“Sometimes when you’re surrounded by dirt, you’re a better witness for what’s beautiful.” Greetings Dear Friends! That quote is from the children’s book Last Stop on Market Street. It was the story I read as a part of the story time with the Preschool this week, but it has stuck with me and connected with me well past story time.

Not only did it connect wonderfully with the story, but it immediately made me think of my own nieces and young family who truly love the moments they spend outdoors, becoming surrounded by dirt and seeing nothing but beauty. Yet aside from seeing my family’s beautiful mud-streaked and smiling faces, I also heard in this quote a gentle invitation into the practices of our collective Lenten journey.

After marking ourselves this last week with the dust of our funerals upon that same cross on our foreheads as our baptisms, we had our first Lenten midweek service led by our confirmation students. Pardon my pride, but they did a great job! As our Lenten journey towards the bright Easter dawn continues, I want to invite you to come, worship, and experience these offerings as your own Lenten discipline.

Now, I certainly understand that it can sound like a burdensome request to do an additional thing when we already are asked to do so much! It can make any Christian holy days, much less Lent difficult to navigate and get through. But even if you are feeling a weight such as this, even if you’re feeling the spiritual ‘dirt’ of this season, here are some ways we might hopefully journey together this Lent.

On Wednesdays, come, bring a dish to pass, be filled up, and then be filled up spiritually as we hear about and pray for ourselves the Prayers of the Passion. Each Wednesday we will be focusing upon one of the prayers either offered up by Christ, or to him, as he made his way to the cross and beyond. From across the centuries, these prayers still speak to us and nurture our souls.

Outside of the commonly associated Wednesdays of Lent, another practice one can take up is beyond just the spiritual! I adore Mumford & Sons and as their song Awake My Soul reminds us “In these bodies we will live, in these bodies we will die. Where you invest your love, you invest your life.” Our bodies take on special importance this season too as unique and ancient practices are elevated, such as fasting or kneeling or physically handing out our abundance unto others. Perhaps take on a focus of just one of these embodying practices.

And perhaps, throughout it all, let’s let ourselves be broken open. I know, that doesn’t sound like something you want! The world around us seems to do that enough of that as it is already! But the world has a way of callousing us towards one another. And like a muscle seeking to grow, Lent can be a time for wearing away, so that we may be built up again anew.

Lent, and all its various practices are these wonderful, beautiful and sometimes even dirty tools that transform us, build us up, ready us for resurrection and new life with our risen Christ. Because that is what I think we may desire most. And Lent can be that which readies us best for that bright resurrection dawn; these 40 days that show so clearly the light emerging from the empty tomb. So, I invite you, don’t shy away from these wonderful practices. Let’s enter in, on Wednesday with a meal & worship, or in your own practice, and we’ll all exit together, through that newly empty tomb on Easter morning arm in arm with Christ who has brought us this far in faith. I look forward to the journey my friends!

God’s Peace & Lenten Blessings,

Pastor Dave Elliott