2015 11 February

Longing for Home Lenten Study

Posted in Steinbach United

By Moderator Gary Paterson

Posted on February 9, 2015 at  http://www.garypaterson.ca
Lent is almost upon us… the 40-day countdown to Easter.

How often have I hoped that Lent could be a time for slowing down, for engaging in some serious pondering and prayer, and yet how often have my intentions been knocked sideways by the busy-ness of Lent… special study groups, extra worship services, and all the planning for Holy Week.

So… I want to invite you to think about participating in our United Church’s Lenten program, “Longing for Home.” I think this could be a helpful resource in your journey though Lent, without being another burden (hey, much of the work is already done for you!).

It begins with two “upfront” resources:

  • A book, Longing for Home: Daily Reflections for Lent, complete with study guide, edited by Alydia Smith (who is Program Coordinator for Worship, Music and Spirituality here at General Council Office). It’s a great resource for personal time or group discussion.
  • series of short videos offered by myself, reflections on the gospel reading for each Sunday in Lent. These videos could be useful for Bible or lectionary study groups (or any group for that matter); or as food for thought before Sunday worship. All six of these videos will be posted shortly on the United Church YouTube channel, so you can watch or share them anytime, along with links to download them so you can show them in “off-line” settings as well.

Then, you are invited to join the “Longing for Home,” United Church online Lenten groupand participate in discussions with us on Facebook. Here’s what you can look forward to:

  • First, on Mondays, there will be a facilitated conversation based on the video reflections and the gospel reading for the upcoming Sunday. (Thus, the first video posted on February 16 will be a conversation about Mark 1:9-15… Jesus’ baptism and wilderness journey, which is the gospel lectionary reading for the first Sunday in Lent, February 22.)
  • Then, on Wednesdays, the Rev. Trish Elliott (a United Church minister in Ottawa) will be doing live Facebook interviews with some of the authors of the reflections found in Longing for Home, and then inviting questions and interaction from those online. Many of those reflections highlight struggles for justice, and so these Facebook conversations will be an opportunity to weave together our journey into Lent with God’s call to love neighbour and the world.
  • On Fridays, you are invited to find some friends (or strangers) to share a meal with, and join in further discussion, linking the theme, “Longing for Home” with contemporary culture – we’re talking about it as a “Friday night out.” Some great recipes will be posted, many offered by members of the United Church Women. There will be various storytellers who will provide a different perspective on “longing for home;” e.g., Rev. Takouhi Petro, who had to escape from Lebanon, and found a new home in Canada; Rev. Evan Smith, who once was homeless and lived on the street; Susan Ivany, who will share how living with chronic pain changes one’s understanding of home. There will be music selections to help spark conversation (from Bruce Springsteen to “Home on the Range” to Ozzy Osbourne); and movie reviews and recommendations. And of course, you could always share the video, or choose a couple of the reflections from the book, Longing for Home, as discussion starters.
  • On Sunday mornings, resources for a short time of worship will be posted by Alydia Smith, with music (like Duke Ellington’s “Come Sunday”) followed by some questions for silent reflection; along with prayers and blessings.
  • Watch for special events on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday, and then get ready for a week-long “Resurrection Celebration,” where you, along with a variety of musicians and artists, are invited to join the online party!

It’s amazing what new technology makes possible – such a mixture of opportunities, where you can pick and choose… what, when, and where… Bible, justice, the arts, worship… by yourself, in a group discussion, over a meal. Check it out, and see if Longing for Home might enrich your Lenten journey.