February 16, 2021

Friends and fellow disciples,

The season of Lent approaches.

Lent, from an old English word meaning "spring," is the season we prepare – or more correctly, God prepares us – for the drama of Holy Week and Easter. These upcoming 40 days (not including Sundays) are a season to listen, to reflect, and to pray as we approach the cross in humility and with anticipation.

If we were in person together we'd be making pancakes and sausage with bottles of syrup for days in the Fellowship Hall, laughing and checking in with friends. This was one of the very last group events we had last year before so much changed, and I very, very much look forward to enjoying this occasion with you again in 2022. 
This year we are going to shift a bit, in a way more in keeping with our Christian tradition – the church historically has celebrated Shrove Tuesday (also called Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras) as the day to get all of your sinning out of the way before the penitential season of Lent begins. Pancakes came to be a traditional food to be eaten on this day as you cleared your cupboards of rich foods like eggs, sugar, and milk before a season of prayer and fasting. 

So I hope you will join my family in eating pancakes at home tonight for Shrove Tuesday. We encourage you to share your photos on social media or email them to westminster@wpcdurham.org so we can share them with the WPC family.
We feast, then the season of Lent begins. On Ash Wednesday at 7:00pm, we will share in worship together virtually. It will be a special time to reflect on where we have been and how to begin the season in penitence and faith. I look forward to sharing that time with you.

We will also be spending time with The Lord's Prayer throughout worship in Lent, and there are wonderful resources for all ages so that we might all deepen our understanding. In times when so much is uncertain, it is a gift to have this prayer, given to the disciples by Jesus, as a gift to hold us. Read below for more about The Lord's Prayer Challenge and about all our Lenten programs.

Blessings to you in this odd, hard, in-between time. Might we truly be prepared by Jesus for the days ahead.

Westminster Quick Links – Shrove Tuesday, Ash Wednesday, and More!

Worship on February 21 – First Sunday of Lent
Originating in the fourth century of the church, the Season of Lent spans 40 weekdays beginning on Ash Wednesday and culminating in Holy Week and Easter Sunday. Originally, Lent was the time of preparation, study, and prayer for those who were to be baptized at the Easter Vigil. But since these new members were to be received into a living community of faith, the entire community was called to preparation. In like manner, Westminster members and friends are invited to take part in a season of preparation and renewal by engaging in a variety of rituals, prayer practices, and gatherings online to ground us and unite us as the Body of Christ in these times.  
Rituals and Practices

Lent can be a rich time to deepen our connection with God and with one another. Jesus prayed and taught his followers to pray, to wash feet, and to share bread and wine. In so doing, the community is formed as his Body. 

The Light Remains Just as light was central to our season of Advent, we invite you to designate one candle to be your in-home Christ Candle. We will light the candle on Ash Wednesday and invite you to light your own along with us. You may add another candle for each week of Lent, or just light your Christ candle

The Sign of the Cross This embodied ritual reflects the nature of our Trinitarian God. Rather than receiving ashes on Ash Wednesday, we will learn and practice this sign throughout the season. 
Pray The Lord’s Prayer  Jesus taught his followers to pray the Lord’s Prayer. This Lent, allow this prayer to help you focus on Jesus. You might choose to pray The Lord’s Prayer every day throughout Lent or you might learn The Lord’s Prayer in another language. You can also sign up to receive daily reflections throughout the season. Learn more about this simple yet powerful challenge, and sign up here.  

We want to know that we’re in this together! Send us a video of you and your partner, your child or children, or your whole family saying The Lord’s Prayer together. If you learn it in another language, we want to see that, too! Email your videos to westminster@wpcdurham.org. We’ll share them on Westminster’s social media and at the end of Lent, stitch them together into one lively video that celebrates the blessing that prayer has in our communal life of faith. 
Faith Formation Online and @Home

February 21, 9:45am: Z-Event for Families (Pk-4th grade): Lent & The Lord’s Prayer  Join your friends for a meaningful time online as we are introduced to the season of Lent and the prayer Jesus taught his followers and us! 1st - 4th graders will continue to explore this prayer in their biweekly Church School sessions. 

Faith Formation@Home  Each week, Marietta will offer new ways to help you and your family explore and learn more about the prayer Jesus taught. Click here for resources your family can use
Lord Teach Us: A Book Discussion with Chris Tuttle & Friends This classic by Will Willimon and Stanley Hauerwas, works through each phrase of The Lord's Prayer, using it as a framework for the Christian life. Sign up if you’re interested in reading the book and joining in the conversation. We’ll be in touch with the group to find an agreeable time to meet

Film Discussion: The Mill & the Cross, Palm/Passion Sunday, March 28, 3:00pm    This powerful movie focuses on a dozen of the five hundred characters depicted in Bruegel's painting, “The Way to Calvary.” The theme of Christ's suffering is set against religious persecution in Flanders in 1564. Watch the movie ahead of time (if you have a Roku device, it’s available for free on Tubi), then join the online conversation to explore the symbolism and connections to Christ’s call to follow as we do justice and walk in alignment with the vision of the “Kin-dom” of God.