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Posted by: Brad Miller2/17/2010 11:42 AM
Greetings on this cold morning,

Today is the beginning of Lent. Over the years, I have seen Lent observed in many different ways, and I have heard many explanations of what Lent it supposed to mean. The thing that has dawned on me recently is that those two issues – how to observe Lent and what Lent means are inextricably connected. Well, duh. But let me explain.

First, last and always, Lent is the most personal of all seasons of the Christian year. The fact that it ends with the most public of all Christian celebrations makes the internal disciplines of Lent all the more important. The fact is that the important thing about Lent is how it works for us, on us, to us. We can read lots of books expounding on what Lent is and how we are to observe it, but all those books are at best, loose guides from someone else’s experience, and at worse, something that sidetracks us from really looking at our experience and our own needs.

For me, Lent is about asking myself where I am in my faith journey, how I can become closer to being the person God would have me be, admitting where I have fallen short, and working to overcome those shortcomings. My Lenten disciplines are aimed directly at reminding myself that I owe everything to God’s grace, made known to me in the witness of Jesus Christ. But like those Lenten authors, this too, is but a loose guide based on my experience. The questions you ask and the observations you choose are entirely personal. But what is important is that you commit to asking the questions and seeking to observe Lent in a way that helps keep you focused on you and your relationship with God.

Growing up in Detroit, it was my Roman Catholic friends – a clear majority of the folks in my neighborhood – who introduced me to Lent. For most of my friends and their parents, Lent meant giving up things they enjoyed – alcohol, chocolate, red meat – for those 40 days. I didn’t really understand what it was all about until my friend Janie McGowan explained it to me. She came from a family of about 145 kids, each of them louder than the next with every requisite Irish Catholic name you could think of: Maureen, Joseph, Patrick, Michael, Siobhan, Caitlin, Mary Catherine, Francis, Casey…well, you get the picture. She told me about how every year they decided as a family what it was they were to give up for Lent and then they would help each other make sure they stayed true to their vow. But Janie wasn’t satisfied with that. It seemed to her like it really didn’t mean anything to some of the family and she didn’t think they always took it seriously. She believed Lent was something that she was supposed to do alone, working to become a better individual. So, she gave up something else each year, something she didn’t tell anyone about, something that would be really hard to give up without help. And here is the most important thing she taught me: every time she wanted to do the thing she had vowed to give up, she stopped and said two quick prayers: the first for strength, and the second a prayer of thanksgiving for giving her a reminder that with Jesus’ help, she could get through anything.

Janie was my first big crush, probably my first love, at least partially because at 12 years old she was wiser than most of the adults I knew! What she taught me was invaluable: it doesn’t really matter how you observe Lent, or exactly what it means. What matters is that you understand that whatever it means to you, how you observe it must honor the importance of that meaning. In short: if it’s worth doing, then do it right!

As we move through this Lenten season, I hope you will do what it takes to take a good hard look at where you are in your faith journey. Go to scripture; take time in meditation and prayer; face up to your weaknesses and ask for strength; give thanks for all you have been given; find time to simply be with God. I can’t tell you exactly how; I can’t even presume to say exactly what it will mean to you. But I can tell you that when you take the time to really pay attention to it, the results will be worth it.

For an updated Prayer List and List of Upcoming Events please go to

For your prayer list:

Carolyn Fleming, as she recovers from wrist surgery last week.

Wendy Miles, as she mourns the loss of her father George Rawson in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

Mark “Doc” Denning, bandmate of Terry Evans, dealing with an unknown debilitating illness.

Tony Patrick, facing very serious back surgery. Dear friend of Brad and Carol Miller.

Bob Buzzard, died very unexpectedly. Bob is the uncle of Laura Hutchinson, former member of BCC and currently a Disciples minister in Florence, Alabama.

Turley Higgins, as he continues his good progress in recovering from heart valve repair surgery.

Upcoming Events

There will be an official board meeting on Sunday February 28th immediately following worship. Among the things we will be talking about is the beginning of the next phase of our Debt Reduction Campaign. Most of you know that we have two separate budgets here at BCC: an operating budget and a debt reduction budget. The operating budget operates on a traditional one year cycle running from January to December. The Debt Reduction Budget will run on a 3 year cycle from April 2010 to March 2013. The goal of the D.R. Budget is to pay down and retire our debt from building expansion and renovation. One goal for this campaign is to involve as many giving units in this process as possible. No matter how large or small or contributions, when we all pitch in together, we can do great things. If you require child care during this meeting, please let me know by return e-mail, or let Laurie Hazen know by Wednesday February 24th.

I hope you can make to our Brown Bag Bible Study for the next 6 weeks on Thursdays – beginning tomorrow – at 12 noon. The topic for this series is, “The Jesus I Never Knew” based on the bestseller by Philip Yancey.

If you or someone you know – of any age – is interested in learning about baptism and church membership, please let me know. I will be leading the Pastors Baptism Class on Sunday March 14, Sunday March 21 and Sunday March 28 in my office during the Sunday School hour. Anyone wishing to be baptized on Easter Sunday is encouraged to speak with me and consider attending this class.

I hope you will be able to worship with us this Sunday as once again we celebrate the Lord’s day together. The sermon this Sunday is titled “God Given Bounty” and the scripture lesson is Deuteronomy 26: 1-11.

Be peaceful,
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