also, there are Lenten devotional booklets using the Wilderness theme available in the Fellowship Hall at Plymouth, containing poetry, visual art, reading suggestions from your Bible, and space for your own reflections.
May our journey together through the Wilderness bear the fruit of faith.
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.