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February 2018

Lent: A Time for Your Soul to Catch Up

Every year Christians set aside seven weeks of their life to say, Lord, because of all that you did for me on the cross, I want to know you better and love you more. Lent is the name we give to the seven-week period of added devotion to our walk with Christ. Once again, Zion offers an extra opportunity to develop your faith and relationship with Christ through a series of Wednesday night services and Bible studies.

Lent begins on Ash Wednesday which, this year, falls on February 14. Yes, I am fully aware that this is also Valentine’s Day, and I realize that this represents serious competition! However, I would add two thoughts. First, on a purely person note, Valentine menus at most restaurants are both more expensive and offer fewer items than their regular menus which means that eating out on Tuesday or Thursday would actually be more satisfactory. Second, while Valentine’s Day is about love, so is worship. Worship is one of the ways we hear God express his love for us and we, in turn, can reciprocate that love.

For the weeks in Lent following Ash Wednesday, we will have Vespers services every Wednesday from 7:00 – 7:30pm. Each service will include a Vespers liturgy, Holy Communion, and a devotional focusing on one of the trees of the Bible. Many Christian songs, such as The Old Rugged Cross, highlight the way a cross fashioned out of wood from a tree became the ultimate symbol of our faith. But there are also a number of stories throughout Scripture that foreshadow the meaning and significance of the cross. Join me each week to learn more about these trees, including the tree in the Garden of Eden, the oak tree where Abraham and Sarah received God’s promise, the tree of strength planted by the water of life in Psalm 1, the sycamore tree where Zacchaeus encountered Jesus, and the olive trees in the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus prayed before going to the cross.

Following each Vespers service, I will offer a Bible study that will last until 8:15pm. For our study this year, we will be reading Waiting for Our Souls to Catch Up: Reason, Ritual and Faith in Our Fallow Time. In the three years I have had this book I have turned to it time and again for insight and inspiration. The book is written by Sister Carol Perry who teaches adult Bible study at Marble Collegiate Church in New York. Quite a combination, isn’t it: a Sister of St. Ursula teaching at the church founded by Norman Vincent Peale! It is, however, a combination that works wonderfully for me and for many other Christians as well, and I’m sure it will for work you, too. A copy of the book is available at no cost for anyone wishing to be part of the Bible study.

Below is the schedule for our Lenten worship activities. (Titles for Bible studies are chapter headings in Waiting for Our Souls to Catch Up).

February 14
Ash Wednesday worship, 7:30

February 21
Vespers, 7:00-7:30. Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (Genesis 3)
Bible Study, 7:30-8:15. Finding Time for a Spiritual Life & What is Prayer?

February 28
Vespers, 7:00-7:30. The Oak at Mamre (Genesis 18)
Bible Study, 7:30-8:15. Questions About Believing & A Book That Might Help

March 7
Vespers, 7:00-7:30. Planted by the River of Water (Psalm 1)
Bible Study, 7:30-8:15. Wrestling with Words and Ideas; Afraid to Open The Bible?; & Where Should I Begin?

March 14
Vespers, 7:00-7:30. Zacchaeus’ Sycamore (Luke 10)
Bible Study, 7:30-8:15. The World of the Bible; the New Testament; & Beyond the Gospels

March 21
Vespers, 7:00-7:30. Under the Olive Trees in Gethsemane (Luke 22:39-46)
Bible Study, 7:30-8:15. Faith is a Loaded Word & A Spiritual Time Out

Faithfully Yours, Pastor Smith

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