Lent as a Season of Gratitude
March begins our season of Lent. Lent is often a more focused time for us to remember the suffering and death of our savior, Jesus. During these forty days we may engage in special services, fasting, focused Bible studies and devotions as a form of our spiritual practices. I recall so often the question, “What are you giving up for Lent?” It was a symbolic act of doing without something I treasured, as a feeble attempt to emulate the suffering of Jesus. But Lent is so much more! It is a posture of gratitude that flows out of the gift of being so loved by God, that God allowed Jesus, his only begotten son, to die for us! Thus Lent becomes a good time for self-examination and reflection of our spiritual walk – in what ways can we be more like Jesus? In what ways have we been good neighbors? We can also spend time examining our ministries to see how we may be more effective in caring for our neighbors – both near and in the world. What are the many ways that we can begin to express our gratitude as individuals and in community?
There will be a series of opportunities for our congregations to journey together during this Season of Gratitude. Let me take a moment to share those with you.
· Our first activity is on March 3, Transfiguration Sunday. Doesn’t Lent start on Ash Wednesday? Yes it does. As a way to prepare our hearts and mind for our journey, this year we are having a Taizé Service, 3:30pm at Resurrection Lutheran Church, Oakdale. Taizé, a form of worship developed in Taizé, France, is a service of quiet reflection, prayer and songs. Whether it is something new or something familiar, together we can begin our journey of gratitude. (This is also my project for my internship so your support is greatly appreciatedJ!)
· Our traditional Ash Wednesday, Maundy Thursday and Good Friday Services. Please check your individual congregation schedule. If you are unable to attend the one at your church, or don’t have one, you are encouraged to join another of our PLUM congregations.
· As a part of our reflection on gratitude, we will once again examine the theme of stewardship. Often, the word “stewardship” scares people off and many think it is just limited to financial blessings; but it is more holistic than that in nature. So, to reflect on our other blessings we receive from our Creator daily, we will be using the book Beyond the Offering Plate: A Holistic Approach to Stewardship by Adam J. Copeland, Editor to explore the many ways we are grateful. Specifically, we will explore the topics of Privilege, Community, Spiritual Gifts, Money & Finance and Time. You can expect to see these topics reflected in sermons, in Bible Studies and even a set of weekly home devotions.
· Finally is Gratitude Sunday. Each congregation is encouraged to set aside a Sunday (Palm Sunday or the one before) to express your gratitude through placing your time, talent and contribution commitments forms in the offering plate. Perhaps even having a shared meal, or coffee time after. Thus, together, recommitting ourselves and our congregations to being in service for the Kingdom.
Whether you are able to participate in all the activities or just a select few, let us journey together through this Season of Gratitude. May we find our spiritual walk stronger for having shared it together!
Pittsburgh Lutheran United Ministries (PLUM), 405 Kennedy Avenue, Duquesne, PA 15110 412-466-7773