A United Methodist Pastor's Theological Reflections

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory (nikos) through our Lord Jesus Christ." - I Corinthians 15:57

Friday, February 8, 2013

The Season of Lent - A Time of Unbinding

The Season of Lent which begins on Ash Wednesday is a forty day time during the church year when many of us give up things like eating chocolate, drinking sodas, or eating a meal.  It's a way for us to identify with Jesus when he was in the wilderness for forty days and fasted. It also reminds us to depend more on God.

Like last year, our church will be observing the Season of  Lent by unbinding ourselves from old patterns and behaviors that prohibit us from sharing our faith and deepening our prayer life. It's called "Unbinding Your Soul" by church consultant, Martha Grace Reese.

This daily prayer book and small group resource was born out of Martha's research of over 1,200 church members, new Christians, and pastors who serve in hundreds of mainline congregations. She discovered that the churches that are experiencing the  most growth and vitality are the churches that are actively inviting others, sharing their faith, and praying together on a consistent basis.

To help us unbind our souls, we are inviting our congregation to make the following commitments during the Season of Lent:
  • Sign-up for a four week Unbinding Your Soul small group that will begin  meeting the week of February 24 through the week of March 17. We have 19 small groups that will be meeting every day of the week at different times including during the Sunday School hours.
  • Pick up an Unbinding Your Soul book at the church (one per family, please) and begin the daily prayer readings (page 12) on Sunday, February 17.
  • Invite someone who doesn't have a church home or an active prayer life to attend a small group with you. The four week small group sessions are written for both long term church  members as well as for those who are new to the faith.
  • Attend Sunday worship during the Season of Lent which will correspond with the small group topics. Several lay people will be offering their testimonies each Sunday on what their faith means to them.
My experience has been that whenever a congregation spends more time praying together and talking about their faith, amazing things begin to happen.  More people feel part of the life of the church. New opportunities emerge for ministry and outreach. A more passionate relationship with God takes shape. People get to know each other in a more meaningful way.

May God unbind each of our hearts during this Season of Lent.

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