Lent’s journeys lead us in the pathways of Jesus. For some it is a time of “giving up,” while others see it as a time for gaining — gaining new hope, new insights, new understandings of the mystery of faith. At Woodlawn, we mark each Sunday in Lent with the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. Bread and wine become tangible expressions of God’s gifts. Meanwhile, our liturgy and sermon focuses also help us understand the nature of the gifts God wishes to give us. This Lent, our sermon series, “The Gifts of God for the People of God” will include these sermons:
“Bread for the Hungry,” on Sunday March 1, focusing on Jesus’ temptations.
“Water for the Thirsty,” on Sunday, March 8, focusing on the story of Jesus’ encounter with the woman at the well.
‘Light for the blind,” on Sunday, March 22, focusing on Jesus’ healing of the blind person in John 9;
“Life for the dead,” on Sunday, March 29, focusing on Jesus’ raising of his dear friend Lazarus.
It is appropriate that this season of faith which is filled with so many symbolic actions and gestures, begin on Ash Wednesday, a day when the faithful wear ashes as a sign of repentance. This practice of faith dates back to the Hebrew Bible (see Jonah 3:6). Wearing coarse fabric garments (sackcloth) and donning ashes is mentioned throughout the scriptures as a sign of reflecting on sin and seeking God’s forgiveness. The Christian practice is noted by the second century. By the fifth century, Ash Wednesday was established as part of the church’s liturgical practices.
Ashes remind us of our humility before God, as well as our mortality. “Remember you are dust,” we say, “and to dust we shall return.” It is a mark of our self-examination and Lenten commitment to seek God’s gift of renewal. Woodlawn Chapel will participate in Ash Wednesday in two ways:
• We will offer “ashes to go,” during MDO drop off (8:45-9:30 a.m.) and pick up (1:00-1:45). Ashes to Go is an ecumenical effort that is intended to take the church to the people, providing grace and symbols of renewal in a contemporary and convenient manner. Chris Keating will offer ashes or prayers of blessing to anyone interested, regardless of your faith tradition.
• Our 7 p.m. Ash Wednesday Worship will include reflective music, prayers, and scripture offered in the style of the Taize community of France. This ecumenical order brings together persons of all faith traditions for meaningful worship and prayer. The service will include short and frequently repeated songs as well as silence and prayer.