M-Note 3.1.22

Four Ways to Focus On Your Faith Thie Lent

By Matt Miofsky
March 1, 2022

Years ago, I was talking to a young man who told me that he didn’t like church because it sugar-coated life. For him, hope, love, faith – these were all nice ideas but none of them fully took seriously the injustices and hardships of life. Some of us may feel that way. We might look at religion as encouraging a naïve optimism or church people as inauthentically positive all the time. If you have ever felt that way, then tomorrow is a day for you!
Ash Wednesday is the beginning of the season of Lent, a preparatory time leading up to Easter. The 40 days of Lent (excluding Sundays) are modeled after the time Israel spent in the wilderness and Jesus in the desert. This is a time of reflection, prayer, and fasting. It is not the most joyful season in the church year, but it is the most honest – and the has the power to be transformational. Just like wilderness periods in our life can often lead to breakthroughs and new beginnings, lent takes us on a hard journey that leads to life.  And all of it starts tomorrow, with Ash Wednesday, a day that we remember the hardest truth of all – “that we are dust, and to dust, we shall return”. Since the season of Lent is as much about taking new practices on as it is about giving something up, I want to offer you four ways to focus on your faith this Lent.
  1. Participate in Ash Wednesday. In the morning at each of our sites from 7-9 am our pastors will be offering drive-through prayer and ashes on your forehead. Tomorrow night, at 7 pm The Gathering will have one Ash Wednesday service at our McCausland site. If you have never participated, it is a powerful service unlike any other throughout the year. Whether it is morning or night, begin the journey of Lent intentionally by joining us for Ash Wednesday.
2. Take up a daily devotion. It is so easy to intend to have a relationship with God but to never actually do it. We all drift and fall short in making time for God in our life. During Lent, make a commitment to a daily time of connecting with God. The Gathering has a daily devotional that will take less than five minutes and help you build a time to focus on your faith each day. It is written by people right here in our community. You can find it on our app, website, or sign up to have it delivered to your email each morning.
3. Worship Weekly. With the pandemic changing our habits and routines, many of us are ready to make worship part of our life again. Lent is a great time to do that. Many of us have been worshiping online but have intended to come back in person. This weekend is a perfect time to do it! Many of us haven’t really been worshiping consistently at all. This is a great week to worship with The Gathering in person or online. Set an intention to worship each week during the season of Lent. It may just help you form a new habit.
4. Offer an invitation. Part of the hardship of the past two years is that life has turned inward for many of us. We are just trying to keep our own heads above water, and that often leaves little time to consider the struggle of others. But isolation, loneliness, and a sense of disconnection are all around us. To respond to that, invite a friend to join you in worship. There are so many people around you that are searching, open, and ready for something new in their life. That invitation to worship could be the beginning of a feeling of community, connection, and life.
There is a sense of transition and energy in the air. Life has been hard, but I believe we are on the cusp of a new season, not just literally, but spiritually. Lent can be a time when we decide it is time to reconnect with God. I hope you will do that along with me here at The Gathering.
P.S. Considering the new recommendations from the CDC and local health officials, this weekend masks are optional for worship. Nursery and Pre-K volunteers will still wear masks when working with young children. Also, coffee is coming back! It will be a good day to be in worship and I hope to see you there.
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