Lenten Simplicity

Published March 6, 2017

Our sanctuary is so beautiful at Easter and during the Christmas season! Seasonal flowers offer added color to the celebration. The music is joyous and reflects the triumphant tone of the manger’s full blessing and Easter’s empty tomb. No wonder people identify Christmas and Easter as their favorite times of the church year.

On the other hand, Lent and Holy Week are stark contrasts to the joyous celebrations of Christmas and Easter. The color purple is prevalent and matches the passionate meaning of the season as we travel Christ’s temptation in the barren wilderness to the heights and depths of Christ’s death at Calvary. Lent is a somber time; we ponder our own mortality and sinfulness in light of the cross of Christ. The cross and sacrifice and mortality are not light and pretty things.

For Lent this year, we will note the discord and dissonance of the season in a way that we can readily claim in the visuals in our worship space. Normally, a shiny brass cross stands in the center of our worship space on or near the Lord’s Table. We use brass offering plates and candle holders as well as brass containers for the flowers that adorn our sanctuary. This Lent, however, will be markedly different. From Ash Wednesday to the Easter Sunrise Service, we will not have the shiny, symmetrical Cross on the Lord’s Table; instead, we will have a dull, wooden Cross that might not “fit” just right. Beside the Cross, will be wooden candleholders; our offering each week will be received in simple wooden baskets. It is possible that some of these items may not even “match.” The materials, the patterns on them, even the wood itself will be uneven, well-worn, and imperfect. Yet, that is what our lives are in the shadow of the cross, on this side of Easter; our worship space will match our lives before God. Mercifully, our worship space will also reflect the simplicity and the humility of the Cross of Christ before the world.

I hope that the simplicity of our worship space during Lent will invite us to a deeper place with Christ, even as we anticipate the joy of Easter’s empty tomb.

I invite you to observe a Holy Lent,
Joseph