Ash Wednesday, on March 6 this year, begins the season of Lent in the Christian calendar. I hope you can join me at the three-churchAsh Wednesday service that night at Bethel UCC. As you know, Lent is the period of 40 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter, that recall Jesus’ time of temptation and selfdenial for 40 days in the wilderness.

Sundays do not count toward the 40 days, as each Sunday is a remembrance of the resurrection (a mini-Easter). During Lent, believers are typically called to examine their faith, devotion to Christ, and prepare for his death and resurrection.

Part of that self-denial reflects the ancient tradition of fasting, which Jesus also practiced during those 40 days. Some of the faithful today deny themselves certain things, activities, or foods during Lent as a spiritual practice. This year, however, I invite you to join me by turning your back on this practice. Don’t give it up… Give it away! One of the best ways to strengthen faith is through the spiritual practice of giving to others.

Instead of giving something UP this Lent, let’s give it away. In the fall of each year we are asked
to make a financial commitment to St. Peter’s for the next calendar year. This keeps the lights on, the boilers working, the staff paid, and the ministries thriving. That’s giving to God for the work of the church. Each Lent, however, we are asked to contribute to the needs of others through our annual Changing Tomorrows Mission offering. This offering totaled $35,950 in 2018, and every penny went, or will go, to those outside our church walls with needs. This was in addition to $22,000 raised in the fall and during Advent.

Please keep an eye out for the special letter and envelope that will be in your mailbox soon. It will invite us to give it away to Changing Tomorrows, instead of giving it up for Lent. I leave
you with these poetic words from Ann Weems…

Going through Lent is a listening. When we listen to the word, we hear where we are so blatantly unliving. If we listen to the word, and hallow it in our lives, We hear how we can abundantly live
again.

God’s peace,

Dr. Rich Wolf