Years ago I preached for a friend in a “high church,” Lutheran Church in Washington, D.C.’s Capital District. As an aside, my students and I also were treated to a private tour of the House of Representatives because my friend was friends with the Chaplain to the House. Yes, that was me waving from the Capital Building balcony in 1998.
As we were robing for worship that Second Sunday of Lent my friend said something to the effect, “I’m sorry our sanctuary is not adorned in its typical fashion and the music will all be in a minor key. Plus, we won’t have any rousing hymns, not even the Alleluias for the doxology.” I reminded my friend that Methodists also observe Lent and, as a matter of fact, these 6 weeks are some of my favorite of the entire Christian year. “I can’t think of a better time to preach,” I concluded as we headed to the back of the choir lineup where we processed into the sanctuary in silence.
Indeed, Lent is the time of year set aside by the Church for us to be introspective, contemplative, and some would say, maudlin. When so much of the world expects us to be optimistic, cheerful, and confident regardless of what is going on around us, Lent gives us permission to be realistic. Some of us intentionally tune our worship to reflect the truth that the world is not as God would have it be. For six weeks we enter a sparse sanctuary, calling to mind the reality that while God provides abundant resources to ensure each person can flourish, those resources are not fairly distributed in ways that allow each person to flourish. For six weeks we refrain from singing “Alleluia,” reminding us that we are not among the heavenly chorus, but working each day on earth that “[God’s] will be done on earth as in heaven.”
The staff of the North Carolina Council of Churches offer these devotions in gratitude for the work you enable us to do in pursuit of God’s good world. And we offer them knowing that you are right here with us in the work. Together we face reality during Lent and live in the hope that Easter brings.
Barbara Marshall says
Thanks for offering this Lenten Guide 2023….
Women Veterans of NC
Eugene Buccelli says
Dear Friends at the NC Council of Churches: You are doing a great job in having an active prophetic ministry. Recently reading the Christian Century, I came across a quote or reminder from Karl Barth, that “Preachers should preach with the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other.” I believe the NCC Churches is trying to do that. We need more “prophetic and socially” relevant sermons from our pulpits across the state…and our country, that help lead us to advocacy and actions.