By next Wednesday, we enter again into the season of Lent, our 40-day season of discipline and devotion. As United Methodists, we speak often of our disciplines, or means of grace, which we know we can practice as the ordinary means by which we can receive grace in the prevenient, justifying, and sanctifying stages of our faith journey. Lent provides a special time with practices we often view as seasonal which provides an opportunity to take a deeper look within ourselves. This inward look gives us a time to consider with seriousness our human condition and sin, with its disastrous consequences for our lives and our societies. Historically, it was a time for new converts to make final preparations for baptism into a life of discipleship, a time for reassessment and renewal for those who are disciples, and a time for restitution and restoration for those who were once disciples.
With this in mind, we are trying something different this Lenten season. Often, people will fast from a particular food or drink, or social media, in an effort to be reminded of their reliance on God while reading a devotional with a Lenten focus. This year at CHUMC, we are combining these aspects into one with a different focus on fasting. Our devotional this year will include a daily fast that holds a different focus over ten-day rotations. We will pass through the ten-day rotation four times during the 40 days of Lent, which does not include the non-fasting days of Sunday, which are always a feast day (note feast day, not overindulgence day) in our Christian tradition. As we pass these rotations, each fast will be connected to devotional lessons which will seek to refocus our lives whether we are disciples-to-be, disciples already, or disciples once again.
It is our hope during this season of discipline and devotion, that God’s grace will transform our lives, our church, our society, and our world with God’s reign of love. We hope you will join us on this journey. As you join us in this effort of discipline and devotion, the fast and devotional booklet will be available on Sunday, February 23, so you may begin with us on Ash Wednesday, February 26.
Also, we want to share our stories with one another. Please let me know if you would be willing to write a newsletter article that will be published in this space sharing your experience with God’s grace during this practice of discipline and devotion. They will be published anonymously given our teaching that we should parade our religious observance before others. We will need submissions for our newsletter by Wednesday on March 4, 11, 18, 25, and April 1 for publication in the next week’s newsletter. We look forward to hearing from one another as we journey together this Lenten season.
Grace and peace,
Rev. J.D. Allen