Dear Church Family,

In less than two weeks, the Christian church at large will be entering into the season of Lent. I don’t know about you, but I am actually looking forward to it. I need a place to process the suffering and brokenness of the world if I am going to truly rejoice with all of my heart on Easter. Last week, the darkness, heaviness and isolation of the pandemic just hit me like a ton of bricks. Central to this experience was hearing that the son of a dear friend of ours died by suicide. My heart is crying out, “Why, Lord?  Why is there so much suffering and death in this world?  How are we to bear it?!”

As this special and sacred season approaches, I want to invite you to join me in exploring more deeply what it looks like to bring our honest lamentations to God. I know that many of you have your own, personal Lenten practices and I wholeheartedly encourage you to continue with them. But we also need communal practices in order to walk together through terrible times if we are to have courage to face the darkness. Here are three things I want to invite our community into as we head into the season of Lent:

1.  Ash Wednesday at Home – Ash Wednesday is the day which begins our 40 days of Lent. Every year we have gathered on this day to remind ourselves of our mortality: through worship, prayer, and the putting on of ashes. This year I invite you to join me in a Zoom-based contemplative service from wherever you are. Details will be sent out in the Thursday announcements email.

2. Lamentations – After our Gospel Justice sermon series ends on 2/21, we’ll be preaching through the book of Lamentations. I’ve been meeting with a diverse group of local pastors and studying this really powerful book together with them. If you would like to go deeper into a learning journey, please read one of the books below–I have found each of them to be very helpful:

  • Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy: Discovering the Grace of Lament by Mark Vroegop
  • Prophetic Lament: A Call for Justice in Troubled Times by Soong-Chan Rah
  • A Sacred Sorrow: Reaching Out to God in the Lost Language of Lament by Michael Card

3. Fasting – Some people find it helpful to fast from something (a specific food, drink, activity, habit) during Lent as a spiritual discipline of turning over our wants and appetites to God. If you choose to fast I would like to ask you to consider tying that fasting practice to a practical way to love and serve the many brothers and sisters who are most suffering right now. For example, if you decide to fast from coffee, you might consider purchasing a bunch of Starbucks gift cards to share with Reach Potential Services, which they can hand out to neighbors in Mountain View or Sunnyvale.

In Sorrow and Hope,

Pastor Susan

Tags: lentlamentations