Woodland Park Press
Publication of Woodland Park Presbyterian Church
From the Pastor…..
Early in the new year, we joined PC(USA) congregations across the country in declaring our solidarity with refugees by taking a photo with a banner declaring “We Choose Welcome”. The very next day, the Worship Committee sat down to explore the Lenten lectionary texts and I couldn’t help but see in the texts the many ways that Jesus, God, and the various authors are demonstrating radical welcome or encouraging their readers to do so in the midst of political, religious, and social contexts that demand the opposite. So, this Lent, we are diving into those Biblical texts by exploring the theme “The Welcome Way: Choosing Welcome in an Exclusive World”. On our Lenten journey, we will explore the deeper meaning of choosing welcome. Along the way, with the help of the Witness Committee, we will have the opportunity to learn more about possible responses to the refugee crisis but we will also explore other facets and implications of walking Jesus’ welcome way. We’ll do this in our regular worship through liturgy, sacrament, sermons, and song, but we’ll also offer a few other opportunities…
Ash Wednesday and Wednesday
Morning Prayer Chant Services
Our Ash Wednesday service will be at 7:15 a.m. on February 10 (bright and early for those who need to go to work!). The communal part of this service will be a relatively brief sung chant service followed by an optional labyrinth walk during which, as we have in the past two year, walkers can receive the imposition of ashes in the middle of the labyrinth. If you can’t get enough of these early morning contemplative times, fear not! Robert and I will continue to lead a half hour Lenten Morning Prayer Chant Service every Wednesday in Lent at 7:15 a.m..
Stations of the Cross
Another way we’ll explore “The Welcome Way” is by offering the opportunity to engage in the Stations of the Cross. Sometimes called “the Way of the Cross”, the Stations of the Cross are a series of prayer stations or alters that follow Jesus through his journey to the cross, and, eventually, the tomb. Many people of think of the Stations as a Catholic practice, which they are, but they’re also used in Protestant and Orthodox traditions.
There are many versions of the Stations of the Cross that have different numbers of stations and use different methods for engagement. During Lent this year, we'll be setting up a social justice version of the Stations of the Cross which uses a traditional set of 14 stations but relates them each to a different issue of social justice. The stations will be set up around the church beginning the week of Ash Wednesday and will stay up until after the Good Friday service. You are welcome to visit them before or after Sunday services, after the Wednesday Lenten Morning Prayer Chant Services, and any other time you are in the church during Lent and want to take some extra time to pray. You might try going through several different times and notice how you’re experience changes. Alternatively, you might wish to visit only one or two stations each week and work your way through slowly over the course of the Lenten season.
Lenten Small Group Book Study
This year, we will again offer two Lenten Small Groups—one during the Adult Ed Hour from 9:00—10:00 a.m. on Sunday mornings and the other on Sunday evenings from 6:00—8:00 p.m.. During these small groups, we will be reading Nadia Bolz-Weber’s most recent book Accidental Saints: Finding God in All the Wrong People. As soon as we settled on a Lenten theme, this book popped into my head. It is a funny, poignant, theologically thoughtful but easily digestible book that tells real stories about real people. I should offer fair warning that, even though Nadia is a Lutheran pastor, she swears quite a bit...several times per chapter, in fact (whenever she’s interviewed on NPR, she gets “bleeped” at least once). That said, like the writer Anne Lamott, Nadia has a delightful authentic voice and, while she is sometimes a little crass, she tells thought-provoking stories of life and faith.
If you’re interested in joining a small group, come to the group that interests you (either morning or evening) on the first Sunday of Lent, February 14th. During the first meeting, we’ll talk more about what to expect and form a group covenant for our time together. If you decide to commit to being a part of the group (that is, attending most of the weeks and being mentally present with your group for the journey), you can pick up a book from me that day. In fact, even if you decide not to join a small group, you can still read the book along with your fellow congregation members! The books are $15.58 a piece; we’re asking for a donation of at least $10 if possible, though everyone is welcome and encouraged to participate and regardless of ability to contribute financially.
Some congregation members will participate fully in everything offered this Lent; others will choose one weekly practice that feels meaningful to them...regardless of how you decide to participate this coming season, I invite you to be intentional about your choices. Consider what will best encourage your own spiritual development and your connection to our community as we embark on this Welcome Way together. Whatever you decide, I look forward to walking with you.
In peace and prayer for our journey,