From the Pastor’s Desk

           Two highlights of Februaries worship were Scout Sunday and Ash Wednesday. Troop 433 worshiped with us on Sunday, February 16th.  They provided the scripture readings, took up collection, and provided a great coffee hour after worship.  They also expressed how happy they are to be attached to Emmanuel UCC, and of course we feel the same way.  Another high point was our Ash Wednesday worship service as this moves us as a body of believers into the Lenten Season.

            Lent is a season of forty days, not counting Sundays, which begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday. The English word “Lent” comes from the Anglo–Saxon word Lenten, which means “lengthen” and refers to the lengthening days of “spring.” The season is a preparation for celebrating Easter.

          Historically, Lent began as a period of fasting and preparation for baptism by converts and then became a time for penance by all Christians. The First Sunday describes Jesus’ temptation by Satan; and the Sixth Sunday (Passion/Palm Sunday), Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem and his subsequent passion and death. Note that the readings during Lent, until Passion/Palm Sunday, focus primarily on the meaning of baptism and discipleship, in continuity with the season’s original purpose. Because Sundays are always little Easters, the penitential spirit of Lent should be tempered with joyful expectation of the Resurrection.

Holy Week is the final week of Lent, beginning with Passion/Palm Sunday and concluding with Holy Saturday. It is during these days that the readings focus primarily on the last days and suffering and death of Jesus.

    The Great Three Days—sometimes called the Triduum or Pasch—from sunset Holy Thursday through sunset Easter Day are the climax of Lent (and of the whole Christian year) and a bridge into the Easter Season. These days proclaim the paschal mystery of Jesus Christ’s passion, death, and resurrection. During these days, the community journeys with Jesus from the upper room, to the cross, to the tomb, and to the garden. They should be seen as a great unified service beginning with a service of Holy Communion on Holy Thursday and concluding with the services of Easter Day. These services may be connected with a prayer vigil lasting from Holy Thursday evening (or Good Friday) until the first service of Easter and may be accompanied by fasting.

Visuals for Holy Week may include red paraments, stoles, and banners, and symbols such as perfume, coins, a whip, a crown of thorns, a torn garment, nails, a spear, a sponge, or a broken reed. On Good Friday and Holy Saturday the church may be stripped bare of visuals.

    We also hold a mid-week Lenten service which begins at 6:00 with a covered dish meal lade by our congregants who elect to prepare the food for that evening.  At 7:00 we move to the sanctuary for an abbreviated service.  This provides us focus for the Lenten season, and keeps us even closer to God.Of course all are invited to not only our Sunday worship, but the mid-week services as well.

As we worship together and learn together, my hope is that this Lenten season brings wholeness and peace to you and your family, and moves you closer to God. Peace be with you,

Pastor Lou Aita