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  From the early days of our faith, Christians have observed the remembrance of Christ’s suffering, death, and resurrection with great reverence. It became the custom to prepare for the Easter celebration by a 40-day season of spiritual preparation, known as Lent, in remembrance of the time our Lord spent in the desert in prayer and fasting. During this season, converts to the faith were prepared for Holy Baptism. It was also a time when persons who had committed serious sins and had separated themselves from the community of faith were reconciled by penitence and forgiveness, and restored to participation in the life of the Church. In this way, the whole congregation was reminded of the mercy and forgiveness proclaimed in the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the need we all have to renew our faith.

  Because we are prone to wander, Lent is a good time for taking stock of where we are in our walk with Christ. Where is the path we are on taking us? How do we stay on—or get on—God’s path? During this season of spiritual preparation and renewal, the theme in worship for the six weeks of Lent will be on the paths, the pilgrimages, that we make as we seek the way of Christ.

  In keeping with this theme, I will be offering a Bible study titled “A Disciple’s Path: Deepening Your Relationship With Christ and the Church,” by James Harnish. I chose this study because some long-time members have expressed an interest in a refresher on the basics of the faith and the Methodist tradition. It is also an excellent study for those who are new in the faith, new to Methodism, or considering membership in the church.

  For those who would like to focus on a Lenten daily devotion instead of or in addition to the Bible study, I will provide copies of “Walking to the Cross” by Butch Odom of The Church Health Center. This devotional invites you to incorporate walking or some kind of movement goal into your daily practice of prayer and scripture reading. Some of you might even want to form groups to walk and pray together.

  Lent begins rather early this year, with Ash Wednesday on February 10. We’ll have a service with the imposition of the ashes, and I encourage you to gather with your fellow pilgrims that night to pray and set your intentions for your Lenten journey. I pray that each of you will find some meaningful way to walk more closely with Christ in these 40 days of preparation and renewal.

Blessings,   Pastor Jane