Simon’s Says ~ from Alan

I’ve never been much for giving things up for Lent, for two principal reasons.  One is that if there is a habit or behavior I need to change I shouldn’t wait until Lent to do it - it probably should have been changed yesterday.  The other is that I prefer the discipline of doing something extra - adding a spiritual practice like prayer or meditation or reading, or a benevolent practice like finding ways to make my neighbors’ lives better.  (And yes, you could argue that this is something I should also have done yesterday, but there you have it.)

So one practice I engage in, and I hope you will as well, is to follow the UCC’s Lenten Devotional daily - this year’s is called Deliver Us.  We have been using the devotionals every Lent for the past few years, so by now many of you are familiar with the contributors, people like Quinn Caldwell, Lillian Daniel, Molly Baskette, Vince Amlin and Mary Luti (I count many of them both friends and colleagues).  I find the one page reflections thoughtful, accessible, and sensitive, some of them are wry and amusing, and all of them take both the scripture and the season seriously.  The devotionals are available at church - many of you have already taken yours - we hope there are enough for one for each church family.  And as an additional practice, I’ll be basing my Lent sermons on either a topic or a scripture from one of the week’s devotions.  I hope you’ll follow along.

And thanks to the generosity of one of our church members, there is another practice for us all for both Lent and beyond.  You may remember the small hearts we distributed in worship a few weeks ago; we were invited to share a heart with someone else, either as a way of reminding them that they are loved and blessed by God, or as a way of letting them know that they are a blessing in our own lives.  Inspired by the idea, one of you decided to make it your ministry to be sure there is always a supply of hearts available to us, so both in the narthex and in the Parish Hall you will find a jar filled with them, and whenever you are at church you can take a few and distribute them as blessings through the week.  And the blessing comes with an added twist:  when you give one away, go the extra mile and give two away - one for your recipient, and one for your recipient to pay forward.  It’s one of those “I wish I had thought of that” ideas.

Whatever your practice for Lent, may it be a holy one that blesses you and those around you.

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