Thomas McKenzie
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Lent in Nashville

Dear Church of the Redeemer The season of Lent begins next Wednesday, March 5th and ends on Easter Day, April 20th. Between those two days, you are invited to enter a season of spiritual discipline with the hope of spiritual renewal. The purpose of these disciplines is not to punish us, or to pay for our sins. Rather, we are seeking to make space in our lives for the Holy Spirit. The void left by the discipline is an invitation to God to meet us in our place of need.

I suggest that everyone consider what spiritual disciplines they might wish to take on for the Lenten season. Some people fast. Some don’t eat a certain kind of food. Others give up something else, like Facebook or TV. Some also take on a discipline, like attending church programs, or reading the Bible every day, or serving the needy. Use your imagination, and ask God what he would have you do.

Here is another thought on Lenten disciplines: you will fail. It is very unlikely you will keep your discipline perfectly. Perfection is not the point. I encourage you to pray for grace and then do your best. When you “fall of the wagon,” get back on if you can. And remember, Sundays are always days of feasting; so, please take a break from your Lenten practices on Sundays.

Lent begins with Ash Wednesday on March 5th. In order to fit your schedules, we offer the same service three times.. The services begin at 7:00 a.m., noon, and 6:30 p.m. The earlier two services should last about 30-40 minutes. The evening service will last about an hour and will include music and childcare. All of the services will have prayers of repentance, a brief message, the imposition of ashes, and Holy Communion. Ash Wednesday is a day of fasting. All Christians who are able are encouraged to refrain from eating on this day.

During Lent we will offer Eucharist each Wednesday at noon in the chapel (as we did during Advent). We hope you can come at least once.

Every year we offer a Lenten program at church. Beginning on March 12th, each Wednesday at Redeemer we will have Stations of the Cross at 6 pm in the Sanctuary. From 6:15 pm to 6:45 pm we will have a simple dinner in the Fellowship Hall (downstairs). From 6:45 to 7:45 we will offer programs for all ages; children, youth and adults.

Children and Parents: Children ages 5-11 and their parents are invited to a special class Lenten class on Silence and Scripture, led by Grace Spriggs and Danny Bryant.  We will appreciate silence during the season and respond to scripture from the Stations of the Cross.  The last week, we will gather for a Seder meal together.  Childcare is provided for children ages 0-4.

Youth: The youth (grades 7-12) will be learning and practicing the way of St. Benedict, including chanting the Psalms and Lectio Divina. The culmination will be a Benedictine retreat led by Jenna and Chance, when we will spend a weekend praying and working together as lay monastics. This will be a wonderful opportunity for our youth to slow down, listen to the voice of God, and grow in love for one another. If your youth is interested in the retreat, contact Chance immediately. Space is limited.

Adults: On Wednesday nights in Lent, I will be teaching and leading Lectio Divina practice. Come, learn, and experience this ancient, Bible-centered form of meditative prayer.

I have two more letters to send to you all. One is about the joy and seriousness of Communion, an issue of particular importance during Lent. The other is an invitation for you to take a creative leadership role in a Holy Week or Easter Week event. So, those are coming. In the meantime, please pray for me, your church, and yourself as we prepare to enter Lent together.

Peace in Christ,

The Reverend Thomas McKenzie Pastor, Church of the Redeemer

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